6 Offensive Words That Shouldn’t Be (Why So Serious?)

0 Posted by - September 21, 2010 - Creative Writing & Fiction, Real Life, Real Talk

During the course of my life (and doing this blog in particular) I’ve learned a lot about people and how sensitive they can be about certain things. The usual cause of most miscommunication comes from words, both written or spoken.

I’ve always been of the belief that words have no meaning unless the person using them and the one hearing them agree on what’s being said. For instance, if an alien came down from the sky and I pointed at a piece of debris on the ground and said “rock.” I know what I meant when I uttered that word, but what if he/she had a word in their language that sounded like “rock” but meant something totally different?

What we’d have there is a failure to communicate.

The same line of thinking has often been applied to the N-word. Some feel the meaning changes to a term of endearment when the “er” suffix is replaced with an “a.” I’ve always looked at it from a perspective of intent. While I personally refrain from using either variation of the word as much as possible in my everyday speak (save for quoting a song lyric or in moments of excitement/anger) I look at the intention of the person using it and how it happens to strike my ear at the moment.

I once had a co-worker of the Caucasian persuasion that had been known to use it from time to time. He and I were cool and he grew up in a Black neighborhood as the only White kid and his Black friends used it frequently in his presence and to describe him. With that knowledge, anytime he said it around me I knew he didn’t mean it with any malice or with malicious intent. We both agreed on the definition being that of a hip-hop term used in endearment.

When it comes to the N-word people will often have to agree to disagree on its usage and how offensive it is. Today, however, I want to bring up a few terms that I initially didn’t view as being offensive, either due to my own ignorance or just not being that sensitive about its usage.

CHUBBY CHASER
About two years ago I decided to show love to the plus-size sisters by doing an “Ode to the Big Girl.” However, my good intentions were quickly derailed when I made the mistake of using the term “chubby chaser” in the opening sentence. Four comments in I was quickly scolded for using such an offensive phrase. I honestly had no clue that it would be taken that way, but other than here for the sake of today’s post, I haven’t used it since.

MA’AM
Blame my mama for teaching me manners, but I was raised to say, “Yes, sir” and “Yes, ma’am.” While the first is widely accepted, I’ve come across plenty of women who always have something to say when I refer to them as ma’am—whether it be in tweet, email or conversation. The usual retort is, “I’m not an old lady, don’t call me ma’am.” My intention when using the term is to show respect, but clearly a lot of people have their own hang-ups about the word and misinterpret my intention. It’s one of my things and I probably won’t stop saying ma’am any time soon. #DealWithIt

FEMALE
I forget which post it was but earlier this year someone made a point to leave a comment saying how my usage of the word “female” in reference to a woman rubbed them the wrong way. She tried to argue that it sounded like I was talking about an animal and that I probably wouldn’t say “male” in reference to a man. Actually, I use male just as much. In fact, just last week I referred to the fragile male ego in the erectile dysfunction post. Males and females are just what we are. Trust, there are a lot worse terms I could throw out to describe a woman.

MILF
If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time you’ll know that I’ve used the term MILF on more than one occasion. But I actually lost a FaceBook friend because she felt my annual MILF Awards was a disrespectful list of women I’d like to fuck. While I know the roots of the acronym (Mother I’d Like to Fuck), I never really think of those exact words when I use it. In my mind MILF just means an attractive woman that just so happens to be a mother. I see it as a positive, but some take it as a negative. #KanyeShrug

MULATTO
I’ll call complete ignorance on this one, as I thought it was totally alright to call someone of mixed race/heritage/race a “mulatto.” However, when I used the term to describe a certain singer in one of my freelance pieces for TheBVX a while back, my editor quickly hit me back and said, “Uhm, you know ‘mulatto’ is a derogatory term, right?” Whoops! I had no idea it basically translated to mean “mule.” Them, of course I read THIS article on Parlour Magazine the other day and have stopped using the term. Well, except for its inclusion in this list.

WIFEY
Given the lack of actual wives in our community I understand why some women are turned off by the term “wifey,” which, depending on the man and the nature of the relationship, is basically a play wife. I’ve even suggested that more women aspire to be someone’s wife over baby mama, but at the same time I’m totally open to using wifey to describe my main squeeze. In my circle of friends it’s interchangeable with girlfriend and is completely harmless. Still, I’ve come across women that feel offended by adding a “y” to wife. Now, if a man was only offering a faux-title after several years of dating without a lifelong commitment I could understand the dispute, but as long as the couple is cool with their designation for each other to each his/her own.

