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It's Time For a New Insult

It was recently brought to my attention by a reader (and thus proving I have readers) that Dan Savage of "Savage Love" had a similar rant/conclusion awhile ago. Although I am a fan of Dan, it has been a fair while since I've read his columns with any consistency, so I apologize for the overlap - this was not intentional. Here is the original article. While I go quite a bit more in-depth in my rationale, Dan has a brevity which I admire and the timeliness that I do not possess.

  Alright, I’m going to preface this post with a warning: I’m going to be using sex language which the more timid of my readers may find particularly icky. Now, as the front page to the blog attests to, I swear quite a bit in my casual writing. Nevertheless, there are people out there who find such things ungentlemanly or some shit, so they are invited to excuse themselves. They are responsible for contents of this entry on the final exam, just as a fair warning.

Before we begin...
Consider this a buffer. Or a grim depiction of the futility of existence. Whichever.

  Insults towards friends and enemies are a great deal of fun, especially when you chain them together in imaginative ways. Personally, I’ve found trading verbal barbs are a fabulous way to forge connections with friends or establish your dominance over a herd of idiots when simply being right isn’t working. This, naturally has its down sides – for instance, I only recently discovered how to communicate outside of insulting people and their extended families.

  In any case, in order to successfully denigrate someone, the thing they are being called needs to have somewhat of a negative connotation. Calling someone a squid-lipped, horse-eared mutant is hilarious and hits these major points – unless you find Cthulhu particularly attractive, in which case you’re a terrifying person. But there are some insults which do not work predicated on the fact that the thing someone being compared to isn’t actually terrible.

  So, here’s what all that was about – I think that men should not continue calling other men pussies. It just doesn’t work on a variety of levels. For those who have somehow managed to live under a rock, the traditional use of the word pussy is as a slang term for either a cat or a vagina. And just to illustrate how seldom the term is applied to cats, go to your local Toys R Us and scream “Pussy!” by a stuffed cat and see how long it takes for security to (rightly) beat your ass in with batons.

  In society at large, but particularly in misogynist groups of bros (which I feel should have a name – a derp of bros, if you will), it is a common insult to refer to cowardly men as pussies. The entire rationale of this insult is that, somehow, to be compared to genitalia – in this particular instance, female genitalia – is a bad thing. And I realize that being called a “dick” is also a bad thing, but typically this is done with someone who is overly stereotypically masculine – perhaps unnecessarily aggressive or assertive. In general, I can see how being compared to genitalia as a whole is attempting to be unpleasant, but it does appear that “pussy” is supposed to be the worse insult.

  “Oh, Jonathan!” you scream at a picture of me on Facebook, still having yet to work out the kinks in Internet communication. “It could be referring to a cat after all! They are skittish little things!”

  And you would be right, deranged Internet person. But I would refer you, first, to my social experiment above. Second, cats may go tearing out of the room hilariously when you frighten them, but they also actively hate you and have knives built into their little kitty fists, so I’m not going to humor that line of thinking any further. To be called a pussy is to be called a vagina.

  So the question becomes how did the insult even become an insult to begin with? Well, the answer lay with oh-so-clever stereotypes. Men’s penises are a symbol of virile aggression, while women’s vaginas are supposed to be symbolic of passivity. Such stereotypes are created by incredibly, incurably stupid people who have never actually met the wide variety of human beings on this planet. And the same morons who try to uphold these anachronistic and flaccid assertions are the same ones who think that equating someone to another gender is somehow insulting. Particularly, they think that suggesting a man is a woman is terrible because, at the end of the day, they think women are awful.

  Like I said above, the purpose of an insult is to call someone an identity that is repellant to them. It’s why walking up to a barista and calling them “Moneybags” is not an insult – it’s just fucking confusing. Calling them a syphilitic wage slave in the colon of corporate America is not only much more colorful, but more likely to achieve the blow to the person’s ego you’re seeking. Which is why I formally assert that derps of bros and society at large should stop, immediately, calling cowardly men pussies.

  Part of the rationale here is simple fairness – and I could go the route of gender neutrality, but that’s been covered by someone else. We don’t call overly assertive women dicks. We just don’t. They are referred to as bitches, which is a sociological phenomenon I’m not even remotely prepared to partake in. But I will point you to Bitch Media, a feminist blog which subverts the pejorative use of the term by (gasp) being assertive. And while we do have an oh-so-charming genital-related term which would fit well with the theme, that’s another thing I don’t want to get into. I have heard some women called pussies for being cowards, so I... erm... think that’s an improvement? Question mark?

