Hello young locust. I would call you ‘grasshopper’ but I think locusts hold more weight. Have you ever heard of entire regions being wiped out by a grasshopper plague? No. I rest my case. Now, onto more important things. I’ll start by giving some excuses for why it’s been far too long since my last letter and then randomly find my way into a diatribe about something that is playing on my mind in a most irritating manner. Finally, I shall try to bring it all together and extricate some useful wisdom to share with you. How does that sound?
Well, let’s get started. The reason I haven’t written in almost two weeks is that I snuck into your country, to land where I was told ‘the higher the hair, the closer to god’, ate all the food I could find and then returned. Sorry, I didn’t go that extra 1,288.7 miles to swing by your place, but the sushi, wine and company was pretty good right where I was. I know you’re cute, but you can’t get drunk with me yet, solve all the world’s problems and then join me for a hangover breakfast the next day (just so you know what it was – I had smoked brisket with some sort of green sauce that looked like salmonella infested bird shit on top of it, but oh it tasted so good, gouda cheese grits and fried eggs).
You also scream at 5 in the morning because your mother hasn’t dressed the way you would prefer her to and now there is the added issue of your sister. Don’t get me wrong. She’s fucking gorgeous but at her age, she’s a squealing puke and shit machine. Oh, and I forgot. It’s cold where you live. It’s best to learn now. I do not go to cold places.
I think that covers my excuses rather adequately. So, I’ll continue by saying ‘I hope you’re not butthurt by my neglect’. Oh, how the word ‘butthurt’ just rolls off my tongue. Bitter, salty, dismissive, a teensy bit mean and obnoxious. Normally, I much prefer the correct English language, as spoken in the UK, but in this case, this is a word that like a dog enjoys rolling in cowshit, I revel in. I’ve been fascinated by it ever since I first heard it and even did a bit of research to learn from whence it came. Fortunately, I’m not the only person fascinated by this word and someone else had done the slog. It seems to have originated in 1998 and has quite a fascinating story.
What you’ll never understand is how brilliant the film Alien was to us, in the context of the time it was released. It was beautiful, scary, deep, gross, had great special effects and a badass female lead actress. It truly was a landmark film of its era for all those reasons and more. In the film was about an…wait for it…wait for it…wait for it…Alien! This alien was inspired by the work of an amazing artist called H.R. Giger and he was part of the team that created the monster for the film and they Academy Award for it. There were sequels to the Alien film as there always are with good movies to make as much money as possible.
Well, Giger was a little bit pissed off because despite them using the same alien of his design, which by then had become iconic, in the sequels, he was not credited properly for those and may well have missed out on further awards as a result. In a snarky response, from some random person, on Giger’s website the term ‘butthurt’ was used to deride Giger’s claims and generally called him a whiner because he had not been diligent in protecting his work contractually, which is a fair point.
Whoever’s side you are on is not relevant to this discussion anyway as this isn’t about Giger, but about the word ‘butthurt’ and that, apparently, is the first time there is a record of it being used, which I thought was very interesting. The other afternoon I asked your Tia (the one I will tell you about one day) what the British equivalent of ‘butthurt’ was because I’d been racking my brains to come up with one. Your Tia’s response was short and to the point ‘There is no word that has the same meaning because Brits don’t get butthurt’. Ut Oh. I’m running for my inflatable raft to deal with the flood of butthurt that’s going to come my way because of that. Or maybe I’ll just divert the butthurt to your Tia, since she said it, not I.
Seriously though. I’m not saying that Brits don’t whine, bitch, complain and moan. They are proud champions of those pasttimes. They are the people who, when asked ‘How’s your week been?’ are inclined to respond with ‘could be better’ even if they’d won the fucking lottery. That’s the nature of the beast. But if you go to any pub or social gathering in the UK, you’ll find people with different political and religious beliefs in each other’s faces, threatening to string each other up, feed their offspring to pigs, saying rude things about mothers and calling each other a whole array of creative swear words that would leave most USA citizens very butthurt indeed. You know what happens next? Someone gets up, goes to the bar and orders another round. Then they start all over again. The next day, they’ll be right as rain and no one will have been in the least bit offended.
