People are weird. Normally, I love this.
Exhibit: Some of us quietly enjoy the smell of our own farts or skunks on highways. Some of us are scared of things like human hands or citrus fruits. (Those folks best avoid over-eager farmers’ markets.) It's all good -- because weird is good. Enjoying the stank of a toot might seem palatable to some and repugnant to others. This isn’t noteworthy; our tendency as people to like or not like different shit is part of what us individuals. Even our fears are different. Fears that seem completely rational to some of us (Flying, Baboons) can seem like scoff-worthy piffle to others.
The stuff that grosses us out, that can be just as strange and just as diverse. Exhibit all those people who get mad squicked out by certain words. I don’t mean the obvious words that skeeve us all out like “vaginal fissure” or “Nicolas Cage.” I mean words you should theoretically be able to bandy about without fear of censure or reprimand at Aunt Phyllis’s garden party, words like “panty” and “moist.”
Try an experiment for me right now. Go around, and start saying those two words, and I guarantee you within five minutes, someone is going to tell you how they feel about them, and I can also guarantee you that how they feel is awkward in their parts. Noses are gonna crinkle, there will be tiny screeches, someone might ever shudder, another person might faint or drive off the road (that last one was just me though, because I haven’t had a chance to eat today, and also I can’t drive).
I get being "opposed" to the word panty (or its plural, "a mountain of dem drawers") because you think it infantilizes and fetishizes female sexuality. That’s kind of how I feel about being called "baby." But if you call me baby, I’m not going to shriek and slap you on the arm. I’ll probably just shit myself and then be all, “HOW DO YOU LIKE ME NOW?!” before moonwalking away.
My understanding comes to a standstill when we talk about the word moist, though. I think I’d probably be (and quite rightly) arrested for assault if I came across another person who whined upon its use, “Staaaaahp, ew, sooo terrible!”
I’d be all, “You know what else is terrible? Your faux prudish sensibility, vocal fry, and fear of, I don’t know, man, what is it? Your vaginal mucus? Sexual excitement? MOSS? STONES AFTER IT RAINS? IT IS A WORD, SUKAH!” And then many punches -- which is terrible! Because violence is wrong and I have sparrow-like bones despite my stalwart Hobbit-esque build, yo.
It’s not like I’m saying words don’t have power -- they absolutely do. They can build us up, make us feel invincible, appreciated, and loved! Exhibit just this week when someone told me I was awesome. I quickly responded, “Yes, I am, thank you.” Because I am awesome and being told as much made me feel like a Rick Ross-level boss.
Words can also, hurt us, gut us, reduce us, and leave us reeling. “Unattractive” -- that’s one we know I got hit with lately. A bumbling ugly word jabbed out to hurt. I was actually more offended by that than I was by an xoJane commenter who once said, “If my genitals were a stomach, they would be throwing up from having to look at your face.” Because, guys. That’s kind of funny, and weird, and structured in an interesting way. And could mean that they were cumming when they were looking at me? Whatever, I gave it too much thought. They gave it not enough.
Neither of these examples have got nothing on racial or homophobic slurs -- that I’m not going to list here, because I am not a gaping asshole. Words clearly have power -- words have started wars. But picking and choosing words so you can clutch your figurative skirts and seem cute and eccentric takes away from all that! If you genuinely hate the word panties because you feel it denigrates women -- SAY THAT SHIT.
If you’re generally phobic of the word moist, vulva, chafe, nooner, smoothie, or cosplay and someone is using it -- SAY, “You guys, I have a legitimate phobia, please stop.” If those people don’t stop -- GET NEW FRIENDS! Because friends don’t let friends keep saying nooner if it’s giving you the dry heaves.
Do you have a word phobia? A phobia of people with word phobias? A PHOBIA OF PHOBIAS IN GENERAL?