BULLSHIT ALERT

No, Everyone, It’s Not Okay To “Reclaim” The Word “Faggot”

Screen Shot 2014-05-20 at 1.53.18 PMIf there is one thing Tyler, The Creator will be remembered for, it’s his unapologetic and frequent use of the “f-word” in both casual conversation and his lyrics.

Aside from being a documented asshole and physically incapable of smiling in any photo, Tyler, The Creator and his pals from rap collective Odd Future are raging homophobes. He’s been on a crusade to “reclaim” the word “faggot” (even though he is not gay) since 2011, when it was reported that his eighteen-song sophomore album “Goblin” appropriated the word “faggot” to mean something derogatory an astonishing 213 times.

In an interview with HuffPo Live last week, Tyler and his crew get visibly agitated when the discussion begins again. Spoiler alert: He’s still hiding behind the same “take the power out of the word” nonsense he was two years ago — “I’m not  homophobic…’gay’ just means you’re stupid,” he says.

Tyler and the incredibly relaxed gentlemen to his left, a person I am told is called “Earl Sweatshirt”, lead the charge:

“What a crazy world it would be in which we were the evolved ones? What if we took the meaning away from a word?”

Because he also claims not to be offended by the racial slur “nigger,” Tyler is apparently an authority on telling people which words they’re allowed to be offended by:

“[Faggot] has nothing to do with someone being gay, it was just like, a word. Like find any 17-year-old kid who doesn’t use that word and like if you, like if there’s such, like people are like so gone from like, like they’re stuck in such a bubble.”

The problem at the root of this whole “reclaiming” business is simple: You’re not allowed to tell people what they are allowed to be offended by. You cannot call someone a “faggot” and impose your meaning of that word onto them — if that person is offended by the word, there is no amount of “reappropriation” that will make it acceptable. You have offended them, and whether you think their reaction is valid or “oversensitive” is irrelevant.

We’re not talking about a group of people who dislike the word “panties” here, we’re talking about an entire community that has suffered at the hands of bullies using homophobic epithets for centuries. Odd Future’s use of the word “faggot” is just as offensive as Harvey Fierstein using it to slight Johnny Weir, the same as the term “she-mail” is offensive to the trans community.

No, you’re not allowed to appropriate “faggot” to mean something positive. It’s not a positive word. The next time you call someone “faggot” in an endearing way, remember that it’s the last word LGBT victims all over the world heard moments before they were murdered.

Here’s an idea for the “evolved” species Mr. Sweatshirt speaks so highly of: Invent a new fucking word.

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #interview #oddfuture #tylerthecreator stories and more

42 Comments

  • PRINCE OF SNARKNESS aka DIVKID

    And, no, it’s not acceptable. And I have no answers. Actually to anything really

  • DB75

    Hey Matt, I call BULLSHIT on this.

    Where the fuck do you get off telling people what they can or cannot say? When did my personal rights end with the overpowering of your own?!?

    IF you don’t like the word – turn the fuck around and walk away. I should not have to change myself to please your sensitivities. This is what has so many people fucking pissed to no end – the constant “nanny style” tactics to make people live and act in a manner that pleases the other person – to Hell with the one who said it!

    This is ALL way too reminiscent of when I was a kid and was told that I had to do this and do that. I wasn’t allowed to go here and go there or listen to this or say that. I’m a fucking adult and so are you. A word is a word unless you allow it to have power – THAT’S A FACT.

  • DistingueTraces

    @PRINCE OF SNARKNESS aka DIVKID: The editor does not appear to have blocked the comment of the lunatic above you, or yours.

  • Qjersey

    You cannot reclaim a word that wasn’t yours to use as an “insider” in the first place.

    I remember when I was a kid a people tried to claim that n*gger meant “unclean” or “stingy.” Didn’t work then.

    As for insiders…I worked in several mostly gay environments and to walk into work and say “Hey F*ggots” was no big deal. But times change and I wouldn’t think to do that today and I don’t think F*ggot is a word worth reclaiming for any reason.

    And give me a call when women reclaim the work C U Next Tuesday. Not gonna happen. Ever.

  • Tookietookie123

    What if white people decided to “take the meaning out of” the N word? Are you saying no one would be offended? You, as straight people cannot use the F word because it isn’t yours to use or wear as an accessory. If anyone’s going to take the meaning out of that word it will be us and us only, but we won’t because it is stupid and unnecessary because at the end of the day when we’ve done all we can, people will still use that word with a negative connotation just like the N word. Stop using the F word, you can’t tell us what we can and cannot be offended by.