My research became even more interesting when I tried to think of a way to truly offend an Englishman/woman. I couldn’t. So, I Googled it and discovered that it’s pretty damned impossible. The best one I could find was to call him/her ‘French’, which really was more about the ongoing pretend hatred and xenophobia between French and British people than anything else. I can’t imagine any British man, accused of being French saying any more than ‘you’re having a fucking laugh mate, aren’t you – oui oui!’
Many years ago, back in the UK, I spent some time in courts. In my youth I was in court either because I’d been a naughty girl or my friends had been naughty – more often than not, we’d all been naughty. As I grew older, I found myself in court because someone had the audacity to allow me to be classified as an ‘expert’ in my field and so I would get paid to share my worldly wisdom (a bit like I do now except I don’t get paid and no one dies – and by no one, I mean dogs) with the court. I have a healthy disdain for ‘experts’, especially self proclaimed ones, which is exactly what I had to be to collect my paycheck, but hey, I am not ashamed for selling out. It paid the bills and I did manage to do a little bit of good along the way. The other reason I would find myself in court was because I they were entertaining and it was sometimes fun to watch from the public gallery.
So, for your reading pleasure I am going to give you an imaginary version of the sort of court cases that I have listened to, to use as anecdotal evidence of a lack of butthurt in Britain. Imagine sitting in a British courtroom and listening to this interaction in front of distinguished judges, barristers, police officers and sundry individuals.
‘So, what exactly did the police officer say to you Ms. Winklebottom?’
‘Well, sir, he told me to stop being a gobby cow and to show him what was in my fucking bag.’
‘And those were his exact words Ms. Winklebottom?’
‘And what was your reply Ms. Winklebottom?’
‘I told him he was a fat fucking wanker and if he wanted to look in my bag, he could fucking go fetch it himself – and then I flung it in the canal.’
‘And then what happened Ms. Winklebottom?’
‘He told me I’d fucked right up now and he was going to arrest me for shoplifting.’
Now, that would be a pretty normal encounter between a member of the public and a police officer in the UK. Do you think there were any complaints or concerns about the language? No. Of course not. Because people don’t get butthurt. Did she get tased, beaten up or shot? No. Of course not. British police might call you a gobby cow, tell you to shut the fuck up and even threaten to knock that smile off your face, but swearing is not considered a form of assault….ut oh…unless…now we get to the tricky part…unless it is insulting based specifically on colour, race, nationality (including citizenship), ethnic or national origin, religion, or sexual orientation. In all fairness, people don’t generally get butthurt about that either, but you can get arrested for it and truly, you can also get arrested for ‘offensive’ behaviour, but swearing just isn’t generally considered offensive.
Quite frankly, I think that’s a good thing. You can’t have people feeling unable to go about their business because some random scrotum sack will attack them for something they can’t change. I mean, fine, call someone an arse, a prick, a dildo, a knob head or anything else that relates to their general ability to annoy and irritate. Those are things that most of them can change. Well, maybe some of them. But seriously. Being an arse is a lifestyle choice. Being black or gay is not. I’m going to skip over the religious thing because I’m a coward and lots of people in the UK have actually died because of differences over religion – nothing to do with butthurt or even religion, to be honest – everything to do with stuff I don’t really understand so just I just better shut up about it.
Even the word commonly referred to in the USA as the ‘c’ word. Sorry, but it’s in pretty common usage in the UK and even used as a term of endearment (‘stop being a silly cunt and let me get the next round of drinks’) or to refer to children (‘tell those wee cunts to get indoors before they freeze to death’ – in this particular sentence you could also use ‘buggers’ or ‘bastards’).
