Is the Word Faggot Still Offensive?

JonahHill560.jpg
Photo by Guillaume Paumier
The word "faggot" keeps popping up in the news, and each time it's taken just as poorly as the time before. Alec Baldwin used it derogatorily towards a photographer last year. John Lacy who was playing Big Daddy in a California production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof was fired after an audience member screamed the slur at the stage during a performance and the actor jumped off the stage and got physical. And then earlier this month, actor Jonah Hill was caught on camera yelling at a paparazzo to "suck my d*ck, you faggot."

The last one surprised many as Hill is very open on his views of gay rights; he has been overtly supportive of the LGBT community.

Of course, after the incident, Hill went on a media blitz apologizing to everyone and their mom about how awful he felt, and he really didn't mean it, and he hoped that everyone would forgive him and go see his new movie 22 Jump Street.

Regardless of how sorry he is that it happened, or that he got caught, the incident raises a few questions. Firstly, where does this word even come from and why is it so offensive?

And, wait, is it still offensive?

Faggot really sounds nasty. As opposed to calling someone gay, which can still be taken poorly, faggot is akin to calling a Jewish person a kike or a black person the "N" word, which I won't even write. When someone who is not of the same background uses the word, it's with a distinct purpose - to be a jerk. But where did it come from?

You may have heard the British use the word "fag" to mean cigarette, and if you heard that when you were 10 years old you probably got a nice giggle on. But really the term comes from a bundle of firewood. According to certain sources, the term may or may not have gotten its negative connotation from the old women who used to gather bundles of sticks for a living. This occupation wasn't exactly lauded, and somehow comparing someone to a poor old lady who could only find work picking up sticks became an insult. "Ha ha you're poor and old and you pick up sticks!" (And some people really love the British sense of humor).

Another thought on the word is that the shorthand version, "fag," referred to the act of "fagging," which was done by young private school boys in England. Fagging meant they completed "duties" for their older peers. These duties ranged from sweeping the floor to performing sexual acts, two wildly different types of favors. The latter may have attributed to the term ending up a homosexual slur.

A third possibility I've come across is that homosexual men were burned at the stake just like sticks, AKA fags.

This story continues on the next page.


My Voice Nation Help
16 comments
Jacob Bocanegra
Jacob Bocanegra

stop letting ppl words have power over u. that's the problem. some ppl in East Texas want to hang gays and blacks ppl buy u let someone's words hurt u to ur soul???? really???

Gunnar Crew
Gunnar Crew

If you stop making a big deal about it and write it off as not being worth you're time, people will stop using these words...the more you acknowledge them the more people use them for shock value..don't waste time with it

Staci Marks
Staci Marks

Im a happily married woman. Personally I never liked the word to start with.. Just Saying. .

Brandon Clements
Brandon Clements

Terribly written article. Intent is everything. That being said, I don't wanna be lumped in with the people that do say faggot or nigger in a hateful way so I try to avoid using them all together. But again, intent is everything.

Donnol Hem
Donnol Hem

this article read like a very long and annoying Facebook status

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard topcommenter

I went to Bellaire High School and no dozens of Jewish people.  I have never heard anyone ever use the term "kike."  We did use the Term's "Japs" and "Jews."  Oddly enough, I found they take the term "Jew" offensively from time to time.


As for "faggot?"  I never use it to mean someone is actually "gay."  It actually is used these days as a synonym for "pussy" or more politely "sissy."  It will never go away in that sense, so I think gays should simply stop referring to themselves in that sense.

Eliseo Ramos
Eliseo Ramos

So... You won't use the N word, but you'll use the Jewish insult?

Rodney Barnes
Rodney Barnes

I still use the word faggot. Do I expect a pass? No. Do I care what others think? Not in the slightest.

texmex01
texmex01 topcommenter

Pole Smoker?


h_e_x
h_e_x

Is there an example of that happening? I keep hearing this but I can't think of an example. I'm not being sarcastic, and I know language changes, but has this ever happened in recent history?

h_e_x
h_e_x

I don't think intent matters that much because if someone is called those words, their experience shouldn't be dictated by how someone meant it. That simply negates their experience.

Anse
Anse

@FattyFatBastard Saying "faggot" only means someone who is a sissy is sort of like saying that there are black people and then there are n*****rs, and saying the N word only means the bad ones.


I'm of the opinion that if people have class they probably won't use this kind of language in public anyway. Problem solved.

h_e_x
h_e_x

America in a nutshell, folks. Head in the sand, refusing to think critically.

Now Trending

Houston Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

General

Health & Beauty

Loading...