Bitches but no dicks

Bloggers note the discrepancy in vulgarities in the Wikipedia's definitions of "man" and "woman."

Published January 9, 2006 3:14PM (EST)

There's an interesting conversation going on in the blogosphere this morning, started by Scribble Pad and continued by Black Feminism and Feministing.

M. at Scribble Pad noticed that the Wikipedia entry for "Woman" includes a list of "vulgar terms" associated with the word. "Vulgar terms...?!" Scribble Pad writes. "Since when did that become the trademark of a good encyclopaedia article on anything? 'ho, bitch, cunt'  nice, wholesome education for our fifth graders, no doubt ... was this just someone's idea of presenting 'full' information or was it simply yet another instance of women bashing?" In search of an answer, Scribble looked up "Man" and found no "vulgar terms" listed on that page. "Integrity of information, my foot! Like hell I'll use that sexist encyclopedia for anything."

Tiffany at Black Feminism writes in response that she edited the Wikipedia entry so that it now mentions "vulgar terms and gender slurs." She also suggested, but did not create, a list of vulgar terms and gender slurs for men, including "prick" and "bastard." But both she and Jessica at Feministing get to the same place, that many of the worst things you can call a man -- "sissy," "faggot," "pussy" -- are all just ways of feminizing him anyway.

Jessica writes, "The worst thing you can call a girl is a girl. The worst thing you can call a guy is a girl ... It all comes down to one thing. Being a woman is the ultimate insult."

I am not as horrified by the Wikipedia discrepancies as the others. I don't think it's worthless or offensive to make note of the kind of words used to degrade women. It's language; we use it as a weapon, we use it as a tool. We shouldn't pretend it doesn't exist. It's true that I can think of plenty of disparaging (and vulgar) terms for men, but on Wikipedia, it's just a matter of time (and I wouldn't be surprised to see it by the end of the day) before someone adds them.

But I don't know, maybe I'm failing to see the larger offense. What do other people think?

By Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister writes for Salon. She is the author of "Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women" (Free Press). Follow @rtraister on Twitter.

MORE FROM Rebecca Traister

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Broadsheet Love And Sex