Sissy Tuesday questions, Kathy Shaidle edition

As has been noted and referenced around the League lately, our humble community just got a shout-out of sorts from noted scholar and public intellectual Kathy Shaidle.  Under the following headline:

This Week in Epic Beta Male Faggotry

she graces us thusly:

• A number of Internet forums host handwringing conversations about “masculinity,” another word the left has domesticated and castrated so that it now means the opposite of its original definition. The first such site I ever encountered was The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, but the upstart Good Men Project throws off so little testosterone, it makes the League look like the gladiator holding pen beneath the Roman Coliseum.

Oh, Kathy.  Using Forbidden Epithets is such a boring way of trying to seem interesting, and such a small way of trying to seem big.  It doesn’t make you outrageous, it merely makes you obvious.  But I guess some of us really never leave seventh grade behind, do we?

Before I continue, I feel compelled to offer a brief comment to regular readers.  (May God bless and keep you.)  I fear I may have been dwelling on gay-related subjects a bit much lately, with the AAP and Scalia and Ben Carson posts and all.  While the issue of marriage equality has been in the news a lot and it’s one of paramount importance to me, I also don’t want to become too one-note.  I’ll try to find other stuff to talk about soon, I promise.

Anyhow, I can’t speak for the heterosexual fellows around the League, but as one of the resident homos I guess I’m supposed to take umbrage at Ms. Shaidle’s slur.  Maybe I should start establishing my straight-acting cred.  Shall I mention the pleasure I take from running competitively or mowing the lawn?  (Both true.)  Perhaps I should casually let slip that I get my hair cut in a barbershop instead of a salon?  (At least these days.)  Make fun of someone really gay-acting and try to create some daylight between us?

Except one of nifty things that happened when I came out of the closet almost exactly half my lifetime ago is that it instantaneously rendered null the taunts of the witless.  If some variation on “you’re gay” is the best you’ve got, then “yeah… so?” is as much of a response as you merit.  And if I refuse to find anything to be ashamed of in being gay, then why should I find it shameful to act that way if I want to?

So here is where I happily admit that, in addition to mowing the lawn, I have found almost zen-like pleasure in making baby food for the Squirrel. (Seriously, it’s so fun and easy I’m embarrassed and chagrined that we bought baby food for the Critter.)  You will never see more exuberant car seat dancing than mine when Sirius radio plays Erasure’s “Chains of Love.”  (Indeed, when they play some horrible, repetitive dance hit from the 90s I will turn it up really loud because it makes me nostalgic for my younger, prettier days.)  A couple of months ago at our office holiday party I expressed gushing admiration for one lady’s shoes by describing them as “totally major” and gesticulating in their general direction.

Sometimes I all but burst into flames.  (An old friend used to tease me in such moments by pretending to toast marshmallows and warm her hands in my glow.)  And I imagine that Kathy Shaidle would consider all of that Grade A Epic Faggotry.

In which case, Ms. Shaidle is cordially invited to [intimate action verb] herself with a [gardening implement].

So that’s this week’s Question — which slights and slurs have you voided through nothing more than your own indifference?  What about you have you taken from the hands of the bigots or bullies by refusing to care what they think?  Fill in the following blank — faggot:Russell::[_____]:you.

Russell Saunders

Russell Saunders is the ridiculously flimsy pseudonym of a pediatrician in New England. He has a husband, three sons, daughter, cat and dog, though not in that order. He enjoys reading, running and cooking. He can be contacted at blindeddoc using his Gmail account. Twitter types can follow him @russellsaunder1.


  1. Maybe she’s right, Doc. For instance, I’ve never been told I should be raped here, never been called a ‘ho,’ never been told that because I’m a girl. . . all those nasty things that typically are heaped on women when they venture out into the internet. If that’s the average by which she’s measuring ‘manliness,’ then this place is totally lacking.

    When I began commenting regularly, it was during a debate about how to get more women to comment and contribute. That’s not how ‘manly’ is measured out there in the ether. I mean sure, there’s some sports, some tech talk, a bit here and there about cars and booze. But ongoing discussions about how to get more women to actually speak instead of just how to get more women? Questioning how we talk about racism? Delving into the political and economic difficulties of poverty? Recipes? Social norms of children? Higher ed without the ‘high?’

    Next thing you know, someone will be asking me to share a knitting pattern for a neck tie or colorful socks.

    The LoOG features way to much in the line of good manners. Even at its worst, it’s polite.

    I hope it’s viral.

        • It does take effort stepping into privilege some would prefer not be revealed, let alone shared.

          But your list below is very impressive. Good work, girl.

  2. A few things…

    Interestingly enough, I wonder if our much-discussed site name landed us in her radar in a way we never intended. Though many of us discuss issues of sex, gender, sexuality, and masculinity, we are not a site devoted to conversations or explorations of “Gentlemanliness”. It is interesting that she lumps us in with the Good Men Project, which does seem explicitly devoted to this cause (and bully for them for tackling it… I’ll have to check them out). But that is not who we are. I assume she assumed as much because we do dip our toes in those waters and because we have a title like the one we do. Fascinating.

    As to the question at hand, I feel like yet again I am without an answer. But not for the usual reason… but because I am largely on the “privileged” side of most, if not all, power dynamics. I’m white, male, educated, straight, cis-gendered, raised Christian/Catholic, English-speaking, raised middle-class, grew up in a suburb of a major east coast city, etc, etc, etc. So, it is really hard for me to face any real form of bigotry, certainly nothing that would compare to what the good doctor describes here.

