The Other F-word

I recently did some math and realized two things:

1. I’ve been blogging since April 7, 2006.
B. On January 1, 2012, I had two followers.
III. There are a ton of posts you haven’t seen.
4. It’s fun to drag up old posts, edit, and re-post.

Keep something in mind before reading this.  I am not a bigot.  I am not a homophobe, even though most people misuse the term.  I am not anti-gay.  I have gay friends, and I would just as easily embrace everything about my own kids if one of them were gay.  Got that?  Good.

(pssst.  if you want to save time, there’s a video at the end that basically sums up everything i’m writing.  take your pick, or both)

I pay a lot of attention to words, and I’m guessing that so do you or you wouldn’t be reading this.  There are lots of acceptable and unacceptable words, and there are also some debatable words.  Some words you’ll hear on The Simpsons but you won’t hear them on the nightly news, and sometimes that’s reversed.  On personal levels, acceptable and unacceptable is flexible.  My ex-wife has no trouble cursing in front of my kids, and she has no trouble with the kids using those same curses.  In my home, I don’t curse in front of the kids, and they know it’s not acceptable for them to use profanity.  The worst thing I’ve ever heard them say is “What the H?”  And she pronounced the letter “H.”  That isn’t my way of editing the word “hell.”

When it comes to the debatable words, there are various ways of referring to them, such as the “F” word, the “N” word, the “S” word. We call people “B” instead of bitch.  The “N” word (I don’t prefer to say or write it) is not a curse, but it’s used in rap music in an altered form.  So although it’s not really a curse, it is morally wrong, but now the debatable curses are debatable as to why they’re debatable.  We have all kinds of words that are bleeped and/or inappropriate, but I heard something recently that I just have trouble accepting.

About five years ago, an actor named Isaiah Washington was fired from Grey’s Anatomy for calling someone a faggot.  Shortly after, I was listening to a great radio show out of Philadelphia on a rock station, WMMR. The show is called “Preston and Steve.”  As Preston was talking about the firing of the actor, he referred to the incident as “using the 6-letter F word.” I almost crashed.

Are you shitting me?  We have to say “the 6-letter F word”?  The host of the show wasn’t calling anyone “faggot.” He was just referring to the fact that someone else called someone “faggot.”  In that context, there’s nothing wrong with saying “faggot.”  Of course, if the actor had called someone a “fucking faggot,” then I totally expect the news reader to say, “f-ing faggot.”  I do not expect a news guy to say, “f-ing six-letter f-word.”

I”m not going to attempt to defend the idea of calling someone “faggot.”  I’m not going to try explaining that it’s okay to call someone “faggot” because it is not okay.  However, I do need to explain my reaction because I’m sure there are many people who feel that there is NO occasion in which “faggot” is acceptable.  It’s possible that some people wouldn’t even want me to say “faggot” even if I were saying that the word “faggot” is the most horrible word ever.  Even then, they’d still want me to avoid saying it.  But I still need to explain something.

When I grew up in the 70’s, and nobody had ever put “politically” and “correct” together, “Fag” was an everyday word, but “fag” – TO US – had nothing to do with “gay.” “Fag” meant someone who wasn’t cool in some way. It was someone who did something that was wrong, something that they should have known not to do. If someone told the teacher that you were cheating on a test, they were a fag. If you couldn’t stay out past 9 on a weekend, you were a fag.  If you wore “slacks” to school instead of jeans, you were a fag.  We were not at all thinking about the concept of gay or people who were gay.  In fact, I’m positive that I had already been using the term “fag” well before I even knew that there were gay people out there.

Please keep in mind that I didn’t even know anything about heterosexual sex until about 6th or 7th grade.  It was not a concept I had a reason to think about.  I specifically remember the exact moment I started thinking about the concept of sex.  I was walking to school and passed a house with its garage door open.  Inside was a giant poster of a woman in a bright yellow bikini leaning over a car.  That image burned itself into my head, and thus began my investigation to learn why I couldn’t shake that image.  Based on the logic of kids and my friends at that time, they would have had the right to say that, on the topic of sex, I was a “fag” because I didn’t know anything about it.

But back to the gays.  I know now that the word “fag” is too closely tied to “gay,” and I know that it’s negative. I know now that if I call someone “fag,” I’m going to be accused of subconsciously saying that being gay is not cool, but that was never what we meant. We didn’t care if people were gay.  We didn’t think about people being gay.  We didn’t think of the possibility that someone might go through the following thought process:  Hmmm.  That boy just called something “faggy.”  And that something that he called “faggy” is something he doesn’t like.  That means he doesn’t like people who are gay.  And I’m gay, and now that boy has insulted and hurt me.

I’m aware of that now, and I’m working on it now.  For example, there are times when I let the dog out in the yard, and then I want him to get back in the house but she’s just sitting there looking at me.  And occasionally I’ll say, “Hey, faggot, get back in the house.”  Right after I say it, I know it’s wrong, and I know I have to work on it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=we-zND9Ihes

I know it’s not “right,” but I was brought up to believe that being a “fag” has nothing to do with being gay.  Before you yell at me for being hateful, read this other post from a while back in which I defend and support gay marriage.

