Friday, June 22, 2012

Dan Savage and the f@ggot slur

This is a special end of the week contribution from Sparky, of Spark in Darkness

Ok so Dan Savage and the colluders at GOProud are having a little imbroglio over the useage of the slur f@ggot.

I’ve made it clear before what my stance is on slurs – I find them completely and utterly unacceptable.  Slurs serve to dehumanise

I also am not even remotely a fan of reclaiming, though I recognise that as a personal choice and leave it up to people to self-reference as they wish.

I have also made it clear I do not think insulting uses of slurs are reclaiming. It’s reclaiming to take their weapons and use them to reinforce and strengthen yourself. It’s not reclaiming to take their weapons and then USE them against your fellows. Reclaiming is beating the swords into armour, it’s not taking those swords and doing the stabbing yourself.

That being said, this is also very very very much a community discussion. There are a gazillion and one reasons to be pissed off at Dan Savage – and by all means leap on them and have at it because he has said some really fucked up things. But he is a gay man and he has far more ownership of that word, as one of that slur’s victims, than straight critics.

If you are a victim of this slur, if you are a gay or bi man, if this is a weapon used against you and, like me, you vehemently disagree with Dan – or any gay or bi man – using this slur in this method, then critique, speak out and object to this. Because, like me, you think this is wrong and some words should never ever be used – and certainly never as an insult.

If you are NOT a gay or bi man, if you are not a victim of this slur then this is not your place to criticise (or defend) this word use. It is not appropriate for people who are not a target of this slur to lecture someone who is on how he may or may not use that word. Even if you find one of those targets to quote who agrees with you (and do NOT use me that way)

It is also extremely inappropriate for straight people to judge whether or not a gay man has internalised homophobia. That is not your judgement call.

There are some discussions where one does not have the standing to speak without being presumptuous in the extreme. And the in-community discussions – and certainly arguments – of marginalised communities are definitely some of those times.