Transphobic Tampon Ad

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Re: Transphobic Tampon Ad

Postby Diadem » Thu Jan 05, 2012 3:01 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Ok, it's the difference between a black guy portraying a racist black stereotype, and a white guy in makeup portraying a racist black stereotype.

In that both scenarios can be racist or not racist depending on context?
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Re: Transphobic Tampon Ad

Postby CorruptUser » Thu Jan 05, 2012 3:19 pm UTC

In that one is more wrong than the other, and that one can be humorous and 'enlightening' in the right context (Tracy Jordan sometimes is a deconstruction of the racist stereotype, but not usually), while the other is almost always just offensive.

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Re: Transphobic Tampon Ad

Postby mike-l » Thu Jan 05, 2012 4:19 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:Are you honestly going to claim that it is ok to portray a drag queen in any conceivable way, as long as the actor is an actual drag queen?

I'm honestly going to claim that it's ok for any actor to portray themselves.
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Re: Transphobic Tampon Ad

Postby Tirian » Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:33 pm UTC

mike-l wrote:I'm honestly going to claim that it's ok for any actor to portray themselves.


This seems to be a case where the actor's (good faith) intentions were misunderstood. When I just watched the ad (which is here, in case no one has linked to it yet), I saw what the actor intended, which is a bitchy drag queen getting a non-verbal come-uppance from a woman who rebelling against getting out-"fierced". At the same time, I respect that reasonable people here (again, in good faith) saw a pre-op transsexual getting shut down by the matriarchy and feminine hygiene used as a tool of oppression. I think that this misunderstanding should be laid entirely at the feet of the ad agency and Libra and that the actor took conscious and noticeable steps to drive the first narrative.

There is another dimension of this ad that I haven't seen discussed yet but that I think deserves attention. What I think the ultimate (intended) theme of the ad is is to fight the anti-feminist idea that menstruation is "unfeminine" and unclean, and that to a certain degree a woman who does menstruate should fight society's shame to the point of it being a point of pride. Obviously, there are a lot of intersectionality issues there that I'm not prepared to sort out like whether it's wrong for a woman to be proud of menstruation because it slights women who legitimately don't for any number of reasons. If nothing else, I'd like to believe that it is a reasonable point of view for a tampon company to support and a voice that should be respected in the broader discussion.

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Re: Transphobic Tampon Ad

Postby Belial » Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:44 pm UTC

and that to a certain degree a woman who does menstruate should fight society's shame to the point of it being a point of pride.


While I agree with this, I question whether transwomen and drag queens are the forces of the establishment here.
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Re: Transphobic Tampon Ad

Postby Dream » Thu Jan 05, 2012 8:23 pm UTC

Belial wrote:
and that to a certain degree a woman who does menstruate should fight society's shame to the point of it being a point of pride.


While I agree with this, I question whether transwomen and drag queens are the forces of the establishment here.

I'd have thought the advertising industry and audience perceptions of menstruation were. This is a far cry from soaking up translucent blue non-specific liquid against an abstract, soft focus background.
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Re: Transphobic Tampon Ad

Postby Belial » Thu Jan 05, 2012 8:54 pm UTC

So the ad industry is a drag queen? In that case, I suppose it did just get told.
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Re: Transphobic Tampon Ad

Postby Malice » Thu Jan 05, 2012 8:55 pm UTC

Tirian wrote:
mike-l wrote:I'm honestly going to claim that it's ok for any actor to portray themselves.


This seems to be a case where the actor's (good faith) intentions were misunderstood. When I just watched the ad (which is here, in case no one has linked to it yet), I saw what the actor intended, which is a bitchy drag queen getting a non-verbal come-uppance from a woman who rebelling against getting out-"fierced". At the same time, I respect that reasonable people here (again, in good faith) saw a pre-op transsexual getting shut down by the matriarchy and feminine hygiene used as a tool of oppression. I think that this misunderstanding should be laid entirely at the feet of the ad agency and Libra and that the actor took conscious and noticeable steps to drive the first narrative.

There is another dimension of this ad that I haven't seen discussed yet but that I think deserves attention. What I think the ultimate (intended) theme of the ad is is to fight the anti-feminist idea that menstruation is "unfeminine" and unclean, and that to a certain degree a woman who does menstruate should fight society's shame to the point of it being a point of pride. Obviously, there are a lot of intersectionality issues there that I'm not prepared to sort out like whether it's wrong for a woman to be proud of menstruation because it slights women who legitimately don't for any number of reasons. If nothing else, I'd like to believe that it is a reasonable point of view for a tampon company to support and a voice that should be respected in the broader discussion.


