Boyz will be boyz, right? And the c-word is British, right? Nudge nudge, wink wink.
Over and over you hear these excuses for normalizing hate speech directed at women. Usually it is some clueless American just repeating what they have been told by some British troll who already knows they have crossed a boundary and wants to keep getting away with it.
Cue Caroline Sinders, the WMF’s new Wunderkind for detecting harassment, who snickers like a 12-year-old as she displays the word in a powerpoint, starting at about 7:26.
“This is one of my favorite words, because it’s an insult in America and it’s a term of endearment in the UK.”
Really? Or did the WMF’s latest and greatest harassment expert just get pwned.
Meanwhile, back in Merry Olde England, Mhairi Black is the first MP to actually utter this word in the British Parliament, in what was termed “a powerfully emotional, no-holds-barred speech hitting out at the disgustingly vitriolic, daily abuse that she receives”
Black spoke at an International Women’s Day debate at Westminster Hall on whether misogyny should be classed as a hate crime. Video now with over 330,000 views.
Misogyny is absolutely everywhere in our society, to the point that we often miss it because it has been so normalised by being continually unchallenged.
Some folk will be uncomfortable with the graphic language that I am about to use, but I am not going to dilute the reality of such an important issue. I am used to online abuse in particular. I am regularly called a wee boy, and told that I wear my dad’s suits and stuff. Me and my pals actually laugh about it. That is how I cope with it.
We find the best insults, and that is how we have a laugh, but I struggle to see any joke in systematically being called a dyke, a rug muncher, a slut, a whore and a scruffy bint. I have been told, ‘You can’t put lipstick on a pig,’ and, ‘Let the dirty bitch eat shit and die’.
I could soften some of this by talking about the ‘C-word’, but the reality is that there is no softening when I am targeted by these words: I am left reading them on my screen day in, day out.Someone said: ‘She needs a kick in the cunt’. I have been called ‘guttural cunt’, ‘ugly cunt’ and ‘wee animal cunt’. There is no softening just how sexualised and misogynistic the abuse is.
Some guy called William Hannah – I have never heard of him in my life – commented: ‘I’ve pumped some ugly burds in my time but I just wouldn’t’.
I have been assured multiple times that I do not have to worry because I am so ugly that no one would want to rape me.
All those insults were tailored to me because I am a woman. We can kid ourselves that those are comments by a few bad, anonymous people on Twitter, but they are not: this is everyday language.
I am aware that everyone here was uncomfortable hearing those insults – I felt uncomfortable reading them out—yet there are people who feel comfortable flinging those words around every day. When that language goes unchallenged, it becomes normalised, and that creates an environment that allows women to be subjected to a whole spectrum of abuse.
So, “strong language”, “could soften some of this by talking about the ‘C-word’”, “insults tailored to me because I am a woman”, “a whole spectrum of abuse”, “sexualised and misogynistic”, “I struggle to see any joke”, “uncomfortable with the graphic language”,… Nope, doesn’t sound like a case of “it’s British” to me. British women are genuinely distressed by this. They say it leads to violence, assaults. And they are intimated by it to the point where it constantly goes unchallenged.
For Mhairi Black this is not an abstract debate, it is personal.
The women in my life that I know and love have been beaten, raped, assaulted, called sluts, whores, and groped throughout their entire lives, and have been led to believe that this is normal and that it’s just a given, and that it’s something that just happens.
And just that same week, she herself was pressed up against in the cloakroom by some creep who is a member of parliament, and who everyone knows about. Imagine that, a sexual predator in the British Parliament and everyone looks the other way.
But wait, she’s Scottish. Is that the same as British?
It’s so, so hard to give up this “it’s British” narrative after being bombarded with so many blind repetitions.
So what about the British press? What did they print?
- The Guardian had a demure op-ed by Kevin McKenna, a dude who covers Scotland, and who referred to the language as “primitive attacks carrying a degree of malevolence and violent intent that chilled you”
- The Independent embedded the video and printed “I struggle to see any joke in being systematically called a dyke, a rug muncher, a slut, a whore, a scruffy bint. I’ve been told you can’t put lipstick on a pig, let the dirty bitch each shit and die.” But when it came to the c-word, they used asterisks: “… when you’re targeted with these words and you’re left reading them on my screen every day, day in, day out – she needs to kick the c***, guttural c***, ugly c***, wee animal c*** – there is no softening just how sexualised and misogynistic the abuse is.”
- Although it did embed the video, the BBC did not specify the language at all, only saying she “read out some of the worst insults aimed at her”, instead headlining that “she was ‘physically pressed up’ against a colleague accused of sexual misconduct in the House of Commons voting lobby”.
- Even the Daily Mail, England’s version of The National Enquirer, would only print “c-word”, along with some hostile editorializing comments about women: “Scottish Nationalist MP Mhairi Black used the C-word five times to illustrate exactly the kind of abuse she gets online and in the post. Recently, Diane Abbott did the same thing, although she was a little more polite than Mhairi — but who isn’t?”
So no, it’s not “British”, except in the sense of being a primitive and violent attack used by the British equivalent of trailer trash.