Do you find any of the words on this list offensive? If so, which one and why? Which term do you find the most surprising that someone would consider it offensive? Do you think that some people are just too damn sensitive? What would you consider the PC version of “chubby chaser”? Are you comfortable with people who are not of color using the N-word? Do you think it makes a difference if it’s spelled with an “er” or an “a”? Were you raised to say ma’am and sir? Do you think of MILF literally whenever you hear it? Would you be flattered if someone called you or the mother of your children a MILF? Do you think calling someone wifey is cute or tacky?

Speak your piece…

  • http://www.AConleyCreation.com karmagini

    Of all names/lingo that could be offensive, I don’t consider most of these to be too bad. Regardless of our personal feelings, if you want to take into consideration others’, then you have to understand that it’s a matter of perception. What’s offensive to me may not be to another, and vice versa.

    MILF is n/a for me… I wouldn’t want to be called wifey because it’s so cliche and overused. I much prefer a nickname that is more personal.

  • http://choklitgemini.wordpress.com @choklitgemini

    I have actually been cursed out by someone for calling them ma’am!! Damned if you do and damned if you don’t LOL…great post!

  • sunshyne84

    not a big deal…

    Female can be rude depending on what is being said. Some guys say it when you know they really wanna say bitch, but they don’t feel like getting attacked. lol

    Ma’am does make you feel old. Especially when you’re 20 something and don’t even have kids, but nothing to get all mad about.

    Wifey is okay, but not long-term. Put a ring on it!

    • aunt jamima

       how is calling a (non-male) person female offensive?

      • Just Some Random Bloke

         Well, I’m not a woman by any means, but I completely understand why women would perhaps get offended by it.  Like in the post above, “She tried to argue that it sounded like I was talking about an animal……Males and females are just what we are.”  It’s just that.  In my opinion, it’s denouncing the person herself in exchange for a wide-spread term for animals.  Not for people.

        It’s, I dunno, like not giving that person an identity except for the stereotypical view of women (no matter how wrong it may be, because it usually IS wrong): bitch, emotional, spiteful, hormonal.  I’d find it insulting if I was a woman, but then again, the post above is also right about that too.  Words are only as powerful as how they are communicated.

  • http://www.justbeinc.org Tarana

    I’m generally undisturbed by words easily…except maybe “bitch” or “whore” particularly in reference to a loved one. But this list, not so much. I have some friends who are Creole and HATE being called Mulattos bc it’s a slave term. My general rule is if it offends someone I care about – I delete it out of respect. I also agree with the ma’am and sir thing. From the Boogie, but lived in Alabama for years so my daughter was raised with handles – not changing anytime soon. And finally I have had two guys call me wifey in serious relationships. On the one hand some women feel like it’s a hierchy. Like jump-off, side chic, wifey kind of thing and so by gaining the title it means there are others with the other titles and yours is just a distinguisher. And you and I both know that is true in some cases. Some women know and like it – like being the “bottom bitch”. They wear it with pride like ” he may be fucking them broads, but he know who wifey is!” Crazy.

    In my cases, one was the latter and one was (I think) more innocent. I had been with my HS sweetheart for a year before his friends referred to me as wifey and that meant that when I came around and he had to bounce…it was understood. It was kind of cute to me, but I was 16. At 29 – not so much. Too long a story, but although I landed at the top of the proverbial heap, there was not enough room for me and the bevy of chics who followed. Unreal.

    In conclusion at 12:30AM – I agree people, ease up. Take it light.

    p.s. also, Chubby Chaser sir? You couldn’t see that that was a wee bit offensive. It doesn’t even sound sexy. I know big girls who like terms like fluffy and thick, but not the old school “chubby” – but I can charge that to your head and not your heart.

    Am I first!

