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Thread: When did "queer" become acceptable?

  1. #1
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    Is it me, or did describing a homosexual male as "queer" used to be a no-no and expressly forbidden by the PC police? Now, it seems like it is no longer an insult and is used all the time by the mainstream media.

    When did the shift happen and why?

    Off topic:

    I just found out that we can't describe people as "oriental" anymore...now they are "asian." What is insulting or insensitive about "Oriental" and not insulting about "Asian?"

    Does anyone know this?

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    [quote][i]Originally posted by jets5ever[/i]@Dec 9 2003, 02:10 PM
    [b] Is it me, or did describing a homosexual male as "queer" used to be a no-no and expressly forbidden by the PC police? Now, it seems like it is no longer an insult and is used all the time by the mainstream media.

    When did the shift happen and why?

    Off topic:

    I just found out that we can't describe people as "oriental" anymore...now they are "asian." What is insulting or insensitive about "Oriental" and not insulting about "Asian?"

    Does anyone know this? [/b][/quote]
    I believe Oriental is used to describe objects, and is insulting if used to describe people.

  3. #3
    LOL you just found out about Oriental. ah 5ever you make me chortle.

    honestly its a unique (queer? ;) ) situation - the difference is more grammatical than PC - Oriental modifies things - such as a style of furniture, architecture or or interior design (oriental rug). Asian modifies people.

    compared to the example you couldn't say hey that's some great wop food, or the ferrari is a great wop car - but you couldn't call a person a wop. all usages of the word are techinically "wrong" or not-PC.

    queer is a more complex case - i don't think its derrogitory by nature. If the person slinging thinks being gay is wrong then yeah it can be derrogitory - but so can any word or phrase really - sorta Like "patriots fan" - it can be informative it can be insulting!

    back in the day queer wasn't a derogitory word it just meant different - and gay meant happy - ("...a yabba dabba do time, a dabba do time, we'll have a [b]gay[/b] old time!") - somewhere down the line queer and gay picked up the alternate meaning of "homosexual" - while in the case of gay the new meaning subverted the old the word queer still maintains its meaning of different. i can sit in a business meeting and talk about an abberation in the monthy numbers as "queer" and it wouldn't be an issue. like i said it has more to do with who is using the word and how they are using it then the dictionary defination.

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    [quote][i]Originally posted by jets5ever[/i]@Dec 9 2003, 02:10 PM
    [b] Is it me, or did describing a homosexual male as "queer" used to be a no-no and expressly forbidden by the PC police? Now, it seems like it is no longer an insult and is used all the time by the mainstream media.

    When did the shift happen and why?

    Off topic:

    I just found out that we can't describe people as "oriental" anymore...now they are "asian." What is insulting or insensitive about "Oriental" and not insulting about "Asian?"

    Does anyone know this? [/b][/quote]
    You know their motto....[b][i]we're here, we're queer and we take it in the rear!![/i][/b]

  5. #5
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    Thanks.

    Regarding "queer" first - This is a current definition from dictionary.com:

    Deviating from the expected or normal; strange: a queer situation.
    Odd or unconventional, as in behavior; eccentric. See Synonyms at strange.
    Of a questionable nature or character; suspicious.
    Slang. Fake; counterfeit.
    Feeling slightly ill; queasy.
    Offensive Slang. Homosexual.
    [i]Usage Problem. Of or relating to lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, or transgendered people. [/i]

    n.
    [b]Offensive Slang. Used as a disparaging term for a homosexual person. [/b]
    Usage Problem. A lesbian, gay male, bisexual, or transgendered person.

    Bitonti - I realize that "gay" and "queer" (and all other words) evolve. However, I jave noticed a switch in "queer" that is quite unusual - it has gone from inane, to derogatory slang, to non-derogatory slang. I am 29, when I was a kid, calling someone a 'fag' or calling them 'queer' was essentially the same thing. Nowadays, "queer" is considerably better than "fag" and the popular show even has "queers" celebrating that particular slang description of themselves. It's a bizarre and uncommon switch, and I was just wondering what people's thoughts were regarding this particular evolution.

    (It seems as if dictionary.com still thinks it is an offensive term if used to describe a homosexual.) Although the word "homo" which is a legit abbreviation for the accepted "homosexual" is ALSO considered to be offensive; so what we see is that intent and context are everything, in this regard.


