Tagged: language

Fuck you, Louise Thompson: I AM FAT

I think the worst thing about this column in the Herald is that its writer thinks she’s being helpful with tips like:

“I’m fat” is a lie

It’s not a useful description of a permanent characteristic, like “I have blue eyes” or “I’m 5 foot 4″

What is far more accurate and empowering is “I have fat”.

Here’s the thing, Louise:

I am fat.

It is a useful description.

Height and eye colour aren’t necessarily “permanent characteristics” either.

And there is absolutely nothing more harmful in my eyes than telling people to disown parts of their bodies.

That’s the whole fucking problem with our fatphobic weight culture.  It’s a culture of body-hating.  It’s a culture which drives people, especially women, into a cycle of self-hatred and judgement and constant fucking anxiety.  It feeds billion-dollar industries peddling snake oil and lies.  It distracts us from living our lives as beautiful unique sparkleponies meat popsicles human beings.  It buys into  a (not really) shitty Judeo-Christian/Enlightenment/Descartian mind-versus-body dichotomy which is basically the root of a hell of a lot of oppressive systems (short version: we’re constantly sold the lie that our minds are all that matters while being oppressed via our delicious meaty bodies).

(Note:  the same linguistic fuckery plays a role in the oppression of people of colour, people with disabilities, and trans people, but that’s a lot more complex than I’m qualified to speak on.)

No self-hate required.

This is the greatest lie of all.  You can’t tell people to divorce themselves from their own physical existences and then say they shouldn’t hate themselves.  That’s basically the fucking definition of self-hate.

Oh, and a final note to the sub who put this under the headless-fatty image used to illustrate the article:

The phrase; ‘I’m fat’, is not a body positive statement

I’M FAT, AND YOU BETTER BELIEVE THAT’S A FUCKING BODY-POSITIVE STATEMENT.

TLDR:

Make fat work

 

Te Ika-a-Māui and Te Waipounamu are not second-class names

So Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson has officially recorded the names of our two main islands, Te Ika-a-Maui and Te Waipounamu, or North Island and South Island.

But there’s a problem.

Even in the Minister’s own media statement – so I can’t totally hate our media for reporting it this way – the decision is described thus:

Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson today announced the recorded English names of the two main islands of New Zealand, the North Island and South Island, will be formalised.

“I have also approved the Geographic Board recommendation to assign official alternative Maori names for the two islands, Te Ika-a-Māui (for the North Island) and Te Waipounamu (for the South Island).

Um, fuck you, Maurice, and fuck your racist colonial framing of this decision.

Sorry, jumping ahead of myself.  Here’s what Land Information New Zealand has to say about the alternative naming proposal:

The Board is seeking the public’s views on whether or not to formalise the names ‘North Island’ and ‘Te Ika-a-Māui’, and ‘South Island’ and ‘Te Waipounamu’, for the two main islands of New Zealand.

This means that, if the proposals are agreed, the existing English names and the Māori names for the islands will be able to be used officially, either individually or together.  This also means they can be referred to as the ‘North Island’ or ‘Te Ika-a-Māui’, or the ‘South Island’ or ‘Te Waipounamu’ – or both names can be used together.

Spot the difference?

This issue has widely been discussed as though “North Island” and “South Island” have always been official – which they haven’t  - and that the Māori names are “alternatives”.  With the clear implication that they’re just an afterthought, a backup, a sop to the bleeding-heart liberals who probably aren’t even Māori anyway.

Both names are equally official and formalised, and have become so through this decision.  Both names carry the same weight.  Exactly as it should be.

But it’s not surprising we can’t discuss this properly.  Elsewhere on LINZ’s FAQ you find this:

Everyone already knows the North and South Island names – why not just leave them as they are and forget about Māori names?

There is no legislation that formally assigns the names to the islands.  The Board has a function to collect and encourage the use of original Māori place names.

It should also be noted that both the English and Māori names for these islands appeared on early maps up to the 1950s, following which – for reasons we are unable to ascertain – the Māori names were omitted.  In fact Captain Cook only showed Māori names (with different spelling) on his charts of New Zealand.