  • skcord

    So if I am following correctly, you have the right to monitor my speech for words you don’t like and I have to accept that but you in no way have to accept my choice to use certain vocab? Got it! Know your enemies people, if I used the word in a hateful way towards a gay person thats one thing, but if it used in a nonconfrontational form by abother gay person and you don’t like it, just walk away! Just as i’ll walk away shaking my head saying “[email protected] please” when you try to lecture me on my personal word usage.

  • skcord

    Also, the N word and the F word are not comparable. The N word represents 300 years of slavery, Murder, rape and injustice. The government never used or encouraged the use of the F word like it did with the N word nor does the F word represent, in the same way, the institutionalized racism that persists against blacks even today. Don’t forget, after the slaves were granted freedom in 1863 they had 100 plus more years of persistent and government sanctioned oppression. There have never been gay water fountains, gay entrances and gay dining rooms to keep us seperated from our straight counterparts. I am in no way trying lessen or trivialize the plight of the lgbt community, but we’re not making frisend with false comparisons of this nature.

  • Taurox

    I want to reclaim the word “like” from him.
    Like ya know, like it’s like annoying, like.

  • lusitania

    @Taurox: im offended by ur use of the word “like” u must no longer be aloud to use it! lol

  • Merv

    @skcord: Only 300 years for black slavery? Anti-gay persecution goes back thousands of years. You lose the oppression Olympics.

  • Throbert McGee

    So, if right-wingers refuse to say “gays and lesbians” and insist on saying “homosexuals and lesbians” on the grounds that “gay used to be a perfectly innocent synonym for happy until the degenerates DONE STOLED it”, the LGBT response is that right-wingers need to join everyone else in the 21st century and admit that languages evolve and word meanings change.

    But if Odd Future (or Emmanuel Lewis on South Park!) wants to redefine the unprintable title of a 1978 Larry Kramer novel as a general synonym for “obnoxious losers”, then according to official arbiter of the English language Matthew Tharrett, Odd Future has no right to do so, because the meaning of some words is set in stone.

    P.S. Tharrett concludes: “No, you’re not allowed to appropriate “faggot” to mean something positive. It’s not a positive word.

    It appears to me that this is mischaracterizing what Odd Future actually did — whether or not they used “f****t” in a way that referred to male homosexuals, it seems clear enough that they were using the word negatively, not positively.

    But I agree with Tharrett that we should not “reclaim” the word in a positive way. We should, however, feel free to use it as Larry Kramer did — with the meaning “a male homosexual who just happens to be a complete scumbag and waste of oxygen.”

    Usage example: “X-Men director Bryan Singer is a reprehensible f*ggot.”

  • skcord

    @Merv: damn it! I wanted gold : )

  • Throbert McGee

    @Merv:

    Anti-gay persecution goes back thousands of years.

    Are you counting the “persecution” of male slaves and boy-whores by men of privilege who needed a wet hole that couldn’t get pregnant?

    ‘Cause the harsh “anti-gay” language in the Jewish and Christian Bibles was — at least in part — a reaction against the highly exploitative and abusive forms of male/male homosexuality that existed in pagan Greece and Rome.

  • ChgoReason

    I remember reading a book, Dude, You’re A Fag and it totally changed how I saw that word used. Meaning, faggot is used by males as a way of policing the gender binary that is already established and punishing those that step out of the established guard. The editor of this website is probably right in calling out Tyler.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dude,_You're_a_Fag

  • DistingueTraces

    @DistingueTraces: lol, MY comment on the other hand….

  • Throbert McGee

    Don’t forget, after the slaves were granted freedom in 1863 they had 100 plus more years of persistent and government sanctioned oppression.

    Not that we were talking about social backwardness and homophobia in modern Russia, but it might be worth remembering that Russian “serfs” (i.e., white peasants owned as private slaves by other white people) were granted their freedom in 1861.

    So, more or less overnight, nearly half the population of Russia went from being illiterate, impoverished slaves to being illiterate, impoverished free sharecroppers. (Yes, a form of “sharecropping” existed in Russia, and as a means of promoting upward economic mobility for freed slave-laborers, it worked about as well as in America.)

    The Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 was incredibly successful at combatting illiteracy and making university educations available to the children of the poorest dirt-farmers — but in many other ways, Soviet Communism continued the Tsarist policy of government-sanctioned oppression, though under a different name.

    I’m not trying to play “oppression Olympics” here, with Kunte Kinte going mano a mano against Dmitri Pavlych Tarakanov. I’m suggesting that African-American homophobia and Russian homophobia may (at least in part) reflect similar historical experiences.

  • Throbert McGee

    Whoops, sorry — misspelled Kunta Kinte.

