Wednesday, October 19, 2016

What Is It About Cows That Makes The Word "Heifer" An Insult?

On Monday I wrote about how no one seemed to notice or care about the use of the term "heifer" as an insult in a story that went viral on Facebook.

That led to a whole pile of hoopla which, putting aside some of the more unhinged outrage and misrepresentation, ultimately boiled down to: that the term might not have been meant as a weight related slur, and/or that the flight attendant on its receiving end wasn't fat, and/or that really, who cares, she was upset and so it was justified.

Despite the fact that I've never seen or heard the term heifer used for purposes other than fat shaming (see for example the usage I'm accustomed to here and here from past also gone viral stories), and that all the various urban dictionaries and definitions online state that heifer is a pejorative term for a woman with obesity, it's of course possible that in this circumstance it wasn't meant as a weight related insult but rather as a general slur, and that heifer has become a term that some use in place of "bitch".

Which in turn speaks to the point I was making which is that we're so accustomed and innured to weight related insults, jokes, and judgement, that derisive terms with clear relationships to appearance and weight have become entrenched and even defended as being acceptable parts of our general vocabulary and vernacular regardless of whether or not they're marginalizing to an undeniably and regularly discriminated against population.

And where exactly do people think the pejorative part of the term comes? Is there something else obvious and well known about cows, besides their size and seeming laziness, to serve the general public as the word heifer or cow's driver of scorn?

Heifer or cow, wielded as an insult, regardless of intent, furthers the gluttonous, stubborn, lazy, narrative of obesity, and so yes, I'm going to continue to call it out, and that me doing so apparently upsets people, speaks directly to why doing so is worthwhile.

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