Yes.  For “reasons we are unable to ascertain” indeed.

Related reading: my previous post on the issue

[Daily Blog reposts] Te Wiki o te reo Māori

This post was originally published at The Daily Blog on 5 July 2013.

It’s that time of year when whitey complains about the fact that New Zealand is home to a unique indigenous language, and the best efforts of past whiteys has failed to eliminate it, and now we actually dare to treat it like a valuable thing which should be promoted, all to mess with the minds of tiny white babies who will get confused if they’re told there’s more than one way to say “three”.

By which I mean to say, it’s Māori Language Week.

Linguist Nathan Albury has a column in the Dominion Post hoping that we’re going to get a proper Māori language strategy which keeps te reo alive.  But that doesn’t let us individual Pākehā off the hook, people.

Here’s some suggestions from Te Taura Whiri i te reo Māori – the Māori Language Commission.

Learn the 100 Māori words every New Zealander should know (and when you’re done there’s 365 additional words and phrases)

Download some resources for your office like bilingual signs

… and whenever you hear people bagging the promotion of te reo, or whinging that their children shouldn’t have to learn some Foreign Devil Tongue, remind them, using as many cusswords as you like, that te reo is unique to New Zealand, that it makes New Zealand English unique, that language learning does awesome things to your brain, and that it’s no more useless a bit of knowledge than all that fucking trigonometry we were forced to do at school.

~

Tragically, Nickolodeon is no longer hosting the video of the te reo Spongebob Squarepants episode they did for 2009, but here’s an interview with the voice actor!

I’m not talking about emotions you dickheads

I’d like to thank John Morrison (no, not that John Morrison), Wellington city councillor and mayoral candidate, for today’s breathtakingly perfect example of male privilege in action.

I don’t think you could actually make up a better demonstration of how men are socialised to believe that their own biased emotional outbursts are “rational” speech which deserves people’s attention, despite being the obvious ramblings of a whiny douchebag.

(Idiosyncratic typing replicated from original)

I have given a great deal of thought to the question of how to bring the CCO’s down —

Garry —“ you will survive but we must get rid of the CCO’s — you undertake that … or I promise you will rot in hell “.

I do not like Garry asking people to apply for their own job — it is not acceptable — given that conclusion why would I then agree to do the very same thing myself. —- An eye for an eye!

I’ll be honest, I want to really nail Perksy, Glenys, David Gray, Wickstead etc etc. —and let’s face it Garry will not get another contract after this one!

Please think about this — I am talking about strategy and tacticsnot about emotion.

(Advanced players might also like to note the consistent use of male pronouns to describe any future Wellington CEO, because women obviously can’t be CEOs, their menses probably gets in the way.)

Note: John Morrison was also apparently in favour of the Wellywood sign, if you needed any extra evidence against his moral character.

Ew but periods are gross, right?

So, on the back of a comment on a week-old post about Adria Richards, I tweeted:

It’s like I’m literally causing this dude physical pain by implying he should think for two seconds before making a cock joke in public.

And received this response:

So, where do you stand on say… women talking about their menstrual cycles (for example) in public ?

I asked if the tweeter in question thought talking about periods and making dick jokes were identical, and was told:

Identical? No. But why should women be allowed to talk about something that men may find offensive, and men cannot ?

So that went about exactly how I expected.

Here’s some obvious facts, which I charitably want to assume that maybe those of you who are confused on this point just haven’t thought about.

  • When a male-dominated industry or workplace tolerates a culture of constant “look at my masculinity” posturing – be it centrefolds in the locker rooms or dick jokes at conferences – this sends a pretty obvious signal as to what type of culture and perspective is welcomed in that industry or workplace
  • Dick jokes have not historically been treated with the same level of shame, silencing, and gross-dirtiness (as compared to aren’t-we-all-being-vulgar-blokes-together-dirtiness) that menstruation has.
  • People from oppressed groups talking about subjects which have traditionally been (a) taboo and (b) used to oppress them is not in remotely the same field as people from privileged groups talking about things which have been used to keep them on top of the foodchain.