    I am not without criticism, of course. Being a male in early childhood raises its share of eyebrows, but I’ve learned to ignore all that silliness, to not take it personal, while still advocating for more acceptance and support for men in my field. I’m self-conscious about my nose (part genetics, part accident), but have built up a defense mechanism for criticism that is entirely absent now that I’m not in high school anymore. But that, and most anything else, are all personal things that people might object to or criticize me for. I am not targeted because of who I am, but because of what I do. And what I do is largely under my control, meaning it is easier to ignore such criticism because I am confident in my choices. And the criticisms are not used to deny me my dignity or my rights or my freedoms.

    I’m glad that you have found a way to ignore such hatred and ugliness. I hope there are other gay men and women in your life who can make use of the example you set. Kudos to you, good sir.

    Oh… and go fuck yourself, Ms. Shaidle. Perhaps ol’ Russell here will take the high road, but I’m sleep deprived and less inclined to be so charitable.

    • We have given Miss Shaidle more attention than she deserves. Robin Williams, back when he was still doing stand-up, once had a monologue about how parents react when their Dear Child says “FUCK” for the first time. Same-same.

      Around here, the Ordinary Gentlemen write from where they are. So — some of us are gay physicians who inculcate their small children with danceable music of dubious provenance, there’s hell to pay down that road, there was for me with my children — if only I had known at the time. Some of us are attorneys. Some are software types. Professors, philosophers, editors, educators of small children, eloquent malcontents conforming to no stereotype. Surely each lends its own stripe to this coat of many colours.

      • We have given Miss Shaidle more attention than she deserves.

        I both agree and disagree. She does not deserve to be taken seriously, and I cringe whenever I see one of us do so. On the other hand, one who does not deserve to be taken seriously deserves to be mocked mercilessly. As such, I wholly support the Good Doctor’s post.

        • I agree. I also thinking that responding to someone acting ridiculously by making something good happen is a pretty good reason for a post, and I would say that Russell did that here. I appreciated the chance to name my no-longer-hurtful epithets.

        • deserves to be mocked mercilessly

          Ain’t that the truth.

          No god and no religion can survive ridicule. No church, no nobility, no royalty or other fraud, can face ridicule in a fair field and live.

          – Mark Twain

  3. I grew up in the foothills of Appalachia. That provenance gave me a sharp accent as a child, and when we moved to California when I was 9, I got teased a lot, at least by those who could understand me. They psychologically whipped the accent out of me, and now it’s the rare person who can identify my home turf just by hearing me.

    Now that I build spaceships (this is how I explain it to my daughter), I revel in my identity as a hillbilly. I mention it any time it would score humor points, which probably bores my friends. I find it wonderful to have come from a vibrantly intelligent family that worked their way up from poverty to a norm of college graduation in a single generation. It’s poignant and beautiful to me that my brilliant grandmother believed that the stars actually hang on a kind of ethereal fabric that blocks Heaven from our view.

    • Would you mind if I shared this (the words themselves, not the link) with Jay’s Appalachian mom? I think it would make her happy.

      No worries if you are like, “Er… if you wouldn’t bring her to the website, don’t send her my coment.”

  4. This site def leans more towards the “Beta” side of things vs. the “Alpha” side.

      • MUST every post be insightfull?

        No. Levity is always a good thing.

        • Whatever, mate.

          I don’t really know what “beta” means to you. It looks like you’re trying to throw some kind of shade my way, but perhaps I misunderstand your intent. However, assuming I have your notion of “beta” right, nothing seems more “beta” to me than caring what some stranger on the Internet thinks of you. You are entirely welcome to whatever opinion you have of me or this site and assign it whichever letter in the Greek alphabet you think suits it. But you flatter yourself if you think it will trouble my sleep in any case.

          • Betas? Try lambdas, honey.

            More seriously, “beta” is the name that men use when they are envious of other men who are nicer than they are. As such, it makes a near-perfect answer to the question.

          • Russell,

            Actually, my comments were not directed at you, but LOOG in total, as I believe, was Kathy’s, I was essentially agreeing with her that this site is “beta”.

            Beta: the more caring / nuturing / compassionate side of things, male wise.
            Alpha: Think of the behavior of the Cad, the egoist, the self important asshole.

            BTW, my labeling has nothing to do with judgement, it was just a statement.

          • Then I apologize for having taken your comment the wrong way, and for being more combative in my responses than was warranted.

          • Damon,
            “The Cad” is often beta, though.
            Surely some betas are more compassionate and caring…
            but it’s hardly all of them, or even a majority.

          • Then I apologize for having taken your comment the wrong way, and for being more combative in my responses than was warranted.

            Talk about acting beta.

          • Talk about acting beta.

            Heh. I’m quite sure that you know more about this than I do, Mike, so I have a question: isn’t the concept of “a gentleman” supposed to carve out a distinction between the brute force asskicking rapist and the person who could be a brute force asskicking etc but chose not to be because he realized that shit was wrong?

            When did we regress to glorifying the bruteforceasskickingrapist above the gentleman?

          • OK, maybe that question isn’t fair to you since you generally like to make fun, positive comments. But it this issue perplexes me. So I’ll throw it out there.

            Anyone?? Beuller??

          • Stillwater,
            It’d be a pretty poor alpha who would need to rape.

          • Stillwater,

            My hunch is that your question has to do with the degree to which we misuse and misappropriate the concepts of alphas, betas, etc.

          • Russell,

            Oh, I too am certain that Mike was being facetious. And in a very clever way.

            But I meant the question seriously: when did the “Alpha Male” thing take hold? It seems to me like a stark contrast to our culturally historical views of masculinity, and I’m curious when – and how – that shift occurred.

