It’s been a good run.

It’s been a good run.

Guess it’s time to throw in the towel. I’ve had my feminist card revoked.

The word ‘dude’ is not feminist.  Everyone, make a note of it.

In response to an unrelated comment wherein your author wrote, “Dude, it’s a metaphor,” echoing the so-cal surfer culture my dudely progenitor had come of age in, commenter Friend of Snakes revoked my feminist card:

Is “Dude” the new omnisexual “you guys?” Because if it isn’t, it feels like what guys intend when they call us the names we know so well. So why do it on a feminist site? Can’t you just make your points/objections/arguments without that kind of barb?

Or maybe you know that Ashley is, in fact, a man? Please share.

p.s., I just followed your link. I note you describe yourself thusly:

I’m transmasculine, which is a short way of saying health issues preclude transitioning but I would if I could. I spend far too much time correcting the wrong people on the internet.

So you consider yourself a dude and your idea of calling out someone who’s a woman is to call her a man? My head is spinning.

Now, you may recall a few weeks ago that I lost any claim to trans status by casually using the term “lady parts” to refer to vaginas.  Vaginas, as a commenter reasonably pointed out, can be man-parts.

Now, though, my manliness while female has proved my undoing.  I have become too dudely.  I have crossed over, turning to oppress the cis women I’ve left behind.  I’ve called them dude.  And as a transdude, a dude is clearly the worst thing I’d think a woman can be.

In Real Life (tm) I'm a graduate student studying communication disorders. Someday, I may even have a job. Until then, I spend my days trolling as an official member of the Sanctimonious Women's Studies Set and as one of those Internet Atheists your mother warned you about. Oh, and I'm transmasculine, which is a short way of saying health issues preclude transitioning but I would if I could. I spend far too much time correcting the wrong people on the internet.

17 Comments

  1. I hear that you can get a new one by burning a bra on the night of the full moon. In the morning, a shiny new card will glisten from within the ashes.

    That exchange made about as much sense as this suggestion. (But hey, maybe I’ll try that sometime myself, because it sounds like the sort of thing most of my male acquaintances would expect me to do, and kinda fun, besides.)

  2. Sounds like xe was taking ‘dude’ as an insult, i.e. calling a woman a man in order to claim she’s unfeminine and therefor worth less or some shit like that.

    Xe probably should have just stopped at “new omnisexual ‘you guys’”, because it is kind of obvious that that was your intent

  3. Oh damn, finicky mouse clicking submit at the worst point.

    As I meant to continue on;

    That said, despite being someone who uses ‘Dude’ and ‘Man’ in the similar omnisexual context as you, I am trying to use them less because this person does have a point. The only real difference between the omnisexual dude/man and calling everyone ‘he’ on the internet in practice is, really, the word used. Only you know if you’re using it omnisexually or not. Everyone else has to interpret your meaning and that’s difficult to do accurately with something used in so many ways.

    Also, I get what you mean with your last sentence, but you must remember that there really is no reason to draw the conclusion ‘A transmasculine person should not have issues with women being masculine.’ Logically it makes sense, but so does ‘women shouldn’t have issues with feminists’ and such. There are trans people that enjoy throwing other trans people under the bus, and trans men that have misogynistic attitudes (including ones that involve ‘masculine’ being an insult to women). Friend of Snakes, having apparently gained hir only info about you via your description of yourself, doesn’t have any reason to assume that you aren’t like that.

    And yes, it sucks to have someone assume that you’re antifeminist and such. At the same time, that usually means that it’s time to reevaluate how you’re coming off to people instead of assuming that the other person is overreacting, or blaming them for missing your intent (or making a post about it, which comes off as really petty)

    Slightly tangentially, I really have to side with Friend of Snakes, for different reasons. I’ve read you enough to know that you didn’t mean it as an insult to Ashley. At the same time, ‘dude’ is a really clumsy word to use towards people regardless of gender unless you know them well. At best you’re reinforcing that male = default, and at worst you could unintentionally call a trans woman a male word. That reason was enough for me to give up prefacing things with ‘man’ and ‘dude’ on the internet, at least.

