Given recent events, I have been thinking a lot lately about why so many people do not see protest as a form of conversation, why “activism” and “social justice” have become pejorative terms, and why empathy is a scary, uncomfortable thing. There are conversations that seem to have been put off for so long that we don’t know how to have these conversations anymore. My hope is that YA Lit may, at least, help bring these missing narrative back into the spotlight.

I feel like one thing the “queer is a slur” crowd overlooks...

…is that the word gay has been used so overwhelmingly as a pejorative, as a slur, that most children in the U.S. in the past several decades likely grew up learning “gay” as a word for bad, strange, or wrong before they fully understand that there are “gay” people, and that it’s not just a word with negative connotations.

Kids grow up hearing “That’s so gay!” said with such vehemence relating to topics that those same kids aren’t remotely educated about, and they just internalize that it’s bad. This is how you get elementary schoolers saying, “Mr. Hopkins gave us homework, he’s so gay,” and the same elementary schoolers grow up to be high schoolers and adults who say, “What? I don’t mean gay like gay people, I mean gay like stupid or bad.”

And some of them aren’t overt homophobes in any other way… but dang, you teach little kids that a word that describes a class of people means “bad” and “wrong” before they know those people exist, and that’s bound to shape the way they think about things, isn’t it?

And in contrast you get queer kids who start to put 2+2 together about what “gay” really means a little bit faster than the kids around them because they’re desperate for some information, some hints of meaning… but they’re also hearing the same lessons as everybody else, that gay=bad, gay=wrong, gay=undesirable, gay=something no one ones and no one should be, gay is the worst thing you can be.

In the small town I lived in and the school I went to, nobody ever hit me and called me queer. No one ever shouted “queer” from a moving car while I was walking home. No one ever threatened or inflicted violence on me with the word “queer” on their lips.

Gay, though? Yes. And variations on the f-slur, but gay itself was enough of an invective, enough of a pejorative, to the people flinging it.

“Gay” was the slur that cishet people threw at me as a form of violence, often in corollary with physical violence. “Queer” is a word that I learned online, from members of my community. My experience of the former word is as an attack, while the other was as a sanctuary and respite from that attack.

Now, I’m not a gay man, but a bisexual trans woman. I was still sorting that out at the time, but I doubt it would have made a difference to many of my tormenters if I’d been able to explain it properly.

So when “gay” is used as the happy-go-lucky umbrella for what I would personally call the queer community, gay with even its positive connotations strongly coded as male, I’m not just being misgendered/swept under a default label of male along with a lot of other women and non-binary folks, I’m being forced to accept a label that I never sought, one that is definitely used as a pejorative and a slur, and a slur that was specifically used as a weapon against me.

Both “gay” and “queer” have the same problematic histories and problematic presents. They have both been subject to reclamation efforts. To me, the difference is how those efforts are organized. 

“Gay” is an attempt to normalize, to assimilate, to take the elements of our community that are most palatable to the heteronormative homogeneous hegemony and emphasize them, making those elements even more palatable and altering or hiding the other elements of the community. 

“Gay” is like trying to get into an exclusive school that you fear is likely to reject you for prejudiced reasons, so you keep your nose clean, make sure you take all the right extracurriculars, polish your cover letter and personal essay, and try to make the right contacts with influential people on the inside… and if you have to hide some of your past activities, break ties with friends who are less presentable, and de-emphasize your family to make sure the admissions office doesn’t get the wrong idea about what you’d bring to their institution, well, it’ll be worth it, because that’s what you have to do get a, you know, fair shake.

“Queer” rejects that. Queer rejects homogeny, it does not demand that we sand down our rough edges or smooth out our contours. It does not seek to reshape ourselves or our community to fit ever-evolving standards designed to keep us out, but it challenges those standards.

If “gay” is trying to appeal to a bigoted admissions board by being smooth and shiny enough to slip in, “queer” is challenging the admissions board to accept or reject you on your own merits as you exist, and challenging the bigoted assumptions that underline the power structure as revealed by this. It’s bypassing the admissions board by creating your own infrastructure for sharing resources and information. 

I have a suspicion that a certain percentage of the intra-community backlash against the word “queer” is not because the negative connotations of the word hurt us as listeners, but rather that the radical connotations of the word hurt the effort to make the community acceptable to a presumed default “general audience”, to assimilate gayness into heteronormativity. 

I.e., it is less, “Queer makes people think it’s okay to bash us.” and more “Queer makes people think we’re not like them.”