    [b]Here is another snippet from dictionary.com:[/b]

    [i]Usage Note: Asian is now strongly preferred in place of Oriental for persons native to Asia or descended from an Asian people. The usual objection to Orientalmeaning “eastern”is that it identifies Asian countries and peoples in terms of their location relative to Europe. However, this objection is not generally made of other Eurocentric terms such as Near and Middle Eastern. The real problem with Oriental is more likely its connotations stemming from an earlier era when Europeans viewed the regions east of the Mediterranean as exotic lands full of romance and intrigue, the home of despotic empires and inscrutable customs. At the least these associations can give Oriental a dated feel, and as a noun in contemporary contexts (as in the first Oriental to be elected from the district) it is now widely taken to be offensive. However, Oriental should not be thought of as an ethnic slur to be avoided in all situations. As with Asiatic, its use other than as an ethnonym, in phrases such as Oriental cuisine or Oriental medicine, is not usually considered objectionable.[/i]

    This is a different explanation that the similar ones given by Lawyers and Bitonti, which, incidentally, matches the reasons provided to me recently. My question is this:

    Did you two come to accept this of your own volition, or were you embarassed and subsequently corrected by an "asian" after using the word 'oriental' incorrectly, OR, were you simply told by some other party, who is not asian, that the word Oriental was on the Forbidden Word list and thusly just accepted the virtue of the reasons merely because they are widely acknowledged? (I am not trying to call you out or say you are sheep. I just want to know how the process occurred for you)


    The word "oriental" was first coined by the Greeks, it was a supplement to the word 'Occidental.' The Oriental part of the world was anything East of Greece, and the Occidental described those lands to Greece's West. They are merely terms that describe things in relative geographic terms! Europeans were considered to be of "The Occident" or Occidental. Others were "Oriental." It described people AND places and has done so from the very beginnings of the word!! I appreciate that languages evolve, but the reasons for this term being offensive confuse me, because the widely accepted "it describes things, not people" is completely contrived PC bullsh*t that most people believe simply because they are told...like how 90% of rapes go unreported or some such unsupported nonsense. It is not a NATURAL evolution of the word - people somewhere just decided it was offensove and [i]ipso facto[/i], it is.

    A woman (about 24 years old) told me, and I quote, "You can't say that anymore. Oriental describes a rug, or a restaurant, not a person. I am pretty sure Asians aren't rugs. They are people, they have feelings and deserve respect." I couldn't believe what I had heard. Bitonti - are you offended if I call you an "Italian?" I am pretty sure you aren't a hoagie, or a restaurant...does that word indicate a lack of respect?

    I have so far asked three "Asians" if they are offended by the word "Oriental" and all of them said no, resoundingly so. One of them told me he was insulted that people think they can speak for "orientals" regarding what does and does not offend them.

    The fact is that there is nothing whatsoever offensive about Oriental.

    Remember when we grew up and the words "bum" and "vagrant" were part of accepted nomenclature? Now they are all "homeless."

    I swear, it goes over-board sometimes.

  6. #6
    5ever read it again, our explanations jive with dictionary.com

    [quote][b]However, Oriental should not be thought of as an ethnic slur to be avoided in all situations. As with Asiatic, [b]its use other than as an ethnonym, in phrases such as Oriental cuisine or Oriental medicine, is not usually considered objectionable.[/b][/b][/quote]

    you [b]can[/b] say "oriental food" you [b]can't[/b] say Bob is "oriental"

    you [b]can't[/b] say "gook food" you [b]can't[/b] say "Bob is a gook"

    don't ask me why this is the case, it just is. Maybe calling people "oriental" is too close to calling them "ornamental" - who the hell knows, english is a wacky wacky language. either way i always took it to be a grammatical rule like "i before e"

    ---

    RE: queer

    Come to NY's Parody of the ultra-annoying chant "we're here, we're queer, deal with it" speaks to the transformation you are talking about. It was an insult but over the years the insulted took the world and used it as an empowering phrase, sorta the way some blacks use "nigger" as a positve attribute when in certain situations (No i don't want to open that can of worms up, just using it as an example) - bottom line, much like nigger its meaning depends alot on who is using it and how it is being used.

