Don’t Call Me A Dyke! by Effing Dykes

This is a Special Guest Post by Krista of Effing Dykes ! Effing Dykes is a queer girl blog that’s hilarious and smart and a little raunchy and WE LOVE IT. Probably wouldn’t be a terrible idea to set aside some time and get sucked into an Effing Dykes wormhole, if you haven’t already. Just make sure you come back here to read this post, because it’s special, as aforementioned.

Hiya homos!

Will you close your eyes for a minute for me?

Mmkay.

Imagine that you’re at a dinner party. It’s at your house.

All your favorite people are there – the girl you’re fucking, the girl you used to fuck, your best homo friends, and your best straight friends.

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The conversation is lively. The wine is cheap and red. The kitchen smells warmly of garlic and everybody is making fun of the resident vegan. You’re happy.

One of the queers makes a suggestion that you all go out for drinks after dinner.

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Yeah! Drinks! Everybody wants drinks.
And then…one of your straight friends says,
“We should totally go. Let’s go to a dyke bar!”

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Schrreahccchhhh!!!
That’s the sound of a record scratching.

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(via ohcardigan)

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Dead silence.

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Ok, open your eyes.

Lesbians, here’s my question: Is it ok for straight people to use words like “dyke”?

(via ohcardigan)

Words that have historically been used as a slur against Our People?

Because I have to tell you something.

I have a major fucking problem with it.

(via nomoderngrrrl)

I try not to. But…I do.

It bothers me.

I toss around words like “dyke” and “faggot” and “queerass fucking nelly” with the casualness of a young lesbian who has grown up taking her freedom for granted in a tolerant-ish world – a world where I don’t have to hide my sexuality; a world that thousands of lesbians before me struggled, fought, even died to make possible.

Women were (and still are): assaulted, raped, beaten, killed, cut off from their families, and declared unfit to raise their own children – all for being openly gay.

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Long before I was born, there were angry dykes with signs.

Working for the common good! Working so that, 30 years later, my lazy ass could get laid.

And everybody would think it was trendy.

(via lesfemmes)

But hey: Why should I be able to say “dyke” and not my straight friends?

No matter how long we’ve known each other?

No matter how cool-and-totally-down-with-lesbians-some-of-their-best-friends-are-lesbians they are?

Because I’m a dyke. I’m gay as fuck.

A gay lady.

My cultural history lies with the people wearing too much body glitter and singing “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair”.

Is it wrong to think of straight people saying “lezzie” as the same as white people saying the n-word? Or Christians making a Jewish joke?

I really want to know what y’all think here.

Am I wrong? Am I a knee-jerk-politically-correct lesbian?


(via dykestowatchoutfor)

Help!


Krista Burton writes the award-winning blog Effing Dykes and lives in Chicago. When she’s not writing, she travels for her job, tries not to stare openly at cute girls, and spends inordinate amounts of time in drugstore makeup aisles.

Krista has written 6 articles for us.

204 Comments

  1. Before I started dating my girlfriend, I was straight and admittedly confused as to why she would use the word dyke. Growing up in a very conservative catholic family, words like dyke and lezzie were indeed slurs.

    However, when I asked she simply said, “didn’t you hear? we reclaimed it.” Well, i won’t say ever since then, but definitely by now I agree. In fact, I don’t get offended when I hear any of those words no matter who says them unless they are specifically used as a slur. And even gay ladies can use them as a slur.

    So in conclusion, i see these words as analogous to words like jesus christ. Used by a christian or non christian there is nothing wrong with saying them. However, use that word as a slur/curse in front of a devout christian, and god help you.

  2. I don’t care. Why, you may causally ask? Cause that’s my last name.

    Anywho, yeah I don’t let it bother me just like I don’t let it bother me when ppl say the n-word. It’s not the word (to me) that contains the punch, but how one says it.

