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Sluts, bitches, and the LGBT+ community

Have slurs become degendered in the LGBT+ community? Is it still marginalising women? Can we even answer these questions at all?

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If you’ve ever taken the time out of your week to watch RuPaul’s Drag Race (you should), been to Canal Street, or spent time with the LGBT+ community, then you will have noticed the issue of the gendered slur.

In our modern society, gendered slurs have completely lost all form of acceptability they once had. A slur has never been acceptable but gendered slurs have been tolerated more than others for a long time. We luckily live in a world where there is a marked decrease in the use of these terms because of their use to marginalise women.

Unfortunately, something odd seems to have happened in the LGBT+ community. In the LGBT+ community, gendered slurs seem to have lost their gender. It’s common to hear self-identifying men calling each other bitches, sluts, and whores within the community—it’s not even strange to hear a man calling another man ‘butch’ derogatively. Some may say that the loss of gender in these slurs is a good thing and it’s perfectly fine to have slurs that can apply to everyone and, indeed, men can be slutty bitchy whores.

It’s quite rare though that you would hear a member of the LGBT+ community calling a straight man—other than a very close friend—a gendered slur. Perhaps it’s because of the potential to get a punch from an emasculated man. Yet you would hear it being used against a woman.

Herein lies the major issue of degendered slurs in the LGBT+ community—they may seem progressive and perhaps they are—but the issue is that they’re not degendered outside of the LGBT+ community.

Calling a man a bitch is emasculating because he is inferring from the slur that he is being called a woman too. Calling a woman a slut is offensive because it supposes that a woman’s sexual promiscuity is somehow worse than that of a man—so much so that it does in fact deserve a separate word.

It’s not a problem with a close or an ideal solution, in fact it’s more of a question: Is the use of degendered slurs in the LGBT+ community marginalising to women? I would say that it probably still is marginalising, merely because of the fact that outside the LGBT+ world, the words carry marginalising weight. But then I ask myself where does progress start?

I suspect that the innate ability of LGBT+ people to avoid calling straight cis-men whores and sluts should also be innately extended to doing so with straight cis-women. Yet, LGBT+ people often do call women sluts and dykes and I think this evidences the fact that we’re subconsciously still aware of the gendered nature of these slurs, and it is only within LGBT+ safe spaces that they have lost that.

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    • Adam

      Wut?

  • Adam

    “It’s common to hear self-identifying men calling each other bitches, sluts, and whores within the community—it’s not even strange to hear a man calling another man ‘butch’ derogatively”
    Where the fuck do you find these people? If someone called that me, I’d laugh in their face because they’ve probably got skinny arms and chicken legs and are jealous. How the fuck is it an insult?
    And if it was intended as an insult, then they can expect an insult back. No need to cry about it.

    • unimpressed

      Adam please refrain from turning this well written piece into a joke. ‘probably got skinny arms and chicken legs’. Take the comments section seriously or don’t indulge in it at all. All you seem to comment on numerous articles is ‘no need to cry about it’, which is totally unconstructive and can be levelled at just about anything including the fact that you seem unable to resist commenting stupid things. Next time you feel compelled to share such a banal idea think before you post it. Thanks.

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