Syllogismism

I’d rather be Queened anyhow

Posted in Language by Dizzy on February 21, 2008

I can understand the need among the oppressed to reclaim words that dominant groups have historically used to subjugate them. The idea makes sense to me, whether or not it’s a word I would use myself or have any right to use or even have an opinion about.

I really like the word cunt. Yeah, I’d like to reclaim it. I think has a nice ring to it and it seems to describe the anatomy better than any other word I can think of. (Holly wrote the best post I have ever read on the subject here. Give it a read.) And I really resent the idea that a word that was initially intended to describe the female genitalia has become just about worst thing you could call a person. What’s so bad about a cunt, anyway? I rather adore mine, to tell you the truth. It gives me much pleasure and I think it’s kinda cute.

I could talk here about Jane Fonda’s recent media debacle, the one where she uttered what is apparently the most offensive word in the English language on national television and had a major network apologizing on her behalf in about 3 minutes flat, even though she was reciting the title of a feminist monologue she performed and not, in fact, calling Katie Couric a cunt. I could talk about that, but I won’t.

Instead, I’ll talk about the Kings of SF, a group of intelligent, on top of their shit, progressive-minded folks in the San Francisco, a city where the Democratic mayor is on the far, far right of the local political spectrum and the measures that the activist groups manage to get on the ballot every election are some of the most sensible, inclusive, humane, planet-friendly ideas you’ve ever heard of. Seriously, San Francisco progressives know what’s up and they’re working their asses off every day trying to make their City a model for the change that’s possible in the world. Hats off, my friends.

So anyway, these good people put together a blog last November chronicling local progressive events and news and started off their journey with a well-intentioned introduction to what the Kings of SF are all about.

We all are. Guys, girls, women, men, transitioning, questioning. We know the word “king” is tied to gender and patriarchy and power and all of that messy stuff, but that’s not what we’re about. We want to redefine the “king” in “Kings of SF” as an inclusive, progressive compliment that we pay to our friends and mentors and idols. Anyone can be the King of SF. It’s about those “top of the world” moments….

Help us in reclaiming the words “king” and “chivalry.” In modern San Francisco, the idea of reserving these words for a single gender or orientation is so passé. All of us who believe in the idea of San Francisco are kings, and we aim to prove our royalty everyday through our chivalry towards our fellow kings.

…King me, motherfucker.

I understand the sentiment and I applaud the rationale behind it, but I take issue with idea that it’s possible to reclaim a word that has never been used to subjugate the holder of the title. In this case it’s quite the opposite.

From what I understand, reclaiming a word is an attempt to remove its oppressive power by using it in a way that encourages a sense of community instead of hate. What that means to me is that it’s impossible to reclaim a word that was never used to denigrate the object of the insult in the first place.

So aside from all that messy stuff about words that qualify for reclamation and words that don’t, what I think interests me most here is why is the word they chose to reclaim is so damned male. Why not attempt to gender-neutralize a title that describes female leaders? Imagine this:

We want to redefine the “queen” in “Queens of SF” as an inclusive, progressive compliment that we pay to our friends and mentors and idols. Anyone can be the Queen of SF. It’s about those “top of the world” moments….

Yeah, that’ s why. Because titles for women leaders of anything are so rich with femaleness, there’s no way to use them without sounding like a women’s or a gay rights group. I imagine it’s hard to attract a young straight male population to a group whose very title appears to exclude their own demographic (aw, poor dudes), but if you’re gonna get all crazy with this reclaiming shit and you wanna be really progressive, then do something a little different with this. Do something crazy, even.

King? Pfffft. Whatever. Anyone can gender-neutralize a male word. Make your City the only city in the world where a title that has historically described a woman is applied to both men and women, gay and straight, without it being an insult.

Now there’s a challenge. Good luck Kings!

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2 Responses

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  1. Genevieve said, on February 21, 2008 at 7:11 am

    Well-said.

  2. TP said, on February 21, 2008 at 10:33 pm

    If ever we are to eliminate gender, simply abandoning identifying the subordinate sex as women is one way to do it, as much as it seems strange to the subordinate sex. We all become men and try to forget that some of us were ever singled out as the sex men love to hate.

    Outside of making babies and sexual recreation, what difference is there between us that hasn’t been artificially constructed through cultural bias? Men have tits, but haven’t used them in so long that they are useless. The sex organs are a tiny fraction of our bodies. That’s it.

    It would be better to invent a new word, like womyn or something. Has that been done?

    Is there a cultural movement to do for the word cunt what we did to the word n****r? Make it the symbol of all the hate men hold for women? That’s what it feels like to me. It was a word that I never thought about much that seems to be becoming too important.


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