Most people end posts in defense of the label “queer” and the umbrella term “queer community” by saying “I won’t call queer if they’re not comfortable with it,” and most of them get told, “BUT THAT’S WHAT YOU’RE DOING WHEN YOU SAY ‘QUEER COMMUNITY!”

I’ve never yet seen anybody talking about the gay community have to disclaim that they’re not using the word to people who view it as unreclaimed slur or who just plain find it too hurtful to have even given that discourse any thought.

I won’t call someone queer if they don’t think of themselves a queer. I will use queer as an umbrella term. If that’s not you, you can cheerfully include yourself out of it. 

And heck, I’m doing you a solid. If you didn’t have a queer community to point to, you wouldn’t have anyone you could point to when you want to clarify that you’re not like those people.
The Real Story of Linda Taylor, America’s Original Welfare Queen
Ronald Reagan loved to tell stories. When he ran for president in 1976, many of Reagan’s anecdotes converged on a single point: The welfare state is broken, and I’m the man to fix it. On the trail, the Republican candidate told a tale about a fancy public housing complex with...

If you think Rachel Dolezal is appalling you should look up Linda Taylor. Not only did this white woman live in blackface BUT she also used blackface as her primary alias  to commit welfare fraud, murder, and kidnapping. Taylor’s criminal activities were so notorious that she became the icon for and the motivation behind coining the pejorative term, “Welfare Queen”. Currently when the public thinks of who a welfare queen is, people generally think of  black women. Yet the “Original Welfare Queen”, one of the most extreme cases of welfare fraud in American History, and a widely told conservative horror story/cautionary tale on funding social services was a white woman coopting blackness. 

I think what ticks me off about LGBT activists on Tumblr is that many treat asexuality as no big deal and work to make it seen as less important than any other marginalized sexuality.

No one wants to be called “homophobic” even in mainstream media. While biphobia and transphobia are not at quite the same level pejorative-wise, people are learning that these are not nice things and progress is being made.

But acephobia…outside the asexual community it means nothing, and it is a common assessment of both cishets and LGBT that anyone talking about asexuality, is simply whining. Talking about a lack of interest in a sexual attaraction to people is considered “lording it over someone.” Multiple published authors have publicly mocked asexuality and asexuals for being too “ugly and stupid” to get laid and receive absolutely no negative consequences for these remarks.

When prominent members of the Tumblr LGBT community get support for censoring asexuality and excluding it from any label describing LGBT issues, then there is a tacit anti-asexual environment.

If you write, “Homosexuals think they’re better than everyone else for liking the same gender and aren’t opporessed,” then people will call you out on the statment.

But if you write “Asexuals think they’re better than people who experience sexual attaraction,” people will support you on it uncritically. In fact some people suggest being asexual is inherently damaging to LGBT and abuse survivors and thus SHOULD be mocked.

And that’s what pisses me off. If you want to be ace-positive, make sure that the bashing of asexuality and related concepts is as maligned and economically damaging as the bashing of anything strictly LGBT or related…even if the person doing the bashing is an ally or is a member of the LGBT community. Otherwise, ace-positivity is empty support.


I hope Rosianna will forgive me posting this video she made six years ago after meeting Hank and me for the first time. 

Today, Rosianna Rojas is my close friend and colleague. (She is often called my assistant, but she does many things–from project management to helping shape the strategic direction of our educational and charity projects.) 

And six years ago, when we met for the first time, she was a self-described fangirl.

This term has become pejorative–fangirls are dismissed for their over-the-top enthusiasm; they are described as rabid and obsessive and ridiculed for screaming/shaking/crying. 

As pointed out in this great post by Emily, there’s a lot of misogyny involved in this way of imagining teenage girls and their interests. The truth is, many of the brightest and most enthusiastic young people today are fangirls, and if you’re a creator with those viewers/readers/whatever, you’re lucky as hell to have them. It’s not just that they’ll grow up to do important and fascinating work; they’re doing that work now, online and off, creating art and community and nonprofit initiatives and much else.

So Rosianna, on your birthday: Thank you. Thank you for watching vlogbrothers starting on January 1, 2007. Thank you for sharing your talents with the nerdfighter community all these years. Thank you for your professionalism and wit and unironic enthusiasm. I am your biggest fan.