  • http://nwso.net/ NWSO

    Maybe you were first when you started writing.. lol

    I honestly didn’t see the big deal with chubby chaser, chubby sounds like a cute term (for a kid) better than most other terms that could be used. “Fluffy” actually sounds disgusting to me, like you don’t even want to imagine what I think of “fluff” on a human body. And I think I’ve addressed (or at least thought about it) people misusing “thick.” Serena Williams is thick, Mo’Nique is not thick she’s [fill in blank with whatever word you like].

  • da ThRONe

    African American is the only term that remotely bothers me. And thats because its an official term that gets overlooked and is widely accepted.

    Everything is isnt worth getting all worked up for. Unless a person is purposely trying to be disrespectful why go around looking for reason to be offended. It’s said that the kind of people we have become. We are so mentally fragile we have a need to go out of our way to take offense to everything.

    We’re a nation of pussy ass cry babies. Ans you can add “Pussy Ass Cry Baby” to the list. LOL

  • da ThRONe

    *else. Where is the edit option Ans? hummmm?

  • Distinguished Gentlewoman

    Ha-ha, Ans. I was one of those “females” that questioned you about the “ma’am” thing. Must confess, it does make me feel like a grandma when you say the word. But if that’s your thing, then that’s your thing, sir.

    As for the N-word, in any context—drop the “er”, add the “a”—it is offensive to me. A friend of mine uses the word very loosely when describing a black person of darker complexion and kinky hair. She is mixed—and anyone looking at her can see that she’s a light-skinned black person—but believes herself to be as far removed from the black race as possible. I don’t judge her because she has a right to classify herself any way she sees fit. What is offensive is when she uses the N-word, she says it with such disdain and disgust, it makes me cringe. She’ll say stuff like “he has that n#%%er smell” and “n#%%er hair.” I’ve been meaning to talk to her about it and how it makes me feel when she says it, but I just don’t know how to approach the subject without getting into a heated “discussion.”

  • http://nwso.net/ NWSO

    they didn’t make a compatable version for the upgrade

  • http://nwso.net/ NWSO

    send her this way to read your comment lol

    but yeah her context sounds offensive from how you describe it

  • http://www.wellbehaveddontmakehistory.blogspot.com Miss Malorie

    Ummm… ma’am? Really? My momma is Southern, and I was taught to say “yes ma’am/no sir.” I had a roommate from Long Island who thought it was so strange… in fact, I have a white friend who’s from where I’m from (Florida) who thought it was strange. Eh, I’ll be saying “yes ma’am/no sir” until I die. In fact, I think it’s kinda sexy when men refer to me as “ma’am” or “miss.” People who have a problem with it should get over it… all of us will age anyway, lol. #everybodyisdifferent

  • Womanofyr

    I kinda like the ma’am or miss terms also. Maybe it’s a sign of my southern roots, although raised in the city. Don’t like the N-word: I don’t get worked up usually though. I’ve known guys (in the past) to say it 10 times to me, because they think I’m too sensitive. Which makes it worst. And the idea of a guy teaching that to kids, nephews, nieces, I just don’t like it.

    The MILF term seems like a guy designating me as a non friend.
    Would he really say that to a friend. I believe the term originated in porn. Sounds like an object. The term wifey sound hostile: The guy says, “I can’t go shoot pool because the wifey is standing in the way of that.” But if she’s not a wife, then why put that claim on her.

    I can’t see myself getting worked up over these things, unless it was repeated just to get me worked up or upset. I would take it into consideration though. Like I can’t introduce him to someone because he got that language problem: I don’t want my friend’s son called one of those names even if intentions are not totally bad, etc. I be acting like auntie.

    Chubby Chaser. I usually use the term big girl or no fat terms as all. I guess if someone asked me not to use a term, I wouldn’t have a problem stopping.

    We all have our ways. To each their own, I guess.

  • http://primarythoughts.net Melanie

    I was visiting a friend & his wife. While I didn’t know her; we had grown up together. They had a small toddler – 2 or 3 yrs old. Anyway, while I was playing with the baby and holding convo with the mom I smiled playfully and said you are so ‘silly’. The baby was luaghing (enjoying our play), but the mom stated that they didn’t use that word in there house. I said really? Silly? She confirmed… she didn’t mis-hear me. I apologized kept the convo moving, but I can’t believe that she perceived the word ‘silly’ as a negative. People are… crazy.

