Sexual slur  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A sexual slur is a term of disparagement used to refer to members of a given sexual minority, gender, sex, or sexual orientation in a derogatory or pejorative manner. The motivation for using a sexual slur is often sexism and/or bias against a sexual orientation or practice.

Many sexual slurs are used in a wide range of contexts outside of their primary meaning; for example, gay may be used as a term of disparagement to refer to any person or thing the speaker thinks is worthy of contempt, sometimes with absurd results (e.g. "Those sneakers are gay"). Used in this way, the slur conveys contempt by associating its target with an (implicitly despised) sexual minority.

As seen above with the term gay, words which at one point had predominantly positive connotations and came from the minority groups themselves are often eventually used against them as slurs. It is also not uncommon for members of minority groups to adopt an originally disparaging term and use it for themselves, possibly as an act of self-assertion. However, they may be extremely offended if it is used by members of the majority group (and some will find its use offensive regardless of who does it). The word nigger is an example. Queer is another.

Some of the slurs used against women are also used against men, but with the addition of the qualifier man. So slut becomes man slut, and whore becomes man whore.

University of New England researcher David Plummer argues that anti-gay terms that often connote effeminate behavior are also used when young boys betray "peer group solidarity" or fail to, "measure up to 'hegemonic' boys' standards rather than necessarily being 'feminine'." Thus, he argues, "homophobia has its early roots in boyhood 'otherness'—specifically in being different from the collectively authorized expectations of male peers." [1] (PDF file) And thus the ambiguous use of the term faggot, which is used not necessarily to literally mean homosexual, but simply "unmanly", cowardly, effeminate, etc.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Sexual slur" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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