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    [quote][i]Originally posted by bitonti[/i]@Dec 9 2003, 02:36 PM
    [b] 5ever read it again, our explanations jive with dictionary.com

    [quote][b]However, Oriental should not be thought of as an ethnic slur to be avoided in all situations. As with Asiatic, [b]its use other than as an ethnonym, in phrases such as Oriental cuisine or Oriental medicine, is not usually considered objectionable.[/b][/b][/quote]

    you [b]can[/b] say "oriental food" you [b]can't[/b] say Bob is "oriental"

    you [b]can't[/b] say "gook food" you [b]can't[/b] say "Bob is a gook"

    don't ask me why this is the case, it just is. Maybe calling people "oriental" is too close to calling them "ornamental" - who the hell knows, english is a wacky wacky language. either way i always took it to be a grammatical rule like "i before e"

    ---

    RE: queer

    Come to NY's Parody of the ultra-annoying chant "we're here, we're queer, deal with it" speaks to the transformation you are talking about. It was an insult but over the years the insulted took the world and used it as an empowering phrase, sorta the way some blacks use "nigger" as a positve attribute when in certain situations (No i don't want to open that can of worms up, just using it as an example) - bottom line, much like nigger its meaning depends alot on who is using it and how it is being used. [/b][/quote]
    Bitonti -

    Why is the phrase "Bob is oriental" offensive? "Oriental" IS an enthonym.

    "Don't ask me why this is the case, it just is." - that kind of explanation doesn't really fit with the Bitonti I have come to know over these past months.

  8. #8
    my point is that the English language doesn't run on logic.

    Logically you would be right. I'm Italian, i eat Italian food - yeah it makes sense.

    However practically if you call someone an "oriental" its not kosher. I really don't know why that is, i just know that some people will take offense. While I applaud you for sticking to the logical absolute i would be remiss in not warning you of the practical ramefications of running around town calling people Oriental.

    Sort of a situation where i don't know who makes the rules but thats the way the game is played. what can ya do? :rolleyes:

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    [quote][i]Originally posted by bitonti[/i]@Dec 9 2003, 02:56 PM
    [b] my point is that the English language doesn't run on logic.

    Logically you would be right. I'm Italian, i eat Italian food - yeah it makes sense.

    However practically if you call someone an "oriental" its not kosher. I really don't know why that is, i just know that some people will take offense. While I applaud you for sticking to the logical absolute i would be remiss in not warning you of the practical ramefications of running around town calling people Oriental.

    Sort of a situation where i don't know who makes the rules but thats the way the game is played. what can ya do? :rolleyes: [/b][/quote]
    Oh I know Bit, and I am over-analyzing on purpose, mostly cause I like discussing things and all that. I suppose I rarely ever use the word, which is probably why it took me so long to discover that it was banned. You are 100% correct that languages don't run on logic and I am probably too much of a logical/math guy and am admittedly pre-disposed to hating PC censorship and it clouds my perception of this particular word.

    I just find it funny, that's all. I really can't understand why saying, "Yao Ming is an Asian NBA player" is better than saying "Yao Ming is an Oriental NBA player" though.

    Are will still allowed to call people Japanese and Chinese, Laotian, Vietnamese, etc? If you know for a fact where someone is 'from' does that allow you to be specific?

    I remember growing up and kids would call every "oriental" person Chinese, even if they had no idea where that person was from "oh, he's Chinese or something" and when they found out the person wasn't Chinese, they'd say, "Well, whatever, it's all the same"...and that is very insulting to Japanese, Laotian, Vietnamese and others. Perhaps the censorship of the word "oriental" is a defense against THAT kind of ignorance...if it is, than I understand, even if good intentions don't necessarily always translate into effective implementation.

    So, are Indians, Georgians and other Russo - slavs who are half in Europe but half not considered to be "asians" or is that word merely an accepted euphemism for what used to be referred to a "oriental?" I tend to think that is is merely a substitute for "oriental", but one that is inexplicably more soothing to the contemporary ear.

    Good show!

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    I usually use the term F*cking Faggot

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    [quote][i]Originally posted by bitonti[/i]@Dec 9 2003, 03:56 PM
    [b] my point is that the English language doesn't run on logic.

    Logically you would be right. I'm Italian, i eat Italian food - yeah it makes sense.

    However practically if you call someone an "oriental" its not kosher. I really don't know why that is, i just know that some people will take offense. While I applaud you for sticking to the logical absolute i would be remiss in not warning you of the practical ramefications of running around town calling people Oriental.