    • Yet, I wonder if Yessenia did not identify as transmasculine but as a cis woman, would the reaction have been the same? Why bring it up at all? It’s not really relevant to whether or not some women like or dislike being called dude.

      There’s a lot of assumptions on Friend of Snakes’ part up there. I generally agree with you that we should be respectful of words people do and do not want used in reference to themselves–but that’s not what this is. This is someone policing language on someone else’s behalf.

      Tangentially related, I am a cisman and I generally don’t like being called dude but for very different reasons (it’s usually really young people who do it in disrespectful ways–using it as a friendly term with people they shouldn’t because they’re not on personal terms with them).

      • Only Friend of Snakes knows if the reaction would be the same, but hir comment about Yessenia being transmasculine seemed to be more tangential than anything, as a comment on how this was extra confusing as opposed to extra wrong.

        And I must say I boggled a bit at how this could be policing language- seriously? That is the same phrase used by MRAs when they get mad about having sexist language called out. The only difference here is that whether or not the language is sexist is disagreed upon. Regardless, this is not policing. This is saying that Yessenia used a phrase that can easily be taken in a sexist way, and therefor came off as unfeminist. That is not policing.

        As for on someone else’s behalf, how is that in any way a bad thing? Replace ‘dude’ with any word that is agreed upon to be sexist, and tell me that you wouldn’t have spoken up on Ashley’s behalf. I certainly would. Sexist language doesn’t only affect you if it’s directed towards you.

        • “Dude” is a phrase now?

          I’m not sure we should decide which concepts are true or useful by playing opposites-day with MRAs.

          Yes, if we replaced dude with a sexist word, it would be sexist. That doesn’t make dude an epithet. You have to establish that independently before you can argue it should be treated like other epithets.

        • And I must say I boggled a bit at how this could be policing language- seriously?

          Seriously.

          That is the same phrase used by MRAs when they get mad about having sexist language called out.

          “That” being “policing” or “That” being “dude”? I’m confused as to what you’re talking about.

          If you’re talking about “policing” being a term that MRAs use, I don’t know what to tell you. The idea of policing (gender policing, language policing, body policing, etc.) has a long history in feminism. Just because MRAs use a word or phrase does not automatically make it useless or incorrect.

          Regardless, this is not policing. This is saying that Yessenia used a phrase that can easily be taken in a sexist way, and therefor came off as unfeminist. That is not policing.

          It’s the very definition of policing. It is an attempt to control how people use language in a certain space. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing (we police language here on Queereka). To pretend that it’s not policing because you agree with it seems disingenuous.

          As for on someone else’s behalf, how is that in any way a bad thing? Replace ‘dude’ with any word that is agreed upon to be sexist, and tell me that you wouldn’t have spoken up on Ashley’s behalf. I certainly would. Sexist language doesn’t only affect you if it’s directed towards you.

          I don’t know, I certainly wouldn’t want people speaking on my behalf and making assumptions about words I like or don’t like to be used in reference to myself. Certainly someone can point out the possibly sexist nature of the word “dude” without appealing to assumptions about other people’s preferences. There is also the problem of running with the assumption that Yessenia meant “man” when saying “dude.”

          By the way, I never said no one was affected by sexist language except those it’s directed towards. You can argue against sexist language without making assumptions about how other people feel about it and arguing on their behalf. If you don’t like “dude” and think it’s sexist, say that, and not “oh Ashley would be so offended for being called a man!” Let Ashley say that for herself.

          Anyway, I don’t really know how I feel about “dude” being a sexist term or not. I not so far convinced that it’s a gendered slur. How, in your opinion, is it sexist? There is not really clear agreement as to the gendered nature of the word. It seems to me that it could be insulting because it’s a word feminists have used to describe clueless/sexist men and MRAs, but that’s something separate from whether or not the word in colloquial usage is sexist.