So, yeah.  Sorry, dudes.  But cracking dick jokes in a crowded room at an industry conference when the industry is trying to address why it lacks diversity, and being informed that this isn’t cool, is not the same as people who menstruate challenging a status quo which tells them their bodies and biological functions are shameful and disgusting.

If you choose not to get that – and let’s be honest, it is a choice you are making because the situation ain’t that complex – then please, at least stop complaining to me about how hard it is to be a man.

~

There are some obvious parallels here with other privileged whinging about “why can Oppressed Group say X but not meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee?”  and I’m sure you can connect those dots.

From a certain point of view: Curia/Family First bullshit polls edition

The mainstream media trumpeted the findings:

Poll: People want smacking law changed

And three paragraphs in explained:

Respondents were asked whether the anti-smacking law should be changed to state that “parents who give their children a smack that is reasonable and for the purpose of correction are not breaking the law”.

Seriously, what the fuck is up with fundy bigots and their perpetual need to lie about things?

Wait, no, it’s not a lie, it’s just a conveniently twisty overcomplicated series of questions which handily paraphrases into what they want it to.  So they’re not liars as such, just manipulative scumbags who will say and do whatever it takes to bully society into retrograde attitudes.

They are fully aware that just saying “a smack” would not get the same juicy results as “a smack that is reasonable”.  I mean, how do you argue with that, when being prompted for a yes/no answer?  They said the smack was reasonable so of course it should’t be illegal!  Duh!

Note the same trick in the follow-up question, which is coincidentally not written out in full until the very bottom of the article:

Would you still smack your child to correct behaviour if you thought it was reasonable, despite the current law?

I look forward to Curia’s future work, involving questions like

“Should rollerblading safely at high but reasonable speeds around blind corners be not against the law if you don’t hurt anyone 99 times out of 100?”

or

“Is wearing white at a wedding okay if the bride isn’t wearing white and you’ve asked permission to wear white and it’s more off an off-white anyway and nobody minds you’re wearing white?”

Maybe he could hook up an awesome tie-in with Westpac, too.

The point is this:  if you agreed with Family First’s statement, you are one of two things:

  1. Confused by stuff explicitly designed to confuse you
  2. A pro-violence child abuse apologist.

The only practical function of section 59 was to allow people who had hurt their children so badly that it got to court to walk free.  Electric jug cords?  Riding crops?  Please, tell me what’s so fucking “reasonable” about that.

(Note: I’m being a little facetious with that request, because I will in fact delete any pro-smacking bullshit posted here.  It’s violence.  Against children.  If you did it to an animal you’d be arrested.  End of.)

Final question: does “Curia” actually stand for Completely Unreliable Results In Abundance?

Stand back! The English language is evolving! GAY evolving!

Family First have responded to the moving-forward of the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill in their usual calm and logical manner, by issuing a press release screaming that the words “husband” and “wife are to be removed from our marriage-related legislation, and thus will obviously cease to have any meaning at all.

Literally, people, you’re going to wake up the day the amendment comes into force and you won’t remember what those words mean.  The gay agenda is ubiquitous and omnipotent, and its gay mind rays will steal your brain.

All this panic-mongering really does is once again demonstrate that Family First don’t have a fucking clue about history or society or culture.  They’ve kept on lamenting about the “definition of marriage” – as though divorce isn’t a relatively new thing, or marital rape has always been illegal (legal in my lifetime, people).  And now they seriously want you to worry that the English language might change.

Well they can just kiss my queynte.

“Wife” is the less interesting example here:  its roots are the Old English wīf, meaning woman, because patriarchy.

But “husband” is an interesting one.  Take it away, handy online dictionary:

late Old English (in the senses ‘male head of a household’ and ‘manager, steward’), from Old Norse húsbóndi ‘master of a house’, from hús ‘house’ + bóndi ‘occupier and tiller of the soil’.

