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?


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.


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.


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


That’s the sound of a record scratching.


(via ohcardigan)


Dead silence.



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.


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)


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Effing Dykes

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.


  1. I get offended when anyone other than a lesbian calls me a dyke. I also wonder if I’m wrong but apparently you can’t rationalize feelings. Whatever, ignore what I just said, I just wanted to say that KRISTA WROTE FOR AUTOSTRADDLE. Can this happen like, many more times forever?

    • I don’t expect a reply – your post is 2 years old! I’m not even sure how I ended up on this website!

      However, your comment caught my eye and I felt obliged to post a reply!

      Do you think it is okay for members of the ‘black community’ to refer to other members of the ‘black community’ using the racial slur “nigger”?

      As Lesbian, you probably know the word “Dyke” originated as a derogatory label for a masculine woman.

      My personal stance (I am not racist, nor homophobic!!) is that if lesbians use the word “dyke” and find it acceptable, it is discriminatory if other, non-lesbian, people use it and you find yourself feeling offended.

      • “My personal stance (I am not racist, nor homophobic!!) is that if lesbians use the word “dyke” and find it acceptable, it is discriminatory if other, non-lesbian, people use it and you find yourself feeling offended.”

        No. It is our word, directed at us, to offend us, we decide. If we choose to use it on a non-offensive way towards our lesbifriends then so be it, but in my opinion we decide, not straight people :)

  2. Personally, I don’t like gay slurs in general. None of my gay friends use them and I do not use them either. Every time I hear or read “dyke” it cuts me like a knife.

  3. I use the word, especially in the context of ‘what a dykey outfit that girl is wearing’. I accidentally used it on a FB comment on a bi friend’s photo – cleary she hasn’t been made aware yet that’s it’s just a casual (and, in this case, approving) word for me. However, it does irk me a bit when straight people use it. It always makes me think of Janis Ian in Mean Girls or something.

  4. I don’t like the word dyke at all, even though the only people who I know who use it are also lesbians. However, they use it as a negative slur towards other lesbians. Like, “Man, she was super dykey/she’s such a dyke!” sort of things. Dunno, I just don’t like it. I understand the idea behind reclaiming words, and I think people have definitely worked hard to take back “queer” (as one example). But reclaiming a word doesn’t mean using it in the negative way that it has been used against us and then justifying it by saying that it’s okay, because we’re part of the same community. Which I hope no one takes as a critique of the author, because it’s totally not! It’s a critique of people I know is all.

    But, I don’t like to use my anecdotal feelings as proof of any real thing, because I am not the norm/there is no norm/whatnot.

    • This is years late, but I jsut saw it. It sounds like your friends have a lot of bad ideas about other lesbians, and that’s sad. Whenever my friends call something/someone “dykey” it’s meant as a compliment.

      Example: I had a pair of sunglasses I was wearing for the first time. Someone I had a crush on saw them and said: “Cool dykey shades!” and I was high on that comment for a long time.

      To me, “dyke” is a powerful word for powerful people, who are able to say: “I’m not afraid to be called a dyke because I love being one.” When someone tries to shame me out of it, I just smile because they don’t know what the’re missing out on being.

      Also, “lesbian” is a Euro-centric word that doesn’t make any sense. Sappho may have liked the ladies, but I hardly think she’s the ultimate source of all women-loving-only-women worldwide.

      I totally respect not wanting to use the word dyke at all, and am not trying to convince you to use it. I just want to say that those of us who use it in a positive way have our reasons, and those who use it in a derogatory way to me seem to be the ones with a problem.

  5. Yeah, I’m not a huge fan of straight people using it. It always makes me wary when slurs for a group are used by someone who isn’t a part of that group (ie, “fag,” “dyke,” or various ethnic/racial/religious slurs”). There’s an always a sense of “Why exactly did you feel the need to say that word?”

  6. Among my gay friends fag and dyke and some other related terms have become terms of endearment or words to describe those moments when you realise you’re doing something that is incredibly stereotypically gay.

    But yeah I would be kinda weird about straight people saying it. I guess because as someone who is straight why do they need to choose that particular word over regular gay or lesbian? They really don’t have a personal need to reclaim the insult so why use a charged word like that?

    Although I do think it depends who the straight person is and what way they’re saying it. Like I would have an easier time accepting “that girl is a total dyke you should go for it” over “that girl is a total dyke what the hell is up with her hair”.

  7. I like the word dyke and I like the fact that our generation is reclaiming it in our way. I like using it and I like hearing it. I dunno. I also never have heard it used against me in a mean and derogatory way. That may change my opinion of it if if ever happens to me.

    But it irks me to hear straight people say dyke or fag. I don’t like it.

    Also, apparently spell checking on this site is offended by the word dyke, it doesn’t recognize it as a word.

    • Totally agree about the reclamation. I love Dyke and self identify as a Dyke Cowboy. As for the hets, I think it depends on how its used. My best straight friend said it in a derogatory manner

  8. I get angry with my gay-man-friend when he calls me his “BIG dyke-girlfriend” – but mainly because I don’t like labeling myself or being labeled by others. I feel like he’s pigeon holing me into a category I don’t feel I fit 100% in. He’s also teasing me and I don’t know exactly why it’s funny. I don’t tease him about being a big nelly bottom but somehow that’s funny… go figure.

    I’m gay as glitter for sure! But don’t fence me in with labels! I’m so much more!

    I also like to feel I’m Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans etc etc etc. friendly and I want that to come through in how I (if I must) identify. That is also why I like the term Queer – it’s a an umbrella word for all the seasons of love.

    If a straight person called me a dyke it would depend on the situation. If it was someone who was completely lacking in the area of social graces, not a member of P-Flag. Not a “friend of the flannel”. Someone who WAS straight AND narrow… then hell yeah I’d tear them a new one.

    IF it was a case of a friend just trying to find common ground to show a little solidarity – then, I might just accept that they’re making an effort and thank them. After all – I don’t want my straight friends to go back into the straight closet and forget that I like slow dancing with their sister and flirting with their girlfriends.

  9. “Dyke” is ours and ours alone. It was bought and paid for with the blood and pain of those who came before us, the nellies and diesels who either couldn’t or wouldn’t hide in shame. We owe them. We owe them and all of our brothers and sisters who come after us not to just let the power of those words – dyke, queer, fag – just slip away into the common, bland vernacular.

  10. yeahhhh I don’t like it when anyone other than a lesbian woman or bisexual or queer woman uses the word dyke.
    It really rubs me the wrong way. And depending in which context the word is used with gay women, half the time I think it’s some kind of self deprecating deep self loathing kind of thing. Very rarely do I find it as an empowering reclamation type of word.

    However I do say fag, faggy a lot around straights (but I also make my self loathing, queer humor sort of thing known) So…shrug i’m not perfect

    Complex innit?

  11. I never use “dyke” as an insult, and I try to only use it in company that I know for a fact won’t mind. This means you don’t often hear it come out of my mouth.

    I’ve been a reader of Effing Dykes since AS linked to her a few months ago, and at first I was shocked by her casual use of words that have traditionally been insults, but then I was charmed. Because how can you not be charmed by “ciao, carpet munchers”? Here were all of these words that I’d heard thrown around as slurs growing up, and they were being used in this friendly, inviting way.

    Do I think a straight person could or should try to pull off “dyke,” “fag,” et al? Ehh, it doesn’t feel great to think about. Maybe it’s narrow minded of me, but my first thought inre the party scenario above was “That person will never know what it’s like to have ‘dyke’ leveled at them as an insult, so they can’t use it like they’re reclaiming it.”

    I need to think a bit more about I feel this way. Can the language that is used to oppress a minority be used positively by the majority? When a minority reclaims a word, they’re taking something hurtful and making it their own so that it can’t hurt them anymore (at least, that’s the theory), but the majority hasn’t been hurt by the word, so there’s nothing for them to transmute.

    Maybe that’s it? No matter how nice and well-intentioned that straight person is, there’s some deep-down part of me that’s always going to register that that straight person is part of the majority that has been using* that word in a negative fashion, and they’ve just suddenly decided that it’s suddenly positive coming out of their mouth. They’ve always had power over it, power to use it to hurt, and they’ve never had to / won’t have the possibility of having to look at that hurt, take it in their hands say “Nope, this one is mine now.” Even if reclamation isn’t a conscious process, it’s a process that has the potential to occur by virtue of being part of the minority/oppressed group.

    Does that make sense?

    *Yeah, queer folks, as BMW noted, also use “dyke” as a slur. That’s not cool either, because it’s supporting “dyke” as part of an oppressive vocabulary.

  12. “Working so that, 30 years later, my lazy ass could get laid. And everybody would think it was trendy.”


  13. Well I would certainly have to agree with the rage/offense that this word stirs within me when used by those who are not dykes. Pretty much any word involving gay people used by straight people makes me a little shivery. But I’m still in high school, and while mine is a very liberal, progressive school where homophobic insults are not tolerated, it’s not the kind of place where many people feel comfortable being out. Heck, I’m not even out to most of my friends. So hearing people say dyke/fag/lezzie/that’s so gay is a big issue for me in my environment because trying to defend myself so vehemently would probably not end well and really, no one would stick around to hear me rant about this anyway.

    Basically I have lots of feelings about this that have no outlet. But to make things short, I generally feel quite offended when people who are not gay and have no idea what it’s like to hear such slurs and simultaneously feel a fist to your gut use these words as insults or not. Straight people for the most part just don’t understand the weight of a comment about your sexuality.

  14. I had a big fight with my sister once about her calling people dykes. I don’t really mind, though, as much as like the f word (I can’t type it, it makes me feel like a bad person). Most of my friends throw “dyke” around, and if I’m being honest, I don’t really care. I think because it has never been used as an insult by anyone who was with me. It was never like, a bad thing to be called, just a thing.

  15. i think the thing is that when straight people use the word ‘dyke’ they are implying that it’s become trendy enough to be a part of everybody’s vocabulary. but it’s not. until being a dyke is trendy enough for kids to stop killing themselves ’cause of gay bullying or for me to stop getting emails from girls who are sad in their 3-D lives with haters everywhere (like in their house), then it’s not trendy enough for it to be part of the general vernacular. i am jewish and i don’t care when christian people make jewish jokes because FINE TORCH ME i think we (the jews) are doing ok at this point in this country, am yisrael, and whatever. i think making a slur trendy is something we do when the war is over and it’s not yet. also krista has cute hair

    • Of all the comments so far, this feels most true to me. Thank you for writing words that describe feelings I tried to articulate but couldn’t.<3

    • Yes. Totally. I don’t say it because I don’t want to give everyone the ‘hey the queer girl says dyke so its cool’ stamp of approval.

