This guest blog is by Yehudi Xas, a London-based rapper with an interest in feminism, who sometimes writes and sometimes raps!
There is an ancient, debilitating, parasitic condition which has afflicted millions of men across the world for many years. Prognosis is incredibly challenging as its symptoms vary to a tremendous degree. This insidious disease causes considerable psychological damage to the men who suffer from it, as they’re rendered both docile and volatile by the condition. As the illness continues to develop it affects the way in which the sufferer begins to think, feel and act – often, sufferers will abandon long standing social groups, eventually, after the initial phases of irrational and erratic behaviour have passed, the male sufferer becomes fully acquiescent to the whims of its parasite – his girlfriend. By this point, symptoms are irreversible. Although the condition is incurable, it is rarely fatal, and it’ll often disappear over time. This condition – described by health professionals as “a pernicious subset of delirium” – is being “pussywhipped”.
Hopefully you’ve already realised that this isn’t a real pathological condition. I’m referring to the colloquial term “pussywhipped”, a term which is often used playfully, to describe a man who is obedient towards his girlfriend, fiancé or wife. The female equivalent would be “dick whipped” however, speaking from personal experience, it’s a term which is rarely used, and there don’t appear to be similar, unique terms for people in male / male or female / female relationships.
I’m writing about this word because I don’t like it. It is a loaded word. A loaded word is a word which is used for its emotional resonance rather than its descriptive accuracy. For example, if I had said “deployed” instead of “used” in the previous sentence, then “deployed” would’ve been a loaded word due to its martial connotations (“troops were deployed” “military deployment” etc). I might’ve been implying that whoever uses the word “deployed” is strategically using it as a tool of persuasion. There seems to be a difference between words which become loaded words as a consequence of context (like “deployed”) and words which are generally always loaded (like “pussywhipped”). Sometimes we use loaded words without realising that we’re doing so, other times, a loaded word is intentionally used to evoke a desired emotion. We often use a loaded word without realising that word’s utility as a tool of persuasion. Furthermore, we sometimes fail to acknowledge how our usage of that word may support a particular view; we fail to acknowledge that word’s ability to make us accept ideas without analysing them. A loaded word is a way for us to compress a detailed set of emotionally charged ideas into a single word, therefore to challenge the usage of the word is to challenge the ideas which have been packed into that word.
So when someone uses the word “pussywhipped” I flinch, even when they’re joking. Why? Because even when it’s being used playfully, it’s actually very sexist. Look at the construction of the word itself – it’s a portmanteau (a fusion of two existing words which has been combined to make a new word) of “pussy”, a derogatory, crude term which refers to a vulva or vagina, and “whipped” an adjective used to describe a practice which is synonymous with slavery, punishment and pain. Then consider its definition “Pussywhipped: (slang, vulgar, of a man) submissive to or dominated by one’s wife or other female partner, frequently with the connotation that this submissive behavior is for the prospect of sex” (Wikitionary).
Given the word’s composition (“pussy” and “whipped”) and its definition (submissive to one’s female partner), I find it difficult to believe that using this word at any time isn’t sexist, because it equates “submission” towards one’s female partner with a humiliating and painful form of punishment. Pussywhipped suggests the implication that deference towards a woman is a painful act which is worthy of derision. Now, I’m not saying that anyone who uses this word is a vile sexist who should be castigated. I’m saying that, whether you realise it or not, using this word contributes towards misogyny. As all sane people agree, misogyny is a very bad thing, therefore we should avoid behaviours which enable, support or perpetuate it.
I have been “pussywhipped” and I’m proud. You love someone you love them unrelentingly (CAVEAT – within reason, without adopting unhealthy habits which compromise your mental, physical or social wellbeing). There’s nothing wrong with going the extra mile to make someone you love happy – provided it makes you happy, and you’re not being coerced. There’s no wardrobe of behaviours which are only suitable for a given gender (male, female, trans, intersex, poly). Phrases like “pussywhipped” create tacit pressure to conform, and this subtly solidifies the legitimacy of “innate gender behaviour” – the false idea that you’re genetically disposed towards blue if you’re a boy and pink if you’re a girl.
So, to anyone who’s ever been called “pussywhipped”. You are NOT “pussywhipped”. You might be delusional, you might be insane, you might be delusional and insane, but whatever you are you are not pussywhipped. You’re probably in luuuuuuurrve. So enjoy it. I don’t think love can exist without sacrifice – whenever you love something, you’re prepared to make sacrifices which are commensurate to how much you love whoever (or whatever) it is that you love. A sports fan will sacrifice her sleep to watch late night Formula One. A bear will sacrifice her life to defend her cubs from predators. I often sacrifice my friends, family and food to play Streetfighter (I’m an arsehole). The point is that people are prepared to make sacrifices when they love someone, and people shouldn’t feel pressurised into avoiding sacrifirices because they fear derision.
In any case, being “pussywhipped” simply means that you’re prepared to make sacrifices for someone you love, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, unless those sacrifices considerably disrupt your happiness and wellbeing. Whether those sacrifices are unhealthy or not is for you to determine. However don’t let loaded words like “pussywhipped” influence your decision, and don’t use words like “pussywhipped”, as they’re likely to influence how others affect the decisions they make too.
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