The Lazy Language of Bullies (TW)

Growing up, I was called every name in the book. I heard transvestite, faggot, queer, buttlicker, fudge packer, “girl” (yes, I was thrown that alleged “insult”). Being a very literal kid, I didn’t understand why yelling things that I identified with was particularly offensive. More, I was thoroughly unimpressed. If these kids were trying so hard to bully me, why were they so uncreative?

I mean, COME ON. The worst thing you can call me is something I identify as? Which is why I LOVE the old Orbit Gum commercial. This commercial had some of the most fun, interesting, and unoffensive insults, some that I still use today. Although insults are used to express anger and frustration at someone, they can be used in cathartic ways.

Here are some great “funsults” that you can use instead of hurtful, identity-politics driven insults.

  • Doo-Doo Head
  • Lint Licker
  • Bubble Popper
  • Pine cone
  • Pocket watch
  • Mountaintop
  • Myrtle Turtle

What’s the key similarity between all of these? They don’t really mean ANYTHING. The cathartic nature of yelling insults only partly relies in the language, but also the force and voice you maintain. So, if you angrily yell out “You’re a bubble popping pinecone” to someone, you can experience the same sense of relief that you might get if you yelled at mean, hurtful, and damaging things as well.

If you’re not down with using “funsults”, here’s a couple situations to consider:

  1. Someone yells out “faggot” to a queer person. In this context, a bully is asserting their moral superiority through the use of identity. They, being a heterosexual person, are implying that the “faggot” is a lesser person than them. Bullies, in this context, are reminding the queer person that they are a lesser social class than them. Further, many queer individuals still have a problem identifying as queer (or whatever they choose to identify). By forcing an identity onto a queer person, a bully reinforces the need for individuals to fit in normative categories by way of verbal abuse.
  2. Someone yells out “faggot” to a heterosexual person. This situation differs from the previous by the ways in which the insult affects the insultee. Instead of the bully asserting that a person is of a morally inferior status by using their identity, the bully is implying that the person is of lower social class standards by means of referencing a less-privileged class. The bully receives self-gratification by maintaining their superiority by use of a slur.
  3. Someone yells out “Bubble-popping pocketwatch” to someone. This literally does not make sense, nor does it mean anything. It does not rely on problematic slurs or insults to affect someone but yet can maintain the sense of rage at someone. The insultee, in this case, understands that the bully does not like them, is a mean person, etc., but is not affected by having an affront to their identity.

Plus, you can be creative with your “funsults”. You can use any random words, phrases, adjectives, and nouns while maintaining the angry sentiment, as long as those words don’t offend people through their identity.

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