          • Kazzy, could you elaborate on that? Eg., are you saying it’s just a matter of misusing words?

          • I think the people we tend to hold up as ideals might not actually be alphas, but instead demonstrate qualities often associated with alphas.

            For instance, we might look at some loudmouth and say, “He’s outspoken… he’s an alpha…” when he really just might be a loudmouth. But we favor him nonetheless because it is easier to assess loudmouthness than to actually identify alpha qualities.

            I’m just hypothesizing here, mind you.

          • How do we measure male success these days? Really, along two axes:

            1. Has a lot of money.
            2. Has a lot of sex.

            Neither of those comes from being a gentleman.

    • The implication here, and elsewhere, is that to be Beta is to be flawed in some way.

      That is wrong.

      • Betas tend to be more effective in a civilization, as they’re better at working together and not killing each other.

        They tend to be worse off in less…civilized… places.

        Of course, one could describe civilization as the weak getting together to beat up on the strong.

      • What’s a Beta anyway? Alpha males are usually just the tools of the Betas in a working civilisation. The Hindu caste system tried to put Warriors over Merchants. It never worked out terribly well anywhere this scheme was tried.

        Even in the military, the most alpha-ish meat eaters are relegated to the far corners of the strategic landscape, usually confined to tactical order-takers. SOCOM has surprisingly little use for the meat eater. The most prized asset is the linguist and cultural guy. This shouldn’t surprise anyone: the mission of SOCOM is force augmentation, building up local people.

        True story. SF had been in a village in Afghanistan early on, almost immediately after 9/11. They’d built up a level of rapprochement with the local Pashtun people. 82 ABN came in to replace them. 82 ABN’s previous deployment had been to Iraq. 82 ABN started getting all Alpha on these people, kicking down doors, violating local norms. SOCOM wound up having to intervene: by then 82 ABN had made a dog’s dinner of that situation.

        • Alpha males are usually just the tools of the Betas in a working civilisation.

          Total tools. And they usually don’t even know it.

          • The man behind the powerful man, sorta thing. Beta’s will always dominate over Alpha’s in the long term. We’re seeing it now with the veil removed. Nerd power. Need I say more?

          • Stillwater,
            The person who dominates is the person most likely to risk everything and everyone.
            Is that person a beta?

          • The person who dominates is the person most likely to risk everything and everyone.
            Is that person a beta?/i>

            So the definition of an Alpha is someone who’s willing to risk everything and everyone?

            Doesn’t that make my earlier question even more compelling?

          • Stillwater,
            Psychopaths, Lords, CEOs fit a common profile, to a large degree (no big surprise there’s a lotta overlap there).
            “Heads I win, Tails we all die” is a gambit they turn to with distressing frequency.

            But I meant to actually leave that as a real question, not a rhetorical one. Because a beta male really does risk a lot more, in devoting time/energy to learning and becoming a genius.

          • So far, you’ve said that Alpha Males are:

            -Men who get laid a lot (presumably by lots of different women??)
            -Men who will risk everything and everyone!
            -Men who are captains of industry
            -Men who exemplify a small set of sociopathic behaviors
            -Men like Benjamin Franklin
            -Men who are just normal guys

          • Stillwater,
            Read a little more carefully. I’ve said that alpha males are guys who learn that they can just want sex and get it (Implication being whether or not a woman wants it) — guy starts something, and girl just “goes along with it” whether she likes it or not. They expect that women will basically let them do what they want (whether through strength or charm or charisma).
            Football player is the standard Tv Trope for this.

            Whether or not betas get more sex, they tend to be more… desperate for it. Pickier too, in the main.

            There’s multiple types of alphas, but a bunch of alphas do not a good civilization make. Tend to kill each other.

            I was noting that most guys are not either alphas or betas, not that alphas were normal guys. They aren’t.

          • I think you’re confusing the desire of some men to get laid with Alpha-ness. Let’s just suppose that every man (like every woman! no begged questions here!) wants to get laid, and wants to get laid on their own terms. By your definition, every man or woman (!!) who gets laid as much as they want is an Alpha male.


        • Pure biological terms:
          Alpha males learn that they can basically take — they’re big enough, strong enough, charming enough, talented enough, that women basically will submit to them wanting to have sex (they’re not much fun in bed, most of them).
          Beta males learn that they must get women to agree — that trying to have sex with a woman who isn’t interested is likely to get one punched in the face… or kneed in the balls.

          Alpha males have orgies, where part of the thing is “look at me and what I’m doing. you ain’t gonna stop me, cause I have da powa”

          Beta males skulk and hide in shadows, knowing that folks are likely to stop them. (not the least of which is because they’re reasonably likely to sneak alpha males’ mates).

          Not everyone is either an alpha or a beta. Both tend to be driven by an urge to reproduce.

          There are entire categories of guys who aren’t either…

          • Sadly, no.

            The Alphas are the jocks. Hi testosterone and therefore more violent.

            Betas are the thinkers, the moneymakers, the actual leaders because they’re the consensus builders. Team leaders because they understand what Team means. Other people are better at certain things than they are. Knowing this, the Beta wants those people on his team, viewing other people’s talents as great prizes. That’s why Betas win where Alphas only fight.

            As for sex, Alphas want the superficial attributes of beauty. They couldn’t give a damn what’s inside a woman’s head or heart. Alphas make dandy boy toys, so I’m told by women of my acquaintance. But Alphas don’t make good husbands. Betas make good husbands because they’re choosier than the Alphas. A Beta would be embarrassed to be seen in the company of a stupid woman. Following on this Team Leader rule, a Beta man is looking for a partner, someone who’s better at certain things than he is. Such are the thoughts of this Beta Male.