Since Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., launched his campaign for president this spring, he has gone from being a fringe candidate of the left to a serious challenger of Hillary Clinton, who has long been considered a shoo-in for the Democratic nomination. When Sanders started gaining traction at the beginning of the summer, most shrugged him off as the new Ralph Nader, or even the Ron Paul of the left, an insurgent who would attract a dedicated but slim following.

Today, these comparisons are looking less accurate, and Sanders is no longer a fringe candidate. Last week, the Sanders campaign released its fundraising results for the third quarter of 2015, and not only did it nearly match Clinton’s third quarter results in cash, but broke the fundraising record in small donations. Indeed, the Sanders campaign has reached one million individual donations faster than both of President Obama’s historic campaigns (in 2008, Obama didn’t reach one million until February).

Conservatives have long wielded “socialism” as a pejorative – but Sanders owns it and is transforming politics

Drugs, crutches, and other tools

Psychiatric medication is highly stigmatized, and so is physical disability. One way that this comes out is that people say pejoratively, “medication is a crutch.”

Why is “crutch” an insult? What do people think is so terrible about using crutches?

I think that it’s a kind of ableism where people don’t understand that disability actually exists. They believe that anyone can do anything, if they put their mind to it and work hard. When people with disabilities can’t do something others can, they assume that we are just being lazy. They assume that about moving, they assume that about moving, and they assume that about thinking.

They believe that if they push us to try harder, then we will learn to stop being disabled. They think that if we stay disabled; it’s because someone’s giving us permission to be lazy. They’re constantly on guard against the possibility of a disabled person getting away with something.

They are aggressively hostile towards any visible adaptive strategy. When they see crutches or medications or whatever, they are terrified that we are getting permission to be lazy.

Sometimes, they think it’s ok for us to use these things, but only if we fall into a very narrow category of people think think have real disabilities. For instance, they might think wheelchairs are ok for paralyzed people, but have no respect for wheelchair users who can walk. Or they might think it’s ok to use medication if you’re trying to stop, but have contempt for people who need medication long-term and have no plans to stop taking it. Or whatever other combination of things. People have a lot of really weird ideas about disability, and just about any prejudice you can imagine exists.

Crutches are a tool. There are other mobility tools. Medications are several different tools. There are other mental health tools. They all have advantages and disadvantages, and everyone has to figure out what works best for them. Every strategy is stigmatized, because ableists expect us to think our way out of being disabled. But crutches aren’t actually bad things, whether they’re literal or figurative. We all find the ones we need.

tl;dr People with disabilities need adaptive strategies to work around disability-related limitations. Ableists think that we’re just being lazy when we use adaptations such as mobility aids or psychiatric medication. They often pejoratively say “you’re just using that as a crutch,” as though using adaptive equipment is the worst thing you could possibly do. But actually, there’s nothing wrong with crutches. We all find the ones we need, and that’s a good thing.

When I talk about “white feminists”, I’m talking about the people who fall into the darkest portions of the venn diagram above, and only those people. If you know that as a feminist, your beliefs fall into the middle portion of those little coloured circles, then keep it to yourself. By insisting we explicitly redeem you personally whenever we talk about a system that disadvantages us, you place yourself firmly into white feminist territory. Every rule has exceptions, but we’d never get anywhere if we had to list every single one whenever the rule was brought up in conversation.

Think you’re the exception? Show don’t tell. You don’t get a cookie for declaring yourself an ally. Yes, “white feminist” is a pejorative term, and I will continue to use it as such. But it’s also a term that means a specific thing, and derailing the community building efforts of WoC in order to declare yourself “one of the good ones” in fact, makes you exactly the kind of person we’re pushing against.

[*I am more than aware that this diagram does not accurately reflect every single theoretical possibility, and of its mathematically limitations. It is simply meant to be an easily understandable visual representation of my assertion that not every white woman is a “white feminist” and not every “white feminist” identifies as white. It’s purpose is as a reference, not statistical fact.]

ETA: "What people don’t seem to get is that “White Feminism” is feminism for white people, and never exclusively feminism by white people. It’s more about who it benefits exclusively than who is perpetuating it exclusively. It’s really not as much of an accusation as people are making it out to be, more like a word for the institution we’re trying to separate ourselves from.“ -TheWhistlingFish

Batty Mazelle

This Is What I Mean When I Say "White Feminism”

The Cynics believed that the world belongs equally to everyone, and that suffering is caused by false judgments of what isvaluable, and by the worthless customs and conventions which surround society. They also saw their job as acting as thewatchdog of humanity, and to evangelize and hound people about the error of their ways. They were particularly critical of any show of greed, which they viewed as a major cause of suffering. Many of their ideas were later absorbed into Stoicism.

