Stef (firecat) wrote,

"Dude, You’ve Got Problems," by Judith Warner

This post is about Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, an 11-year-old boy who recently committed suicide. He was apparently the object of classmate bullying that took the form of "You are gay."

The post goes on to talk about the ways that boys enforce rigid gender roles on each other. And I certainly think it's worth talking about what's wrong with that sort of bullying.

But I am not at all happy with the author's choice to say
Being called a “fag,” you see, actually has almost nothing to do with being gay.
Because you know what? Maybe not everyone who gets called a fag is actually attracted to people of the same sex, but using the term as an insult has everything to do with being gay, at least in terms of society's notions about same-sex attraction. Statements like that erase gay people and trivialize the particular problems that gay people have, and I don't appreciate it.

The author also goes on to say
It’s what being called a “girl” used to be, a generation or two ago.
Likewise, society's notions about girls and women have everything to do with why "girl" is considered an insult. It's pretty obvious from the author's next comment:
It’s really about showing any perceived weakness or femininity – by being emotional, seeming incompetent, caring too much about clothing, liking to dance or even having an interest in literature.
Imagine a society in which being involved with people of the same sex is perfectly normal and accepted. Where women and men are considered equal and it's understood that anyone can do anything they want or be interested in anything they want, as long as it doesn't cause harm. Would it make sense to insult someone by calling them "fag" or "girl" in such a society?
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