  • http://musicmakesmehigh.wordpress.com Reecie

    I agree with them all except female. something about it grates my nerves. lady and woman are appropriate and reflect humanity, IMO. I have used the term mulatto but not directly to a person. However, I respect the right of a person of mixed race to be offended by that.

  • Paulette_bajan_gal

    “fat” and “retarded” seems to have been eradicated from the vocab.They’ve been replaced with PC versions.Someone deleted me from Facebook because I said “when I see obese people I lose my appetite”…even though I further explained that it just reminded me to watch my portion size so I maintain a healthy weight.The chick had amnesia about the type of friendship we’ve had in the past.I didn’t use her name in the update or anything.

    I think you can only get offended if you label yourself.If someone calls me a nigger…whatever…they just labeled themselves. NWSO… am I on your secret MILF list? Lmao.

  • Mz. Ashley

    I’m from Louisiana and if we didnt say YES MAM or YES SIR, believe they would say YES WHAT? and then you would have to repeat yourself and say YES MAM! lol. It’s a habit, but i know what you mean when people always say, oh you dont have to call me ma’am..i tell them that is how i was raised. As far as Female goes, i would much rather be called a female then GIRL! I hate when someone calls me a girl, dunno why, it just eerks me! The other words, dont really bother me so much, never heard of a mullato???

  • Rastaman

    Communication = Transmission+Reception

    Words are powerful, in the english language where we assign a word to everything depending on where you come from literally and figuratively meaning can be mis-interpreted. But their words that outright offensive and are intentionally directed toward another person which are so venomous and full of malice as to cause the hearer to suffer emotional distress or incite him/her to immediately retaliate physically. Fighting Words!!

    So unless a word is directed at me or mine and invokes in me the desire to kick a mofo ass, then no it is not offensive. I may not like it or even use it but taking offense is a little extreme.

    Most of the words/terms you listed have become a part of the vernacular. Most people seem to use them without thought or consequence. So taking offense at their use is in my mind a waste of energy. Because the truth is many of these words have interchangeable meaning. Meaning shaped by how they are used and who is using it and their pop culture distortion.

    I have called people “tragic mullattos”, chubby chasers, MILFs and Ma’am unapologetically. I don’t use “Wifey” but some other person using it does not bother me the least. If I do use “female” I make sure to use it in the manner it was intended, as a biological determination. I don’t think it is used interchangeablly as a specific reference to a woman, girl or lady. In many cases, I think its used as a proper term for “bitch” as someone earlier noted

    If you are a bitch or acting bitchy, I will no doubt refer to you in that manner. Why confuse the issue?

  • Jazzy

    She stole my thoughts and commented on them before me. I’m offended at her like-mind!

    I remember being called ma’am at 20 and thinking “Um….” but my family’s originally from the south, so I figured it was a sign of respect. I prefer “ma’am” from a respectful male teen who acknowledges that I’m his ELDER to “daaaayuuummm mama” from a male teen trying to hit on me.

    Sometimes, I’m offended and thankful at someone’s language at the same time. I’m thankful that someone tells me how they really feel so I don’t have to spend(waste) time decoding them. If a man thinks I’m a bitch but calls me “queen”, usually his actions will reflect his thinking. Contradictions between words and actions offend me.

    Context, people. Con-text.

  • http://nwso.net NWSO

    Happy now Jazz?

  • izabellaspoppa

    When I was a kid, I “offended” a man at my mother’s friends house by calling him ‘sir’. I, like you, was raised to say ‘sir’ and ‘maam’ out of respect. Anyway, he asked me a question, I ended my answer with sir, and he quickly changed his lighthearted and comfy demeanor to a rigidly cold one and stated “Don’t call me ‘Sir’, I work for a living…” I didn’t understand what he was talking about. At. ALL. I’m a 10 year old who’s trying to show and obvious adult respect while I’m responding to him; ‘what the hell does your working status have to do with anything?’ I thought to myself. It happened about 3 more times that evening, without him explaining what he meant either time and each time with the same cold look in his eye. I’m guessing he adopted that stance from whatever male figure he had in his life…I figured out later that he took it as a term to describe a man of leisure or something…

  • bogart4017

    Having southern roots i always get weirded out when someone gets offended by m’am. Guys don’t get offended by sir so i don’t understand it. I think i’ll be using the term ’til i die.
    Chubby chaser is obviously offensive. It conjures mental images of some freak waiting to hit on grotesquely obese people. Yuck.
    Wifey is even worse. It sounds juvenile AND ghetto. Either you are a wife or you arent. There is no in between.
    Finally–i am old enough to remember when anyone who was of the ‘caucasian persuasion’ using the n-word would get a righteous ass whipping. Too bad certain things change.