      Also its just an ugly sounding word. Guess that helps when coming up with a hearty slur.

    • A very valid point Riese!

      As a straight queer ally I agree that the word should not be used by straight people. That and other slurs whatever sentiment (positive or negative) even make ME uncomfortable. But I will admit that I am guilty of using some but only at home with just my sister (who is queer) and me.

  16. Have we all forgot that lovely school yard chant? You know the one about sticks, stones, and words?? I feel slightly outnumbered here, but GD y’all it’s just a word. Sometimes they’re said with intent of harm or to cause a stir but words are easily combatted and defused.
    Personally I’m not a fan of any sort of once derogatory word being used today…but I don’t see why one group should have complete ownership. If ANYONE has a right to say a word, EVERYONE has a right to say it. Freedom of speech and all that jazz, ya know?

    A side-note I would like to add, because I’m apparently in a bitch mood and am going to be critical. Sorry. “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.” This is the most offensive thing to me. Do we really have to qualify that statement? Women are assaulted, raped, and killed, constantly for reasons less than sexual orientation, just the fact that a woman is woman would suffice.

    • Mmmmm…yeah…my previous comment is obviously not conscious of gay bullying/bullying in general. And it was also not taking suicides into consideration.

    • This is a pet peeve of mine, but unless the Government is taking away the right to use a word or phrase or say something or controlling your speech in some way then your freedom of speech isn’t being messed with.

      • I’m ignorant and don’t really think things through. My bad. I probably should have only said that I don’t have a problem with it, because I don’t.

        • I would like to offer you props for thinking more after you posted and realising what you hadn’t taken into account and how that affected what you said. So few people do that and it’s a sign of good things.

    • this comment is brilliant, and totally true. dont recant your truth because some people are too close minded and insecure to see it

  17. I am proud to be a dyke. Non-gays have no rights at all to any of our words or pieces of our culture. They have enough of their own. They have abused us for all time and aren’t likely to stop any time soon. Call it sensitivity training, consciousness raising, whatever. Show us some respect.

  18. Once a long time ago, in a state far far away I was struggling really hard with being who I was or who I thought i was. I walked out of my room and my mom said “wow, you look like I dyke” I was in my teenage years. I had no idea what the term meant, I just knew it was negative. I hated the word, up until I was ready to embrace my gayness, my butchness (even though I am on the softer side of the scale), my homoawesomeness if you will. In college we had a acronym – BDOC – Big Dyke on Campus, it became a title and an honor of sorts passed down in a non formal way from one person to another.
    Now I feel like the use of the word is entirely dependent on context, as a joke with friends (most of my friends are homos) fine within limits. As joke to be mean or harassing or in any way derogatory, not so much. I’m not sure if any of this makes sense and I have to get up really soon for rugby.

    p.s. effing dykes always brightens my day and usually puts a smile on my face

  19. “Is it wrong to think of straight people saying “lezzie” as the same as white people saying the n-word?”

    What i don’t understand is why do Gay WHITE people keep trying to compare their experience with Black people?

    If you go outside from USA no one even knows what the word “lezzie” is.

      • ^^Y Our logic is Twisted GAY white people have still their white privilege your can still use your “Pass” any day of the week whit the exception if you have “GAY” tattooed on your forehead.

        • Gay white people have white privilege and straight black people still have heterosexual privilege. Black men and gay men have male privilege.

          Also see:

          On the contrary, many gay people can’t pass for straight any day of the week. The closet is a prison of infinite internalized oppression, not a pass. Attempting to characterize stigma as a privilege is twisted logic.

          Some black people can pass for white, that doesn’t mean they have white privilege.

          For a fun time, try searching for dyke on Twitter.

          • so i did search twitter for dyke (even though i knew better) and found this:

            “Ok so this dyke chick just tried to move me out her way and I didn’t move, she better realize she still a girl”

            feelings: fuck him. sad. and sadly, not surprised.

          • i have “lesbian” as a search term on my tweetdeck. it’s 25% porn, 25% actual stuff i care about that is probs also in my autostraddle following column, and 50% derogatory bullshit. after a while it’s just water under the bridge, it barely even phases me anymore.

          • most of the time it doesn’t phase me, and i’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing. on one side, you can’t freak every time someone spouts derogatory bullshit, because that’s all you’ll do about every second of the day. on the other side, by not acknowledging it, i feel like maybe i’ve been desensitized, and that creates an even bigger problem because it makes it feel like it’s become normal and okay. i guess balance would be the solution here. remind yourself that it’s not okay and not to completely disregard it, but realize that you can’t scream at every asshole you meet cause no one listens to people who scream all the time and you’ll lose your voice, literally and figuratively actually.

          • On a very basic level, yeah, sure it’s kind of the same in that reclamation is both powerful and dangerous. However, all civil rights issues are not the same and not all struggles are interchangeable. Trying to put them side by side and see whose is bigger only diminishes the experience of those being oppressed. It’s not a pissing match. It’s life. Being gay and suffering from discrimination is not the same as being black and withstanding centuries of systematic disenfranchisement. They are uniquely different experiences that can suck immensely separately and when you put them together, it’s uniquely shitty. The point is you can be the gayest gay in all the gay land. If you’re white, you still enjoy white privilege.

        • I see where you’re coming from as a person of color, but I still think the two are somewhat comparable. Especially if you happen to live in a small community and are openly gay, you might as well walk around with ‘GAY’ tattooed on your forehead. Not mention, white gay people who look stereotypically gay still suffer from discrimination in similar ways that black people suffer from discrimination.

    • >>If you go outside from USA no one even knows what the word “lezzie” is.>>

      I’m going to have to go ahead and disagree with you on that one. I’ve heard the term in Australia, too.

      • lol the official language of Australia is English same as USA..SO, Of course you are going to here that? or is that word “lazzie” not English word??

        I am living in Europa ask the admins my IP i have never heard someone using “lazzie” is that even a Word?

      • No the term lezzie doesn’t apply outside of America. I live in Ireland and the correct term seems to be lesbo. Dyke however might be universal.

        Hello people have none of you ever seen Lizzie the Lezzie?! She’s like the most famous example of the word lezzie around she didn’t come from America.

        • Going to have to disagree. When I was about 11, me and a friend got called ‘lezzie’ for giving each other piggybacks. In Italy. By some Italian kids. Some transcend cross language barriers…

    • I don’t really think that white privilege is comparable to straight privilege for a lot of reasons but mainly I think it’s just really problematic to attempt to compare ‘who’s got it worse’, of course, especially since these experiences are so radically different and everyone’s objective opinion will vary based on their own life experiences. Although racism isn’t legally or socially ‘acceptable’ (whereas in many areas homophobia IS socially acceptable and is even written into the constitution) (and in some areas, racism is still socially acceptable), the devastating and pervasive effects of institutionalized racism and widespread systemic bias in health care, education, the legal system and employment continue to have an extremely strong influence on all quality of life factors in this country and continued segregation strongly influences mortality rates.

      I don’t think Krista is equating the experience of racism to the experience of heterosexism by using those slurs as examples. I don’t think she needs to do that in order to make her point.

      As per intersectionality, I think that really serves to illuminate just how radically difficult things can be for people who fall into two or three of these identities — as I’m sure most black gay women could attest.

      • Oh my fuckin Bieber. We’re the same person. And by that I mean this is basically what I wrote above.

        Anyway, I think this is a great time to bring up that while this site deals a lot with the struggles of being gay in an everyday kind of way, there is very little light shed on the experience of those who do fall in multiple categories (ex: black and queer). Like a lot of shade being thrown at Queen Latifah without acknowledging that her race could possibly have a large impact on her decision to come out (if there is such a need).
        Succinctly, I find it problematic to critique people of color on their decision to stay in or out of the closet without better representation of their queer experiences on Autostraddle.

      • Of course there are differences, like gay history isn’t generally taught in schools and as a result even gay people aren’t informed of the systemic marginalization of LGBT people. The only dyke in congress has introduced the “Health Data Collection Improvement Act” to collect data on health disparities among LGBTs. And this long after the AIDS Crises? It’s systemic.

        I’m sorry for continually ruining everyone’s day.

        Straw man’s aside, the reason usage of slurs are comparable is because the base question is, “Is it ever okay for a person with privilege to use a reclaimed word?” The answer is, in general, no.

        The reason white people shouldn’t say racial slurs is because white people can’t say it without it coming from a position of privilege. Similarly a straight person, regardless of their race or anything other trait, can’t say dyke or faggot without it coming from a position of privilege. The person saying the word is part of the context, which means their privilege is part of the context. You can’t make that argument without pointing out that there is such a thing as heterosexual privilege. And I don’t think what specific type of privilege it is matters.

        • i think that the type of privilege does matter. it shapes the larger meaning of the exchange, how it’s experienced, and the extent of the impact. context is huge.

    • You could push out the idea of privilege quite far to having access to education, possessing citizenship of a stable country, etc..let’s face it most of us on here are probably a whole lot more privileged than a lot of people around the world even if we are gay or women or gay women of colour or whatever our situations.

      I don’t really see how other aspects of our privilege should invalidate the struggles of those areas where we are not privileged. Where do you draw the line? People in America can’t complain because they could be living in North Korea?

      And even despite all that the article didn’t make any attempts to compare the experiences of gay white people to the experiences of black people. It attempted to compare two situations where a word is acceptable for use within a minority but not outside of it.

      • Yeah I agree with all of this, and ultimately w/r/t this article, this is the most crucial point: …the article didn’t make any attempts to compare the experiences of gay white people to the experiences of black people. It attempted to compare two situations where a word is acceptable for use within a minority but not outside of it.

    • I feel like the comparison to the n-word isn’t really at all about comparing the overall experiences of gay and black people. But the n-word is a word that is widely understood (at least in the US) as a word that you just don’t say if you’re not black, ever. And while racism does continue to exist the majority of people (even bigots who may use the word in private) understand that they don’t say it because they could get into deep shit if they do.