Oh shit, people.  Once we remove “husband” from the Marriage Act, how will Bob McCoskrie identify himself to others as a house-occupying tiller of the soil?  Panic!!!  Or maybe we can realise that this beautifully hodge-podge English language of ours has always changed and developed in line with society’s needs.

And of course, all this ignores the fact that “husband” has meant a lot of very different things – some pretty awful things, like women’s property rights, or rather lack thereof – just in the last few centuries.  The cuddly, warm, familial idea of “husband” which Bob McCoskrie now wants to lay claim to is a pretty recent invention – and it’s come to mean what it does largely in spite of religious, patriarchal crusaders like Bob.

Just remember:  we’re dealing with someone who mentions the 20,000+ submissions received on the Bill … but is conveniently silent on the fact that the majority of them were in support.  It’s baseless fearmongering (fearmonger first attested 1939, possibly related to scaremonger 1888, -monger from Old English mangere “merchant, trader, broker,” from mangian “to traffic, trade,” from Proto-Germanic *mangojan, from Latin mango (genitive mangonis) “dealer, trader, slave-dealer,” from a noun derivative of Greek manganon “contrivance, means of enchantment,” from PIE root *mang-”to embellish, dress, trim.” Used in comb. form in English since at least 12c.; since 16c. chiefly with overtones of petty and disreputable.).

But at least you’ve learnt something today, right?

Your semi-regular reminder on how to be an ally

When you identify there’s a problem in the world, or in your own industry or workplace or whatever, you might want to make a big statement about how it needs to be fixed.

You might say “we need to destroy [problem].”

And you might feel really, really fucking good about yourself for taking a stand against the problem.

But before you continue down this path, putting on a cape and making little “I’m a [problem]-destroyer” badges for all your friends, you might like to consider:

1.  Sitting down and having a think about how you personally might be part of the problem.  You’re not THE problem.  You’re not an evil person who deliberately sets out every morning to make [problem] worse.  But if you can see it in others, and they don’t recognise it, maybe others see it in you.

2.  When someone points out that you’ve totally innocently slipped up and thus contributed to [problem], saying “oh shit, you’re right.  I’ll work on that.”  No one necessarily expects you to be perfect, because this shit is internalized and subconscious, right?

3.  Continue to oppose [problem] where you see it, and support those affected by it without dominating the conversation, while remembering that you’re a work in progress too.

4.  The world is a better place.

How to be an ally in Bizarro World

1.  When you want hot feminist chicks to give you blowjobs, appropriate some of their language and make a big fuss about how much you care about misogyny.  (Don’t worry about actually figuring out what misogyny is or anything, it’s a total drag.)

2.  When those fucking bitches don’t line up to smoke your sweet man-cigar, and in fact have the gall to call out the fact that you’re not walking the talk, consider guilt-tripping them for not rewarding you properly for parrotting their language.  Imply that they are the problem and that if they don’t give more head, they’ll lose your valuable support.

3.  If they continue to not give you the fellatio to which you are totally entitled because this one time you said “let’s destroy misogyny”, just abuse them.  That’ll put them in their place and then maybe the next time you put your hand out for cock-related cookies they’ll remember who the man is around here.

For an example of this approach in action, click here.  And then give Mike Monteiro some sweet feminist loving like he deserves.

Poe’s Law: when you can’t tell if it’s cognitive dissonance or trolling

Well, that’s not actually Poe’s Law, which is about distinguishing satire from the real thing, but I am sadly uninformed as to whether a similar trolling-or-just-incoherent Law of internet arguments exists.  Answers on the back of a red sportscar.

Point is, it kicked in when reading a blazingly bizarre post on a blog which, yes, will sadly go unlinked because ewwww.  This blog claims to campaign for truth, justice and the Australian/New Zealand way, whatever that is, on behalf of people like Peter Ellis.

And this blog, when you point out that using the term “rent-boy” to describe Cameron Slater is homophobic, anti-sex-worker, and just plain lazy, makes statements like:

If in the process of outing crimes against humanity it means we here at Lauda Finem need to continue using non PC language such as  ”Fuck Tard”, “rent-boy”” and “Cunts” to spread the message so be it.