    Sort of a situation where i don't know who makes the rules but thats the way the game is played. what can ya do? :rolleyes: [/b][/quote]
    The point is people are too damn sensitive! Don't laugh at anyone else if you can't laugh at yourself. I'm an American of Italian heritage and have no problem if people refer to Italians as gunnies, greasy, etc just as long as they can take the same ribbing themselves.

  12. #12
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    [quote][i]Originally posted by jetman67[/i]@Dec 9 2003, 09:46 PM
    [b] I usually use the term F*cking Faggot [/b][/quote]
    Right to the point....you certainly are not a liberal! (here-here!!)

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    It's bizzarre that no matter how much the politically-correct media and gay community try to sell "gay" as somehow something wonderful and aceptable, teenagers disregard that totally. Adolescents don't give a squat about any PC nonsense.

    My teenage son and cousins and all their friends use the word "gay" to describe anything bad. It's derisive, derogatory and nasty. For these kids, to call something or someone gay is about the worst thing you can say. And none of them will wear GAP clothing, since their (best I can tell, unfounded) belief is that GAP stands for "Gay and Proud".

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    [quote][i]Originally posted by bitonti[/i]@Dec 9 2003, 03:56 PM
    [b]my point is that the English language doesn't run on logic.

    Logically you would be right. I'm Italian, i eat Italian food - yeah it makes sense.

    However practically if you call someone an "oriental" its not kosher. I really don't know why that is, i just know that some people will take offense. While I applaud you for sticking to the logical absolute i would be remiss in not warning you of the practical ramefications of running around town calling people Oriental.

    [/b][/quote]
    The difference here is that Italian is NOT an Ethnicity. Italian is a Nationality.

    According to my wife:

    Oriental is an adjective, used to describe objects, it has evolved away from describing the race because of the "subserviant connotations" that come to mind. The image of an oriental person is one of a little chinese man wearing a kimono and working in a rice patty, or that of a geisha.

    Asian (like Hispanic) is a Race. However, just like most other races these days, it is becoming a "cloudy" descriptor. Japanese or Chinese or Korean (my wife) is a Nationality.

    Actually oriental is phasing out slowly in all aspects of language as the independent asian nations become more nationalisitic or more individualistic.

    Very rarely these days are the Far Eastern Nations referred to as "the Orient."


    Just the two cents from my wife. She still calls people Oriental. :blink:

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    [b][QUOTE=JetFanTransplant,Dec 10 2003, 08:21 AM]

    [/QUOTE]
    The difference here is that Italian is NOT an Ethnicity. Italian is a Nationality.

    According to my wife:

    Oriental is an adjective, used to describe objects, it has evolved away from describing the race because of the "subserviant connotations" that come to mind. The image of an oriental person is one of a little chinese man wearing a kimono and working in a rice patty, or that of a geisha.

    Asian (like Hispanic) is a Race. However, just like most other races these days, it is becoming a "cloudy" descriptor. Japanese or Chinese or Korean (my wife) is a Nationality.

    Actually oriental is phasing out slowly in all aspects of language as the independent asian nations become more nationalisitic or more individualistic.

    Very rarely these days are the Far Eastern Nations referred to as "the Orient."


    Just the two cents from my wife. She still calls people Oriental. :blink: [/QUOTE][/b]


    An "ethnic group" is defined as "people of the same race or nationality who share a distinctive culture." Therefore, "Italian" (while also being a salad dressing) is both a nationality AND an ethnicity...or, better yet, nationality could be considered a sub-set of an "ethnic group."

