A Lexicon of Contemporary Vulgarities

Emasculating insults! Swears on television! Schoolyard name-calling! Everyone's doing it these days! But why? What does it mean? Who do we blame? Was it the queers who killed civility? Or is everyone just being a pussy? LET'S INVESTIGATE!

The Emasculating Insults

  • "Pussy." According to Time analyst Mark Halperin, former presidential candidate John Edwards thinks Barack Obama is a pussy. According to Urban Dictionary, "pussy" is "the box a dick comes in." And it's odd that Halperin attributes such an emasculating sort of comment to John Edwards, as John is a frequent target of similar language. Especially from noted reasonable pundit Ann Coulter, who has repeatedly called Edwards a
  • "Fag." Fag is the mean word for a "gay." In addition to John Edwards, other people recently publicly tarred with this particular term include people Heath Ledger winked at and some poor schmuck named Jesse who Jerry Lewis doesn't care for. (NB: We think he was going to say "fagalah.") Isiah Washington also referred to a Grey's Anatomy co-star as a faggot.
  • "Sissy." Easily the least offensive of the listed emasculating vulgarisms, this one was recently used by a former New York Press editor trying to sell a book about how America is a nation of Sissies, and by Salon editors who wished to insult war hero and torture victim John McCain.

The Anti-Women Insults

  • "Cunt." This category belongs to cunt! While most of the terms used above are also inherently anti-lady, "cunt" is the most gynophobic and also the one used most often at women. Recent offenders: Roger Stone and Jane Fonda (who wasn't really insulting anyone, just cursing on live TV because she's been basically out of it for 25 years).

All-purpose Obscenity

Who is to blame? Nasty, uncouth bloggers, obvi. Jane Fonda never even heard that word until she discovered Jezebel. Yes, nasty bloggers like Tribune Co head Sam Zell, who's been caught recently telling employees fuck you and calling executives motherfuckers.

So if not bloggers specifically, maybe just the media in general? The media that keeps getting up in arms and demanding apologies every time someone accidentally speaks as they do when they're not on camera? Or maybe American behavior is at its most divorced from its ostensibly shared moral sense than it has been since, fuck, the 1950s.