      But a word like dyke is not widely understood as a word that straight people just shouldn’t say, and while what the n-word signifies isn’t at all the same thing as what dyke signifies it’s possibly the most emotionally charged example that we have to relate to that most people understand, whether they agree or really “get it”, ok I’m not supposed to say that because I don’t have the right to. She also made the comparison between a straight person using dyke and Christian using a Jewish slur.

      It’s just a way to point and say “look you guys don’t use that derogatory word. You get that word is wrong, why do you keep saying dyke?” Which is something that I think will come with time and the more progress GLBT rights movements make and the more visible we become and the more we share our thoughts the way this blog post is doing the more uncomfortable people will begin to feel using those derogatory words.

    • Hey from Downunder- slang for lesbian here includes Dyke, Lezzo, Lezzie and really commonly, Lemon. Lesbians refer to themselves (ourselves) most frequently as Dykes ( Dykes on Bikes is always a Mardi Gras fave ) and Lemons is just everyday here. Ozzie irreverence is a way of life, and our humour is very much about making fun of ourselves before others beat us to it – owning the hurt words is strong. Personally I don’t like being labelled – I’m more than who I’m attracted too. Great to read everyone’s comments ! You can talk to us at LOTL online e-mag – go ahead, say gday

  20. By all means, keep calling yourselves dykes, eventually the word will have lost so much of its negative connotation that it’ll legitimize its use by us straight people.

  21. Sure, I admit, I will use “dyke” to refer to a fellow lady lover, myself, or my lesbian friends. But I don’t use the word “fag” and I never use any racial or religious slurs. I’m a half-white, half-hispanic christian lesbian, so the n-word, jewish slurs, or anything that I don’t qualify as is completely off limits in my vocabulary. I agree with previous statements in that I feel like I haven’t “earned” the right to use them. I don’t know what it’s like to be judged based on being African American, or what it’s like to be made fun of for being jewish – so I don’t use those charged words.

    I doubt my logic makes sense, but it’s just how I feel? Ugh… If only y’all could help me with that. I also have feelings for a friend’s ex – totally off limits? Probably, but she’s gorgeous. I can barely help myself.

  22. growing up in my home, the word “dyke” had no more or less of a negative connotation than “lesbian”. being either meant going to hell so you may as well die now.

    This being said, my feelings about this word have changed, like me, over time. i used to be so offended to hear this, regardless of intent. maybe i’m mellowing with age, but i don’t really care any longer when it’s said by anyone, unless it’s in hate/ignorance. gay, straight, in-between, none of the above: just use all your words.

    • Mostly, yes… I agree with this.

      The intent matters to me more than the word. I like the word dyke and I use it. However, like all of my words I try to think about them before they come out of my mouth and whether it’s an appropriate time to use them. And I expect as much from my friends. Strangers are another thing. If I don’t know you I’m going to assume your use of that word and similar words is derogatory.

    • I agree with this, mostly.

      Shouldn’t we be working to get past ‘heterosexual privilege’? I mean to say, until they can start using the word dyke, they will always be persons with privilege. We shouldn’t keep making them privileged or above us in our minds.

      I don’t think the n-word has been reclaimed in the same way as queer, or as dyke. Unless queer or dyke is used as hate, then I try to not have a problem with it, because straight people should be talking about these kinds of things more, too; and, we shouldn’t tell them “OH YOU don’t say that YOU have PRIVILEGE”… instead of encouraging debate and friendly education/understanding/funtimes.

      It’s the same way with women, we always want to become “equal” to men, and what after we are equal? Will we ever be equal with the way we think about things?

      I don’t know how to explain it, and maybe I’ve been reading way too much Judith Butler (hahaha); but I think we’re looking at it the wrong way, in general.

      I like the word dyke and I use it, I’m not going to have some complex that I can use a word but straight people can’t, because that drives us apart, not together.

      If a stranger yells out, “Dyke!!” It’s obviously derogatory and wrong and horrible; but if I’m using it as a compliment because I think a girl is sassy, sweet, and strong; or if my straight friend is saying it because he’s asking me a question – it’s OK.

  23. It bothers me to hear the word dyke used by straight people. My brother in law, who I love, said it tonight and I felt this sick tug in my gut that says “you have no right”. In the heart of my defiant heart I think if you are going to use the word dyke you have to know what it feels like to BE a dyke. The Gay oppressive world is not over for a lot of us who are over 30 or live in conservative leaning communities or have right wing christian family members or co workers. When I hear the word dyke from an external source, the feel of the word is: otherness, ick factor, angry, ball busting outsider. When it comes from inside, the feel of the word is: Strong, centered, beautiful, salty, sassy, sexy, smirky can’t keep me down wonderful.

  24. Dyke is an identity more so than lesbian is to me. I was called “fucking dyke” on a regular basis in high school. I also had someone write “dike” (misspelling and all) on the roof of my car. The reason dyke feels more like an identity is because I’ve always been the kind of lesbian that was noticeably gay. And I decided that’s what I wanted to be, that’s how I wanted to be seen, and embraced it.

    You can also say “gay” and “lesbian” in a disparaging way. We see that with kids calling whatever is stupid “gay.” And Ur So Gay.

    Most of the lesbian books I have from the 90s use the word ‘dyke’ with gay abandon. But it seems like there was a resurgence in the past 5 years saying “no, no, no don’t use that word. It’s like faggot.” I don’t feel like dyke is quite the same as faggot though. It seems kinda late to reverse reclaiming it too.

    The problem with straight people saying dyke is that they tend to do so without the slightest awareness of heterosexual privilege. In that moment it becomes blisteringly obvious that although our straight friends support gay rights, empathize and don’t discriminate against gays themselves, they still don’t get that heterosexual privilege is part of the cause of marginalization…not just the discrimination.

    • This explains how I feel more than most of the other comments I’ve read. It’s the thing about not realizing privilege that makes it not okay. Usually when I hear people who think they’re really cool allies or think they’re hip with the gays because they have gay friends or think they understand what it is to be gay because they know gay people or whatever, they’re not understanding that in the eyes of the entire world we aren’t on the same footing. So many people of privilege of any category no matter how open minded usually don’t get how far the struggles and fear and isolation and injustice really go. To hear a straight person adopt our words, especially words that are originally hate words or words so closely tied to oppression as though they think we’re equals, it says they really don’t understand how far from okay things still are and it’s a reminder that as much as we might like them they don’t know what it’s like to be a gay person. That’s where the sting comes from I think, that feeling of how much a friend doesn’t understand a very important thing about you.

  25. i think its all about context, at a dinner party, amongst friends, some of my friends who identify as female but like boys and “boy parts” are as culturally queer as anyone i know. when these folks, more than allies, they are part of my homo community, use words like dyke, i don’t see it as them trying to be trendy or as a slur. its part of their vernacular like its part of mine.

    to me and my homo community, “dyke” is a gender. its walking down the street and being read as an obvious “dyke” not straight. it can be your outfit, the nod you gave me as you got off the train, your haircut, etc… in that sense, its totally ok to use it to describe people. its similar to femme or butch. dyke is its own space, unique and distinct.

    i enjoy being a dyke, being recognized as one, being attracted to other dykes. its a gender, and an expression that is part the larger LGBTQ world. i also embrace the word “queer” because it encompasses so much more than gender binary-ed terms could ever. when you don’t feel like a femme or a butch, a man or a woman, queer and dyke feel more comfortable and accurate- at least for me.

  26. I don’t know if it’s ‘correct’ or not, but I’m also not sure if I care. I don’t feel good about straight people using the word ‘dyke’ under any circumstances. Until fairly recently, I was entirely against the word ‘dyke’ or any other slur no matter who used the word. Now I see it more in terms of context and don’t really have an issue. It’s actually made me rethink a few other things. As a person of mixed race, I’ve always been against the word ‘nigger’ and didn’t care who used it. Now, I have more understanding for people who do. I also love the idea of re-claiming words, and I think this goes along with the topic of the Google Instant article that caused such a commotion. :)

  27. I really have a tight-knit group of friends, both gay and straight, and I think around any of them I don’t mind when they say “dyke” or “queer” etc. because they understand when it is and when it isn’t ok to say those words (my straight friends included; quite a few of them actually have gay parents/family members, so even if they don’t fully understand what the implications behind those words are, they still have at least a second-hand idea of what those implications are). I think if anyone straight outside my circle uses it it does rub me the wrong way, just because there’s that lack of understanding and trust.

  28. ALSO. My girlfriend and I read Effing Dykes religiously. We’re in a long-distance relationship so your blog gives us something to talk about when she’s away. So thanks for that!

  29. I don’t know. I get why you’d be offended, but I’m honestly not. I mean, I get offended when someone uses it offensively. I just don’t think that it’s inherently offensive relative to the sexuality of the person using it. For me, mindset and intention is REALLY relevant.

  30. This happened to me, except it wasn’t the straight friends calling me dyke, it was a man who was pissed off that I wouldn’t dance with him (read grind against him), so he called us all dykes. Nice, huh? Aside from any obvious reaction, it was also strange because around here dyke=butch, and we were all in dresses.

    Fast forward, and girlfriend says that I’m not a dyke, I’m a lesbian, (mannerism-wise). I don’t really mind the term in the hands of other women-loving-women, though. It sounds like flannel shirts and hiking boots, and that’s alright by me.

  31. Firstly- OMG Effing Dykes and Autostraddle togetherrr!!!

    Secondly- I like the idea that we can recapture words, and I think it’s a-ok to be a lesbian using ‘dyke’ or a black person using the n-word (I’m Pakeha-Asian so don’t feel like I’m entitled to write it haha) as long as it’s not used disparagingly. I’m at high school and I find that using “gay” to describe something bad is far more hurtful to me than a far ‘worse’ word used between friends. It’s not the word itself that harms, it’s the intention.

    Incidentally, ‘Pakeha’ which means ‘New Zealand White Person’ is a word reclaimed from the original Maori meaning which was something like ‘White bastards’… It’s now used on official documentation.

    • “Incidentally, ‘Pakeha’ which means ‘New Zealand White Person’ is a word reclaimed from the original Maori meaning which was something like ‘White bastards’… It’s now used on official documentation.”

