Word Game

I’m not talking about Scrabble, Boggle, or whatever your favorite word game might be. I’m talking about two words that I am sick and tired of being sick and tired of. If I were language dictator, I would restrict or ban these words: HIPSTER  and BITCH.

I used to enjoy mocking hipsters and I still do, but I’m not sure exactly what the word means. The straw that broke the bearded camel’s back came today in Slate wherein Carl (Not Brian’s Dead Brother) Wilson reviewed new albums by Robert Plant, Leonard Cohen, and Loudon Wainwright III and titled his article How Even An Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully. I don’t know about you but I don’t consider any of those gentlemen hipsters. Sure, Leonard likes to wear a fedora but otherwise FEH. Here are the first two graphs of the piece:

What becomes an aging white hipster dude most? In every Mason-jar-stocked pseudo-saloon or fixie bike shop, anxious minds wander to the day when temp work stops being sufficient, when skinny jeans no longer can be tugged up over PBR-fueled love handles, and when so much snow flecks that bushy beard that it becomes indistinguishable from an Amish patriarch’s.

Each youth subculture regards its rite of spring as unique. But there’s no source to turn to other than the olds when it comes to facing the autumn, mortality, decay, and the irrevocable receding of cool. Of course the matter is much more deeply fraught for women and people on the social margins, but spare a scrap of pity for the pale straight boys: Too often, no one warned us it would end this way. I’m already much further down the line than the twentysomethings I caricatured above, and I’ve barely begun to suss it out.

Here’s the deal, very few people embrace the hipster label. It’s hard to imagine Robert Plant NOT decking someone who called him a hipster.  After all, the antics of his former band inspired this Zappa song from the Flo and Eddie era:

The Led Zeppelin mud shark story is probably not true, but if you clicked on that link does that sound like something some dweeb in the Bywater or Brooklyn would do?

In short, as much fun as I’ve had slinging the word hipster around (it’s also fun to say) I have no earthly idea what one is, so I’m not using it anymore. It’s a sacrifice but what can I say? I’m always ready to take a linguistic bullet for my readers.

Now we come to BITCH. This may be the most overused and abused word in the English language right now. It’s been past its sell-by-date as applied to women for a long time. It’s been a cliche in that regard since the 1990’s for crying out loud.

More recently, bitch has become a word that manly men throw at each other to insult their manhood. As homophobic slurs have become less acceptable, macho men have been telling other manly men: “I’m not your bitch.” When the word dude is appended, it gets really confusing.

Although I have enjoyed the odd bitch slapping reference, the word finally jumped the mud shark for me on the last episode of the Real Housewives of New Jersey. Yeah, I know I’m slumming. You got a problem with that?

Anyway, Tree’s dumbass kid brother Joe launched into a denunciation of one of the newest male Jersey assholes on the show and said that he wouldn’t fight said creep because “in the world of men, Jim is a bitch and I don’t fight with bitches.” Put your dick away, Joe.

That finally made me *almost* feel ashamed of wallowing in the trash that is RHONJ. Almost. It did, however, cure me of using the word bitch in reference to anything but a female dog.

I’m done. Bye, Felicia.

I’ll give Stephen Stills the last word with his tune (what else?) Word Game:

4 thoughts on “Word Game

  1. ‘Bitch’ in this context is homophobic. It is prison slang adopted by dudebro’s but hasn’t totally shaken its original connotation AND denotation for someone sexually compliant to a nominally hetero fellow prisoner who “just has to have some”.

    There are actually very few insults applied to fellow males that were not originally directed to ‘bottoms’ of one sort or another. For example ‘punk’ was just early 20th century prison slang for the same kind of victim. “You ain’t nothing but a punk” invoking the plug in the hole in a barrel itself aka as “the bung”. With the expression “bung hole” kind of completing the circle if you will (and pun intended).

  2. Creepy maybe. But also a reader of older detective fiction and BTW a once academic student of language development.
    Also I once took an excellent class in Old Norse Saga taught by a visiting professor from Germany who was openly gay and who showed us a whole new reading of otherwise inexplicable moments of violence in saga and older Germanic poetry. Short version: one guy puts the other in a position (often physical) that equates to “bitch!” and next thing you know it is blood feud between two ‘clans’. Because ‘real men’ of ‘honor’ won’t stand for ‘getting punked’. Or did you think there was no connection between ‘punk’ and ‘getting punked’ or wonder how that could be some verb?
    “You’re screwed man!” “You’re fucked up”, hell even “You’re bummed” and “Bummer man”. “That sucks”. And how do you come up with some neutral connotation of “butthurt”? Homophobia and I should add misogyny simply permeate our language to the point that we don’t smell the foul odor in the air. Your mistake in this post was to attribute to misogyny something that more properly (if that is the word) actually stems from homophobia. But it is astonishing what things drop from our mouths without triggering any kind of reflection on meanings and origins.

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