          • Blaise,
            Okay, you’re overgeneralizing. I went to the trouble to detail different types of alphas.
            David Bowie strike you as the violent sort? How about Benjamin Franklin?
            … they’re both alphas (bardic/kitsune variety, tend to be more intelligent).

            Put a pig in a leadership position and you’ll regret it, and rats make horrid leaders (yup, I’m using chinese zodiac again. it’s more colorful and concise).

            And Benjamin Franklin was all about building consensus.

            I agree with you that many alphas are rather superficial. “Get the purty ones”… it’s decreasing their intelligence in a large way. Not that being “big and strong” is exactly well adapted to modern life (Charisma on the other hand…).

            Betas tend to prey on outsiders, as a general rule — but that’s not to say that they’re picky. In fact, if a guy’s picky about things like intelligence, he’s more than likely not a beta. Most betas are picky on things like “is she gonna tell??” and “am I gonna get caught??” and “Can I do this one at all??”

            Many folks aren’t betas, as I said.Not to pry, or to make unwarranted assumptions, but I don’t think you’re a beta or an alpha, Blaise. I could very well be wrong, of course…

          • I don’t agree with your sorting-out of men. David Bowie is a collaborator, most notably with Mick Ronson and Brian Eno. Bowie is the product of his good sense in making friends. His friendship with Eno and Iggy Pop as he cleaned up is probably the only reason he’s alive.

            As for this sneaky predator assbiter jackal types, they’re omegas, the Least-Favoured-Dog. Both Alphas and Betas have nothing to do with these guys.

            Alphas and Betas get along reasonably well, once they’ve sorted out who’s in charge of what. Alphas end up loyally serving the Betas, who admire them for their strength of will and pin nice ribbons on the Alphas in front of the formation. But it’s the Betas who pin them on.

            I don’t tell you about women. Don’t tell me about men.

          • Benjamin Franklin was an Alpha? I thought he was a Nerd. Oh well.

          • To the (verrrrrry small) extent that I accept the whole Alpha/Beta framing for humans (I mostly think that as the most adaptable animal we know of, we are far more complicated than that, and shift categories drastically as needed, though I don’t deny that behaviors so widely observed in Animalia doubtless exist to some degree in us), I probably would identify as “Sigma” (but again, I think the whole framework is only *slightly* more credible or useful than, say, astrology).

            And if Iggy helped save Bowie’s coke-addled life, the favor was repaid in full, since Bowie also looked after Iggy at his most junk-sick and helped him back on his feet after the Stooges imploded the second time, and again in the 80’s when Pop finally kicked heroin for good.

            Maybe their respective addictions cancelled out or something, because it’s frankly almost unbelievable to me that either one of those guys was in any shape to help the other (though both men are probably exceedingly strong-willed).

          • Blaise,
            Yeah. They’re collaborators. That’s because those guys are 2/3rd “female brain” folks. The other third is alpha-male.

            There’s a lot of different folks out there, and a lot of different personality types.

            Alpha versus beta is just one aspect.

            I’m not sure where I mentioned “sneaky jackal” types (certainly not as alphas), but most beta personality types do tend to be outside the “norm”.

            The normal guy is a dog: acts friendly, wags tail a lot, willing to do whatever the girl wants so long as he gets sex (including wearing a condom, which most betas avoid…). I mean, sure if you /want/ you could call that a beta. I wouldn’t, though. It’s a relatively boring personality type.

          • Ugh. Does everything have to resolve to sex with you? Sex is interesting, lots of fun — and ultimately not a terribly interesting goal in and of itself. Makes more sense with someone you care about.

            I wish you’d lay off all this pseudo-Freudian Quatsch, Kimmi. And do shut up about men and condoms: you’re not a man so quit trying to sort us out. Maybe the men in your life are all about playing Hide the Sausage. Most of the men around here, and that includes me, are in reasonably fulfilling relationships. These people, to hear these tales told, are smart and kindly and make us feel like we belong to someone.

            Sex, speaking only for myself, is an intensely private thing, an expression of love. What it means to you, well, keep it to yourself. I’m becoming increasingly annoyed with your potty mouth and reducing everything to Hide the Sausage. That’s not what this place is about, in my humble opinion.

          • The normal guy is a dog: acts friendly, wags tail a lot, willing to do whatever the girl wants so long as he gets sex (including wearing a condom, which most betas avoid…). I mean, sure if you /want/ you could call that a beta. I wouldn’t, though. It’s a relatively boring personality type.

            This kind of labelling is as bad as the political labeling I’ve seen around these parts.

            I’d have to agree with BlaiseP. You are in no position to describe men, and if that’s how you see them, heaven help you. I’m going to leave it at that.

          • Blaise,
            yeah, I agree. There’s tons more fun stuff to talk about. But someone started talking about alphas and betas and etc.

          • Look, Kim. This is the last thing I intend to write on this subject. Shaidle used the phrase Epic Beta Faggotry. The guys over at Good Men Project got it worse than we did. So I took it on myself to give some definition of Beta which shows us for a brains-not-brawn proposition. Not that you’re going to stand up for us, far be it from you to do so — instead, your redefinition of Beta is all about a collection of nasty freaks you happen to know.

            Are you so clueless you can’t see your definition of Beta is thus applied to the men around here?

            For the last few decades, women and the men who care about equality have been pushing really hard against the stupidity of default gender roles. I was a stay at home Dad who also ran his consulting practice with kids howling in the background while he was trying to conduct a strategy meeting. I’m not alone in being a stay at home Dad around here.