          • First off; please point out where I called ‘dude’ a gendered slur. I said it was gendered, and that was the issue here. It doesn’t have to be a slur to be insulting when you use it towards a woman.

            I never said it was a sexist word either; I said that the usage, being a masculine word used towards a woman, can be and was considered sexist.

            Anyways, the ‘phrase’ was ‘policing language’. And perhaps you see this (and censoring language itself) as policing, but I don’t. This is saying that one should consider the language that they use in order to not come off in an undesired way. How is that anywhere close to “This is the only way to do things and you MUST do things this way because I say so” that’s characteristic of policing? Though of course, I guess you don’t see ‘policing’ with the same negative connotation that it… has always had? Oh well. If this is policing to you, and if that is something that you would consider that Queereka does… so? That makes the only difference between “It’s sexist to call a woman dude” and anything you would claim is worth policing to be whether or not you agree with it.

            And perhaps you don’t want someone to speak on your behalf. That’s you. That doesn’t mean that the entire concept of speaking up for someone when you see what you perceive to be sexist language used towards them.

            But even if the major issue here is that Friend of Snakes was defending Ashley instead of commenting on the sexism on its own, that is at best an issue of Friend of Snakes wording hir post differently. If xe left out the part about Ashley and just kept in “can we keep the calling-women-men out of feminism” and mentioned that it personally offended hir it would mean the same thing.

            And again, I did not call ‘dude’ a sexist term, or a slur, or anything besides ‘gendered’. It’s meant to mean ‘man’ with the same regularity that ‘men’ means man (excluding few instances such as ‘mankind’ and whatnot where it’s omnisexual). Most people interpret it to mean male, which is why the (albeit underused) ‘dudette’ exists.

            The sexist issue was using a male term to refer to a female person, something that can range from innocently reinforcing male-as-default to an attempt to insult a woman’s femininity.

            And even if you don’t intend ‘dude’ to mean ‘male’ (which it does to most people, even those who use it towards anyone), intent is still not magic.

          • “Replace ‘dude’ with any word that is agreed upon to be sexist, and tell me that you wouldn’t have spoken up on Ashley’s behalf.”

            “(And I must say that claiming that dude has a different meaning in california comes off a lot like the argument regarding the word cunt having a different meaning in Britain- that is, even if it does, you still have to acknowledge the meaning used by everyone else)”

            You may not have used the word slur, but you suggested we replace it with other sexist terms (which really only proves that ‘dude’ is a noun) and then compared it to ‘cunt.’

    • This must be a regional thing, because ‘dude’ in California usually doesn’t mean the strict definition of ‘a man.’ It’s more like where other languages would have ‘friend’ or, even more often, as a placeholder expression. I wasn’t saying she was a man, and it wasn’t even to put her down. It was intended to connote a bit of “WTF,” though; I could have said “Er,” and it wouldn’t have changed the meaning. I think if I’d used the female backformation “dudette” that would have been more insulting, because it would have communicated that I was consciously thinking about the poster’s gender and had decided to comment upon it.

      It’s also worth noting that unlike with other dichotomies (guys/gals; men/women; boys/girls) the word ‘dudette’ really isn’t even in common usage. To me, that says the word ‘dude,’ like the word human, though it may have the male-as-default commonly projected upon it, is not fundamentally a gendered word.

      (or making a post about it, which comes off as really petty)

      The internet: serious business. ;-)

      • Question: there’s a word that begins with c and is a nasty epithet for female genitalia, and, sometimes, for women themselves. Except in England, where it’s just a general insult and lacks a gender component. Would it be OK for British people in a feminist space to use this c word, because where they come from it’s not a gendered insult? I don’t think so. Similarly, I think that your “California” argument is an explanation but not an excuse. Gender-specific language can be exclusive, especially on the internet. Gender-neutral language is more inclusive, so, generally, I think that we should prefer it.