You can be proud without being so at some other group's expense. There are other ways to communicate the notion that menstruation is a positive part of the female experience than saying "Hah, we have it and you don't, which makes you not a woman!"

If nothing else, the tagline of that ad says it all: "we get girls", meaning the other person in that bathroom isn't one. (If you're watching it, it's for you.)
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Re: Transphobic Tampon Ad

Postby big boss » Thu Jan 05, 2012 9:10 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Ok, it's the difference between a black guy portraying a racist black stereotype, and a white guy in makeup portraying a racist black stereotype.


They are both equally bad, I'd say its almost worse if a black guy does it because the reinforcement of the negative stereotyped image is greater.
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Re: Transphobic Tampon Ad

Postby CorruptUser » Thu Jan 05, 2012 9:14 pm UTC

So, which is more offensive; a white guy calling a black guy a certain racial pejorative, or a black guy calling another black guy that pejorative?

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Re: Transphobic Tampon Ad

Postby Dream » Thu Jan 05, 2012 10:45 pm UTC

Belial wrote:So the ad industry is a drag queen? In that case, I suppose it did just get told.

Quit being obtuse. (Male dominated) society's perceptions of menstruation as a weakness, shameful and a thing to be hidden usually dictate the composition of tampon ads. This ad did not play into that, presenting menstruation as a powerful signifier of womanhood, and something to be brandished with pride. That's a good thing. Menstruation is an aspect of womanhood that you can't put on like makeup or a bra, and was certainly appropriate for the task at hand, the ultimate one-upping of a drag queen.
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Re: Transphobic Tampon Ad

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Thu Jan 05, 2012 10:48 pm UTC

So the point was that there are "ultimate one-upping" biological aspects of womanhood?
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Re: Transphobic Tampon Ad

Postby Dream » Thu Jan 05, 2012 11:00 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:So the point was that there are "ultimate one-upping" biological aspects of womanhood?

The drag queen wasn't trying to be a woman. He was trying to act like one as accurately as possible. In that regard, yes there are. Were the ad saying that someone who actually is a woman can be one-upped because they have no use for a tampon it would be wrong. And not just because of the existence of trans people, because also of the existence of the menopause, and pre-pubescence, and hormone therapy, and anything else that means not menstruating.
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Re: Transphobic Tampon Ad

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Thu Jan 05, 2012 11:28 pm UTC

There are biological aspects to acting like a woman? I have literally no idea what is making you say this.
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Re: Transphobic Tampon Ad

Postby Dream » Thu Jan 05, 2012 11:49 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:There are biological aspects to acting like a woman? I have literally no idea what is making you say this.

There are biological processes that are signifiers of womanhood. And a tampon might just be an object by itself, but waved by a cisgendered woman in the face of a drag queen, it is a signifier of womanhood.

For my part, I have no idea why you can't comprehend that, instead of assuming I think womanhood is a biological state.
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Re: Transphobic Tampon Ad

Postby Belial » Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:41 am UTC

Dream wrote:Quit being obtuse. (Male dominated) society's perceptions of menstruation as a weakness,


See, I'm confused, because she's clearly pitted against (depending on your reading of the commercial, and I maintain as always that the intent is irrelevant) a transwoman or a drag queen. That's...not much of a challenge to cis-straight-male-dominated society's anything. The people at the top fucking love it when the people on the bottom take chunks out of each other. They sell popcorn.
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Re: Transphobic Tampon Ad

Postby dedalus » Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:10 am UTC

To make a contrast, suppose that you had an ad where a girl is in an office wearing pants and a dress shirt, and some guy comes up to her and says something along the lines of 'If you're going to wear something like that, what makes you think you're a woman anymore?', to which she pulls out the tampon, and he runs away. I think that conveys about the same message (cue jokes that she's PMSing and about to hurt him though), but the difference is that you're not picking on a minority to make the point. Yeah, sure, if she was trans she wouldn't be able to do that, but that's not the point.

It's fine to promote that 'women who have periods, this is a perfectly natural thing, you shouldn't be ashamed of it, it's part of what makes you a woman'. But that ad is saying that menstruation is a part of womanhood that can't be replaced. Which is implying that if you don't menstruate, you're less of a woman.
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Re: Transphobic Tampon Ad

Postby Tirian » Fri Jan 06, 2012 5:22 am UTC

Belial wrote:
and that to a certain degree a woman who does menstruate should fight society's shame to the point of it being a point of pride.