            And while I’m on this subject of equality, Beta Males are not intimidated by gay men. Men already have enough problems, just becoming men. Adolescence was confusing and often about no fun and I can only imagine how a gay boy would get through it, though these days I suppose it’s easier, with increasing acceptance. But it has nothing to do with Alpha and Beta: David Geffen is every bit the Asshole Alpha Weasel as any other producer in his industry.

            Not that any of this registering. I know that already. I’m just getting it off my somewhat-less-than-hairy chest. As for what’s the “norm”, the world does not revolve around you and your normative assertions.

        • Not really. Koch strike you as a tool?

          Alphas tend towards sadism, paranoia, psychopathy, and a whole lot of other mental illness.
          But the ones that are good tended to rise to the top.

          Politicians, a good deal of musicians, lotta sports figures.

          People who are pulling it off by sheer force of personality, mainly. They call ’em “natural leaders”… and alphas are.

          But look at the Arab Spring… no need for “natural leaders” there.

          • Alphas tend towards sadism, paranoia, psychopathy, and a whole lot of other mental illness.

            Is that true of Benjamin Franklin?

          • Stillwater,
            it’s true of a lot of people with his personality type (which, as I’ve said, is a particular type of alpha, skilled at bedding girls and then skiddoodling out of town, which Franklin did a rather lot of).

          • I’ll sorta second what BP wrote upthread, but come at it from a different angle. I don’t think you know what the terms “alpha male” and “beta male” mean. Or if you do, it’s a very idiosyncratic and non-standard usage.

          • Stillwater,
            that’s as the case may be.
            Some people do research on personality types.
            Me? I’ve just got sharp ears.

      • Then your conclusions are showing your bias, not mine, since I never said any such thing.

          • Damon,

            If I misread you, I apologize. However, if you look at my full comment, I note that the idea of beta indicating flawed is something I see more broadly, not just in Damon’s comment. The world needs betas; people ought not use the phrase as an insult.

      • I don’t think that’s a fair comment, Kazzy. I’m really surprised at Russell and you for thinking Damon was being insulting.

        • Well, it’s certainly meant to be insulting in the… let’s call it an “essay” to which I refer in the OP. Perhaps I misinterpreted. However, usually when I say something that someone takes the wrong way, I go to some kind of effort to clarify what I meant.

          • Shaidle doesn’t get to set the official definition of words. Words are too important for that.

          • She didn’t originate the pejorative usage. It’s been a common one in the online pickup artist community.

            (Worse than appropriating “beta,” even, is their appropriation of “artist.” But anyway.)

          • The PUA phenomenon is not one that leads to a favorable view of the words they use, or men or much of anything actually.

          • (Worse than appropriating “beta,” even, is their appropriation of “artist.” But anyway.)

            Space awesome.

          • “Beta male” was often used as an insult against Al Gore too (and you know what “alpha” he was being compared to.)

  5. Amen, Brother Saunders. Preach it.

    I have heard what the talkers were talking, the talk of the beginning and the end,
    But I do not talk of the beginning or the end.

    There was never any more inception than there is now,
    Nor any more youth or age than there is now,
    And will never be any more perfection than there is now,
    Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.

    Urge and urge and urge,
    Always the procreant urge of the world.

    Out of the dimness opposite equals advance, always substance and increase, always sex,
    Always a knit of identity, always distinction, always a breed of life.

    To elaborate is no avail, learn’d and unlearn’d feel that it is so.

    Sure as the most certain sure, plumb in the uprights, well entretied, braced in the beams,
    Stout as a horse, affectionate, haughty, electrical,
    I and this mystery here we stand.

  6. This is where I must admit privilege. Being a straight white male, I can’t think of a time in my life where I’ve heard a slur made against me. I’m not sure there are any.

    “Cracker,” if I understand its usage correctly (it’s just not a big word in the Pacific North West), implies an economic class that I do not belong to as well as a skin color. “Honkey” is too funny sounding to take seriously as a slur. I’m pretty Irish American and so every now and then I’ll hear something about excessive drinking, but we Irish tend to view remarks about how much we can put down as more of a boast than a slur. I’ve said this before, but white straight males are so damn privileged that our big claim to being oppressed is that nowadays we can’t use racial, ethnic or sexist slurs without being criticized, or that we only hold 85% of the Fortune 500 executive seats, or whatever.

    Is there a straight white male slur?

      • See? Even that just makes me think you’re complimenting me on my sexual prowess and virility.

        • Maybe it would seem more cutting if I intoned it while holding a well-mixed sidecar?

          (I never actually used that one in real life. But it does, at least, exist.)

          • It does, among all sorts of childless-by-choice people, often the sort who complain that a co-worker took a day off to be with a sick child, but they couldn’t do the same when their cat had hairballs.

    • Yup; ‘straight white male.’ Whole host of typing there, but the worst are ‘can’t dance,’ or ‘dances like zombie,’ and ‘claps on 1 and 3.’

      • Back in high school, I remember dealing with a lot of shit when I was the only white kid at intramural basketball. Always picked near the end, even though I was probably closer to middle of the pack. Called “white boy”. Kids would double-pump before passing it to me.

        It sort of bothered me, but I just used it as motivation to play better.

        • From the perspective of ‘married to musician,’ the claps on 1 and 3 are dastardly insults. There’s nothing worse. Nothing. It’s the grooms family in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”

        • This whole dance think really pisses me off. Dance is my hobby and I’m damn good at it. Unlike most people, I can properly dance. I know waltz, foxtrot, Viennese waltz, quickstep, international tango, hustle, salsa, samba, rumba, cha-cha, East Coast Swing, and West Coast Swing. I’ve competed and came out on top.