  • Throbert McGee

    @davidchgo: Heh-heh! But I’m not so sure if that’s “positive” or not, since — from what I’ve been told — the foodstuffs in question are considered a rather cheap, low-grade sort of skinless sausage made with all the less tasty parts of a pig(“Everything but the oink”). Think “scrapple” or “head cheese” and you’ll be in the right culinary ballpark.

  • skcord

    @Throbert McGee: Not trying to be snarky AT ALL but I dont see what this has to do with my argument. My post was a response to the tired trope that somehow the use of the F word and N word are directly comparable. The purpose of the examples I used were to further illustrate that fallacy. I dont know what the Bolsheviks and Kunta Kinte have to do with that argument specifically.

  • chandlerdee

    PLEASE READ!!!!!!:
    Hi I’m a 16 year old and check this site occasionally for I’m a closeted gay teen. I created this account solely to comment on this post. I am not a huge fan of Tyler the Creator or Odd Future but do enjoy a bunch of their music and I just want to say Tyler the Creator and Odd Future are FAR from homophobic. Since I am assuming majority of you on here are middle-aged gay men I am sure you do not know much about Tyler the Creator or Odd Future. Frank Ocean, the bisexual R&B singer was not only a member of Odd Future but is also extremely close friends with Tyler the Creator. In fact, Tyler was one of the first people Frank Ocean came out to. While the word faggot does not necessarily bother me when not used derogatorily, I do not necessarily agree with Tyler about wanting to change the meaning of the word. So, Queerty, before you post malicious articles why don’t you do some research before labeling and branding people

  • teejay123

    This is a spectacularly obnoxious article. Fine – open the debate, ask the question: is there a case for ‘reclaiming’ offensive words? Evidently the view here is not.
    But don’t act as if this is the definitive word on the subject, it really isn’t, it’s actually a pretty one-sided and very simplistic take on a more complicated argument than the pages of ‘Queerty’ can probably fully allow for. (Incidentally, I notice that when the ‘reclaim’ issue came up with Harvey Fierstein a few days ago, the editors here failed to address the rank hypocrisy levied at them with regards to them naming their site after a word which many could put on a par with faggot in terms of offence).
    I do understand the sentiment behind the view of just not saying a word which offends people, but ultimately it’s censorship and it’s pandering to the easily offended. Guess what? We can all be offended by something, and we also have a right to respond when people offend us. And if the point is sufficiently well put forward to the entity causing offence, then maybe change will come about. In the case of she-male, I don’t think it was particularly well presented – the ‘offence’ seemed so over-sensitive, so misplaced, so inconsiderate of context and humour that it just reeked of PC bull. Conversely, Tyler the Creator is evidently a bit of a tool, and his rationale doesn’t hold, so fair play, call him out on it.
    But don’t conclude for me that I can’t use a word, any word. That’s a really dangerous road to go down.
    Please also point to where exactly the argument is had and won regarding the potential for oppressed groups to reclaim the language of their oppressors? The feminist and black rights movements seemed to do quite well of it, please do detail the part where this was shown to be wrong? If you want a simplified but ultimately kind of succinct case for the opposing view then read Harry Potter – don’t not say Voldemort, it just gives the people who do say it more power.

  • Lvng1tor

    There are always gonna be jagwads out there who will do crap like this to be in the spotlight or look like a big MF. What ever. I could give two SH!TS what he wants to do or say or what words he uses. What I do find ridiculous is this constant in fighting over WORDS WORDS WORDS and stupid A&& homophobes and B!GGOTS.

    Do I find it insulting when people like him use the word? YES! Do I give much care about people like him? NO! Do, I really think that his campaign of JackA&&EDNESS really matters in the larger world of gay rights, our road to equality and safety? NO! Will I give money or anymore time to someone like him? NO! Do I live in America and have freedom of speech as does he? YES! Get over it people. he doesn’t really matter unless we let him matter.

    Tired of Thought/Moral Police telling others what they can and cannot say as long as it doesn’t advocate, call for or intentionally instigate violence or restriction of individual liberties HE GETS TO BE A DOUCHEWAD! Whether we ike it or not.

    For all the ones so pissy about the thought police…it’s their opinion and they can’t stop you from saying anything…as evidenced by your comments. So you too GET OVER IT.

  • Kangol

    No, Tyler, it’s not okay. It’s homophobic coming out of your mouth no matter what you say. Stop saying it. Now.

  • Lvng1tor

    @ragobash: Honestly, your blog didmore to sway me away from him then the above article. It’s great that you see “faggot” as a term of endearment but your writing shows how little and limited your knowledge of the world is. You write from only your perspective cause it’s how you feel. You show no understanding or care for the world past your nose.

