Well That Seems Harsh

Look Mittens

Did you know that the word faggot once referred to firewood? According to some stories, older widows in the 19th century would scrape together whatever money they could by gathering and selling firewood. They were known as faggot-bearers, which apparently got shortened to faggots. It was a demeaning term even then (and how nice to know that the practice of ridiculing the poor is not new). To be a faggot meant that you were as burdensome to society as the firewood was to your back. Although the word originally referred to elderly woman, it could be applied more broadly to women as a whole.

Perhaps that’s how the tag became attached to effeminate homosexual men. Like other derogatory names given to women (such as nancy, sissy, or queen1), the word faggot must have naturally popped into the lexicon of anybody who was terribly afraid of homosexuality without actually understanding anything about it (but I’m being repetitive).

I have no idea whether any of this is true, by the way. It has a certain folk etymology feel to it, but I’m no expert so I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to confirm or refute my recounting of the history of this most odious term.

Now then…in the top part of the meme a chap with an odd hat makes a joke about men who think women belong in the kitchen. It’s mildly funny, in my opinion. If the meme had stopped there I wouldn’t have labeled it a Stupid Bad Meme. This oddly-hatted fellow speaks truth: any man who has ever uttered some variation of the phrase “A woman’s place is in the kitchen” is a tool.

But then, an Awkward Portraits alum confides to his cat Mittens that the first guy is a faggot, which means that Hattie is (A) an effeminate homosexual (B) an elderly woman, or (C) a bundle of firewood.

Or…a fourth option: Cattie doesn’t really care about Hattie’s sexual orientation at all; he’s simply using a derogatory term for gay men to refer to somebody he finds annoying or with whom he disagrees.

Memes sort of come with an implied agreement. If you pass along a meme, you are giving your approval to the content of the meme (unless you run a hilarious blog in which you tear said meme apart). Since somebody passed this meme along, it means that he accepts and agrees that faggot is an okay word to use for people you don’t like, and by extension, that gay people are bad. It also implies that anybody who dislikes the “women in the kitchen” mentality is bad as well. This meme is really working overtime to be offensive.

Mittens didn’t sign up for any of this.

1. Being called a queen might not always be bad for a woman, particularly if she wears a crown. But it’s still pretty harsh for a man.


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