  The peculiar thing about the insult “bitch” is that it also completely flips its meaning when applied to a man. Used to describe the be-penised, the aggressive nature of the female bitch is reversed into meaning someone who is submissive. It’s so bizarre and schizophrenic that I have to wonder how the hell these things got started. In any case, a stereotypically female trait is ascribed to a male which equates that, once again, being a woman is automatically a bad thing.

  But getting back on track, the point is that we, as a whole, don’t compare women to men’s sexual organs in a denigrating fashion, while we do precisely the opposite for men. The underlying notion here is that equating a man to a woman is supposed to be insulting, but equating a woman to a man is usually supplanted by a homophobic insult, as though calling a woman a lesbian is supposed to be insulting. And that’s another can of worms altogether.

  And here’s the thing: even as an insult, “pussy” doesn’t make sense. Vaginas, even without the horrifyingly painful effects of childbirth, are designed to take a fair amount of abuse and survive intact. The act of penetrative sex on its own is proof of this, but add in things like bike riding and the myriad other ways vaginas withstand punishment and, realistically speaking, calling someone a pussy should be a badge of goddamn honor:

  “Did you see Gerald take that coconut to the face? Had a black eye for a month but didn’t complain. Guy’s a pussy, I tell you what.”

  If you don’t follow that line of logic (namely because your brain hasn’t developed one iota since you were six and you firmly believed that the opposite gender was filled with cooties), then let’s face the very plain reality of the heterosexual male who uses this term. If you find the opposite sex attractive, part of that attraction is to the genitalia. If you call a friend or competitor a pussy, you are ascribing traits that you are sexually attracted to onto a fellow male.

  “That Robert is such a pussy! I visualize him as something I want to put my wang in.”

  I will wait for those who are insecure in their masculinity to finish screaming.

  See, calling a coward a pussy only really works if a) you are actually referring to a cat and/or b) it is coming from a woman deriding another woman or gay men ridiculing other gay men. And even then, the first part doesn’t really seem to make a lick of sense and that last bit seems to me like a pretty big stereotype.

  “But Jonathan!” Again, with the screaming. “How will we insult a male coward now!? You took a word away from me because it doesn’t make any fucking sense to use it like that!

  Well, imaginary yelling person, I do have a solution because I see myself a facilitator of generalized misanthropy. I give you: ballsack.

  Think about it. I’m pretty sure in the top ten list of the male anatomy, very few people list the testicular pouch as their favorite component – especially in the looks department. Scrotums look like an inverted Dick Cheney being devoured by the Thing, so there’s that.

Wrong Thing
Yes, it's the wrong thing. But the original image I created was tremendously gross. Also, bro totally looks like a testicle.

Further, the term is hilarious. Ballsack. Say it. It’s jovial.

  “But ‘having balls’ means being brave! It doesn’t work!” strawman wails.

  Well, strawman, you’re right. But the scrotum’s job is to protect the testicles and it does a shitty job of it. Really, the thing it does right is regulating temperature and that’s about it. Ever been kicked in the crotch? It hurts like... well... getting kicked in the crotch. And that mythical, protective ballsack just hangs there, letting the abuse happen. Honestly, ovaries were the best way to go because they don’t hang out of the fucking body like a goddamn target you fucking morons!

  So, in essence, you have stereotypically “masculine” feature (sccccrotum!) which looks hideous (see above). Further, when provoked by temperature or (I am assuming) fear, it causes those precious, brave balls to run screaming into the body. When everything is fine and normal and you don’t need bravery, they are happily present, ready to remind you of how masculine you are (unless you sit on them).

  So calling a human being a ballsack, apart from being funny, is to describe them thusly: a posturing, masculinist moron who is all macho-talk but runs away at the first sign of trouble (much like Dick Cheney during the Vietnam War – zing!) and overreacts to the slightest bit of pain. But wait! There’s more! Adding adjectives provides additional layers of insulting goodness.

  A shriveled ballsack refers to a guy who once was brave, but is no longer.

  “After being mauled by that bear, Gary certainly is a shriveled ballsack.”

  A simpering ballsack is an ingratiating coward who goads you into things you don’t want to do.

  “Ugh, I can’t believe that simpering ballsack Dirk convinced me to go to the bars so he didn’t have to drink alone.”

  A shivering ballsack is actually in the act of fleeing.

  “Get back here, you shivering ballsack!”

  A sweaty ballsack is just plain repulsive.

  “Get away from me you sweaty ballsack!”

  See, there’s tons of ways to handle insulting people! And you don’t have to be a misogynist douchebag while you’re at it! Or you can choose to ignore me and go on with being a useless twaddlecock. That works, too.

  And before anyone decries my picking on men, just be aware that I don’t really give a shit.

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