      This is not true though, it’s propaganda – it’s so untrue you can wikipedia it to find that out, and it pisses me off so intensely that this propaganda is so widespread in Aotearoa. People aren’t totally sure about the origins of the word Pākehā, but it basically means stranger – it might have been derived from a word for a pale-skinned Māori mythological creature, or it might not. No Māori language dictionary has ever listed the term as derogatory. A bunch of unpleasant National Front-esque types have spread that rumour because they’re so offended at the idea of having any ethnicity other than “New Zealander” (because a New Zealander must be white, geddit?)

      Anyway, ugh, this is a horrible discussion. I am a Pākehā NZer with even less of a stake in this issue than you, so w/e.

  32. These words and terms no longer instantly get my blood boiling like it used to …… but I don’t like it either

  33. The list of things I love about Krista’s blog is almost endless, but the title of it is number one on the list. It conveys worlds of meaning using two little words, one of which is not even a word.

    When I ran into that blog, I realized that I’d gotten away from using “dyke”, and I missed it!

  34. Hi there.

    A.) I don’t know how lucky I am to have stumbled upon your blog, and I’m aware that you’re guest blogging here… yeah, I followed you here… not creepy AT ALL…


    You are HILARIOUS. I love it. Your writing style is great too.

    B.) I NEVER use the N word, I don’t call people Jews, or say fa—t (see I can’t even write it) when referring to homosexuals, and I never will… but one thing I am VERY guilty of, is referring to things as “gay” instead of stupid. How’s THAT for terrible!? It might be worse! Or at least equal to… HOWEVER, being 24 myself, “gay” is just the slang I was raised on. I know it’s no excuse… and I am trying super hard lately to STOP saying it, but sometimes it escapes… like a snort during a laugh, or a tear during Oprah.

    I think it’s ALL disrespectful. BUT, that’s just me. I try to always be very polite, and nice, and not offend people. Some people are easily offended.

    Anyway, I’m bookmarking the SHIT out of your blog, and probably this one too (depending on what I read when I post this), and I hope to read much more from you.


  35. I like topics like this. I haven’t read through everyone’s comments, but I’ve seen some really insightful responses. LOVE jc_unstrung’s comment!

    Am I the first straight lady to comment here? Time for my two cents.

    I never really used to understand how much power words had. I knew not to use the n-word from an early age, and that people who used it were “bad”.

    But nonetheless, I didn’t “get” why marginalized people would still want to use such words as terms of endearment, or to empower themselves. I just thought that it’d make sense to eradicate such words entirely, until they’re long-forgotten.

    It wasn’t until my third year of university that I sort of “got” it. My painting class was having a critique, and we were discussing my piece, which was a Ukrainian embroidered apron, upon which I’d cross-stitched the face of Wonder Woman (my painting instructor was lenient in what qualified as a “painting”). It was a piece that spoke of the roles Eastern European women are expected to fulfill: to be stereotypically feminine, homemakers, obedient, etc. And during the crit, my whiter-than-mayo-on-white-bread-totally-Anglo best friend casually called me a “Uke”. I stopped and turned to her, not angrily, but taken aback, and went, “Whoa dude, what did you just call me?” And the class was dead silent. And she goes, “What? You call yourself a “Uke”, “Uky” all the time!” And then another friend of ours says, “But she’s UKRAINIAN, so she’s allowed to!”

    “Uke” isn’t quite on par with the n-word, but it nonetheless is a word that was used to insult people from Eastern Europe (along with words like Ruskie, Polak) when they came to North America during the early 20th century. In Ukrainian school, we used it amongst ourselves all the time. We understood how it was used historically, how our grandparents were sent to internment camps as soon as they arrived in Canada, how they were forced to change their names, how they were ostracized from their communities because they couldn’t speak English. So like jc_unstrung said, we owed it to our ancestors to take this word, and use it to empower ourselves, to wring the oppression out of it, to show that we would not forget what our families fought for so that we could have better lives in Canada. So to hear that word coming from the mouth of someone who didn’t know this, who wasn’t part of my community, wasn’t insulting (because I know she meant no harm by it), but just weird.

    So I get the power of words, now.

    NOW that being said, I occasionally use lezzy and faggy, with my mom, sister, and best (straight) friends. And only in the confines of my home/car; I never use them in public. And only to refer to clothing/hair. As in “I love lezzy-style fall clothing!” (seriously, it’s my favourite), or “Remember when I had my lezzy haircut, and every guy I was into thought I was into girls?” (seriously, they did).

    I know I shouldn’t use the words at all, but I try to convince myself that because I went through a “questioning” phase, that I might somehow be an honorary queer, and therefore have license to use them. But I know that’s wrong.

    Eh, dunno. Hopefully I’ll be able to wean myself off of them completely.

    I would never use

  36. The article makes compelling arguments. Ultimately, though, I’m fine with hearing such words (or their equivalent in French, since I don’t speak English with my buddies for funsies) if the person uttering them 1/ supports gay rights 2/ isn’t aggressive towards LGBT people in any way.

    It’s not like we can afford to alienate the very few straight people who support us.

  37. I hope none of you guys kill me off for this, but I dont have a big problem with someone saying dyke to me, especially if it’s a close friend. Now the n-word, would slightly piss me off, but most people I know and associate with wouldn’t say that, unless we were all joking around. Then again, I have a close friend who hates the word and none of us say it in front of her out of respect. Just let them know that your not fond of that word and, though it may slip here and there, I feel that they’ll respect that.

  38. I take no offense when people say dyke when they say it and mean no offense when they use it. I reckon the weight of the word largely depends on what you mean when you utter it.

    Because sometimes i do hear people use dyke and they mean it in a really cute and endearing manner, like they like you or something to that effect

    I reckon there’s a knee jerk reaction from the word dyke because wiki and webster both defines it as an offensive term to call lesbians.

    I dont have an issue with it as long as you dont have an issue with it… But then I read Riese’ comment and agree with her 100% – War is Not Yet Over – I know im contradicting myself but Riese makes a solid simple explanation also.

  39. As someone who has been called a dyke by angry people on the street, angry kids in a classroom, queers who want to dismiss me, and misguided straight friends, I can say that the latter is the most innocuous. HOWEVER, still not OK and if your friends are good friends, you should have that convo with them & they should respect it. It is not OK with me that those who do not share my experience (that is, of being a dyke) use that term for me because they are so queer-hip when it is still hurled in anger or provocation or dismissiveness.

    I think the parallel to white ppl using the N-word is off base not only because of the magnitude of the history of racism in this country but also b/c it’s a different demographic using the word. Straight ppl being all, “yo you look dykey!” as a compliment are generally educated liberal middleclass friends VS white ppl who use the N-word without intending offense, who in my experience are lower-class (economically i mean) ppl who grew up with Blacks & Latinos and identify in some way with their marginalization–tho on class-based, not race-based grounds.

    **in general

  40. I’m not generally okay with it. My mom once let it slip, but she was trying to be funny so I forgave her.

    I hate the argument that “It’s just a word” and “You can let words mean whatever you want to,” because it’s such bullshit. You have to stick up for words and what they mean and the cultural context behind them. Otherwise we’d all be a bunch of Laura Schlessingers.

    On the subject of privilege, I feel like comparing “who’s got it worse” leads to everyone being worse off. Because if we not allow people to stick up for themselves because xyz have it worse, how does anyone get better?

    I’m biased though, I’m not a person of color and I don’t fall into any other minority groups… except for being a woman. I think the term “dyke” and “fag” are rooted more in sexism than in homophobia, although homophobia is certainly there.

    But think about it – in my experience, the biggest stereotypical perceptions of queer people run something along the lines of “She’s only gay because no man would take her,” and “He’s not a real man because he likes other men.”

    I’m of the opinion that what most people are afraid of in gay people is the rejection of typical gender roles. This is certainly true within the Mormon culture that I was raised in – “It’s unnatural for a woman to not bear children with her husband, every child needs a male influence and father,” etc etc.

    So when someone calls you a dyke, I think that they’re objecting to your role in society. They’re objecting to androgyny, to the unfamiliar. I’m rarely called a dyke, I think because I present quite feminine, but it’s something my girlfriend had dealt with.

    The whole world deals with sexism in one form or another. In my mind, the gay rights movement is part of that and makes the fight worth fighting no matter what other prejudices go on in the world, racially, culturally or otherwise.

  41. So, in June I march with Dyke March, I have no qualms with identifying as a dyke (though I’m just as likely to say “gay” or “queer”) and will do so especially when among queer friends or when I’m in “funny” or “outrageous” modes in conversations at bars, my queer girl friends and I will even use “dykey” as an adjective” — and in all these cases the word has only positive connotations to me. I feel like Riot Grrrl and feminism have really done a good job reclaiming the word so that it no longer has the power to hurt me.

    But I also have never been called a dyke pejoratively, either, so I certainly understand where those who’d never use the word are coming from. And it would feel weird to hear straight folks use it, I think, for all the reasons Riese stated above. And you know, I never even use “fag,” ever, because even there I don’t particularly think I have the right or the need.

    (Thanks for pointing me towards Effing Dykes, by the way! I have some catching up to do!)

    • yeah, i have a hard time using “fag,” too. It is associated with bullying and enforcing gender norms against people who society reads as male. Lots of that gender regulation comes with violence or the threat of it.
      i used to use the term “fag” to describe myself in terms of dating habits. i’m genderqueer, and I’m often read as male on the street or in stores. I prefer to date other people who have a similar gender presentation. it’s pretty common to have folks with my tastes referred to as fags. but then i started thinking about all of the baggage that comes with fag, and how that’s not my experience, and i stopped calling myself that.
      so, yeah. i’m not at ease when lesbian-IDed folks toss around terms like faggot.

  42. Token mostly-straight girl chiming in. My queer-identifying friends refer to themselves as dykes or “dikey” quite a bit, but I would feel very uncomfortable using the word towards them. I would be offended if a guy tried to use “bitch” as a term of endearment for me, even though I’m quite comfortable referring to myself as a bitch, and I imagine that my queer friends would feel the same way if I called them “dyke”, even though I wouldn’t be using it in a negative sense.

    Maybe this would change if “dyke” were “more reclaimed” than it currently is? Obviously I’ve just used “queer” a couple of times and I’m pretty sure that that’s not offensive (by all means correct me if I’m wrong), but that’s different because it was reclaimed and redefined for a specific representative purpose. It’s just as easy for me to say lesbian or queer as dyke, so there’s really no need for me to use it at all.