    Italian, Irish, Polish and many others are also adjectives that are used to describe objects - Salad dressing, bread and sausage come to mind, respectively. They are also adjectives used to describe people. There are "connotations" that come to mind with every ethnic group, it doesn't mean that we should stop using them. Italians being hot-tempered, Irish being drunkards, Poles being dim-wits...etc. The fact that "oriental" is now forbidden is hogwash that people believe only because they have been told to. Your wife is oriental and she calls people oriental and her reasons (the common, "it describes a thing, not people") are just simply not true and I suspect something that she doesn't even agree with (since she calls people Oriental) and she is just repeating the explanation she heard somewhere, like Bitonti did. We have gotten to a point in this country where everyone acknowledges that something is considered to be "offensive" but no one [i]really [/i] thinks it IS offensive (even members of the group the PC police is trying to 'protect') yet everyone plays along. "I know it's dumb and it's nit-picky and it isn't an offensive word - but you still can't say it!" The word very MUCH describes people and has for thousands and thousands of years. It's just that for some inexplicable reason, the comtemporary "sensitivity police" don't like it. It's like how we call people "homeless" when we used to call them bums or vagrants or "drunks." It's also like calling people "domestic engineers" instead of "housewives." There is absolutely no substantive difference between the words, one simply is deemed to be acceptable and one is not...no further explanation is necessary and if you point out the absurdity of it all, you are "hateful" or a bigot. I have never thought of "subservient" connatations or 'rice patties' whenever I hear the word Oriental, nor do I immediately think of rugs or food or think of oriental people as "objects." Ethnic stereotypes are never going to go away, no matter how often speech is censored. We are all supposed to celebrate the utopian ideal of "diversity" at all costs, but we are never allowed to speak candidly about what it is that actually makes us different!

    For the record, "hispanic" isn't even a real word and it was invented by the US government to lump all spanish-speaking people together, even though many "hispanics" look completely different, speak different dialects and have vastly different cultures. For some reason, BOTH hispanic and latino are accepted names. although 'latino' has a far longer track record.

    "Asian" no more describes a race than Oriental does and I would further argue that the word 'asian' encompasses many more variety of ethnicities than merely saying 'oriental' does, so, in a sense, Oriental is more accurate, but not much. The main point is that the two words are essentially the same thing...why one is good and one isn't I'll never understand. The "things, not people" argument is hollow.

    Anyways, I appreciate the feedback.

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    My wife is American born of Asian descent. She doesn't care if people refer to her as Asian or Oriental and she sometimes refers to herself as Oriental.

    She thinks (like me) that all this is just PC nonsense. But then again, she's just a chicken-hawk, neocon like myself, so our opinions are just borne of racism.

    By the way, I'm not white -- I'm pinkish-tan colored.

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    Someone sneezed on the boat this morning (I take a commuter boat to work in Boston). I said, "God Bless you." Then, after a few seconds, I said, "I'm sorry - are we even allowed to say that anymore, or is that considered exclusionary??"

    That got a pretty good laugh.... :lol: One woman actually said, "They're not going to take THAT away from us..."


    Smith College, an all-girls school, recently took out all feminine pronouns and references to "women" from the school's constitution, or mission statement. They essentially said that to include those would be exclusionsary and insensitive to those transgender students and others who don't "identify" with or "outwardly present" the female gender, even if they happen to biologically be of the female sex. (Of course, a biological male who "identifies" with and even "outwardly presents" the female gender need not apply.) Ah, higher education....

    FYI - "Identify" means "feel like, but not dress as" and "outwardly presents" means "cross-dressing."

    We are seeing the gradual (and some would say relatively rapid, lately) loss of shame as a useful societal tool. There is a very important pragmatic use for shame, especially in terms of a smooth and peaceful society and overall good behavior. Shame has kept me from doing many, many stupid things and probably is the main reason why I am alive and well today - it fosters good judgment. However, accountability, consequences and judgement are now all ipso facto forms of oppression or bigotry and shame (and it's cultural benefits) is ceasing to exist. I swear to God, the longer I live the more I realize my parents were not as stupid as I thought!

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    [quote][i]Originally posted by bitonti[/i]@Dec 9 2003, 03:56 PM
    [b] my point is that the English language doesn't run on logic.

    Logically you would be right. I'm Italian, i eat Italian food - yeah it makes sense.

    However practically if you call someone an "oriental" its not kosher. I really don't know why that is, i just know that some people will take offense. While I applaud you for sticking to the logical absolute i would be remiss in not warning you of the practical ramefications of running around town calling people Oriental.

    Sort of a situation where i don't know who makes the rules but thats the way the game is played. what can ya do? :rolleyes: [/b][/quote]
    You definitely have a unique slant on the subject bitonti. But there's a chink in your armor: why would some of the Web's most visited sites (and therefore most respected authorities on everything) promise things such as "hot oriental women" or "oriental babes who like to f---ie s---ie"?

  19. #19
    :lol: B)

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    That was pretty funny Shakes.

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