Keep reading

According to the American Psychological Association, H*mosexual is an pejorative term that should not be used. 

As do all of these organizations and major media outlets:

  • The Associated Press
  • The New York Times
  • GLAAD 
  • The New Oxford Dictionary 
  • Safe Schools Coalitions

-It perpetuates negative stereotypes due to its historical associations with pathology as a psych disorder and linked to criminal behavior. 

-It is ambiguous/unclear, as it is often assumed to refer exclusively to men and thus renders lesbians invisible. 

-It reduces LGB loving relationships to clinical, medical, and scientific ones. 

In the early 1990′s “H*m*sexual” fell out of use due to its negative associations, and people in the LGBT community request that others use the person’s actual label and not this term with a long and cruel history. 


One of the most liberating things about these obscure Tomboy adventures is that everyone loves Tomboy.

I’m so used to the word “tomboy” being used pejoratively — to suggest that girls shouldn’t act “like boys” or whatever — so I expected the superhero Tomboy to either explicitly and defiantly challenge gender assumptions, or to be regularly criticized for acting according to some stereotype of “boyish” behavior, or both.

NOPE. Tomboy just does badass superhero stuff, and everyone loves her!

—"Tomboy" in Captain Flash #1 (1954) by Mort Meskin

They say they want politics out of video game coverage? OK, now we’re getting somewhere.
By politics, the voices calling for ethics reform really mean “progressive” politics. The so-called corruption that needs to be rooted out is a focus on “diversity” and the “magnitude of the human experience.” It should be no surprise that the outlets and voices specifically targeted by GamerGate are progressive. Baldwin was the first of several notable opportunists who, despite caring little for video games or video game culture, were more than happy to contribute to any movement that counted “SJWs” — that’s “social justice warriors,” for those of you out of the loop — as enemies. That “social justice warrior” is considered a pejorative at all speaks volumes about the motivations behind much of GamerGate and its fixation on progressive voices.
Elective Surgery

“Elective surgery.” It’s a term that makes people think of botox injections and liposuction. Maybe facelifts. Breast implants, too. Well, purely cosmetic breast implants; never the implants given to people who’ve endured cancer and mastectomy. “Elective surgery” is too pejorative a term to describe the procedures undergone by those who’ve suffered. It seems suffering is a requirement for the surgeries to avoid having a negative social stigma. That same suffering determines the insurance companies’ willingness to pay for the procedures, too. When you realize they’re the ones who determine who’s suffered, then you can see there’s a problem.

My husband’s name is Brian. From the moment he was capable of self-reflection, he knew he was a man. He had to keep this knowledge to himself. It took 20 torturous years before he could safely declare himself to be the person he knew he was. When we met in 2010, Brian was four years into hormone therapy. I fell in love with him during our first conversation. He was extremely open about his transition, but I worried he felt he needed to explain himself to me, which wasn’t the case. I got the impression he’d been hurt in the past.

Continue reading.

I don’t think feminism has been waiting for me. It doesn’t need me as a spokesperson or a leading voice. I don’t believe any woman has been wanting for me to be her “white knight.” As I’ve said before, it’s white knighting to assume women can’t defend themselves; it’s not white knighting to stand with them against the shit thrown their way.

Hell Yes, I’m a Feminist | Whatever.

I totally agree with John, and I think this is the first time I’ve seen the words “white knight” without them being written in a pejorative way. As a general rule, when someone says “white knight” it’s a good indication that they have nothing to say that’s worth listening. In this case, John is the exception which proves the rule.


Aside from the fetishizing of PoC (often targeted at Indigenous Peoples), and their use of the “g*psy” pejorative, what I find particularly insidious about Paradise G*psies is that they have children model for them too which teaches them that there’s nothing more to a People than capitalistic misrepresentations of them and ultimately maintains institutions of toxic whiteness for generations to come.  Not to mention, I (on instagram) and many people before me have called them out on their perpetuation of racist stereotypes and ethnocentrism, so, as far as I can tell, they don’t care that their cultural exploitations have lasting and damaging effects.

Online friendships make it clear—and forgive the debt to Facebook—that the way we friend now has changed. Intimacy now develops in both digital and physical realms, often crossing freely between the two. If we accept the equal value of virtual friendships to their IRL analogues (perhaps even doing away with the pejorative acronym), we open ourselves up to a range of new possibilities for connection.