  43. Just last week I used a reclaimed word for ‘gays of any gender’ in a context where the girl I was talking to most likely assumed I was straight, and it felt super wrong and awkward. Not doing that again!
    I’ve never actually heard a bona fide straight person using it, but I’m thinking if it feels that wrong for me to say it as a wrongly-assumed-straight lesbian then it probably wouldn’t be right coming from a real life hetero either.

  44. Well, in this case the straight people said “Let’s go to a dyke bar”. We all call them “dyke bars”, doesn’t that make it their name? Do they use “dyke” spontaneously in other scenarios? That might be bothersome, but in my opinion it shows the straights in the group are really doing a great job of being comfortable in the group with lesbians. It would have come across really awkwardly if they said “hey, let’s all go to the alternative lifestyle for women who are sexually attracted to other women which is totally ok and not at all wrong bar.” That would be weird.

    • This was my first thought too. What else would they call a dyke bar? How else would they phrase that? What’s the ‘appropriate’ alternative?

      So in this context I can’t see a problem with it, especially between good friends.

  45. I think that you’re definitely right in being offended. It’s distasteful to make jokes about identities other than your own, but it’s HILARIOUS when you do it to your own identity. I think pretty much the only words that heterosexuals can use to refer to us without offense are “gay,” “lesbian.” And maybe “cutie pie” if they mean it.

  46. Within the Family, we call each other dykes and fags and homos and whatever else I have left out. I came out later in life (and by late, I mean 26) and just have never really gotten down with or felt comfortable with such slurs. I figure it’s because of my african-american heritgae and the “n” word. I know many A-A’s use this word and say we are “talikng it back”, so to speak taking the power out of it, but it’s hard to take the power out of a word that was used to degrade a nation of people for 400 plus years, ya feel me?. Now, gay peeps have been around forEVER! We have been called so many derogatory things I wouldn’t even know where to start. So, I feel like it’s hard to take the power away from any word that was/is used so much for so long to degrade any group of peoples.

  47. Upper class white femme lesbians have called me a dyke in a not so friendly manner. So, there’s that.

    It seems like people just want rules to follow so they don’t have to think very deeply.

  48. I’m not black so I don’t know, but I get the feeling that it’s like the n-word. It’s a derogatory term and people within the subculture have claimed it as their own almost as an affectionate term, seemingly to show the dominant culture that they can take over the usage of the word.

    As I am gay, it bothers me, too. I was actually having a conversation about this with my roommates, and I got defensive when they asked what the big deal is. I argued that if they would like to experience the oppression and discrimination that I do daily for being gay, they are welcome to use the term. But until then, I feel completely justified with being offended by straight people saying “dyke.”

  49. I feel like some lesbians are “dykes,” but not all of us are–and only if we want to be. I feel a woman can call herself a “dyke,” but that it’s a word with specific connotations of presentation, gender, identity, and history, and so it’s not always accurate. Two girls in dresses kissing aren’t being “filthy dykes” unless, well, they say so.

    I am not a dyke. I am a literary-minded, technologically-versed lesbian. In my perfect world, I’d be like that girl from The Mummy, or Velma from Scooby Doo, or Batgirl. I am not a dyke–I’m a fussy, neurotic writer with a hedonistic streak. Does that make sense? I like wearing nice vintage clothes while chewing a pen and being pensive and knowing I probably look ridiculous to anyone more grounded. Maybe it’s my stereotyping showing, but a “dyke” does not do that. A dyke is freewheeling, messy, butch, and rakish and gloriously so. I am not. I’m a different flavor of lesbian–maybe even a Sapphist or tribade. Calling someone a “dyke” when they themselves don’t use it isn’t OK. Some black men would balk at being called a “nigga.” That is absolutely their right. They don’t ID with those connotations. No one can ID them that way without their consent and it will not be OK. It’s all about being respectful and empathetic–there aren’t any PC police. You should watch your words because you care about how others feel, not how they’ll react to you. Be careful and modest with everyone; it’s why no one, not even us in The Community, should assume someone else’s experience.

    Words have power, but as our famous possible fellow lesbian Elenor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” However, that doesn’t mean they get to be proprietary with loaded words, though. That’s some privileged assholery.

    I guess I’m saying that, when it comes to words, just be excellent to each other.

    • I like this. This makes sense to me. It’s not about being right or wrong or “PC” or not–just be kind and respectful, and hopefully you’ll be smart enough to speak well at the right time, which probably means erring on the side of caution. And if you fuck it up, own it and apologize and work on being more excellent to each other in the future.

    • Mmm, yes, Sapphists. I adore that word, but that’s also probably because I read far too many translations of Sappho before coming out, and privately thought of myself as a Sapphist before I was comfortable thinking of myself as a lesbian.

      There’s a lot of power in self-identifying, and that’s something that I forgot earlier in this conversation.

      “Be careful and modest with everyone; it’s why no one, not even us in The Community, should assume someone else’s experience.”

      Excellent advice.

  50. Words that were slurs usually should not be used again. See, when you use a word that you think not everyone is allowed to use, everyone else is going to think, “I’m all for gay rights. I have tons of gay friends. Why can’t I use the word?” It’s the exact same as when people try to use the n-word in a friendly way. It’s incredibly hypocritical and can often sound a bit ignorant, as though the past meaning is too old for anyone to care anymore.
    Basically, just don’t use those words. It isn’t “hip” or “cute” to use a word that is actually still being used to this day out of hate and ignorance.

  51. Im more offended when straight people call me a lesbian, personally. It just depends on who’s saying and why they’re saying it. But if my str8 friends wanted to go tot a dyke bar I would find it highly questionable in the first place. I dont bring str8’s into the bars.

  52. Confession: I am more or less a straight girl, though I’ve never really felt entirely comfortable identifying that way because I don’t like doing gender conforming, who sometimes uses the word dyke. I’ve been privileged enough to never really have had ‘dyke’ used in a harmful way around me–in fact, the ONLY way I’ve ever experienced the word in person was in an extremely affectionate, positive way. Dyke was the highest form of endearment among my very dear queer friends.

    I realize, though, that that is NOT what it means to many many people, and so I often slip and use the word (positively) in other settings, and then feel conflicted because I have some emotional investment in the word’s reclamation but realize that it’s not really my place to use it. So I guess, I’m sorry, everyone? I am trying to leave the word for people who get to use it, but I am just used to smiling when I hear the word so it comes out sometimes.

    • THIS.

      I don’t know how I would define a dyke but the only person who is allowed to refer to me as one is myself – and even then I’m aware that it’s woefully inaccurate. I guess when I use the word, it’s more of a friendly, cheeky little dig at people who I know are uncomfortable with the idea of me being gay than an accurate description of my identity. On the flipside, I would never call someone a dyke unless I knew I had their permission… nay, ENCOURAGEMENT to do so and if I realised refering to myself in those terms irritated someone who actually owned the term I would cut it out, toot sweet.

      Having said that, whilst I can feel rather naughty refering to myself as a dyke when I only qualify as one from the most hetero of viewpoints, I do feel like it helps me identify with the gay community and own my sexuality more. I come from the relatively priviledged middle-class England, haven’t been out incredibly long and because I come across as straight the vast majority of the time, I haven’t ever faced direct, deliberate homophobia – refering to myself as a dyke is kind of my way of giving a small internal salute to people whose sexuality is out there, all the time, and who get grief as a result of it and also helps me to understand those issues more. It’s a reminder to myself that when people use the word dyke in an offensive way, that means me too, just as much as it means the most stereotypically ‘dyke-ish’ of dykes.

      Using the word feels like a sort of reminder to myself and people around me who don’t necessarily understand the world queer people inhabit, that there are offensive terms out there with significant weight and history and that maybe they should be a bit more aware that it isn’t all rainbow flags and pride parades and stand up for us once in a while if they hear people use those sorts of terms in the wrong context.

      Hoo, rambling… Should stop. Hope some of that made sense.

  53. I agree if you are not gay you should not use the word plain and simple…If you are not african or african american the N word is offensive and thats just 1 example….In my world, I dont particularly care for the word in general or any other stereo-typical slangs,hate or violence gestures to any person, human being, life force— its like a lesbian cuss word for me along w the C word soo basically i dont use it in context unless its true and some of my lesbian friends refer to themselves as such and I am like whatever makes u happy sweety to each their own……I am an attractive woman who likes women nothing wrong with that ive been labelled “fetch” WT* IS THAT and who comes up with this slang they said it means fem soft butch thats hot idk I am just me I am Mauren i need no label to follow my electric personality and my sexual preference..I also agree with the adversity and violence comment refering to the angry lesbian movementand what great lengths we as a community have been through to establish the kind of acceptance we have now and I use “kind of” loosely bc women who are gay are constantly being discriminated on in every facets and walk of life from rape to hate crimes the list is long ill stop there! I just want the violence to end and Lady Gaga and her youtube on the DSDT ACT wow shes right where is the constitutional rights that we “Americans” are supposed to have! Did she really say her real name to make the point CLEAR OH YES SHE DID XO GAGA…Krista awesome post…

  54. I was at a gay club last night with a group of (straight) girlfriends, and a straight man came up to us and said, “So which of you are dykes?” and a couple of my friends pointed at me, and I found it very offensive.

  55. as a straight female, card carrying flag waving demonstration marching in support of my dearest friends rights to be equal in all things for over 25 years, i’ve never felt the need to publicly identify any of my friends with the labels of queer, fag, lesbian, gay, dyke, or whatever society has deemed necessary to single out a segment of society in a negative manner. that being said, over the years, whenever i’ve been introduced to someone new in the community by various people that are a part of circle of friends, someone, always a woman, will introduce me as their “breeder friend”. yes, i have children, as many of my gay & lesbian friends do. while i don’t mind being called a single mom, the term “breeder” is demoralizing and degrading, and would never be used in the straight community to refer to another person. so while i can understand the concept of “who has the right” to use certain words, i think the issue goes both ways. the words either have power or not, no matter who uses them. i will continue to march for equal rights, campaign for equal rights, raise my children to understand everyone on earth has the right to be who they are, and try to not let those who feel they have the right to label me in that term, have the power to make me feel unwanted in this community that i have been a part of for so many years.

