Using etymology as an argument of convenience...
The story so far:
The latest issue of The King’s Tribune features some very interesting, if challenging articles from Justin Shaw and Ben Pobjie on the place of pornography in modern society.
This caused an almighty twitstorm, centred around the use in the articles of one particular word: “Hysterical.”
There are some excellent posts on the substance of the debate HERE, HERE and HERE and I have little to add to any of them.
Misogynist? Absolutely! IF used in that context.
However, you don’t have to be a professor of linguistics to see that Justin Shaw was using the word in its modern meaning of over-the-top, exaggerated, hyperbole. Another modern definition of the word is to mean extremely funny, but that’s clearly not Shaw’s intended use.
If you’re going to pick apart the arcane origins of words and insist on classical definitions, you must be consistent about it.
Remember this the next time you use the word “Bastard” (a child of unmarried parents, sometimes called ‘illegitimate’ as if it’s the child’s fault and something to be ashamed of) as a term of abuse.
Remember this the next time you use the word “Gay” (it used to mean “happy,” don’tcha know!) to describe someone who is homosexual.
Remember this the next time you use the word “Bugger” (a verb, to sodomise, that is, to penetrate the anus with the erect penis as Gail Dines would probably describe it) as a general exclamation of dissatisfaction with something that has just occurred. Or to describe a lovable rogue.
Remember this the next time you use the word “Terrific” (which is to “terror,” as “horrific,” is to “horror”) to describe something that is very good.
Remember this the next time you use the word “Fantastic” (meaning “of fantasy”) to describe something that is clearly real.
Remember this the next time you use the word “Incredible” (meaning lacking credibility) to describe something you might also regard as fantastic or terrific.