Sunday, October 02, 2005

And now for the dreaded g-word

"In most schools up and down the country, the word 'gay' is being used thousands upon thousands of times in a derogatory context. If you fall over in school and look a prat, that's gay; when you're given homework, it's gay; if you're wearing unfashionable trousers, they're gay. It is the "in" insult of the playground, along with faggot, queer, bender, bum boy, batty boy, lezzie and dyke."

So says Sue Saunders of the campaign group, Schools Out. And we all know it's true. So why is this type of language generally looked upon as less serious than racist abuse? In an article about homophobic bullying in yesterday's Guardian, the impact of homophobic language is discussed at length, and the point is made that - rather like the n-word discussed earlier - there is a history to terms like "gay" which goes beyond the current use of it as a generalised term of abuse for anything remotely "crap" (a form of broadening in language change). And there's also a history of suffering, abuse and violence - not least for younger people who are either open about their sexuality or just lazily labelled as "gays", "battyboys" or "faggots" by other children for whatever spurious reasons.

Again, all comments on this article and the wider debate about terms of abuse, would be welcome!

Useful for:
ENA1 - Language & Representation
ENA5 - Language Change
ENA6 - Language Debates


*Chrissyfloss*- ex SFXian said...

i've bin saying this for years!!! this kindof casual slagging off of homosexuals in everyday conversations is so disrespectful and contradictary to nowdays image of a supposedly pc and socialy accepting society. the n-word stuff Asher is sayin isn't new by the way i reckon- he's just trying to get some good publicity. I don't buy it.

suze said...

Sue Saunders is right, but hopefully this phenomenon will go the way of other transient words of abuse when some newer fad comes along ..

Dan said...

Silly article in yesterday's paper about a children's author banned (and frogmarched out of) a school for claiming Harry Potter was "gay" (and for using the words "wee", "bum" and "fart")!

*Chrissyfloss*- ex SFXian said...

my mate had a "queer- lecture" on Harry Potter yesterday and apparently the recent Potter novel has lots of evidence to prove Harry is closet gay. She didn't buy it tho so no need to worry.. So the author in question was in fact stealing material from Cambridge Lectures- damn her!

Dan said...

What evidence is there about HP's gayness? I'm intrigued! Get me the lecture notes!!!!

Follow-up to the story in today's Guardian:,,1587056,00.html

But I notice, he doesn't try to wriggle out of the use of "gay". Perhaps this ex-copper and ex-vicar was using the word in a pejorative sense and couldn't find a decent excuse. Surely not.