Thing is, deep down I’m quite a positive person.  I dearly want to believe that the writers of this blog are just really, really passionate about their cause to the exclusion of all else.  (Their positive mentions of Micael Lhaws stretches this belief somewhat.)

So it just makes me sad that while stridently defending someone like Peter Ellis, a man who was persecuted and vilified primarily because he was Teaching Kindergarten While Gay And Male, they honestly don’t seem to understand how demeaning, oppressive language like that is part of the very system they’re railing against.

Or they’re just trolls.  It’s probably the more likely answer.

I henceforth dub myself Lady Taboo

So, before we get into the meat of this story, here’s apparently what it takes to get a paid gig in the Herald:

  1. Quote the New York Times
  2. Quote the Huffington Post responding to the New York Times
  3. Make some Shelley Bridgeman-esque comments which show you don’t understand the concepts being discussed
  4. Quote Jezebel responding to the New York Times
  5. Name-drop Charlie Brooker and Caitlin Moran to establish cool cred

Really?  At least John Armstrong has to look like he’s working.

But the matter at hand is of course the overblown, overplayed, overhyped issue of Ladies Swearing.  We have to say “ladies”, not “women”, because it emphasises the terrible naughtiness of the bad words.

And that’s only the start of the bingo.  One quote says “I may get my bra-burning card revoked for this”, which is secret code for “look at me, boys, I’m not one of those feminists” but actually, to anyone who knows basic feminist history, just makes you look like a snivelling tryhard.  Author Rebecca Kamm nails #3 with this musing:

First of all, isn’t swearing odd? We open our gobs and emit an ultimately arbitrary sound – it should be harmless. Yet what comes out can feel like a slap in the face, splashing dark paint over all the other innocent words.

Shit!  The sounds we make with our mouths have meaning assigned to them by others?  Meanings which are actually arbitrary?  This is amazing!  I’m going to call this brand-new concept speech.

But that’s okay, it just proves Rebecca is totally above all that societal stuff, which is why she’s qualified to tell us that actually swearing is gross, but real feminists understand that it’s gross no matter who is doing it.

UNLESS THEY’RE A COOL, CLEVER PERSON LIKE CHARLIE BROOKER OR CAITLIN MORAN OF COURSE.

I mean, I’m not even going there with Caitlin Moran, and will instead refer you to this most excellent parody Twitter account.

But that last little bit there?  Pretty much sums up my fucking problem with hand-wringing pearl-clutching discussions of swearing.

It’s classist.  It assumes that swearing is something low, dirty, uneducated people do because they don’t know how to express themselves like Proper Gentlefolk.  (See also:  similar “all I’m saying is I don’t like it” criticisms of non-standard forms of English.  Especially those used predominantly by people of colour.)

Oh, but if you’re a clever person, if you’re somebody which has been handed a Cool Edgy Clever Celebrity licence, then saying fuck is totally edgy and radical and thought-provoking and it makes you kind of sexy and dangerous.  Because people already know that you’re not a dirty uneducated poor person, so your swearing is ironic.

My swearing is not ironic.  I swear because it adds emphasis.  (In some contexts, I swear because Mythbusters totally proved it increases pain tolerance.)  I swear because I like playing around with words.  I definitely swear because it challenges people’s preconceptions about me as a middle-class, varsity-educated white girl from a Good Family.

And I also swear because I’m a fucking New Zealander, and swearing is pretty part-and-parcel of our particular brand of English, and because the people who most often write about how uncouth and vulgar Those Young People are getting are in fucking denial.  I’m sorry, people, the Toyota “bugger” ad came out fourteen fucking years ago.  No one complained about the “where the bloody hell are you” ad in 2006 because it was dirty, they complained because it was fucking naff (and would have had far better rhythm if they dropped the “bloody”).

Of course, I’d probably swear a lot less if we didn’t have a mainstream media containing items like the Herald, happily publishing columns like this one (and don’t start me on Shelley Bridgeman) which … honestly, I still don’t actually know what Kamm’s point was, or why it couldn’t have been conveyed far more clearly in a tweet.