On Punk

[Trigger warning]

I was strolling through the news today when I came across this curious headline: "Author assumes guise of 10-year-old to punk famous." I wasn't sure what it meant, since the word "punk" was evoking for me this sort of thing. So I read the story, most of it anyway, and it turned out to be about adult author Bill Geerhart's new book about pranks he'd pulled as "Little Billy," like getting a Secretary of State to write back about "how to settle a treehouse dispute with his sister." Geerhart, explains the article, was "punking the famous and infamous by writing letters to them asking questions out of the mouths of babes."

Now, I could write a whole post on what I think about giving a book deal to some yo-yo who duped famous people by pretending to be a kid, but at the moment I'm more interested in the fact that the use of "punk" as a verb has moved into the national lexicon.

Because the etymology of "punk" is slang for prison rape. Yeah, to "punk someone out" means to "make them your bitch" — and a "punk-ass bitch" is not someone with a pink mohawk, but someone who's been anally raped.
The most widespread [prison slang term] is punk, used as a noun to mean a submissive homosexual, and a verb for coital relations with a submissive homosexual. It [was] first cited in a memoir of New York State’s Sing Sing prison in 1904. Punk is still in use, cited in every resource the present author has had access to. Punks are usually dominated by wolves, another common term...
See also these definitions:
a. Slang A young man who is the sexual partner of an older man.
b. Archaic A prostitute.
5. Obsolete a young male homosexual; catamite
6. Obsolete a prostitute
I don't think that the above connotations were at all lost on Ashton Kutcher and MTV when they created the show Punk'd, from where I will safely assume this term pushed its way into the public consciousness. When you've been pranked by Ashton, when he tells you you've been "punk'd," it's clearly just another way of saying, "I made you my bitch."

Welcome to the rape culture, where a slang word for rape can make its way through the language to a major news story in which it's used without any hint of its etymology, to sound "cool."

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