    • Don’t take breeder away from me. I love that word! It’s not a word rooted in hate and oppression; it’s endearing. Also, it isn’t referring to the fact that you have children, it’s referring to the fact that you CAN, y’know, at any time … without a turkey baster.

      • wow shim, that certainly discounts me & my wife, along with our 3 non “turkey baster” concieved children, not to mention countless straight women & couples that research alternative methods of conception like fertility clinics. i guess the plus side for us is that we don’t need to be concerned with the pro-choice vote. after all, we won’t get pregnant by accident after an alcohol fueled bad date. i am a gay woman, and i’m referring to the fact that in todays world I CAN have children, y’know, at any time … without a turkey baster. and breeder is a word used by many in our community as a slur towards straights.

        • Obviously, I was kidding. And certainly not trying to be PC. Also, I don’t actually use the word and only hear it occasionally. I don’t think it should be used as a casual identifier and certainly not as a hateful slur. I’ve never heard it used as either, which is probably why I don’t see it as a negative. Honestly, I just think it’s a funny word. Probably close to 50% of the times I’ve heard it, it was coming from the mouth of a straight person. I’ve probably giggled 100% of the times I’ve heard it, because it was always a joke.

    • I hate the word “breeder,” and have never used it. I don’t let other people I know use it. There’s nothing okay about alienating an ally or making someone else feel marginalized or tokenized.

      Also, frankly, it’s kind of a creepy word. It conjures up things like, “Mm, yes, like cattle that must be bred to keep the population afloat.” Or maybe I’m over thinking that.

    • I feel like this is something you should be bringing up at the time with the women who introduce you as such, since there isn’t actually a lesbian hivemind and we’re not in charge of the words used by other gay women at all times. I’m not clear why you’ve brought it up on a thread about queer women reclaiming the word “dyke”. I mean, since you are so active in the gay rights movement you know the whole world is set up to cater to you and your thoughts and feelings. This thread is actually about us.

      • A touch harsh there, I think.

        As the lady said, it goes both ways. It just so happens that it’s 99% in one direction and 1% the other. But that doesn’t make the 1% of heterophobic comments any less real/insulting.

        I wouldn’t want anyone to be excluded from any thread, especially not because of their sexuality. I can understand how someone that isn’t the target audience of a post might want to work out how the subject matter might apply to them, which is how I chose to read her comment.

        • I’m not condoning using offensive (at least to this poster) language to refer to straight people, like. There’s no call for that. But it isn’t comparable to the history of persecution, assault, murder, discrimination, involuntary psychiatric treatment etc loaded in the word “dyke”. There is a very strong power imbalance that prevents it being in any way the same, and someone who is active in the gay rights movement (which is awesome) knows that. So I was just interested in why she felt she had to mention that here. That’s all.

          • I don’t think she was trying to compare ‘breeder’ to ‘dyke’ at all. Honestly, that whole thing goes back to different types of discrimination being limitedly comparable. I agree with Sally that she interpreted the article in a way that applied to her, & she seems to have looked at it from other angles outside of her own as well. I think her comments fit in with the discussion even if they weren’t directly related. I don’t mean to bitch. I just think that AS is a good place to talk about just about anything and that more diversity is usually a good thing, since it gives everyone an opportunity to see things from a different point of view.

          • I’ve always disliked breeder because, in my experience, it only ever seems to get applied to women, and to me that evokes the history of patriarchal devaluation of motherhood, which is harmful to all women who choose to conceive or raise children, regardless of their sexuality. In my opinion it also devalues/disqualifies the parenthood of gay and lesbian couples who choose to have children biologically or by adoption, because it implies that only straight people can be real parents. That might not be the “intent” of the word, but that is certainly its effect.

            Does breeder have the same history as dyke? Clearly not, but I still reserve the right to find it distasteful. Was this the wrong place to bring it up? Not necessarily. I think that we all have responsibility to examine our words and think about what they might mean to the women we use them towards. We could argue for days about intersectionality and about what kind of woman is more oppressed than another, but playing oppression olympics isn’t going to get us anywhere, it’s just another way that our society divides and conquers us. At least in my opinion.

      • cassandra, i guess i’ll go back and re-read the mission statement of this site again. i didn’t read the part that certain female views are not welcome. why did you not feel the need to question the motives of posters that replaced the word dyke with n**? your statement “But it isn’t comparable to the history of persecution, assault, murder, discrimination, involuntary psychiatric treatment etc loaded in the word “dyke” is incomplete and limited. go back thru world history, replace the word dyke with “woman” and you’ll see a much clearer history of what women for eons have endured. it doesn’t matter race, religion, society, era, women have and are as a whole still concidered second class or property by paternalistic male dominated worldview. hate breeds hate. excluding one woman not like you excludes all women not like you.

        • I’m not trying to exclude anybody, and absolutely women throughout history have suffered, I think we are all clear on that. But the fun thing about intersectionality is that women who are also in one or more other oppressed classes are oppressed more. I feel like this has been mentioned once or twice in the world, and is not a new thing. (This is where the discussion about “nigger” comes in btw, but I don’t actually have to respond to every single other comment on this thread to be allowed to respond to yours.)

          No one should be calling you a “breeder” if you don’t like it. I don’t use that word and never will. But I continue to feel that your annoyance that some acquaintances call you a “breeder” sometimes is an issue that isn’t particularly relevant on a thread about the value of an oppressed group reclaiming a problematic word, who has ownership of that language, and whether use of it within the minority encourages/permits use of it outwith the minority. What you said wasn’t about any of that, and I’ve already explained why they are different (hint: the history of gay people institutionally oppressing straight people is non-existent).

          You aren’t acknowledging that so much as trying to make me feel guilty about questioning your right to talk about how lesbians are mean to you sometimes. Which is up to you but it’s not really working.

    • Honestly, in the past when I’ve heard straight people complaining about being called breeder, it always felt comparable a white person complaining of being called a honky or a cracker. I would think, “What a silly word, and what do you even have to be complaining about, silly?” But I can see how it being used as a casual, consistent identifier is degrading. I can also see how the mental imagery the words create is different, and breeder is significantly less pleasant. I don’t approve of your friends’ usage, and I apologize if I undermined your comment. I still find the word humorous in lighter circumstances.

    • I refer to myself as a breeder but I bowed to social and religious pressure as a very young woman and married a guy…a nasty ass abusive guy…and had two daughters before I left that sumbich and claimed my sapphic birthright. I would hate it though for someone to use breeder as a slur because I am so glad I had my girls. they are my life and after 8 years of single parenting I found someone who wanted to do parenting with me ( for the last 10 year) you would have to know what this has been like before you could use the word Dyke or Breeder in my presence with any kind of fairness. the kids are gown up now 19 and 21. They are proud of their upbringing and of their breeder Mama.

  56. This reminds me of the popular declaration: “No more Mr. Nice Gay!”

    I love the word dyke. I love the word fuck. Both can be used in myriad ways pleasant, unpleasant, and banal. There’s a responsibility one must consider when using either. It’s the lack of or obliviousness to that responsibility, consideration and context that makes their use acceptable or unacceptable, derogatory or welcome.

    The n-word makes me super uncomfortable, unless it’s in something like Mos Def’s “Mr. Nigga” and yeah, maybe that makes me a silly mutt girl who sounds like she’s reading out loud from the Stuff White People Like blog, but it’s true and it beats the hell out of being desensitized.

    I have a question (quite possibly a silly mutt girl question, but still) for Krista of Effing Dykes, and that’s:

    Did the following have anything to do with the naming of your blog?

  57. i just hate the word dyke- i think it sounds abrasive (if u catch my drift) an i dont like being called one, even if it is in jest by my best friend-i just personally dont like the word!

  58. Okay, first of all, I think everyone missed the awesome part of this – the straight friends WANT to go a dyke bar. Personally, I think that’s great, because hey, they are trying to do things that make YOU feel comfortable and are on your turf. Sounds like a good friend to me.

    Second, every group has words that are okay within their group but not okay for outsiders to use. Those words inevitably are linked to a very painful history and stereotyping of that particular group, which then has discussions of the boundaries and whether its right or wrong for outsiders to use this particular word or not. Simple solution? If you’re not part of the group, don’t use it.

    Still, I’m not 100% a fan of so called “reclaiming” words because more likely than not, most people won’t get the idea that it’s been reclaimed by this particular group, and just think “oh, it’s okay to use cuz they’re using it.” It’s the nature of humanity. If you don’t like others using it, then probably it would be a good idea not to use it yourself, or, just be aware and prepared that you will have to explain to confused but well meaning friends why it is not okay with you for them to use it.

  59. people. People. PEOPLE.

    If someone calling you a word is going to shake your tree, you need to rethink your life and your self. Every single one of you here has probably been called a dyke, a nigger, a heeb, etc. And you know what? You’re going to get called it again. WHY LET THAT BE A HUGE OBSTACLE IN YOUR LIFE? I don’t get it.

    When people get called these things, does it affect them mentally? Yes. But does it seriously impinge upon their ability reach their goals or to get food, shelter, and water? Most of the time, no. Face the facts.

    If you don’t like what somebody is doing to you, stand up for yourself. Do whatever you need to do. But to be “offended?” I don’t think I understand the emotional concept “offense.” Maybe you think what people are doing is right, or it’s wrong, but to pout because they aren’t doing what you think people should be doing? Get over it!

      • The whole “unexamined privilege” thing is a covert way of getting people to behave in certain ways. We’re supposed to sit around and feel terrible when people call us these things. Stop everything and feel guilty about being white, being straight, being a man, being whatever you are. What if people stopped doing that? What if they actually said what they really thought instead of sitting around trying to behave like good little white people, or good little men, etc? So yeah, using the “unexamined privilege” to get people to behave only works on urban hipsters and the like.

        • Actually it only works on people who give a shit about trying not to unthinkingly hurt people who have less societal power than them. It’s cool if you’re not of those people but let’s call it what it is.

          • See, I’m weird. I’m one of those people who figures I’ll just follow reasonable standards of politeness and consideration, and anybody who I hurt unintentionally has the personal agency and perrogative to talk to me about it.

            Some of these privilege-lingo people are racist as hell. Whenever it comes to any racial matter, they suddenly switch personalities and start talking a totally different way. This is exactly the kind of shifty, shady behavior that nobody in her right mind can get a grounding in. These people self-police their own language, not out of consideration for anybody, but out of fear that they won’t be considered part of the cool, “down with the cause” crowd. What a bunch of bull.