        • Right. I agree with that. But is there any evidence that the word ‘dude’ is a gendered slur in any space anywhere? Showing that ‘cunt’ is a gendered slur in the US is trivially easy.

      • I’m aware that regionally it apparently means a different thing, and acknowledged that you didn’t intend to put her down, but as the saying goes, intent isn’t magic. Nor does it matter. People say gendered things unintentionally all the time, and the fact that they didn’t mean to has never made it okay.

        You are correct that saying “Er” wouldn’t have meant anything different from you. It’s the same thing with gender neutral pronouns. “He” and “she” and “xe” and “they” and what have you all mean the same thing and serve the same purpose on my end. What changes is how the person reading what I type receives what I say, and whether or not they get my intent. Hopefully, if you’re trying to communicate effectively, that’s the goal. Not ‘well, that isn’t what I meant, so too bad’ when the onus for how you’re interpreted is entirely on you.

        And serious business or not, as far as I can see it this was a minor disagreement over the intent of a word in a comments section that could have ended with ‘Sorry, I didn’t think that it would be taken like that and I don’t mean to insult’ and was instead elevated to a blog post. I’ll take that as petty.

        (And I must say that claiming that dude has a different meaning in california comes off a lot like the argument regarding the word cunt having a different meaning in Britain- that is, even if it does, you still have to acknowledge the meaning used by everyone else)

        • I don’t think I’m making an ‘intent makes it ok’ argument because I’m not convinced that ‘dude’ has this meaning of a gendered slur. The entire claim is that I intended to put her down by calling her a man, not that the use of the word itself is unacceptable. I doubt she interpreted it that way until after she clicked through my name and saw that I was trans. So, I think Will has a point that if I identified as a cis-woman, there wouldn’t have even been a conversation about it.

          What I’m saying that if I hear a British person ask someone if they can spare a faggot, it would be silly to react as if they were human traffickers of gay people, and pretty outrageous to suggest their Britishness as a cause for their career choice.

          Also bt dub, if ya read the thread I did clarify that, and it didn’t end. I thought it would, too. Weird, huh?

  4. I’m also totally on board with someone calling you out for referring to vaginas as “lady parts”.

    Dan Savage, who has a sometimes strained relationship with the trans community, recently apologized for implying that all men have penises. I hope that we can do better on trans issues than Dan Savage does, so being careful about that sort of language seems appropriate.

    http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2012/06/06/not-all-dudes-have-dicks

    • Yup, dude totally had a point, which is why I qualified it with ‘reasonably.’

  5. “Dude” as a disparaging label used primarily by heterosexual men to insult or jab other heterosexual men, as the “u” visually symbolizes a vagina and the d’s symbolize male genitalia. In this case, the d on the left is unaware that his “u” is seeing another d on the side. The word is clearly derived from the term “dud,” and like “dud” implies that the man in question is deficient in some way (which is presumably why his gf is with another man). The term “dud” morphed into “dude” when it was mispronounced by some french surfers. The new spelling added some extra oomph to the insult, as the visual symbolism of “dude” implies that the man-on-the-side has some extra “e” (I’m not sure what “e” is. Perhaps I lack imagination). “Dood,” a less hetero-normative spelling of the word, was once proposed as a replacement. The o’s in “dood” represent the faces of two people (of indeterminate gender) holding their thumbs (d’s) up posing for a picture. Thus, it implies that the recipient of the label is a good friend, the kind of person you’d like to take a thumbs-up picture with. Unfortunately, “dood” never took hold in the popular culture, although I have seen some people use it online, along with other variants (dudez, dewd).

    Yeah, just kidding about that. Revisionist etymology is one of my hobbies. Anyway, I don’t have any problem the word “dude” myself, but if it’s damaging or distracting, I’ll consider it an opportunity to look for equally playful alternatives.

Add Comment Register



Leave a Reply