Today on Pharyngula, there was a heated exchange about a cartoon about creationist thinking, with two toy rabbits as the protagonists. The “creationist rabbit” was dressed in a skirt ant the speech bubbles were pink, while the rabbit that was taking a rational stance was dressed in trousers (pants to my USAsian readers) and the speech bubbles were blue.
This one cartoon strip was deemed sexist by many commenting there, with no corroborating evidence, and anyone disagreeing was subjected to abuse, much of it anti-male, and thus itself sexist!
One commenter, Paul G, was singled out especially, and eventually retorted by calling someone named happiestsadist a “presumptuous fucking cunt.”
Now, this probably wasn’t the best response Paul G could have thought of, but he was provoked. At most of the forums I post on, the direct insult would have earned a warning, and all the others that precipitated it, but not the language. At Pharyngula, direct insults seem to be encouraged, and the “bad” language is discouraged. Except in this case.
It seems that, in America, the word “cunt”, when used as an insult, is reserved for women whereas in the UK, in my experience at least, it is almost exclusively aimed at men. This explanation, given almost immediately by Paul G, along with an apology, was not enough for P Z Myers though. Some time later he issued a warning to Paul G for “abusing other people based on their gender.”
I wonder why Myers ignored the explanation, and assumed Paul G knew that happiestatheist was female (if indeed that is the case; I’m not certain even now), unless he was being parochial. That’s a shame, as the biggest benefit I’ve found with international forums is a greater understanding of regional differences.
This difference is one I will now take into account. I don’t expect P Z Myers will, since he hasn’t even acknowledged it.
The word “cunt” is not banned here, by the way, which will no doubt please one person, who has adopted it as his user name!