          • Well, like all slurs, it’s an unfair generalization! Tod asked if there were any out there, of which this is one.

            And I love that your list includes the Hustle.

      • Yup; ‘straight white male.’ Whole host of typing there, but the worst are ‘can’t dance,’ or ‘dances like zombie,’ and ‘claps on 1 and 3.’

        I tried clapping on 2 and 4, but the conductor didn’t seem any happier about it.

  7. “Nerd” was more of a deal for 17 year olds who don’t date much than for 40 year olds who have discretionary funds that come from jobs in the industry that nerds are responsible for.

    That said, “perpetual adolescent” is probably a barb that ought to sting me.

    • My ex-girlfriend enjoyed “Fever Pitch” in part because the Jimmy Fallon character reminded her of me, in particular the scene where Drew Barrymore’s character goes on a rant that concludes with her calling him a “man boy” over and over again.

      I’m still not sure why we didn’t make it…

        • That’s sad. Mr. Blue should not take such Scarlett creatures seriously.

          I once knew a Man Child. He had an encyclopaedic knowledge of jazz. He’d delivered mail for years and retired from the USPS. While my family was in Guatemala, he hung around my house and helped me put in a garden in back. He sorta moved in, after a fashion. I found things for him to do, caulking and painting the house, both inside and out. As long as I kept beer in the fridge and some bud in the sack, he would continue to putter along and would be there to this day, had I let him.

          Eventually I realised he had to go, so I’d told him about how cheap it was to live in Guatemala and how beautiful things were. I regaled him with stories of tourist girls and the denizens of expat Panajachel, most of whom avoid the use of last names for many excellent reasons. It did not take much to convince him.

          As far as I know, he’s still down there. It really is a Never-Never Land and he’s its Peter Pan.

    • Not having to grow up is one of the better perks of nerd jobs.

        • To be honest, it’s hard to take too seriously the opinion of someone who goes to work wearing something whose main purpose is to cut off the flow of oxygen to his brain.

          • Eh, I’m a man. I have something on my person at all times whose main purpose is to cut off the flow of oxygen to my brain.

  8. The names that truly fit the blank make up a fairly short list:
    and, oh yeah….


    And, I think, “fag” gets a special mention on my list. Never accurate, no matter how surprisingly often it’s been yelled at me by people who were pretty sure I was the wrong kind of guy (or, alternately, not even feminine enough to be a lesbian) … but it does give me a warm fuzzy glow just like the rest of ’em.

    • Can I ask about “girl”?

      I often use “girl” when referring to females around my age. I don’t know if it just old habit, if it is a function of “girl” being easier to say than “woman” or “lady”, or what… but it always feels more natural.

      I’ll say, “I dated this girl in college,” or, “There was this strange girl behind me in line at the supermarket.” I dunno why, but it is just how I talk. Is such usage offensive or bothersome? Or only when it is used to deliberately put someone down or belittle them?


      • … it… can be. I’d say stop using it if someone takes offense, and keep your ears pricked in case someone’s not comfortable being “that bitch”.

        Then again, I’ve heard stories about dating “that crazy bitch” where it wasn’t meant as an insult at all (simply, and purely accurate). Some words are only meant to be used with intimates.

        • I tend to write “woman” of any female old enough to be “of age” in varying contexts. The phrase “a girl I knew in high school” seems appropriate. “A girl I knew at work” gets sorta iffy, because I wouldn’t say “A boy I knew at work”, though increasingly the people I work with look like my kids, who will always be “kids” to me. If I changed your diapers and helped you with your homework, you’re always going to be Kid to me.

          But “she went out with the girls for a night on the town” — you can’t substitute Women for Girls in that context.

          Bitch is an awfully useful word though I use it sparingly, mostly as a verb.

      • I may not be the best person to ask, because if someone isn’t putting me down, I’m pretty hard to offend. So, you know, it never bothers ME, except as a dismissal or in the cases where people say “man” every time and “girl” every time (which, I suppose, bothers me because it reeks of systematic dismissal, due to the historical context).

        I know it bothers some people. Mostly I’ve found they are either worrying about other people being bothered, or they have some personal experience with some rotten person who used the word to belittle them as adults. (Think of how problematic the word “boy” can be, how much accretion it carries – I think “girl” can be problematic in many of the same contexts, but we’ve been pushed not to think of it that way because, you know, women issues.)

        For me, specifically, it has been used SO often to put me down or belittle me that I bucked hard against being told *not* to use it (other than in specific contexts where it’s just flat out clumsy to insist). It’s NOT a slur, in and of itself. It’s a perfectly good word that we use to talk about female children. It’s a perfectly reasonable word that comes trippingly off the tongue and doesn’t, on historical time scales, have any more baggage than either woman or lady does (they both have baggage! lots of it! yaaaaaay kyriarchy!). It’s so much easier for me to hear it used to describe adult women all the time, mostly in positive contexts, than it would be to only hear it trotted out as an accusation, that it would make my life more pleasant if everyone used it as much as possible.

        Other women’s mileage differs. I try to respect that, when I know about it and it isn’t the point of what I’m saying, but I don’t lose sleep over it. I think people collectively went looking for a “guy” analogue that wasn’t “doll,” and picked this one. Seems like progress to me:D. How does Zazzy feel about it?

        Putting it on my list was more about internal monologue stuff like “why, yes, I *DO* also enjoy that part of my gender performativity, on occasion, THANK YOU.” and buying earrings. or glorying vicariously in women competing nationally in cross-fit. It’s a broad range of pleasures :).