  • Darling

    Okay some people just need to grow up and get a back bone. That’s all I’ll say on that. The solution for ma’am when speaking to a lady under 40 or 50 would be miss. I love that one! lol. Please men, dont stop being gentelmen because “females” are too dumb to know the difference between a gentleman and a “homey” off the street, lol.

  • Darling

    Oh yeah….Does anyone have another word for boyfriend or my man? Boyfriend sounds so highschool to me.

  • Malia

    I think that when offensive words become culturally acceptable, it goes hand-in-hand with the idea that it is ok to degrade a certain group of people, it becomes more culturally acceptable. Chubby chaser is definitely one of them. I am not even sure how that could NOT be offensive. MILF is another, I’m sure many guys would not like being referred to as NILFs, because the truth is there’s no flattery in being f*&^able (unless your priorities are twisted).

    Female is a factual word, but used in the wrong context, is offensive, so I don’t even know why people play around with “OMG I don’t know why you’re offended by that.”

  • Mz. Ashley

    daddy always works…LMAO! im sooo jokin!

  • God’s Gift

    Seriously!?!?

    People need to man up and grow some balls. Be offended by teen-pregnancy or high school drop-out rates; stop letting other people’s words dictate your feelings. Sissy retards!

  • AD

    @ God’s Gift, now your last remark ‘Sissy retards’ I did LOL but for others it might be considered offensive. But I agree with you, people need to take offense to matters that are hurting the community.

    AD

  • AD

    @ Rastaman,

    When you refer to someone as a bitch or acting bitchy, does that include men too?

    AD

  • Danielle

    I hate the word Mulatto. Can’t stand it. They use it a lot up here in Maine. I feel like I should be in the master’s house when I hear it. Don’t call me a Mulatto, don’t call my kids mulattoes.

  • Rastaman

    yup, equally opportunity offender over here!!

  • da ThRONe

    Baby you have been around me far too long. LOL!

  • da ThRONe

    I dont believe in changing me for you. In other words in my personal life if you are easily offended than I’m not the friend for you.

  • bogart4017

    also that c-word is disgusting and offensive and i wish women would stop referring to each other like that.

  • da ThRONe

    What “C” word?

  • Mel

    I was written up at work for calling a girl she was crazy… I was totally playful with it… I think she was really crazy and that’s why she was offended ;)

  • R.e.D

    You are so right about this. Boyfriend sounds juvenile and to describe someone as ‘my man’ sounds way to possessive, or maybe it reminds me of how ghetto women say it on TV. Either way, I actually thought about this before..What about saying ‘significant other’? That again is too long and too proper. Who knows.
    In reality, I usually just say the person’s name and you can infer what you like about the relationship status. Those that matter know who he is already.

  • Sonny Stone

    Call me sensitive but when people use the term baby daddy in reference to me or baby mama in reference to my childrens mother I get annoyed and extremely offended. I just feel like it trivializes our posistions as parents.

  • da ThRONe

    Are you guys married?

  • Nyota Vargas

    We are in such a silly,wussy and passive society where people don’t say what they mean and get offended at the silliest crap ever. Where so many issues prevail all should pounce on rectifying those issues. First ma am and sir, no worries, I wish people could have more manners and feel honored that anyone remembers manners. The “N” word, yes sorry bad news, in any form. I don’t care which mouth it comes from, black or white, it still upsets me and I get extremely embarrassed to here people of my own race using the word. Milf is awesome, I’m a mom and if I still got it at this point I would love to hear it and chubby chaser is down right funny, sorry. Would people rather it be fat chick chaser or big mama lover?? Oh the world we live in…

  • http://nwso.net/ NWSO

    “Sissy retards?’ I definitely think da throne is rubbing off on God’s Gift (soon to be Mrs. Throne).

    Ain’t love grand.

