August 07, 2007

Doggess, Please

Warning: this post contains offensive language bandied about with relish and a spot of mustard.

I want to open this post with a cartoon that Diana posted the other day:

heh heh heh... 'vagina squirrels' heh heh heh...

Ok. So, anyway.


There. I said it.


What do those two words have in common? Some people in New York want them banned.

With regard to "nigger," the efforts were successful in February when the New York City Council decided to symbolically ban the word.

Granted, the ban is merely symbolic. No one will go to jail or receive citations for having uttered the word. It's a good thing, too, because then I wouldn't be able to rap along with Ludacris' interlude in the Missy Elliot song "Gossip Folks" without the secret police pushing me down in the street and taking my iPod away.

Well, now people are talking about banning the word "bitch." Mister Bookworm sent me this article this morning:

NY Times: It’s a Female Dog, or Worse. Or Endearing. And Illegal?

The term is hateful and deeply sexist, said Councilwoman Darlene Mealy of Brooklyn, who has introduced a measure against the word, saying it creates “a paradigm of shame and indignity” for all women.

But conversations over the last week indicate that the “b-word” (as it is referred to in the legislation) enjoys a surprisingly strong currency — and even some defenders — among many New Yorkers.

And Ms. Mealy admitted that the city’s political ruling class can be guilty of its use. As she circulated her proposal, she said, “even council members are saying that they use it to their wives.”

It's hard to take this sort of proposal seriously what with image of councilmen walking around calling their wives 'bitches' in my head. And how seriously should we take this when the people writing the legislation aren't even mature enough to actually say "bitch" in the legislation.

Which b-word? Bootylicious? Bulemia? B*A*P*S? Badonkadonk? There are so many.

Ten rappers were cited in the legislation, along with an excerpt from an 1811 dictionary that defined the word as “A she dog, or doggess; the most offensive appellation that can be given to an English woman.”

I was planning to start using "doggess" in place of "bitch" anyway.

Can we talk about how few English women there are in New York compared to all the other sorts of women we have?

And I think it is agreed now that "cunt" is the most offensive appellation these days and I said it, too.

You know my position on this. If you mean "nigger," "bitch," "cunt" or whatever, then you should use exactly the word you mean. Don't insult me further by coyly referring to it as "the n-word" or "the b-word."

“They buried the n-word, but what about the other words that really affect women, such as ‘b,’ and ‘ho’? That’s a vile attack on our womanhood,” Ms. Mealy said in a telephone interview. “In listening to my other colleagues, that they say that to their wives or their friends, we have gotten really complacent with it.”

If people are becoming 'complacent' with the word "bitch," then doesn't that indicate that the word does not carry the same weight as it did in the 1400's? Won't enshrining it with this law draw more attention to the word and remind people that it is one of the words to choose from when you really want to insult a bitch? Indeed, others agree:

Robin Lakoff, a Brooklyn-born linguist who teaches at the University of California, Berkeley, said that she despised the word, but that enforcing linguistic change through authority “almost never works,” echoing comments from some New Yorkers who believed a ban would only serve to heighten the word’s power.

This is extremely ridiculous.

If you want people to behave with courtesy and civility, you don't ban words. You have to teach people why civility and courtesy are good and necessary. You also have to acknowledge that the standards of courtesy are at least as variable and changing as the use of certain words.

To stop people from actually using "bitch" to insult people means that you actually have to change their minds about insulting people in that way. You actually have to somehow police their thoughts. You can see where I'm going with this.

Banning words is plainly idiotic. These are your tax dollars at work.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at August 7, 2007 11:23 AM | TrackBack


I really enjoyed this post...thanks!

Posted by: Rational Jenn at August 7, 2007 06:21 PM

When they buried the n-word, I wondered whether the word 'faggot' would follow in its footsteps.

Posted by: Scott at August 8, 2007 12:15 PM

We'll see. Interesting that the f-word hasn't caught as much attention as the b-word in her eyes when almost no one uses "faggot" in a fun way.

But there is a movement afoot to get rappers to stop the homophobia in their raps. It makes headlines periodically.

I did see this woman on the news this morning and she's an idiot. She didn't understand how banning the use of a word could be considered unconstitutional.

Posted by: Flibbert at August 8, 2007 12:34 PM

How Apropros...I just watched an excellent program on this very subject last night. It was the Profanity episode from season two of Penn & Teller: Bullshit!

Here's the blurb from their website:
Season Two: Profanity
A whole show on words and the power we give them, focusing on the latest actions of the FCC and other anti-profanity groups. The First Amendment is under attack. Hey, what country do we live in?

Posted by: lucylovebiscuit at August 8, 2007 04:01 PM

I thought it was even worse to call a woman a dog than to call her a b-b-b - a you know what. The Urban Dictionary defines this sense of dog as follows:

"an reali ugly girl that goes after boys and dosent get the hit they dont want her and sleeps around. usualy used by girls bitchin on another"

Posted by: valda redfern at August 9, 2007 04:09 PM

Call me crazy, but I don't think the word bitch existed in the lexicon of Middle English. I mean I even looked it up. Just sayin'.

Middle English Lookup here:

Posted by: Marnee at August 9, 2007 07:25 PM

Oh god. Never mind, I discovered it. Bicche, it does.


Posted by: Marnee at August 9, 2007 08:22 PM
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