      • It’s a diminutive, Kazzy. You might, in fun, say you were having a night out with the boys. But you wouldn’t refer to your employees as boys, as in ‘the boys on the maintenance staff,’ it’s devaluing, and indicates childishness. Yet women in professional/responsible positions are often referred to as ‘girls,’ as in, ‘the girls in the secretarial pool,’ etc. It suggest they are somehow inferior and need to be looked after by someone more responsible.

        • There’s no more secretarial pool. There are no more secretaries. I can’t remember the last time anyone made reference to a group of women in any workplace.

          That’s not quite true, thinking back on it now. I remember one team of QC testers and all of them were women. For some reason, the Japanese thought women were better testers. They said they had some statistics to support this conclusion.

          • One of the reasons the electronics industry grew up around Phoenix and Mesa: turns out, for some reason, American Indian women have a truly superior ability to spot errors in integrated circuits under a microscope. Seems they came from a weaving culture and have developed this ability.

          • women are better at most things than men,. less slipshod.

          • ought to emphasize that I’m talking female brain type, that may or may not correlate with gendering and other genotypes.

        • Thanks, Zic and Maribou.

          For the record, I tend to say, “girl” for women around my age or younger and “guy” for most any adult male. In a professional context, I’m more apt to use “women”… “The women at work” or “A woman I met at a conference”. And I very rarely use man in any context… they’re just not major parts of my vernacular. Which doesn’t mean they can’t be. But I was curious to hear your perspectives and appreciate you taking the time to offer me them.

          • Not really, no. “Girl” carries positive connotations, namely youth and beauty. Some feminists seem to find it offensive, but it never been exclusively or even primarily a slur, the way “nigger” is. While many feminists fancy the idea that they speak for women generally, I haven’t seen a great deal of evidence for this. I haven’t taken a poll, but I would be very surprised if a majority of women considered “girl” offensive when not used in an obviously demeaning way like “just a girl.”

          • As a feminist, I actually ALSO don’t find them equivalent. And I think Brandon phrased the difference well (other than the unnecessary monolithic use of the feminist label).

          • Did you guys watch the video? You should watch the video.

          • “Girl” and “boy”, it seems to me, are ones in which context greatly matters.

            I got into it with someone on a different site over “boy”. We were discussing candidates for a mayoral position, both of whom where men of color, and I typed (with all the nuance that typing on the internet allows for), “I got my boy, you got yours.” The context in which I used it was a common one for folks my age; think, “You’re my boy, Blue!” from ‘Old School’. The other poster, also white, flew into a rage, insisting I was being racist. It should be noted that this particular commenter demonstrated a pretty big blind spot when it came to racism, making his claims a bit disingenuous, more an attempt to score points than actually combat racism. Some other commenters and I tried to explain the context, but he wasn’t interested. And he did have a point… no matter how I meant it, using “boy” in reference to a black man was risky, especially on the internet.

            With girl, I don’t think anyone would consider my 60-something uncle who is back on the dating scene as being diminutive if he refers to his “girlfriend”. “Womanfriend” is an awkward phrase that would confuse most people.

            That doesn’t make ALL uses acceptable. Both can very easily be used in explicitly offensive or diminutive ways. “Nigger”, on the other hand, is almost universally offensive when used by white people; the only acceptable use is probably an academic one.

            On a similar note, with my students, I really try to avoid using “guys” when referring to the entire mixed-gender group. Some argue that guys is now non-gendered, and I think it is often used that way, but it is still a very gendered term. Because I’m hippy like that, I use “friends”; “boys and girls” is too cumbersome.

          • Kazzy, the reason I thought the video was funny and informative is because CR is specifically referring to, and making jokes about, the rules governing uses of highly charged terms.

    • Is geek even a slur any more? These days geekiness seems to have gone mainstream. I consider it closer to a compliment than an insult.

      • “Mainstream” probably qualifies as a slur in some circles, though. 😀

      • It’s not *now*, at least not in my circles. But it sure as hell was when I was being bullied in 5th grade.

      • When I was a kid, a geek was a sicko, a doer of disgusting things. A geek revelled in people’s disgust or horror.

  9. I never really care about comments about being less than masculine. I’m a guy, I know I am a guy, and consider myself masculine even though I am not a bro-dude, frat boy.

    • bro-dude, frat boy.

      Not that would be horribly insulting. It’s got abusive written all over it; potential alcoholic, potential rapist, potential exploiter of labor, potential corporate lobbyist, potential rent seeker, potential patent troll, etc. etc. etc.

      • What strikes me as fascinating is about how many people are willing to accept masculinity by the lowest common denominator. Men like sports, video games, military issues, etc. Nothing that requires much mental stress. There have always been attempts to label intellectuals as emasculate and feminine.

        This strikes me as odd. I like art and literature but often my tastes are accused of being too masculine in those fields. They tend towards the avant-garde and non-representational (at least for visual art). Richard Serra, Kadinsky, Mattise, etc over the pre-Raphealites. I loathe most of the pre-Raphealites.*

        *Not so much because I find them feminine but because I find them treacly, dully, and cluttered and the false Middle Ages romanticism annoys me especially in the ones with knights being sent off to war by fair maidens. Sent off to do what, kill Jews and Muslims in the Crusades?

        • i’m not even sure what masculine means at this point but i’m pretty sure it’s hard to say that somehow sports are unmasculine, at least as a participant. especially boxing. man v. man. what’s more masculine than that?

          • I never meant to imply that sports were unmasculine. But I don’t think I am less than masculine for not really caring about them, or cars.