While I agree with this, I question whether transwomen and drag queens are the forces of the establishment here.


I'm on board with eliminating all cruelly divisive humor on television, but is it really productive to go after Women vs. Transgender first? Or is that just a way for us to look busy while protecting the privilege of cisgendered men?

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Re: Transphobic Tampon Ad

Postby Aaeriele » Fri Jan 06, 2012 9:14 am UTC

Tirian wrote:I'm on board with eliminating all cruelly divisive humor on television, but is it really productive to go after Women vs. Transgender first? Or is that just a way for us to look busy while protecting the privilege of cisgendered men?


While we're at it, is it really productive to solve any first-world problems while there are children starving in Africa?

(P.S. "Women vs. Transgender" makes no sense, given that there are women who are transgender! The two are not distinct categories.)
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Re: Transphobic Tampon Ad

Postby Dream » Fri Jan 06, 2012 11:54 am UTC

Belial wrote:See, I'm confused, because she's clearly pitted against (depending on your reading of the commercial, and I maintain as always that the intent is irrelevant) a transwoman or a drag queen.

She is pitted against a drag queen. Some people mistook the queen for a transwoman, but they were in error. While it is true that effects are not contingent on intents, that does not absolve the viewer of responsibility to attempt a basic understanding of the situation before drawing conclusions. One one shouldn't have to give weight to, for instance a person looking at the character Charlie Young in The West Wing and claim racism on account of reading him as a black houseboy. He can be read that way, regardless of the intention to draw him as a positive characterisation, and it may be very offensive to many people to do so, but that reading and the offence don't carry as much weight as an accurate reading would.

That's...not much of a challenge to cis-straight-male-dominated society's anything

I didn't claim it was. I claimed that the portrayal of menstruation as a powerful concept was.
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Re: Transphobic Tampon Ad

Postby Shifter » Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:00 pm UTC

Only real women menstruate


Since everyone has pointed out how this is insulting to a lot of women cis or trans, I want to just point out that it's also quite insulting to a lot of trans men.

Belial wrote:
and that to a certain degree a woman who does menstruate should fight society's shame to the point of it being a point of pride.


While I agree with this, I question whether transwomen and drag queens are the forces of the establishment here.


Trans women, not transwomen. http://takesupspace.wordpress.com/2008/ ... olitics-1/

(Not that you're the only one making that mistake.)
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Re: Transphobic Tampon Ad

Postby snow5379 » Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:27 pm UTC

I'm sorry but... if someone tries to look and act like a dinosaur and feels deep inside that they are a dinosaur... it doesn't change the fact that they are not, in fact, a dinosaur. The truth of the matter is that these people aren't women but rather men pretending to be women and they are no different than a child pretending to be a dinosaur.

And... they aren't really trying to be a woman but rather they're trying to fall into the roll the a woman plays in western society. Universally there's no certain way a woman acts... women from different cultures, like men from different cultures, act differently and what's seen as feminine in one culture might not be in another. Imagine a hypothetical situation where a transgender travels to a distant mystical land where what is feminine here is manly there. The transgender would be very manly there, fit in well, and probably wouldn't want to mutilate their genitals.

Example: a guy likes wearing dresses. He wishes he was a girl so he could wear dresses without the social stigma.

It's an entirely psychological phenomena caused by the way society creates gender roles. Should we be accepting? Yes. Should we lie and say they're real women when they aren't? No.

As a final note I'd like to point out that men and women differ in the way their minds work and a man pretending to be a woman still thinks like a man. They also have a man's genetics. They're also going to be a bit too tall and, really, do I have to go on? They're not women in any way and putting on a dress and mutilating your genitals doesn't change that....

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Re: Transphobic Tampon Ad

Postby Belial » Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:51 pm UTC

I'm going to go ahead and ignore snow like a misbehaving parrot.

Dream wrote:She is pitted against a drag queen. Some people mistook the queen for a transwoman, but they were in error.
Given the information in the commercial (and any research outside the commercial including research into the actor's identity and intent is completely immaterial), both readings ("reasonably well-depicted drag queen" as well as "somewhat poorly and insultingly depicted trans woman") are valid and have ample precedent in media.
That's...not much of a challenge to cis-straight-male-dominated society's anything
I didn't claim it was. I claimed that the portrayal of menstruation as a powerful concept was.
Not really. Because "powerful" isn't a state that exists in a vacuum. Only "more powerful than". Something can absolutely be a powerful symbol of cis-female superiority over trans folk without actually being respected for any other purpose. The history of "well, at least it makes us better than the damn dirty (x)" is rich and varied.
Shifter wrote:Trans women, not transwomen.
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Re: Transphobic Tampon Ad

Postby The Mighty Thesaurus » Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:52 pm UTC

Shifter wrote:trans women, not transwomen. http://takesupspace.wordpress.com/2008/ ... olitics-1/

I don't see how adding a space solves the first issue, nor do I see how omitting it implies a quaternary gender system.
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Re: Transphobic Tampon Ad

Postby Dream » Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:03 pm UTC

Belial wrote:Something can absolutely be a powerful symbol of cis-female superiority over trans folk without actually being respected for any other purpose.

