This nexus of gender politics and… well, anything, is like a year-round Santa providing a never-ending supply of deep-fried comedy gold. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. I seem to exist at the perfect nexus of topics to always have something to roll my eyes about when it comes to this. I’m a skeptic, a nerd, a gamer and a writer which means practically every day there’s some kind of internet kerfuffle relating to one of these as the strident ‘social justice’ warriors try to flex their moral-majority muscles to force people to conform in exactly the same way they’d decry the Christian right doing. (They get confused with Islam because they’re a minority experiencing prejudice but also have horrible beliefs).
If you were following the recent moral panic about trolling that hit the television you may have seen the Atheism+ cardinal ‘Oolon’ (double heresy, he’s a dickhead who uses Bod as a Twitter avatar and a Douglas Adams reference as his nickname) promoting his ‘Block Bot’. In principle the idea of a ‘block bot’ is a good one, a shared list of trolls and ne’er-do-wells in much the same way that programs like Adblock share lists of advertising sources to block them or that spam filters share keywords and sources to stop you getting all the spam you otherwise might. The trouble is that while an advertisement or spam mail is fairly cut and dried, what constitutes trolling is much more delicate and down to interpretation. It’s a much more nuanced and human problem, requiring discernment, which means it’s – at least for now – not something you can automate.
The practical upshot of this is that any block-bot list is, necessarily, going to have to be compiled by human beings. Vindictive, nasty, dishonest, cunty human beings. Cunts – literal and metaphorical – being the one thing Atheism+ is by no means short of. Predictably what this has meant is that mere disagreement with Atheism+, radfem dogma or not being the ‘right’ kind of feminist has lead to people being blocked as trolls. Pre-emptively blocked even, by those stupid enough to accept the block-bot at its word and automatically block whatever is on its list. This has lead to at least two ‘old school’, egalitarian feminists (what Christina Hoff Sommers calls equity feminism) being blocked by the block-bot at the A+ ideologues and probably a great many more. It has also meant a lot of people who simply question and demand evidence – such as myself – have been blocked. If I now swear and treat A+ and its ilk dismissively it’s because of bitter experience, not prejudice (judice, if you will).
One of the most ridiculous reasons given for some of these blocks is use of the word ‘cunt’.
For some reason ‘cunt’ has been elevated to the level of unholiest of unholies, the unutterable Word of Curse, the unspeakable oath, Americans, in particular, seem to take great exception to the word. Culturally there’s less of a taboo elsewhere. Here in Britain for example it’s used with relative ease and has nowhere near as much impact as it does to Americans. My wife, originally a yank, takes great pleasure in shouting the word, especially when there are other Americans around to be shocked. The SJ/A+ goonsquad has taken this to the level of saying that anyone that so much as uses the term is a misogynist.
I’ve never understood the taboo around swearing anyway. Why is ‘fucking cunt’ more insulting than ‘fornicating vagina’? Why would the first elicit fisticuffs and the second laughter? They mean the same fucking thing after all. Still, the point of most swear words is that they touch upon taboo. ‘Shit’ – excretion, ‘Piss’ – urination, ‘Cock’ – gender organ, ‘Cunt’ – gender organ. If ‘cunt’ is misogynistic then surely ‘cock’ is misandrist isn’t it? Man hating just as ‘cunt’ is woman hating?
I have an alternate hypothesis. Swear words just use taboos as a release of tension, an adding of emotional emphasis. While they talk about our ‘bits’ and our taboo activities (sex, death, pinching a loaf, draining the lizard) they do so through code words and euphemism because these things make us uncomfortable. Some of us. It doesn’t make them inherently misogynistic, misandrist or, indeed, anything else.
To paraphrase Jeremy Webb:
“Swearing is wonderful, and if you don’t like it, you can fuck off.”