 

75 thoughts on “The Other F-word

  1. I don’t think you are anything other than sensible. There was news story in the past year or so when someone famous, news, politician got in trouble for using the word “niggardly”. Oh hell’s bells, look it up!!! This country has gone overboard in our sensitivity training and that is so three letter g word!

    Great post!

  2. I think…many words don’t mean what they used to, I also think people are so hyper-vigilant and and sensitive to any and all insults intended or not… The whole darn world needs to lighten up! 🙂

    J

  3. Well i am popping out for a ‘fag’ right now because over here in the UK it is a cigarette and a faggot is a rather replusive food so i will skip those

      • well you are gonna regret asking but this is the wiki definition
        Jump to: navigation, search
        Faggots, gravy, mashed potatoes and marrowfat processed peas

        Faggots are a traditional dish in the UK,[1][2] especially South and Mid Wales and the Midlands of England.[3][4][5] It is made from meat off-cuts and offal, especially pork.[3] A faggot is traditionally made from pig’s heart, liver and fatty belly meat or bacon minced together, with herbs added for flavouring and sometimes bread crumbs. The mixture is shaped in the hand into balls, wrapped round with caul fat (the omentum membrane from the pig’s abdomen), and baked.

  4. So if faggot is the new gauche term for gay, is faggophobic the new term for homophobic? Is faggosexual the new term for homosexual? Is faggorific the new term for homorific? It really gets complicated doesn’t it?

  5. Amen to that brother. What about the 6-letter N word that only African American people can call each other!!! Disrespect is disresect, no matter what colour you are. I agree with Chris Rock!

    • No. I did not do very much reading of other people’s blogs or commenting at all. Back around january I learned was freshly pressed was. Then I started reading other blogs and making comments and then giving other people to read my blog. I really did not know what I was doing other than posting crap.

  6. When I grew up in the, ahem, nineties (I know I’m old), we used the word “gay” the way you used “fag”–and kids still do. Say, a movie was terrible, we’d come out of the theaters grunting, “ugh, that shit was so fuckin’ gay dawg'” Of course, I’m many years older and wiser now and don’t like to use it because I have a lot of gay/lesbian/queer buddies and am queer myself.

    Oh dear, “queer”. That’s another word. It was used just to mean strange, then it became a derogatory term for gays. Now LGBTQ people have re-adopted the term, and people like myself use it when we don’t find, “gay” or “lesbian” or “bi” to be fitting. Of course, I’m still just a closeted queer.

    Yay for etymology! Go on gramps! 🙂

  7. That math in the begining,i think every blogger should read that,specially the new ones..have seen new ones giving up too soon cos they are not getting enough followers..which i know can be disheartning,but some times it does take time..plus understanding the tagging,part is one tough job……wow
    you are funny Rich,am talking about the part where you wrote no one used politically and correct together in 70’s
    loved the write up 🙂

  8. Words are in, words are out, words change their meanings, whole phrases spring up that mean the exact opposite of what you think they should mean – e.g. ‘fully sick mate’ meaning really good????? I GIVE UP!

  9. Reading your post I could not stop smiling… I have no idea how many times I have cursed in my past… sometimes I must not have even thought about it… 🙂 You are right, we should not use certain words… but we do when we are in complete stress or when it seams the only way to release the pressure…
    Also this makes me think of how different life was and is America compared to the place where I come from…
    🙂 Thank you for this post Rich, it is inspiring for me as an individual.

  10. the times they are a-changing, great work, explaining to the young-uns about pre-politically correct days, aka pre-hyphen days, LOL
    enjoyed the diversion of your youth with the poster 🙂

  11. I don’t necessarily disagree with what you are saying and, having grown up in the same-ish era as you, I know exactly what you are saying about how the definition of words changes. (BTW – ever so often, I get on a kick and listen to MMR….yes, we get that station here in Jersey, too). There are certain words I will never use (the “N” word, the “C” word) and there are certain words that I use with gusto (the “B” word, the “A” word) and there are others that I use as an exclamation point (the “S” word and, sometimes, the “F” word – it is quite versatile). My kids are not allowed to use any of those words outside of the house. EVER. And the one thing they are never, ever allowed to use is the word “fag.” Mostly cause kids can’t understand the idea of context. I don’t want them inadvertently hurting someone’s feelings by calling them a “fag.” Plus, honestly, I actually find it kind of offensive. However, this is America. And while I understand why Steve & Preston didn’t use the word, I find it ridiculous that our country has become so PC that we cannot express ourselves in a way that is alright with us. We have to constantly question if what we are about to say may offend this or that person. It’s actully quite tiresome. All that being said, I thought this was a really good post. Well done, sir 🙂

  12. I’ve had many discussions about the usage of potentially hateful words being used in a non-hateful manner. Even a word like “retarded” being used a synonym for “stupid” is potentially hurtful these days. What it really comes down to is common speech. I think a word loses all meaning depending on usage.

    If I used the word “sandwich” to be synonymous for “fuck”, it doesn’t mean that every time I said “sandwich” was me swearing. Still, words themselves have power, I suppose.

  13. I am impressed by how long you were blogging. Man, you were blogging back when it was faggy. J/K. 😉

    Sometimes we put too much power and meaning in words. While I agree that some have become inappropriate and insulting, they’re just words. It’s our own fault for making a word more than just that.

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