    I try and stay away from arguments based solely on personal experience but since you did I’ll answer in a personal way to it. 3 different times in my life I have been gay bashed. The first time by 5 guys who threw me into woods at a party and stomped on my head, kicked me in the face and chest. Left me with cracked rib, several cuts and a bruise from head to toe….HEAD TO TOES one long bruise. They screamed and laughed and called me a “FAGGOT” the entire time. The second time was when I attempted to stop some young (maybe late teens early 20’s) guys from smacking around a 11 or 12 yr old they were calling FAGGOT. They stopped at just hitting me once called me a FAGGOT too and ran off. The third time was on the streets of Philly. The ran up behind me in the gayberhood hit me with something on the back of my head threw me to the ground and laughed again using the word FAGGOT. My story is not new or unique. It happens to people every day. It is a word used in hate against gays whether you think it’s “CUTE” or that since this man has “intelligent” points of view.

    Using the “He works with homo’s how could he be an a$$ or a bigot or insulting to gays” is just….I’m sorry you seem like a nice kid who put a lot into your argument….stupid. If you don’t know why it’s a poor argument then you need a lot more life experience. I simply can’t and won’t spend the time it would take to explain it to you. Simply knowing a gay person or a black person or working with them in a professional matter is not a defense for how you use words. It’s like saying I* got F’D by black guys so I get to say “NIG..” in a way that calls people stupid but claim it has nothing to do with black people. Simply because I don’t think it should.

    As for the “N*” word…Seriously limited too. There are many older (and of all ages)African American’s who are not happy with this whole “reclaiming N…” they marched, took the hits (literally and figuratively),got back up again and held their heads up high as they were demeaned by that word and feel hurt that younger gens would try and say the word is a positive now. I did the same for you in the 80’s up to today by organizing, marching,voting, not staying silent and invisible. So many more came before me for you too. Excuse us if it’s hard enough to hear a young gay man say “faggot” is cute and that a straight man is using it to mean stupid, less than him and bad can be seen in anyway other way than anti-gay..just cause you say it doesn’t. It shows an ignorant, simplistic and egotistical view of the world.

    Finally, I will say this. I will stand behind your right to use the word how you feel. I will support this man’s first amendment rights to use the word, even if he does mean he thinks gays are trash. I don’t have to like what someone says in order to protect their rights to say it and live as they see fit. As long as they do not use their words to intentionally incite harm on another or subvert their personal freedom/safety.

    I do not like the pc, thought/moral police. Or the idea that all animals are created equal…some more equal than others. That scares me more than your ignorance. I don’t use certain words because I value my fellow human family as a whole more than language I know has historically been and is used for hate.

    You are fooling yourself if you think words don’t matter or that this man is nothing short of an a&& and idiot for using the words how he does. If he is so amazing and intelligent as you claim then he should know better words to get his imagery across.

  • Daniel-Reader

    So would a non-black person get a free pass for “reclaiming” the word lynching? Would a non-jewish person get a free pass for “reclaiming” the word kike? There is definitely a pathetic double-standard taking place.

  • yupwhatever

    “Are you counting the “persecution” of male slaves and boy-whores by men of privilege who needed a wet hole that couldn’t get pregnant?

    ‘Cause the harsh “anti-gay” language in the Jewish and Christian Bibles was — at least in part — a reaction against the highly exploitative and abusive forms of male/male homosexuality that existed in pagan Greece and Rome.”

    Yeah Throbert McGee, because in those times young prepubescent girls were NEVER exploited and abused and forced into prostitution by older straight males. Right?

  • ragobash

    @Daniel-Reader: As I stated, Tyler has been at the receiving end of being called a “faggot.” Even though he’s not queer, he has experienced some of the same type of bullying that we have. Using your logic doesn’t work in this situation, unfortunately, and here’s why: You can tell just by looking at someone if they are African-American, or if they are Jewish, etc. However, in most scenarios you can’t tell if someone is gay just by looking at them. That allows a wide-array of people to be labeled as a faggot and be bullied for it, and thusly allows people the right to try and reclaim the word because they have had it used against them. Asking if non-black people get a free pass for “reclaiming” the word lynching doesn’t make sense because we’ve never experienced lynching, while I *and* Tyler have both experienced being called a “faggot” I just happened to actually be one.

  • michael mellor

    The problem with these rappers is their limited vocabulary. They only know about 5 words in total.

    Also, look into who is supporting and financing their careers. It’s liberal white guys.

  • inbama

    @Throbert McGee:
    Careful.
    Singer “identifies” as bisexual, and you don’t want to be accused of “bisexual erasure.”