In what way does that impinge on the effect of the presentation of menstruation as a thing to be proud of on the male-dominated audience and society?
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Re: Transphobic Tampon Ad

Postby Belial » Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:11 pm UTC

Because, again, "proud" is relative. If it's only a good thing when you're lording it over someone else that the aforementioned audience considers "less-than", then it doesn't count for much. You've changed pretty much nothing about the status quo.
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Re: Transphobic Tampon Ad

Postby Diadem » Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:42 pm UTC

Shifter wrote:Trans women, not transwomen. http://takesupspace.wordpress.com/2008/ ... olitics-1/

It's a matter of courtesy to spell a group's name the way the majority of that group prefer it to be spelled, so I will write 'trans women' from now on (if I didn't already. I've probably been quite inconsistent about it up until now).

But this is seriously misrepresenting how language works. It is simply not true that 'x y' implies that it's a subgroup of 'y' while 'xy' implies a different group. You can find examples of either case for either spelling. For example both a 'rogue planet' and an 'exoplanet' are planets, while a 'dwarf planet' is not.

In English terms made up of two words are generally written as seperate words. But this is not an absolute rule. There are many exceptions. Especially terms that are used a lot tend to be mashed together. And of course for two words to be written as seperate words they have to be, well, words. The prefix 'exo' is not a word in its own right, so writing 'exo planet' wouldn't make any sense. I think a strong case can be made that the same is true for 'trans'. It's a prefix, not a word on its own, so terms with 'trans' in them should not be written as seperate words. Luckily language is a fluid thing, so if enough people write 'trans women' it automaticly becomes correct.

Also note that in many other languages (for example German and Dutch) compounds are always written as a single word, which again has nothing to do with if the term is used inclusive or exclusive.
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Re: Transphobic Tampon Ad

Postby Dream » Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:53 pm UTC

Belial wrote:Because, again, "proud" is relative. If it's only a good thing when you're lording it over someone else that the aforementioned audience considers "less-than", then it doesn't count for much. You've changed pretty much nothing about the status quo.

Where does "only" come into this? Is there something about this example that implies that menstruation is "only" anything in relation to the drag queen's lack of it? Because I see it as being something for women to be proud of with regard to men, because I see the drag queen as a man. More universal than just "haha, I get to bleed on this and you don't!"
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Re: Transphobic Tampon Ad

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Jan 06, 2012 3:09 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:
Shifter wrote:Trans women, not transwomen. http://takesupspace.wordpress.com/2008/ ... olitics-1/
It's a matter of courtesy to spell a group's name the way the majority of that group prefer it to be spelled, so I will write 'trans women' from now on
And of course, even then, you run into problems when the minority that doesn't prefer it to be spelled that way have really strong reasons for their preference. (I don't know if TMT prefers the single-word version, for example, or was merely complaining at the utter illogic of that linked article.)

I remember a paper in high school where I started with a disclaimer that basically said, "Look, I know 'Native American' is supposed to be the PC term, but I personally know about equal numbers of people who prefer 'Indian' as who prefer 'Native American', their logic being that they were here long before there was any such thing as America. And since 'Indian' has the additional advantage of being a shorter word, that's what I'm going with."
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Re: Transphobic Tampon Ad

Postby The Mighty Thesaurus » Fri Jan 06, 2012 3:19 pm UTC

For the record, I was complaining about the illogic of the article. Personally, I prefer "transwomen" because it minimises keystrokes, but that preference is very weak.
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Re: Transphobic Tampon Ad

Postby Belial » Fri Jan 06, 2012 3:38 pm UTC

Dream wrote:Where does "only" come into this? Is there something about this example that implies that menstruation is "only" anything in relation to the drag queen's lack of it?


Context only counts when you're using it? If you're trying to praise the ad as a departure from the usual, then the conditions of that departure, and the usual state are both relevant.
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Re: Transphobic Tampon Ad

Postby Tirian » Fri Jan 06, 2012 3:58 pm UTC

Aaeriele wrote:(P.S. "Women vs. Transgender" makes no sense, given that there are women who are transgender! The two are not distinct categories.)