            Bottom line, we’re trained to have some knee-jerk autoreaction to these words. We need to stop doing this and remember who the hell we actually are.

  60. The continued use of the word nigger is due mainly to black people using it. They say it way more often than white people.

    • Oh honey no. As Luna pointed out below, the continued use of the word “nigger” by non-black people is because those people are racist. The continued use of the word “nigger” by black people is entirely up to themselves and is in no way to blame for other people’s racism. Thanks for trying though.

      • Of course it is up to themselves. People can use any word they want to describe themselves. And you’re correct – black people’s use of the word “nigger” does not take the responsibility off the shoulders of non-blacks – if those people are being racist, it is their own responsibility and nobody else’s. But I question black people who teach their children to call themselves or others by this term. They can do whatever they please, and I can think whatever I want about what they do.

        • “The continued use of the word nigger is due mainly to black people using it.”


          “black people’s use of the word “nigger” does not take the responsibility off the shoulders of non-blacks – if those people are being racist, it is their own responsibility and nobody else’s”.

          The fun thing about those two statements is that they are opposite things. You can’t blame black people for racism and not blame them for racism at the same time. You were wrong and you got called on it, but sure, rewrite your position and hope no one notices. That’s a brave stance.

          • No.

            1. Today, the primary use of the word nigger is black people saying it to each other.
            2. If non-blacks use the word nigger, black people are not responsible for the racism of that act.

            Those statements aren’t contradictory.

  61. Also, every time you replace these terms with silly, evasive words like “n word,” you give the words more power by maintaining their taboo. What if black people started teaching their kids not to give a fuck if they get called nigger? What if gay people did something similar? You can do it on a small scale. Start with your own life!

  62. You know, Voice of Reason, I was with you at the first post. Then the next three, I was like….you know what….

    I’m not with you.

    “The continued use of the word nigger is due mainly to black people using it. They say it way more often than white people.” This is a generalization. And also a false claim. You have no way of knowing which group says it more.

    The continual use of the word “nigger” (by non-black persons, since this is what you are touching on) is because they are people out there who still get a kick out of typing it on every Youtube video, who still feel that it is the appropriate description of a person who is darker than they are, who still forgets the value of someone’s worth by calling them by their name, who enjoys using a word that has so much power behind it due to its use historically and racially.

    And not one racist person who refers to me as such can dare say, “Oh, it’s because you people say it too.” I’m calling bullshit on that because that’s what it is.

    • I seriously do not hear non-black people running around using the word nigger. Around here, if such a person did that, they would be considered an ignorant, bassackwards mouthbreather. The people I hear saying it most are black.

      A racist person who refers to you as nigger is a total idiot, and you should not take them seriously. And if they say, “Oh, it’s because you people say it too,” well, maybe someone will invent some type of long-range slapping device that you could use in that situation.

      One branch of my family is black. Luckily, the adults in my family don’t teach the children to use this ridiculous word to describe themselves or each other, and they also don’t teach them to feel devastated by the word.

      This video basically sums up my view on the use of the word nigger:

      • It is my favourite thing when people who aren’t black tell black people how to feel about racism.

        Luna, don’t you understand? If you just FELT differently, you wouldn’t have this problem!

        • The rules of common sense apply to everybody of every race. If black people took offense every time somebody called them a name or made a racist remark, their lives would be shitty, and you don’t need to be black to know this.

  63. Now on to the next thing.
    The word Dyke.
    I don’t like it. It’s like the word, “bulldagger.” Just so much loaded meaning. Or the word “faggot.” I couldn’t ever picture myself fashioning that into some trendy vocabulary. Those words still hurt today. They still sting when they are hurled at the one person afterschool, near the lockers, by the bleachers, in the locker room, at the bus stop, in front of the club, walking home.

    Those words hurt people still. So as long as they cause hurt for one, it’s not appropriate for any.

    But then again, that’s just my opinion.

  64. i think we should move past the casual use of “fag” and “dyke”.
    we toss it around non-nonchalant w/ eachother to create a familiar bond/associate – but we are beyond that today.
    I think even uses like “dykes on bikes”, “fag-bag”, etc.
    while maybe “cute” to us (us, homos) these are still pejorative terms that leave a little sting and confuse the majority that the usage is where its at.


  65. I love the word dyke like I love women.

    I live in Brooklyn near Park Slope which was loving dubbed, “Dyke Slope” years ago bc of all the ladies living there together. I live with my girlfriend and another queer woman and we use the word dyke all the time. It’s a term of endearment. There is some power in the word, it’s monosyllable hardness, the history. I love dykes. I love powerful women with an edge, visibly gay women that I pass on the street.

    Context is everything and sometimes it does bother me when straight people use the word dyke. It’s as if they sucked all the power out of the word and reduced it to something other and therefore weak, deflated.

    Examples of dyke usage. My sister, “Wow, you are dressed like a dyke”. It didn’t piss me off, I love how dykes dress. My female boss who I love, “I think she’s on her way to being a dyke”. More dykes? Hell yes.

    “God, she looks like a dyke” I turn, look and see who this person is referencing and it is obviously a slam, a way to cut a person down and “put them in their place”. I go rabid.

    Final thought: Even if we got rid of the word dyke there would only be another word invented by some bigot to reference gay women, men etc. Use the word with pride, own it, it’s your history for better or worse. Ignoring it doesn’t make the past go away.

  66. Me, I occasionally call myself a dyke and I occasionally call my gay lady friends dykes. I use it affectionately, I consider it a word that belongs to us (as mentioned upthread) because other gay women bought it for us, and it is definitely coming from a place of reclamation (I have had it yelled at me down the halls). I would never use it as an insult. I use it in the same spirit I use “the gays” or “the lesbians” to refer to some of my friends. None of these things are okay for a straight person to say. That is how it is.

    To those who say that people within minorities shouldn’t reclaim words that have been used against them, because it ‘confuses’ the privileged people outside those groups, who might then have to do three or four seconds thinking!!!!1!! before casually using a slur to refer to people who are not them: Fuck that noise. I am fucked if I will alter how I use language that belongs to me so some straight person won’t think it’s okay to call me a dyke.

    Here’s a hint: it is NEVER okay for a straight person to call me a dyke. And a straight person who can’t/won’t understand why I can say that word and they can’t is not coming from a place of friendly intent, they are coming from a place of heterosexual privilege where everything in this world including *the words that come out of my mouth* has to be set up to favour them them them, every moment of every day. Reclaiming words is not offering permission to others to keep using them to oppress me. Why is the answer to any gay/straight issue or difficulty or misunderstanding always for us to censor ourselves more? No.

  67. I totally agree with you and your comment made me think about something I hadn’t previously considered- what reason would a straight person have for using the word dyke? I can understand the dyke bar example used in the post, but other than as an insult I can’t imagine why a straight person would argue their right to use what from them could be a derogatory word.

  68. I think it depends on the context. Ya know, like if some asshole came up to me and said “dyke”, I’d be pissed for a long time. (It actually happened to me once. I was in shock and he left before I could react to what he had said.) If it’s my best (straight) friend who has like ten bazillion LGBT friendies and tells me I look “dykey”, I honestly don’t care.

  69. Considering the only time I’ve ever been called a dyke was when I told a guy at a club that no, my girl of the moment and I would not, in fact, care to join him for a threesome and he responded by calling me a “dyke bitch”, yeah, not a fan.

    …although when I use dyke, it’s generally as an adjective, and generally means hot. In the right context, it’s one of my favorite terms for us lezzies.

  70. i was on the fence with this, but then today my little sister called me a dyke and my response was to say OH HELL NO. then i called her a pilgrim (?) weird response but i felt so cool.

    anyways, no i don’t like non-gays saying and i also apparently don’t like pilgrims…

  71. Okay for me to hear from other lesbians and gay ppl. . .Not cool to hear someone straight say: “that’s so gay” or “shut up fag” to someone else straight or gay.

    Depends on how it’s used. I don’t see a problem with the N-word. Loads of friends use it (who are black). I like calling my friends hos, bitches and sluts. But like: Hey, ho OR BITCH, YAHS!

    NOT: My friend’s a bitch/slut/etc.

    Again, how it’s used. Tone, situation and person all play a factor but FA GOODNESS SAKES – It sucks to be so politically correct all the time.

    As far as the word DYKE. If it doesn’t feel right in your mouth don’t say it. If it doesn’t feel right in your ear, get offended.

  72. I find that “dyke” doesn’t work the same way now on the East Coast as it did 15 years ago on the West Coast. Of course, back then I was mostly using the word with other dykes, and now I’m running it past a mostly straight crowd. The word that seems to work best for me now is “queer,” although “gay” or sometimes “lesbian,” and “dyke” work at times.
    Maybe the cultural context and not the words are unfriendly.
    I don’t think I’d mind if a non-queer person suggested that we go to a dyke bar.

  73. So I see I’m pretty much the only one with a different opinion on this. I’ve never heard dyke being used in a negative sense (except in movies). I consider using the word, by gay or straight people, in a positive way does, not precisely reclaim it, but helps in the process of making gay mainstream (god, never thought I’d use that word in a positive sense). It might never be mainstream, but hopefully considered as a natural part of society, and making that happen means erasing any form of taboo labeled words relating to homosexuality. The thought of being gay viewed as anything else than natural should be absurd so why should a word meaning gay be negative? That’s how I see it and that’s how I know many straight friends of mine feel when they use the word.

    But since everyone here seems to take some form of offense, I will manage my vocabulary a bit better from now on.

  74. I could care less if anyone, straight or gay called me a Dyke, Lezzie, Bean Flicker, Muff Diver, Carpet Muncher, blah, blah, blah …whatever.

    Queers need to stop being such whiney victims about everything.

    Take it as compliment that your friend felt comfortable enough with your sexuality to have said out loud.

    Fer cripes sakes…. queer kids these days.

    As for non-blacks use of the word ‘nigger’… it’s perfectly fine as long as you show your democratic voting card.

    Just as Bill Maher.

    • uh, NAH, son.
      not to mention, liberal politics/DNC is well-known as a denialist covert racist corner of the universe. it’s just convenient they have crazy right-wingers and republicans saying stuff that’s 20 years out of touch or 3 times crazier to distract the more oblivious.

