“Dont’ be a pussy” is a sexist statement to my ears, and it’s my generation’s version of today’s school kids calling things that aren’t cool “gay.” I come from a city where calling someone gay is not an automatic insult, plus I’m a writer who thinks common slang is the poetry of human anthropology, so it took this aware smarty pants a painfully long time to hear what these kids were truly saying. I think something similar but different happened to/for me with the anti-pussy dis. “Don’t be a pussy,” I finally realized, was always like nails on a chalkboard to me. But in my urban, P.C.-addled mind, the discomfort this phrase made me feel, instantly defaulted me to over-intellectualizing and trying to rationalize away the anxiety and anger feelings (as in, “Hey!, maybe it’s just my old Catholic imprinting that says this is a sexual word and, you know, that’s what make it (note the use of “it” outside of me) seem so bad”). All that contortion — anything but — accepting that this phrase clearly means being a woman is dreadful, or to be lesser than in our society.
My point is that insidious blandness becomes blind acceptance of language and catch phrases (i.e., marketing taglines; character/movie catchphrases that induce a feeling or sell lifestyle) is common to our existence. We hear something over and over and until we believe, accept or start buying into it. Ubiquitousness numbs, and that is what marketers and politicians count on to sell us stupid crap (including identities and ideas) we don’t need but for “some reason” feel we need to keep up or get on board with…lest we be considered gay.
Let’s get back to being a pussy. In our testosterone culture (even in the movies and shows I most love “The Sopranos,” “Big Lebowski,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” et al), calling someone a pussy is a common way to put some poor, usually thoughtful, guy down. [Now even women are being called pussies when they are considered to be weak! When “pussy” is made to be a gender neutral insult, that is the ultimate cultural sterilization of female power.] It’s meant to liken the poor guy to being weak as a woman. Apparently, we’ve been told over and over, it’s the lowest thing you can label a real man. Not only does its throwback ignorance piss me off regularly, but as someone who finds humor in nearly everything, I despise that the phrase usually ends with someone(s) laughing. This is untenable.
I take my power back on this one by speaking up and sharing my view that this is a sexist statement whenever I hear it being used. And that makes me feel a bit more connected to and empowering of my second chakra and I have noticed an opening up (and inner smiling) of my third chakra which is the will and power center.
I’ve firsthand heard men laugh at the notion this is a sexist phrase and pooh-pooh it as a “Get over yourself”-ism. As if someone like me has ever been accused of being overly sensitive. I think…the patronizing is due to…me being…a woman. What do you think? What does this debatably disgraceful and definitely tired phrase mean to you, your daughter, your son?
Beware of cunning linguists.
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