February 27th, 2013Homosexuality and Terminological Social Engineeringby Colin Jory
We Australians invented the decidedly crude “p” word for practising homosexuals. It probably derives from “powder puff”, with effeminate males evidently being known for a time as “powder puff-ters”, and with the “powder” part then falling from use. Like various well-known Australian movie stars and movie producers, the p-word is one of my country’s contributions to world culture, albeit a more uncouth one (our international movie identities being not especially uncouth). I was once standing near a television when a German movie was playing, and what should I hear within the stream of German speech but, unmistakably, the p-word! Fair dinkum! That’s when I realised that this Australian vulgarity had made the international big time.
It caught on world-wide because it is more densely packed with feelings of disgust and contempt than the equivalent American word, “f—t”, and much more so than traditional English equivalents such as “nancy boy”, “queer” and “queen”, which are comparatively polite. It even carries, in its sounds, onomatopaeic suggestions of the very acts to which it adverts. It comes in a slightly abridged, toned-down version when the final syllable is dropped, leaving simply “p--f”, which in contrast to the unabridged version suggests disdainful amusement rather than stomach-curdling disgust.
At the other end of the approval-disapproval scale is the term “gay”, which is genuflective and is designed to convey and encourage reverence for homosexuality. Of course, this attempt at terminological social engineering is faltering, with “gay” having become among the young a term of mild derision, meaning more-or-less what was once expressed by the term “pathetic”, but carrying distinct overtones of its immediate origins and thus suggesting a particular kind of pathetic. This is the kind which the young associate, if usually unspokenly, with limp-wristed homosexuality. That said, it’s sad that today when one hears the melodic words, “Down the way where the nights are gay”, one is less likely to think of Harry Belafonte than of the homosexual English traitor and knight-for-a-time Anthony Blunt.
Terminological engineering to change attitudes rarely works for long – witness the words “cretin” and “silly”. “Cretin” comes from “Chretienne”, French for Christian; and “silly” originally meant “blessed” – as in Coleridge’s “The Ancient Mariner”, where reference is made to the “silly buckets on the deck”. In the Middle Ages the Church encouraged the faithful to think of the mentally handicapped as “blessed” and as the truest “Christians” because once baptised these seeming-unfortunates could not be guilty of sin, as they lacked free will, and so they were assured of going to Heaven. The hope was that this politically correct terminology would induce the unwashed multitudes to think more charitably of the mentally impaired. However, instead the terminology was debased by the association, until Chretienne (Christian) and silly (blessed), when used in relevant contexts, became derogatory synonyms for “stupid” or “retarded”. The same well-intentioned mistake is being made today through the use in schools of the term “special” for intellectually slow children. When a non-handicapped student wants to rib another, he’s now likely to say (usually the culprit is a he), “You’re special!”
I almost never use the genuflective term “gay”, as noun or adjective, in reference to homosexuality. My usual noun in colloquial speech is simply “homo”. Of course, the politically correct will be outraged, since they will feel that by thus abbreviating I am guilty of belittling, but they can scarcely have me dragged before the Thought Police for my irreverence. After all, their favourite term of stigmatisation is “homophobic”; and although this literally means “fear of mankind” (as of homo sapiens), they are using the “homo” part as an abbreviation for “homosexuals”, and are thus themselves calling the latter “homos”. In reality normal people do not have “homophobia”; what they have is homonausea – they find the thought of homosexual acts and antics sickening. They are homonausic. However, I doubt that this more accurate terminology will find traction among the politically correct, or pass muster with the political police.
And a final thought – why don’t the secularist impuritans label disgust at the sexual abuse of children “paedophoblia”? I suspect that they will, when paedophilia comes back into fashion in their circles. It was very much in vogue among them, at least in their “enlightened” verbal and written chatterings, in the 1960s and 1970s because above all of the influence of the paedophilia-promoting Kinsey Report; and the logic of their boundless amoralism virtually ensures that it will become acceptable among them again when social fashion once more permits.