    @Lvng1tor:
    I certainly don’t call people offensive words to their faces, but I am getting fed up with this Alphabet Soup Movement. When you add up all the rules regarding speech from gays, bi’s and the Ts, we are becoming one annoying bunch of ninnies.

    Homophobia, Biphobia, Transphobia – how is it that Lesbians survived all these years without their own phobia?

    Look at the Intersexed. Let’s face it – those folks have been dealt the toughest hand of any of us, and yet check out their website. They are not trying to tell everybody how to talk. They haven’t invented some pseudo-scientific word for the non-intersexed majority of humanity so they can whine about “Non-Intersexed Privilege.” They are actually NICE SANE people. Check their website. http://www.isna.org/

    I wish we could just focus on our mutual goals, and otherwise go back to our own corners and just enjoy and love who and what we are.

  • boring

    @michael mellor: Clearly someone didn’t read that Largest Vocabulary in Rap chart that hit Facebook like a ton of bricks a week or two ago.

    Odd Future is awesome, have two LGBT members, and scare people in my age group like Dre did to our parents in the early ’90s.

    Also the “F” word is so phonetically delicious, I find it hard to put away permanently.

  • Daniel-Reader

    @Ragobash: actually your logic fails. Being jewish is a voluntary lifestyle preference. Being a semite is an ethnicity and not a lifestyle choice. They are not interchangeable. One is arbitrary, the other is not. You cannot discern a jewish person from appearance because people of all races choose that religious preference. That’s why the ADL – Anti-Defamation League covers anti-semitic discrimination because that is race-based discrimination. My logic stands. He’s just making money off discrimination and pathetic attempts to justify it simply do not hold any credibility. LGBT people are lynched, so accordingly LGBT people can reclaim the word lynching based on your logic.

  • michael mellor

    When these rappers use words like ‘[email protected]’ to describe gay men, it’s a form of dog-whistling’. It’s decoded by the listener as a hateful message that says it’s ok to attack gay men. These rappers’ fans are not sophisticated enough to understand irony.

  • lusitania

    hey was was my coomment deleted mods?

  • Maude

    None of us has the right not to be offended.

    We may ask others to be considerate, we cannot demand it.

    If others are not considerate of your feelings, that’s their problem, not yours.

    Let them go through life being known, as inconsiderate mindless twits.

  • Maude

    Just to clear…Jews and Arabs alike are Semites.
    Except for the Iranians who are Persian, All the Middle East Nations are is Semite.

    I dislike this expression, but….”You can look it up”.

  • Maude

    Sorry, I should have proof read. And there’s no “edit” to click.

    Just to be clear…Jews and Arabs alike, are Semites.

    Except for the Iranians, who are Persian, all the Middle East Nations are Semite.

    I dislike the expression, but…”You can look it up”.

  • Lvng1tor

    @ragobash: You don’t know your history…Gays too have experienced lynching, torture, not to mention the holocaust…ring a bell, etc. Comparing atrocities is bull so don’t try the one is worse than the other. This group is more tortured than that group….crap. It’s all bad. I got called a “dirty Jew” once. I found it insulting but not being Jewish it didn’t sting like the person wanted. However, that’s not to say if I were Jewish it wouldn’t sting, hurt, piss me off more. I don’t get to make that call cause I’m not Jewish. Ya get the point? Something tells me ya don’t.

    Before anyone jumps on me saying this jagwad rapper and Ragobash get to use what ever words they want….you are right they do. That’s America and I will defend their rights. I disagree with them using the words and these are just my arguments against their case for using them.

  • DistingueTraces

    Whoa…are my comment blocked in general? I have literally never been banned on a website before – and I cut my teeth in the golden age of trolling!

  • DistingueTraces

    @DistingueTraces: oh I see – the first comment was screened simply because it referenced another screened post.

  • Elloreigh

    Bottom line: People have the freedom to say whatever they like. Others can use that same freedom to express criticism of what the first person said.

    But let’s clear something up: One person doesn’t get to dictate to everyone else what the meaning of a word is, or whether others should find it offensive. Meaning is not determined by intent alone, as communication is not a solo act. If it were, the person would simply be talking to themselves, instead of trying to express some idea for consumption by others. It’s the interaction between the speaker/writer/singer etc. and those ‘others’ – their audience – that establishes what the accepted meaning of a word is.

    So the person/group in question can try to claim the word means something different from what most people understand it to be targeting, but if others reject his attempt at this reinterpretation and find it offensive, guess which side has lost the argument? (It’s the guy trying unsuccessfully to redefine the word for his own selfish purposes – that’s who!)

Comments are closed.