  • http://nwso.net/ NWSO

    Like I said for me I don’t think of the actual acronym when I say MILF but the idea that this is one attractive woman that just so happens to be a mother. For me at least, it’s not about literally wanting to F her but finding her appealing. I just don’t take it so literal.

  • gagyrl

    I agree with you on the “thick” thing. It’s misused waaayy to much. I’m big and I HATE when a guy says I’m thick. Yeah it’s all in the right places but there’s a lot of it in those places. I’m not thick baby, I’m fat. I’ll even go for squishy, but all of this wonderfulness is a long way from “thick”.

    Now chubby, I might have to fight you over that one Ans. jk…lol.

  • QuoteMan

    People give words power; to find any word offensive is giving it power. Though some folks are rude and disrespectful, it’s never what they call you but what you respond to. Me, I’ve a thick skin so there’s not much that bothers me, if any.

    Friends with knowledge of my thinking know I’m not for the condemnation of any word, much less abolishing it. So, as for the N-word, though I’m not a frequent user as I once was, it still has a place in my vocabulary. I know the history; still and all, I say people give words power.

  • unconventional

    I will agree that most words are harmless depending on intent. But there are some words I.e. nigger that have such a history that there is just no way to justify using that word.

  • AD

    No-one excluded..I like!

    AD

  • Cunty McGee

    Female is used when you don’t want to say bitch. Bitch = female dog. See how that works?

  • KittyKat

    Smh, words dont mean anything, like u said… Some ppl need to stop taking things so literally.

  • http://nwso.net/ NWSO

    Uhm, maybe in your world but not in mine. Female = well, uhm, female, just like male = male. I.e. The relationship between males and females can be very difficult… See how that works, too?

    I’ll stick to my theory that words mean nothing unless both people agree on it. In my book bitch = female dog but that doesn’t mean that female equals bitch. #CmonSon. You done deleted one of the words on the reverse definition. Female DOG = bitch. Female is a biological term.

  • Chanel

    I was just about to respond to that one. Go down South and things will change with the quickness! I still have to do double-takes when kids call me that, though.

  • Chanel

    To me, a man who constantly refers to women as “females” raises a huge red flag. Like you said, it tells me that he sees women as not quite human. I’ve never used the term “mulatto” because I’ve always thought it was outdated. Go figure.

  • Cunty McGee

    Female is a biological term.
    ——-

    Exactly! And it’s why it’s disrespectful. But whatever though. You won’t ever get it.

  • The Bapster

    I honestly only took offense to Mulatto and Chubby Chaser…because I could be described as both. I am bi-racial and am plus-size and LOVE chubby men…

    I prefer the term bi-racial or multi-racial…

    Chubby Chaser sounds so juvenile and derogatory.

  • God’s Gift

    AD,

    That’s my point; I added the “sissy retards” to be facetious :)

  • God’s Gift

    People need to stop being so damned sensitive. I can’t call people fat anymore, I have to say “plus-sized.” No damn it, they are fat! Back away from the frickin’ table.

    I can’t call someone old, I have to call them “mature,” WTF? Go sit your old ass down somewhere!

    And, why is retard such a bad word? What’s the difference between that and “special needs?” They both mean the same thing. They are riding the short bus whether they are labeled retard or special needs!

  • God’s Gift

    The word is “cunt” baby!

  • gasfacevictm

    People need to lighten up.

  • Justmyopinion

    a lil late but lol @ pussy ass cry babies.. Lol I should get on here daly to keep up!

  • da ThRONe

    People use “cunt” on a regular basis? OK thats news to me.

  • Liz

    I actually a little offended when someone refers to his girlfriend as “wife” or “wifey”.
    I am married and proud to have made that step. Whenever I hear a friend refer to his girlfriend of several years as “wife” I want to say “Shut up, you haven’t even made that commitment yet”.

  • http://www.dashofreality.wordpress.com Dash

    You JUST said it “chubby sounds like a cute term (for a kid)” So a grown woman is supposed to feel good that you are referring to her as a cute kid? Cute is for babies and puppies. Sometimes men are just clueless on words and their usage. It may be inherent. But for what it’s worth, if someone is offended by a term and tells you,just quit while you’re behind. Different strokes, different folks. There may be a story behind the disdain. You never know.