My uneducated, but probably apt, guess is that ‘butthurt’ comes from a sense of entitlement, which comes from a belief that everyone has ‘rights’. In the UK no one has any fucking rights. Now, some British kids have been infected with this belief from time to time saying things to their teachers like ‘you can’t fucking touch me Miss – I have rights you know’. Of course he doesn’t have rights. He’s a fucking subject not a citizen and there is no bill of rights in the UK. There are laws and yes, he’s probably right. Adults are not allowed to lay hands on kids as a general rule, but we also have a lot of common sense and courts and police have a lot of discretion. It’s at this stage, I’m sure I’ll get a barrage of emails saying ‘but my cousin is a teacher and he tried to save a child from drowning and got 50 years in prison for assault’.
Yes, I’m sure there are extreme exceptions to the rule of common sense that tends to override abuse of nebulous laws in the UK, but generally people believe that common sense and civilised behaviour (keep in mind that swearing falls within the British definition of civilised – you should hear aristocrats swear!) make life much more pleasant than butthurt, suing and calling the police because your next door neighbour used your dustbin.
Rights are great. They are like penises and religion. If you’ve got them, good on you, but don’t go waving them around in public, it’s unseemly and most definitely don’t shove them down people’s throat because I might not know much about the USA constitution, but one of the things I know it does not say ‘you have the right to be butthurt’.
So, my young nephew. I hope this letter made up for being so late with this installment. I shall end it with my typical Badass flair and share my wisdom with you. If you have an argument with your friend, neighbour, colleague, stranger, relative or anyone else and there is no real life hanging in the balance, don’t get butthurt if they say things that you perceive as ‘mean’ or insulting. Get over yourself. Give as good as you get and make sure you have a creative and amusing collection of verbal and intellectual ammunition. If all else fails, do what I do. Keep a file of cartoons of poos. Yes, poos as in shits. If you get bored arguing with them and you can tell they are getting butthurt, just send them those. If they don’t get over it, they aren’t worth your time anyway. Unless they are your mother. Try to never make your mother butthurt. You’ll fail. But try.
Much love from your Badass Auntie.
Your brother just received a long rant from me about butthurt. I can tell you this and you’ll laugh with me one day. There was a time in my life when I was permanently butthurt, but because I didn’t have a word for it, I didn’t know that’s what was wrong with me. I just thought everyone else were mean bastards. So I flounced – which seems to be a natural reflex to being butthurt. I flounced a lot and I think I’m pretty good at it. So, before I move on, let me just advise you. If you ever intend to flounce – and my guess is that you will find yourself feeling flouncy at times – do it with gusto and flair.
I mentioned to your brother that entitlement seems to be at the bottom of butthurt and looking around me at the way many live, particularly in privileged places and lives, they just seem to be missing out on empathy. I’m not talking about the watching puppies on TV adverts with sad songs and saying ‘awww’ and sending money sort of empathy, or the joining an anti bullying campaign sort of empathy. I’m talking about real, deep down empathy.
I have quite a lot of it, but I use it sparingly. I’d be slashing my wrists daily if I allowed myself to feel empathy for every person I encounter. So, I set standards. Now, my standards are not everyone’s standards. Firstly, if you are related to me closely or, for some strange reason, I just really adore you, my standards do slip slightly, but for everyone else it goes like this. If I am going to empathise with you, you need to be smart, funny, absolutely not boring, willing to teach and learn, open minded but skeptical. You must be kind to animals and those less fortunate than yourself and not have to pat yourself on the back or announce it. You must be really good at being offensive and fuck up regularly, offending people unintentionally (because that exposes those prone to butthurt). Finally, and most importantly, you must never try to tell people who have less privilege than you do how they should be feeling or try to compare your experiences to theirs. That’s not empathy. That’s annoying condescension.
Let me give you an example. A friend at school is telling you about how her mother is a single parent and works three jobs just to get by and you say ‘I know. It’s so hard. My mother wants to get a part time job to fill some of her spare time. I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like when she’s gone for three hours on Sundays?’ That is not helpful. An example of a correct answer would be ‘Wow. That must be so difficult. I can’t imagine what it must be like to have your mother have to work so hard.’ followed by, and this is the zinger…’what can I do to help?’ Don’t compare when there is no comparison. I hear people doing it all the time.