  3. Wow… I never realized this was derogatory! I thought it was a neutral word meaning a masculine lesbian. Come to think of it it’s been used on me derogatively before by strangers before, but so has “gay.” “Oh god, you look gay! Why are you wearing that?” It hurts a little to think someone is trying to insult me, but “gay” and “dyke”… those are what I am. “And proud of it” is my response.

    When my [straight] friends use the word it has never seemed weird or wrong, but it is obvious from context that they’re not trying to be derogatory. “I bought you this hat. It looks like something you’d wear, it’s sort of dykey.”

  4. Great topic, makes you think what is and isn’t “ok” in terms of if you’re one of us it’s alright but if your not one of us it isn’t. My straight friends who are very comfortable with the gay community will use it only if they know who is with them wouldn’t be offended. My lesbian friends and I throw the word around all the time.

  5. Use of “dyke” is very much an in-group/out-group thing. It is completely okay for me, as a queer lady, to affectionately call my girlfriend a dyke. It is okay for me to call my incredibly gay friends big dykes, and I see it as a compliment when my lesbian friends call me one (This usually occurs after I have moved some kind of heavy object or demonstrated athletic prowess).

    However, it is not okay for any straight person other than a really, really close friend to call me, or any other lesbian, a dyke. And sometimes not even then. My reasoning for this? They’ve never been on the receiving end of a gay slur. They’ve never had “Dykes!” screamed at them out a car window while walking down the street holding a girl’s hand. To share a specific instance, they’ve never been hurt by hearing a parent say that k.d. lang would have been a great performer at the Olympic opening ceremony if she hadn’t dressed like such a dyke. We’ve all got our examples.

    That’s why I don’t think it’s wrong for Krista for draw comparisons between straight people saying “lezzie” and white people saying n*****. Both terms are used as an in-group marker, and both have been used by outsiders to insult a minority.

  6. I feel weird using terms like “dyke” and even “butch” and “femme”–and I’m a lesbian. My ex HATED being referred to as any of those terms (she was “femmey” with some decidedly “butch” qualities) and I’ve encountered a lot of other lezzies that feel the same way. I personally don’t have a problem with being called a femme, except for the time my (straight) best friend said “Aren’t you a good little femme.” when I told her my (first and god-awful) date paid for my meal.
    But yeah, I try to stay away from personally using those terms because I don’t want to offend anyone, and I find it a little weird when my straight friends use them.

  7. I am a lesbian myself, while im okay with the word dyke or lezzie, i feel like punching the person who calls me a faggot. Although i do have friends who called themselves fag all the time ^^;;;;

  8. My friends get the difference between using a word I actually mean, vs. repeating a slur I’ve used about myself in bitter irony. When I do use a word sincerely, it feels fine if my friends use it on me.

    Though, I don’t interpret “dyke bar” as “you’re calling me a dyke”. I’ve almost never used “dyke” on myself, but I also haven’t had it used on me as a slur. Except I felt a little weird when my more feminine ex-girlfriend called me “dyke” in a joke about not understanding fashion. I can definitely understand why other people don’t like it.

    Regardless, I hate when someone calls me *any* word I haven’t already used on myself. I use “queer” and “lesbian” all the time and that’s just fine. I actually hated it and felt trapped when my girlfriend used to call me “femme”.

  9. Wow. I have no problem with straight people saying the words “dyke” or “queer” just the same as lesbians saying it. It’s the intention behind the use of those words that is important. Like members of the gay community using that word negatively, and my friends using it in joking/positive ways. It’s ok to call someone “dykey” as negative, but only if you’re gay? Give me a break.

    I seriously think that the gay community spends way too much time claiming how welcoming, open and accepting they are. Because that’s bullshit. The scene is generally accepting of gayer than gay men and butch lesbians. Bi’s are not welcome in a lot of places. A straight girl hangs round with a gay man and she gets called a “fag hag”. Femmes that are too feminine get ACCUSED of being straight, like it’s an insult. Seriously people, lighten up. Just because the rest of society (in general) is more accepting of homosexuality now, doesn’t mean we can afford to now be the one’s attempting to exclude people from out little club.