I argue that it makes a world of sense*. That is the tension, which is all the more tense because some of it is between people and some is within people. Heck, we have yet to mention the feelings of FTM transsexuals who "learn" from this ad that they are still women**.

* Or at least not less sense than wading into the swamp of asking a diverse community how they all want to be addressed, as half the posts between yours and mine illustrate.

** And it is perhaps for the best that we have yet to mention the feelings of MTF pre-op transsexuals who attempt to use tampons on the only similar orifice that they have.

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Re: Transphobic Tampon Ad

Postby Hawknc » Fri Jan 06, 2012 4:04 pm UTC

Tirian: maybe a better phrasing would be "cisgendered women vs transgendered women"? I doubt even that fully encompasses everyone correctly, but it's probably closer by a good margin.

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Re: Transphobic Tampon Ad

Postby podbaydoor » Fri Jan 06, 2012 4:26 pm UTC

"old definitions of women vs new definitions of women"?
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Re: Transphobic Tampon Ad

Postby Dauric » Fri Jan 06, 2012 4:38 pm UTC

podbaydoor wrote:"old definitions of women vs new definitions of women"?


I'm starting to need a scorecard, at least until the culture and the culture's language settles down to some stable definitions.
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Re: Transphobic Tampon Ad

Postby Tirian » Fri Jan 06, 2012 4:38 pm UTC

My intention would actually be to say "transgendered people", as transgendered men are impacted by the ad as much as transgendered women. I don't keep up enough with the issues enough to know if "transgendered" is still a noun as well as an adjective like "bisexual" is, but I am assuming that it is.

I don't want to lose my larger point over the semantics, which is that the "vs." that we should be directing our energy at is the cisgendered men in the board room who green-lighted this ad without realizing how much they were highlighting their ignorance over gender politics.

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Re: Transphobic Tampon Ad

Postby lutzj » Fri Jan 06, 2012 4:48 pm UTC

Tirian wrote:I don't want to lose my larger point over the semantics, which is that the "vs." that we should be directing our energy at is the cisgendered men in the board room who green-lighted this ad without realizing how much they were highlighting their ignorance over gender politics.


Are we just going to assume that the relevant managers were all cis men and they were the only ones whose approval and participation was necessary to release this ad?

It seems to me like everyone involved just thought it was a lighthearted, somewhat misandrist/transphobic jab at men who pretend they know what it's like to be female.

Then it turned out people were offended by the conflation of menstruation with femininity, and the ad got pulled. Good for Libra.
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Re: Transphobic Tampon Ad

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Jan 06, 2012 4:50 pm UTC

Tirian wrote:I am assuming that it is.
It's not. It's less like "bisexual" and "homosexual" and more like "gay" and "Black". I'm not sure of the linguistic reasons behind this, but I would say at least that participial adjectives are almost always going to be seen as offensive when used as nouns.
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Re: Transphobic Tampon Ad

Postby Diadem » Fri Jan 06, 2012 10:15 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Tirian wrote:I am assuming that it is.
It's not. It's less like "bisexual" and "homosexual" and more like "gay" and "Black". I'm not sure of the linguistic reasons behind this, but I would say at least that participial adjectives are almost always going to be seen as offensive when used as nouns.

I'm ... not following you? Are you saying that the terms 'black' and 'gay' are offensive?
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Re: Transphobic Tampon Ad

Postby lutzj » Fri Jan 06, 2012 10:43 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:
Tirian wrote:I am assuming that it is.
It's not. It's less like "bisexual" and "homosexual" and more like "gay" and "Black". I'm not sure of the linguistic reasons behind this, but I would say at least that participial adjectives are almost always going to be seen as offensive when used as nouns.

I'm ... not following you? Are you saying that the terms 'black' and 'gay' are offensive?


It's considered crude at best to use them, or "white," "queer," etc. as nouns nowadays, even though those terms are rarely offensive as adjectives. Same goes for the construct "the poor/elderly/disabled," for a similar reason: you're reducing that person to whatever their adjective is.

Terms like "homosexual" probably get a pass because they are longer, more neutral in their connotation, and used to refer to people so much that "homosexual person" (for example) is implied. Some terms like "Asian" or "Christian" similarly imply "person" unless otherwise specified, whereas calling someone a "Spanish" or "Islamic" might cause offense because those adjectives have corresponding people-nouns in "Spaniard" and "Muslim" and you are excluding their humanity from the term.
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