I’m going to share a couple that really annoy me just to get it off my chest as I’ve definitely decided that is your role in my life. Where I live, gay men and transgender women are often victims of violence. People who don’t know the meaning of empathy will say – why should we care about gay and transgender people when ALL sorts of people are victims of violence. That’s my cue to say ‘Let me fucking tell you why’. ‘ALL sorts of people’ are not victims of violence because of who they are and what they look like and for no other reason. They do not have to walk through life knowing that they have a big fat target on their back directing violence at them constantly because of things they can’t change. ‘ALL sorts of people’ can go to the shop without thinking someone might kill them for being a person. Gay and transgender people do not have that fucking privilege. Get it arsehole?’ Of course they usually don’t get it because they don’t want to get it. Never mind. It gives me the opportunity to swear.
Another one is when women try to explain to men that they have to look at all strange men as potential enemies. Sadly, it’s a fact that until we hear the last man claim that women are responsible for sexual assault and men can’t help themselves when presented with temptation, we have to assume that all men could be that man until we know them. More often than not, instead of trying to understand what it might be like to live like that, men get all butthurt and defensive and see it as a personal attack.
When you are in a position of power or privilege by virtue of your gender, race, culture, geography, education, sexuality, physical or mental ability etc etc, it is complete arseholery to be incapable of accepting criticism. What sort of wankwad has all that privilege and then has to whine when someone shares a different experience? Fucking dicks. *grumble grumble*
Having empathy does not mean you are psychic nor that you are responsible for other people’s behaviour. If another person wishes to place themselves in a discussion on an issue that they feel sensitive about at the time, then that is their choice. Unless they make you aware of their circumstances you cannot have empathy for that which you don’t know.
Sure, plenty of inspirational quote sharing types will say ‘but you should be nice to everyone because you don’t know what they are going through.’ No, I fucking don’t have to be nice to someone who is being a dick to me and if I don’t know what they are going through, how the fuck can I be empathetic? I can’t spend my day being nice to rude, thoughtless, arrogant arsewipes just because they may have had something bad happen to them. Fuck, I have bad things happen to me and that doesn’t suddenly give me a free pass to be an arsehole to strangers and ruin their day too.
If someone brings up or says something controversial and then can’t handle the fallout, discussion, argument – or whatever results from the controversy, they need to go home and get a thicker skin before they come out to play – or – they could behave like a reasonable and civilised human being (I know, it’s a lot to ask) and inform you that they are sensitive about the subject and why. Not only will this help others to become empathetic but it will also contribute to the discussion in a constructive way. Unlike saying ‘you’re all a bunch of arseholes and you’re mean’ and flouncing off.
So, here is some Badass wisdom for you today. If you are feeling sad, vulnerable, angry or in any other way sensitive, do not get yourself involved in discussions or debates that you feel might get you more upset. It’s just a silly thing to do. I’m not saying you should not get into conversations about things you feel strongly about, but try to make sure you are calm, collected, feeling strong and have a well formulated argument that you feel confident about. Know in your mind that what you will say will be clear and easy to understand and that even if people disagree, you can walk away without getting upset.
Trust me. I’ve been there. I used to get so angry when people disagreed with me about things I was passionate about such as civil and animal rights that I would cry in anger. It’s not fun. It’s not attractive. It doesn’t progress the conversation and you’re the one who ends up getting upset. Others in the conversation might no longer take you seriously and may even laugh, which will make you even more upset and angry. Learning to laugh at yourself can help.
To continue with this wisdom – should you find yourself in this situation – I have no doubt you will at some point because we have passion in our family – and you are worried you might fall out with someone who fulfills the criteria I outlined earlier and who you wish to keep in your life, get a spine. Pull them to one side and explain to them exactly why you are so upset. Give them the gift of allowing them to empathise. Weirdly, it’s a two way thing.
Much love from your Badass Auntie