As you live in the USA, the title of today’s blog might be somewhat disturbing to you. I spent most of my life in the UK. English is spoken in both countries, though the cultures are strikingly different as are the language nuances. In the UK people smoke fags. People also eat faggots, but that’s another topic that I might cover one day in a blog about food.
I smoked fags. Not all fags have filters. When I was younger and poorer, I smoked rollies – those are fags made with cigarette papers and rolling tobacco. My favourite tobacco was Samson. I still remember the smell although Golden Virginia was one I often purchased because you got a lovely little tin to keep your tobacco in so it wouldn’t go dry.
Your tobacco tin was also multi purpose as it doubled for a stash box. We kept hash in our stash box and smoked it with tobacco. So, aside from the fact that we smoke fags in the UK, another important cultural difference is that people in the USA don’t like to combine their cannabis with tobacco. Now, if you really want to confuse things, British joints with tobacco and hash do have filters. These are handmade from pieces of cardboard rolled up. Those are called roaches. Americans call the last little bit left of their joint a roach. So, there you have another important cultural difference – in the USA filters are just for fags.
I’m sure, reading between the lines, you’ll work out that I smoked cannabis. Quite frankly, I smoked so much of it, that I should be subjected to scientific study. These days, I’m simply too old. When you grow up, it will probably be legal and there will be all sorts of healthy and high tech ways to smoke it, so it won’t be so fun. I hope you’ll find something fun to do that will make you equally paranoid as a teenager. That level of paranoia is a true right of passage.
Getting back to language use. The word ‘fag’ in the USA is riddled with angst because it has been used as a rather mild insult referring to gay men, bisexual men, men who are sensitive, men who are artists, men who like musical theatre, men who dress nicely and generally men of any ilk who aren’t the type of people to use the word ‘fag’ in a derogatory manner. Gay men have generally run with the word themselves. Queer people, such as your Badass Auntie, generally have a good sense of humour and very thick skin. In the USA, this would be essential when there are churches who have websites called ‘God Hates Fags’.
Existentially, if I believed in a deity, I would guess that God would hate badly dressed wanna be Christians who wave placards at the funerals of soldiers – but I don’t, so it’s a moot point. What I will say is that perhaps we do need to purchase that website because a very dear friend of mine died recently from lung cancer. He caught it from smoking fags. So, going back to the theory that I believe in a deity, I would surmise that God does hate fags. The only problem is that he hates them in the UK and not in the USA. I politely request that the USA exports their God Hates Fags people to the UK to protest outside of tobacco factories. That would be much more productive.
Today’s wisdom for you, my lovely nephew, is don’t assume that things that would offend your fellow country people will offend everyone. In fact, your fellow country people – fags aside – are often oversensitive and easily offended. Of course you have this ‘right’ there called ‘freedom of speech’, but it doesn’t mean much when everyone gets their knickers in a twist every time someone utters the word ‘cunt’. Not to mention that in the UK a ‘fanny’, is a ‘cunt’, so while you and your people go around proudly sporting fanny packs, to people in the UK it sounds like you have a country full of women with serious sanitary issues.
Much love from your Badass Auntie
Well, we’re all about fags and fannies today it seems. One expression I did leave out and save for you was the word ‘dyke’. There’s an old story about a dutch boy who had to put his finger in a dyke to stop it squirting everywhere. The problem is that these days, if you did a google search on that sort of text, you’d find some very interesting photos and videos.
The word ‘dyke’ is relatively universal in reference to queer women. It is also used by angry men to describe women who don’t find them attractive, want to divorce them, ask for a raise etc etc. Queer women have for a very long time embraced the word ‘dyke’ as their own. (As mentioned in the letter to your brother, there are some over sensitive folks, who like to control the words other people use, probably because they can’t control their own lives. They might get pissy about the word ‘dyke’ but otherwise, it’s all good.)
It’s a good word. It rolls off the tongue and embraces a diverse group of women with attitude. There is a decades old group of women called Dykes on Bikes, (They are on motorbikes not bicycles. Bicycles wouldn’t be that dykey unless they didn’t have seats, then maybe…) who are cool, tough and not the sort of women that many would dare insult in any way shape or form. I was briefly a dyke on a bike, that is until car drivers tried to kill me too many times. Now I’m just a fat old lady on a bicycle with a padded memory foam seat.
Boys and men will find ways to insult you that will invariably be aimed at making you feel that you are undesirable to them. As a girl, you will be programmed from a young age, no matter how much your very cool and millennial parents think they can avoid it, to believe that your worth is based upon your desirability. Society will do everything it can to convince you that ‘pretty’ should be your goal at all times. You will be expected to smile, blush and act like you don’t believe it when people call you pretty because as well as ‘pretty’, you will be required to be ‘humble’.
Everyone who is nice to you, relatives, strangers in the street, teachers, the mail delivery person – they will all feel the need and urge to comment on your desirability. It’s weird. It harks back to the days when girls were valued on their fitness for breeding.
So, today’s advice from your Badass Auntie is going to be how to maintain your dignity, be responsible for your own self esteem and negotiate the complexities of inappropriate adult behaviour towards little girls. When someone tells you you are ‘pretty’. A suitable reply would be ‘I’m guessing that I probably am because every adult I meet mentions it. I do appreciate it but did you happen to notice that I’m smart, quite nimble and very creative? In fact, when I grow up I intend to succeed because of those things and not because anyone thinks I’m pretty.’…Oh, and if no one is around to witness it, you can follow that with ‘and by the way, fuck you, my self worth is not based on my desirability’. If nothing else, they’ll never forget you and it will really screw with their minds. Filters should just be for fags.
Much love from your Badass Auntie