The use of slurs in popular culture is a subject that often draws heavy debate. On the one hand, many people say that if we keep using the words and ‘reclaim’ them then people would have nothing to get upset about, whereas other people feel that once something is established as a pejorative term it will always be a pejorative term and we should stop using them.
One thing is certain though and that’s that slurs can cause offense. This is something that Harlem-based rapper Azealia Banks learnt the hard way after calling notorious blogger Perez Hilton a “f****t” during a Twitter spat.
In an interview with The Guardian, Banks told the publication that although she doesn’t regret using the term, she’ll “never do it again, because [she doesn’t] care enough about the person to have the battle again and defend my use of the word faggot.”
She then added:
“A lot of gay men are way more misogynistic than straight men. The s**t they say about women behind their backs, it’s like, ‘Wow, oh my God!’ You can be a straight faggot, you can be a gay faggot. A faggot is anybody that hates women.”
It’s like, y’all sing along to my words when I’m saying n***a and ****, but as soon as I call this one white man a faggot the whole world exploded.
Listen, I didn’t say all gay men are faggots; I said Perez Hilton is a faggot, so don’t try and bring the rest of the gays down with your faggotry.”
While it’s hard to argue with her feeling that gay men are more misogynistic than straight men – gay men’s misogyny has long been an issue in the female LGBT community – it’s not hard to see why someone would be staunchly against her defence of the word “f****t”.
As someone who is an out and proud bisexual woman, Banks has stated on several occasions that she couldn’t possibly be a homophobe yet even so, should she really be using such a potent slur? It’s been used for many years to insult and disgrace gay men and so at the bare minimum only other gay men should be able to say it.
Banks herself notes that listeners of her music sing along and say the n-word, taking some issue at it, so she clearly understands that there’s a right and a wrong for who can say which words. It is unfortunate that such a vocal LGBT ally doesn’t understand why this is a contentious issue but as she’s booted it from her dictionary (at least in public anyway) let’s hope we don’t hear the f-slur from her again.