          • “I never meant to imply that sports were unmasculine. But I don’t think I am less than masculine for not really caring about them, or cars.”

            well, not that someone saying “that’s unmasculine!” isn’t laughable as an insult, but i don’t think you can say “everything is equally masculine” unless you’re going to throw the concept out the window. which i’m fine with. i’d rather go with “hardcore” or “‘ardcore” for our anglophiles who are really jamaicaphiles rather than tying “being a total badass” to gender.

            that said it’s a bit more masculine to be into beating down other people with your fists in a controlled ballet of violence than being really into painting. even if you only paint penises dragging pickup trucks through a field of tom selleck’s chest hair.

        • We look back at the Pre-Raphaelites and don’t quite see them in the context of their times. All these Art Movements are a reaction to something, more akin to an allergic reaction.

          So you like Kandinsky and Matisse. Both are Idea Painters. But in their time, artists like William Holman Hunt were the Idea Painters. If Hunt looked back to medieval art and found something worthy there, he was taking the best bits from Titian and Raphael and Michelangelo, the parts where things were accurately rendered — and putting medieval Big Ideas behind them.

          To call the Pre-Raphaelites treacly romantics in our times is to forget why the Romantics mattered and to ignore the profound debt we owe them. The artist had become a mere craftsman in the late Renaissance, bravura technical performances, become a bit soul-less — and always in the service of the Useless Rich. There’s Michelangelo, carving the statuary for the Tomb of Julius II, Bramante and Raphael bickering and conniving. Art had become a mug’s game and the professional artist little more than a troublesome craftsman.

          The Romantics gave us back the artist, creating his own art on its own terms. I have my own problems with the Romantics: they represent a sort of adolescent rebellion. But that’s usually a good thing when it appears in a child. Means they’re becoming someone, becoming themselves. With every generation of both children and artists, this rebellion begins again. It’s usually a healthy thing but it can’t last. In turn, every Salon des Refusés becomes its own Academy — against which some new crop of artists will rebel in its turn.

          In every generation, Masculine is redefined and men have usually gone along with these definitions like a herd of complacent cattle. For all the entirely justified clamour about the Stereotyping of Women, nobody has much to say about the Stereotyping of Men. We climb into these dreadful, boring clothes every day, there’s no freedom of expression, especially not for white, heterosexual men, who as a class of people these days are just about the most boring and complacent bunch of self-referential bores in human history.

        • It’s funny how since my childhood computer games have gone from being this weird, geeky thing to being a staple of masculinity.

  10. I’m pretty hetero for a straight guy. But i am willing to dress flamboyantly, sing the lyrics to musicals and engage is some mild necking with a guy if it will piss of Ms. Shaidle. What can i say i’m a do-gooder.

    Some of the new guy terms like “man cave” or “brodude” etc are somewhere between stupid and slightly irritating to eye roll and time to change the subject.

  11. I would think that being insulted by the likes of Kathy Shaidle would be a feather in anyone’s hat, resulting in better seating at five-star restaurants, valet parking even in municipally-owned lots and front-of-the-line privileges at concerts and gallery exhibits. If she keeps it up, a discount at a major national chain of vacation resorts might be in the offing.

  12. I don’t know if this counts to Russell’s question, but it does sort of relate to the Shaidle thing and is close enough for me.

    A little while ago on another blog I was actually accused of being less than manly because of my SAHD gig (actually, the criticism was towards “men who regularly change diapers” whether they stay at home or not). Rather than being offended or angry, I was… amused. And I had some fun with it in my replies (“You’re right, because real men are afraid of baby cooties.”)

    • Real men are done with the baby after they’re done making it.

    • Whoever raises a child is forging a weapon which will outlast the smith. I raised my babies and wrote code while my wife went to school. It was far and away the happiest period of my life. When did children become a nuisance and a bother? It’s all so much atrocious nonsense. That weapon is being forged by someone. If you’re not doing the forging, that weapon can be used against you.

      • What do kids want? Love. Acceptance. Comfort. Support.

        What do they need? Well… Love. Acceptance. Comfort. Support.

        What they generally don’t need is a bunch of bullshit behavior that has nothing to do with raising kids.

        • Kids are so malleable. They thrive where they loved. My theory says every kid needs about six adults who are just crazy about him. Uncles, aunts, family friends, hell, neighbours, the old guy at the barber shop. Kids need to be known.

          Ever see a small child in the company of people who love her? She snuggles up to someone for a while. Then she gets up and roams around, looking at everyone. Then, with almost mathematical precision, she’ll stand in the middle of everyone and choose someone else to befriend for a while.

          Love is what children have to offer us. They don’t really demand all that much of us, just a little bit, all the time. Children are the greatest of all joys in life. It’s hard to see that sometimes. Wish at turns I’d stopped and smelled the roses a bit more. But children become those who love them.

  13. Nigger
    Uncle Tom
    Young Buck
    Welfare King/Queen

    Too many to write down. I’m done.

    I’ll just copy the lyrics for “Colored Spade” from Hair here.

    I’m a
    Colored spade
    A nigger
    A black nigger
    A jungle bunny
    Jigaboo coon
    Pickaninny mau mau

    Uncle Tom
    Aunt Jemima
    Little Black Sambo

    Cotton pickin’
    Swamp guinea
    Junk man
    Shoeshine boy

    Elevator operator
    Table cleaner at Horn & Hardart
    Slave voodoo
    Ubangi lipped

    Flat nose
    Tap dancin’
    Resident of Harlem

    And president of
    The United States of Love
    I said President of
    The United States of Love

    (and if you ask him to dinner you’re going to feed him:)

    Hominy grits
    An’ shortnin’ bread
    Alligator ribs
    Some pig tails
    Some black eyed peas
    Some chitlins
    Some collard greens

    And if you don’t watch out
    This boogie man will get you

Comments are closed.