Friday, October 23, 2009

Bad language: "dumb" and "bimbo" [Foul-up Friday]

For my initial Foul-Up Friday, I’m reaching back to my Britney piece from a couple weeks ago:

I’ve gone from conceptualizing her as a dumb bimbo colluder profiting solely from her body and oppressing less beautiful women to liking her music and finding great sympathy for her.

“Dumb”? Is not okay language. Dumb is a word often applied to the vocally impaired that’s been conflated with a lack of smarts, or, in Britney’s case, a pneumatic public persona. This is a double foul-up, since “intelligence” is an ableist concept in many ways. I intended it to refer to my previous views, but that’s not an excuse, especially in a post that discusses ableism.

"Bimbo" is also not cool language; it's traditionally misogynistic that's degrading.

I apologize.


  1. I can only imagine that this is an ongoing effort at parody. And even if it's not, I have the same advice:

    Try harder.

  2. I assure you, it's not self-parody. Dumb and bimbo really are offensive terms.

    And, trying harder's kind of the purpose?

  3. On behalf of other second- and third-wave feminists, I ask you to stop this parody. It's too grave an insult to the intelligence of feminist theorists and the coherence of their theories to pretend that it constitutes "feminism" or "anti-racism" to rant about cherry-picked "chauvinist" article titles on the Daily Mail website and the racist sub-texts of music ads with "good white notes" and "bad black notes."

    I don't know why you bear such obvious animus for feminism, but it's not the case that feminists are all bloodless, humorless, pedantic scolds. Our cultural and political analysis is neither shallow nor enslaved to hidebound notions of political correctness. We do not lay awake at night sweating ice for fear that we've given offense (with words whose etymologies or original meanings we do not know) to someone (who did not hear us speak). For the sake of constructive discourse, please stop perpetuating these insulting stereotypes.

    If you want to criticize feminism, I suggest you do so directly and sincerely. That would be more becoming of a mature person.

  4. Bill F., with no due respect, where do you get off representing two whole waves of feminists and telling anyone what to do with her blog? You want to mansplain what feminism is and tell women how to do it right? Peachy. There are many -- free, even! -- blogging options at your disposal. Go use them. Let your voice be heard! And stop trying to stifle and silence others'. Your arrogance and abuse and lack of understanding isn't needed here.

  5. Oh my stars, people, for cereal? You're really going to come onto a feminist blog and make pompous, pedantic statements about how to do feminism?

    You know what I, as a feminist, find insulting? People who think that it's ok to use marginalizing language to refer to other human beings. You know what else is insulting? Mansplainin' in feminist spaces.

    You can consider that a direct and sincere comment.

  6. Hmm, putting a woman's hard and sincere work down: totes feminist!!1! That sort of thing is not on. Treating RMJ with respect would be more becoming of a mature person, a feminist and, you know, a nice human being.

  7. I'm impressed with the new feature and its first instantiation. Thank you.


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