19 March 2009


"Girlcott"? Seriously?

That's even more irritating than "herstory."

Neither boycott nor history is etymologically derived from a term that had a masculine origin to its meaning. Boycott is a genericism of the last name of a person who was a victim of a concerted popular shunning. History is from the Latin -- and the noun form, historia, was of the feminine gender.

Using "girlcott" (or "herstory") is distracting at best, inflammatory at worst, and childish in any event. And I'm speaking as someone who hasn't bought a Nestlé product since about 1988.


Frank said...

How dare you bring knowledge, learning, rationality, and a sense of history to the public discourse?

glaucon said...

what's your position on the misterssippi river?

Glomarization said...

glaucon - My position is twofold: that pun is not nearly clever enough to make me laugh; and Paul Robeson rocked "Ol' Man River."

upyernoz said...

why does this bother you? i mean, it it seems pretty clear to me that it was meant to be a play on words. isn't it more irritating to take something like this apart?

Glomarization said...

"Girlcott" and "herstory" bother me because I think they're childish, unimaginative puns. The words are meaningless, fake portmanteaux. I dislike "girlcott" more than "herstory" because, since it's rarer (which is a clue, in my opinion, that people shouldn't use it), it can take the reader a beat or two to decode what the speaker means by using it. That's a big reason that it never took, the way "herstory" kind of has. Also, I think they make the speaker sound tiresome: I think they communicate the attitude of, "Yeah, I'm a feminist! And an angry one! And I don't care what you think!" Using the terms plays into the stereotype of the pissed-off, bra-burning, comfortable-shoe-wearing, man-hating feminist.

Thus, I think that using them is detrimental because it distracts from the overall message the speaker is trying to get across.

I don't think it's more irritating to take it apart, because I think that people who use puns or backronyms or portmanteaux should use only those that make sense. "Girlcott" is almost completely nonsensical. "Herstory" is slightly funny when you first encounter it at age 13, but it doesn't make sense in the same way that you can (maybe) justify using the made-up, non-gendered possessive pronouns that some people use.

upyernoz said...

i guess i just disagree with you. few, if any, puns are really imaginative. they're puns, just a lame joke. maybe a weak play on words that happen to sound alike. nothing to get excited about.

i don't find them distracting at all. it just adds a little whimsy to a post that can otherwise come across as sanctimonious. oddly, you seem to be reading sanctimony into the pun, whereas i'm seeing it as something more like a self-deprecating joke.

but either way, i just have a hard time feeling strongly about this.

Glomarization said...

Noz -- Not to flog a dead horse, but I'll answer you anyway. I'm reading sanctimoniousness into the puns, but also belligerence. It's like a dare for the reader to disagree with the author. And I don't disagree that Whole Foods (to reference the post I linked to) is a non-ideal grocery shopping choice, and I don't disagree that history books omit a lot of women's history. Since I don't disagree with the underlying reason for using the terms, as a reader I don't like being challenged so aggressively.

Otherwise I'm a complete sucker for puns. Good puns, anyway.