  10. As a self-identified queer male, I’ve only ever been called out over my use of the word dyke by gay, white men. My friends, who self-identify as dykes, have always embraced the term so lovingly that it has made it hard for me to see the word dyke as anything but positive.

    When I say dyke, I mean warrior. Someone that fought for my rights. Someone proud and powerful.. Someone that holds her head high in the face of oppression. My sister. A friend.

    That said, I’m apologetic towards anyone that I offend by my use of the word dyke, because I realize it does have an ugly history. I’m the same with “queer”, which I can only claim partial ownership over.

    I continue to use it as recognition towards those self-identified dykes that are, and have, reclaimed it for themselves. I say it lovingly & with respect, and just hope that people understand that.

  11. ok, so – I am a middle aged, totally straight, married, do-what-you-want, curious person – looking for an honest answer to an honest question:
    how do we call ‘you’ and how do we refer to ‘you’?
    I mean I know it’s not nice to lable: you would describe a person by their attributes and not their religious, gender, political choices – but I am totally at loss with all this stuff.
    what is the difference between a ‘dyke’ and a ‘butch’ ? is there a certain title connected to different types of lesbians?
    I am not meaning for this to be offensive in any way. I am honestly trying to understand. I have heard ‘dyke’ and ‘butch’ tossed around and I just would like to understand how these titles are used and how they should be used.
    My mother-in-law (about 90) onced referred to the ‘more manly one of the two’ as the ‘gay’, and ‘the more lady one’ as the ‘lesbian’ – I thought that was intersting choice of distinguishing (but I totally understood what she was saying)
    But it made me think of all of the different ways that one can get their ass kicked if they said the wrong thing amongst the wrong people!

  12. For me it is not about whether the user of the word is gay or straight. It’s the context and intention. I’ve heard lesbians use the word “dyke” as a derogatory description, like “god, I wish she’s stop talking like such an up her own arse dyke with a chip on her shoulder”. Then I hear it as internalised homophobia and I find that really damaging. But if some one says “This is a great movie, there’s a gorgeous mascara dyke who’s so kickass, I love her one-liners” then that could be appreciation from a straight or gay person. Where I find it most annoying is from some one who thinks their cool, gay or straight, but they just can’t stop themselves always describing you by your sexuality, always thinking it’s funny or relevant. Like “I told my friends they’re going to love my dyke/lesbian/gay friend”. The word used doesn’t matter – why do I need that descriptor? Or “This person is one of the best gay/lesbian (fill in any professional title) in the field”. It’s meant to be complimentary but they saying they are evaluating within the group of queer professionals rather than within the group of all professionals in that job. That is back handed insult. Why do they not just use the refer to the job title as they would with any one else.
    So relevance, intention, context, whether it’s to make them feel cool or whether it is actually an appropriate recognition of something important to acknowledge in that context.

  13. what about bisexual women using the word “dyke”? as one myself, i rarely use it (at least not to refer to myself) but when i do it’s usually to my lesbian friend. she doesn’t seem to mind.

    however, i’ve witnessed lesbians on tumblr getting angry about bi women “stealing lesbian vernacular” or something like that, and on the other hand i know that there are lesbians, such as the aforementioned friend, who don’t mind if bi women use it.

  14. To start off, this is coming from a straight white man, which probably discredits my opinion on something like this, but I still wanted to put in my 2 cents here, I was actually talking to a good friend of mine who was a lesbian, and having a conversation and here’s my opinion, I don’t personally use the word, as I always try to tread lightly with anything that could be offensive, but I think, similar to the n-word, “dyke” has developed a different meaning in a way. I mean, you barely here anyone use to the n-word in an insulting or derogatory way anymore, and likewise with “dyke”. Like I said, I’ll admit I’m probably speaking out of class, as I’m a straight male, but that’s just my thought. I believe if someone didn’t mean it in a derogatory sense, I don’t see a problem. But maybe I would if I was a lesbian woman.

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