Big Girl

John Aravosis (new link here):

Senator Pat Robert (R-KS) is nothing more than a big girl.
I clicked through to comments, expecting to see him being taken to task for it. Sure enough (comment has been deleted):

Well, on behalf of the "girls" who read this blog, I am a little offended.
John edited the comment with the following (bold his):

NOTE FROM JOHN: After all, what's really important about what I wrote isn't that we're losing our civil liberties as our democracy disappears, but rather, that you're offended by the use of gay vernacular. Thanks for helping us keep the eye on the ball.
Aravosis appears to be asserting that because "big girl" was used in "the gay way," it couldn't be sexist, but its inclusion in the gay vernacular does not change its origins.

Just because someone—or some term—is gay doesn’t mean it can’t possibly be misogynist; sexism isn’t the sole province of straight men. In fact, some of the most virulent misogynists I have ever met have been gay men. I have known gay men who, perhaps having spent a lifetime of being slandered with female-associated slurs (girly, sissy), seem to have internalized the negative associations and find no better way to distance themselves from that name-calling then by denigrating women and incorporating sexist slurs into their vernacular. (Mostly, the gay men I have known have gone the opposite direction and are fantastic feminist allies.)

The irony here is that his use of the term comes in an important post about the encroachment on our civil liberties—but one of the most oft-employed tactics in laying the groundwork for undermining the civil liberties of any group (or resisting extending equality) is to demonize them, and demonizers are ever reliant upon inflammatory language. “Radical homosexual agenda” versus gay rights. “Pro-abortion” versus pro-choice. “Feminazis” versus feminists. “Liberal traitors” or “Terrorist sympathizers” versus defenders of the Constitution. Sexist, racist, homophobic, and other incendiary language and advocacy for the denial of civil rights have always been inextricably linked, making it all the more unfortunate that Aravosis now refuses to acknowledge his error, as an important post is undermined by a paltry excuse for sexist language.

I understand it’s part of the gay vernacular. But that it is doesn’t mean that it should be. It’s a poor assumption that anything “gay” couldn’t possibly be sexist, and makes for a poor excuse indeed. I'd like to assume that Aravosis made the mistake in good faith, not considering that there are parts of the gay vernacular that have the capacity to insult women, but his response thus far hasn't reassured me that he's willing to thoughtfully engage that possibility.

UPDATE: I had an afterthought about invoking "gay vernacular" to defend this particular use of the term seeming suspicious to me which I stuck in comments, but I'm going to add it, long with Fritz's response, which reinforces my thought, here:

I said, "And, as a side note, being the well-versed in Gayese fag hag that I am, I'd also note I've never heard 'big girl' used as an insult, but instead as a cheeky compliment, even when directed at another man, so I'm not certain that defending its employment as a derogatory term by saying it's part of the gay vernacular is actually all that correct. In other words, I've been around gay men who have used the term and was never offended—but that's because they never used it this way. Aravosis, based on my experience, is using it in a fashion that is atypically negative, so I'm not convinced his 'gay vernacular' defense is entirely appropriate."

Fritz said, "When big homos like me use the term 'girl', we're not saying that someone is weak or frightened. Typically, it means just the opposite. It means that we think another gay man is being fiercely girlish—expressing his feminine side in a bold and unapologetic manner. Example: A gay man puts on a pair of lime green hot pants and a Strawberry Shortcake babydoll t-shirt to go out to a club. His friends may say, 'Ooooo, you're a just a BIG GIRL!' That's a compliment. That's using the term in a 'gay way.' Calling a politician a 'big girl' for being what you consider to be weak and cowardly is using the term the same way a schoolyard bully would."

Yeah. The more I think about this, the less willing I am to give it a pass.

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