  75. Fuck it. I say dyke, I call myself a dyke, and if a straight person calls me a dyke with the exact intention of trying to hurt me, then I don’t fucking budge. It doesn’t mean much to me aside from something that sounds sort of weirdly awkward when it comes out of the hole in my face. Go ahead, call me a dyke – and see that it matters a lot more to you than it does to me. For me, even knowing the intention of what’s behind it instantly negates its chances of working.

    My girl, on the other hand, does not agree. She hates it, she hates when I use it (so I don’t really around her), and she especially hates it when straight dudes pop off with it.

    If I had my druthers, it would just be another colorful word to use for descriptive purposes when I run out of synonyms for Ladies Who Like Other Ladies. Unfortunately, even that would take the edge off some of my best-loved dark and nasty humor moments.

  76. It’s like the n-word. If it ain’t you DON’T SAY IT OR YOU’RE GETTING THE STINK EYE FROM ME! And possibly a stern talking to. And by stern talking to I mean a push off the subway platform.

  77. I just got into a HUGE fight over this with another queer friend of mine.

    I’m in high school currently, which may in part explain why we got into this fight, but it basically started when I said I’m really uncomfortable with majorities making fun or making light of minorities.

    For example, I don’t feel comfortable when my straight friends make gay jokes even though I make them pretty frequently (at least in my head).

    I’ll admit I think a big reason I make so many gay jokes is because I’m still like, hesitant (?) about my sexuality. I’ve only been seriously out to myself for like 9 months even though I’ve had feelings for girls for like 4 years years but, I digress.

    I make gay jokes because it reasserts to myself and to others that I am queer and that’s okay. And it makes me uncomfortable when straight people make the same jokes as I do because I wonder what the hell are they trying to get across. It’s weird and emotionally motivated but I’m pretty cool with it.

  78. I’ve never gotten called a dyke in a negative way – however, once when walking with a ladyfriend, we did get “LESBIANS!” from a car window. Cracked my shit UP.

    I also dislike the word lesbian, just as a word. It tastes like cough medicine. I also identify as a dyke and not a lesbian, because I feel my awesome rad queer community has taken a word that caused so much hurt and flipped it to spark mass amounts of joy. Also, a word not from a textbook somewhere, with a walled definition, yknow?

    Point being: I think that in the end, I like to be asked. I have a straight cis friend who educates himself and is down with the struggle, and we’ve talked about it, and if he uses dyke I trust him to use it in a reclaiming way. I doubt he uses it in groups of people who don’t recognize it as a reclamation, and never in a hurtful fashion. I actually sort of feel empowered when he uses it – because he understands it, and he ASKED – which is a super big deal and is a step in straight folks dealing with privilege.

  79. hmm, uhh, how did I get here?? That’s right, via The Good Fan site…
    & seeing as I am, I figure I may as well chip in..
    Loves me homos, & that means you lot too. Lifelong friend.
    That’s right I’m straight. & I will happily throw around ‘homo’ & ‘lezzer’ in a flip fashion – ‘dyke’ might be used in a more derogatory way, as per the above “oh my god that is a terribly butch-dykey look she is working..” etc.
    Or ‘dyke’ might me lobbed by an indignant man for instance when a woman isn’t captivated by his charms (probably because he stinks, is boring, & has a bad attitude – well that’s another story isn’t it).
    Breeders I might aim at sanctimonious marrieds – dull traditional narrowminded. (broad strokes here people). I really can’t imagine lobbing any of these in a hostile way, because I just can’t see the scenario.
    Oh, except for the other day when I was moved to challenge a particularly super-camp young attention-seeking mess – a walking biohazard – who unnecessarily & openly dissed a very gracious & charming straight man – “Well, not being a screaming queen like yourself I probably look for abit more substance in a man.”
    Anyway… I don’t think you should be offended at all – you’ve made a choice – whether you are overt about it, ie present in a deliberately ‘gay’ way, or not – it is your choice & idiots will always try to insult & undermine what they are confused or intimidated by.
    As you say, your fore-sisters & brothers did all the fistwaving decades ago so that you now have the freedom to express yourself.
    So go with it – as long as you don’t kill anyone in the process – enjoy, try not to be reactive, & don’t give a f8ck what people call you.

  80. I’m fine with my straight friends and loved ones calling me a dyke. It beats the hell out of “(pause)…lesbian (in hushed tones)”.

    lesbian bars aren’t fun. It’s crappy world music at stupid volumes, prissy seating and huffy PC patrons. Dyke bars, on the other hand rock. What with the music you can dance to, $1 PBR and sexy hipsters chicks.

    There’s a differnce, you see, between being a lesbian and dyke (although you can’t really be a dyke unless you are a lesbian, obvi) in just the same way that there is world of difference between “a gay man” and “a shwishy fag”. We know it, we own it, and it’s kinda time for the world to know it. We aren’t getting out of our stereo-typed little boxes unless we use our words, talk it out and let the straights do the same.

  81. I totally agree, i think if your gay you have the right to say ‘dyke’ or ‘faggot’ becuase gays understand the term better than straights do. They dont feel offended if we say straight or heterosexual becuase they never have had to hide that fact. If a straight person says ‘dyke’ or ‘faggot’ i believe it is very cruel and degradeing. If you say dyke its kind of a slang term i would say and it totally okay, but for straight ppl so say it their meaning something completly different, they are useing it in a cruel way.

  82. I read this a few times and as a Bi Femme I really have to say that the words don’t offend me–unless somebody says them in an intentionally offensive way (like with anger). I live in a small town and it is pretty much expecting too much to think people will use political correctness.(I am still trying to break my family of calling African Americans “colored folks”). Politicaly correct terminology changes over time and some people just don’t keep up with it for any number of reasons. If I know my “friend” is LGBT- friendly then I will let something like that slide.
    With everything we have to go through as women or Bi women or lesbian women you would think we could have developed thicker skin for something that is just a word…. Women go through puberty, get periods, grow breasts, get put down by men even if we are hetero or bi, put down by other women if we don’t meet their standards, some have babies, and all struggle every day to make the best of the lives we are given. WHY WHY WHY let a silly 4-letter word get under our skin?!

  83. I think that illdoctrine covered it pretty well here–he’s talking “no homo”, but his general point applies: “as a general rule, if you’re not the original target of an insult, you can’t be the one to reclaim it. and 9 times out of 10, if you’re not sure you should use it…you probably shouldn’t.”

  84. i dont personally have a problem unless the term is being used with the intention of offending. if one of my straight friends throws it around casually i cant really say anything since thats how i introduce myself. im gay, im a dyke, and im okay with that. its empowering to me to be comfortable with a term that some bigots use as an insult. however i can totally understand that it is still offensive to some people. i think its up to every one of us to use whats comfortable.

  85. Its not that big of a deal if you KNOW the person has no problem with gays nat.

    It is not comparable to a white person saying nigga. I promise you that most people who think it is are white.

  86. If you MUST compare this to race, then it goes a lot more like this…
    A latina (or a hood white kid) says nigga when talin to a black person… It’s all good, unless it’s in an angry way or they’re real hood and from rival gangs.

    A straight ally says dyke when talkin to a lesbian… It’s all good, unless they’re not joking and they don’t know each other.

    And even that comparison is pushing it cuz they’re just completely different concepts.

  87. Sometimes dyke insinuates a certain TYPE of lesbian and I know a lot of girls who feel like dyke sounds dirty and disgusting, so dyke, especially coming from someone straight, sounds like an accusation instead of just an adjective or a noun in place of someone’s real name.

  88. I disparagingly got called a dyke today over on AfterEllen twice today. And it was the first time that someone within the queer community has negatuvely referred to me in such a manner and I got to say it makes even more furious than an ignorant straight person saying it. There is so much biphobia and bigotory towards bisexuals over there going on right now. Makes me happy that you guys read the posts yourself and don’t let that (pardon my english) shit slide.

  89. Isn’t anyone going to comment on the irony that the blog is called “effing dykes” and we’re discussing whether or not it’s okay to use the word dyke? Side note: I love the Effing Dykes blog.
    As to my personal feelings, I do love the work dyke. It feels like it should always be followed by an exclamation point. Dyke! That said, I would never call another person a dyke without asking them, first. I sometimes self-identify as a dyke, and if that’s how I introduce myself to you, then you should feel free to call me that, whether you are gay, straight, or otherwise. If you don’t like the word/don’t identify as a dyke, I’m not going to use it with you. The same goes for any other term. Don’t like queer? I won’t call you queer.
    On the other hand, the very first time I was ever insulted
    for being queer, the person did it by calling me a dyke, which was not okay, because to her, it was clearly an insult [the happy ending to that story is that she was fired for saying that to me, since she did it in front of 20 eight year olds].

  90. Growing up in LA as one of the small minority of white girls during my years at elementary and middle school, it was always slightly awkward learning to communicate with my Hispanic and black friends. They would call each other “chola” or “cholo” or “nigga”, but when I tried to join in on what I thought was just affectionate referencing, would turn around and look at me like I had just hallowed the name of Christ in a mosque.

    I always felt like it was unfair. But being referred to as “dyke” by a straight friend, no matter how close, does make me uncomfortable. They don’t have the right.

    Maybe it is unfair, but I suppose it just is the way it is.

  91. However.
    I do believe, in a way, that calling one another “dyke” or any of the many other slurs that were originated from a negative and oppressive history, we have kept that word or those words alive, where as they probably would have died out long ago.

    The “n” word, possibly also would have been by now obsolete in our language, but because it has been kept alive by the very people for whom the word was created to oppress, it is still, like the word “dyke” able to be used today to offend and put down.

  92. meh, it depends. If they have “in” status, as in “I know as the only person here who can pass for “normal” and that’s what makes me stand out in this group, so now I’m in, then MAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYBE it’s ok. but i tend to hang out in superdiverse circles and don’t like to be around people who don’t know they’re the odd man out anyway.
    …I have absolutely no good white friends who call me girlfriend or talk about oprah and besides, we would have NO occasion to use the n word anyway!! that racist-ass heifer would have to be stretching to go there and we’d know she just had the Itch.

  93. 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.

  94. 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.

  95. 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.”

  96. 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.

  97. 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.

  98. 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.

  99. 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 ^^;;;;

  100. 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”.

  101. 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.

  102. 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.

  103. 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!

  104. 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.

  105. 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.

  106. 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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