I Have a Bad Feeling About This – A Disorganized Rant Post

So remember when I had the bright idea to post about Lolis both as a concept and as a word? I try to forget that too. It was an impulsive reaction at best. Well let me step into something much worse. I promise I’ll lay off the topical anime fake duhrama for a bit after this.

school live

trust me

Almost immediately I got a response to my loli post along the lines of “yeah, people just don’t know what words mean in our community, it’s like people that think trap is an insult“… First, I suspect this fellow did not read my post as I was arguing that loli means exactly what people think it means. But giving them the benefit of the doubt..? whhaaa?

Of course trap is a slur. A particularly obvious one even without any context. Few derogatory terms I know are this obvious about being meant as an insult. For those of you not familiar, in animespeak… “Trap” is used to describe a male character dressed like a woman. In English the word transvestite and the flamboyant expression drag queen can both be used for that. Drag queen having more implications of extravagance and artifice. In Japanese the word otokonoko is often used.

Trap is a borrowed word (obviously) that means the same thing as otokonoko with an implication of something duplicitous, dangerous or bad. Literally a situation in which people lie in wait to make a surprise attack. There’s no such thing as a pleasant trap. So using the word as a descriptor is a way of saying male character dressed as a female which for the purpose of deceiving and potentially attacking others. It’s not a pleasant characteristic. And if that’s the way you’re using the expression then fine. It may in fact fit the character you’re describing. Just have the backbone to own it.

anime back ache

i did not figure his anime would end up here

Of course that’s not what I actually want to talk about. You can bark at me in the comments about how I don’t know what I’m talkin about regarding otaku vocabulary in the comments if you want. My issue here is not with you, it’s with myself.

I get annoyed when people use derogatory terms and don’t have the courage to stand by them or the honesty to admit they didn’t know all the implications, and just pretend they were innocent love filled little angels all along. But I’m also starting to worry about outrage culture.

On the one hand, shutting down any possibility of dialogue at the slightest provocation is a great way to encourage ignorance. Guys, there are a lot of problems in the world and we need to figure out how to work together if we’re going to get anything done. Certainly there are better applications of our time than to jump at every turn of phrase. I should point out that most people are pretty indifferent to words, it’s really only extremists that grab onto these gripes every time. Most people may point it out once in case someone simply didn’t realize they were being a bit rude and move on. It’s only the conteroutrage that gives the initial outcries any credence at all.

On the other hand, there’s something very odd about being told, “could you use a different expression, that one has a lot of associated trauma for me and it hurts a bit to see it constantly” and reacting with anger! If you can do something that requires zero effort or investment at all on your part and would make someone’s life a little better, why wouldn’t you do it? Why would the idea of it make you angry?

anime startled

why?

You see what I mean. The balance is sort of tricky. Fact is words do matter, they carry with them a mentality, an understanding. Of course the world won’t grind to a halt because you call all women bitches or decide to use racial slurs as greetings. But it does somewhat normalise or sanitize the mindset and history behind those words.

You know, traditionally speaking I’m what is known in academic circles as “an insensitive jerk”. Up until rather recently I was generally of the opinion that we have way too many things to care about to make such a big deal about vernacular. Living in places where bigotry and discrimination where not only accepted but expected, made the issue of calling each other names seem almost quaint. But I didn’t understand until I got to somewhere I considered safe and comfortable, the deeper meaning of it all.

I live in Canada. It’s not perfect by any means but it’s pretty gosh darn inclusive on some issues. One of which is LGBTQ+ rights. Montreal in particular has always been very welcoming to the community. A few years ago, a good friend of mine got pretty seriously beaten up for being gay. He was in the hospital for days. It was terrifying. He is a kind and reserved man who has never been demonstrative about his love life or insistent on his orientation. He is also a big and very in shape guy that can stand his own if need be. I never knew the details of the incident and I’m not horrible enough to ask, but it was a violent hate crime. Right here in Montreal. And it all started by a stranger calling him a faggot.

anime sad girl

and that really sucks

No the word did not make the incident happen. No you are not going to assault people just because you joked around with some tasteless slang. But you do see what I mean right. If it’s fine to say it, some will assume it’s fine to think it. And just because you use it lovingly doesn’t mean everyone does. And to pretend otherwise is just weak.

So what am I saying? Don’t use any language that could offend anyone? Fuck no! My personal bias will always go against censorship. Besides, you know what really pisses me off? It’s holding onto these tiny symptoms and pretending those are the problem. Actually, I prefer if you use sexist language, at least that way I know where I stand. I hate the idea of just not using certain words and pretending the problem is solved. That lazy tendency of attacking the most superficial part of something and ignoring everything that really matters.

Alao, I’m afraid the drummed up outrage will distract us from the real problems and prevent us from properly talking to each other. Which we need to do if we’re going to figure all of this out. Jumping at RuPaul for calling himself a tranny, when the man has done more for representation then I can even explain – well that seems painfully shortsighted to me.

But then you accidentally hurt people for no reason, and risk tacitly condoning much worse behaviour. Make up your mind Irina!!!! This is why I need you guys. I really don’t know where I stand on this and I would like to know where you do.

I guess in a perfect (risk free) world I would say one could use the expression trap because it fits what one wants to say. Because one means to slander a character or the notion has something trap like in the context. Possibly because one is describing someone or something that’s duplicitous. But there’s no need to shut down any conversation that may see it otherwise. That’s the worst of both worlds…

Edit – My original wording here was a harsh and may have made people feel personally targeted so I tried to change it to something more neutral that gets across my general point. I hope it’s an improvement.

random

Irina

I'm much nicer than I seem, we should be friends!

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92 Responses

  1. Cytrus says:

    So, summarising what I’ve seen and learned after reading all the comments here, including Irina’s responses:

    There is a semantic domain in North America (note that in linguistics domain refers to a part/dimension of sb’s life, rather than strictly a place) where people actually use the term “trap” to refer to and insult some LGBT people.

    For Irina, the existence of that semantic domain is a fact, a part of life, and it serves as the foundation of her thoughts and conclusions presented in this entry.

    For several people in this thread, me included, the existence of that domain is just a fresh and curious discovery.

    This is not particularly surprising. Irina seems to point to a spoken colloquial language domain, one with no particular relation to the anime subculture. A foreigner like me might be fluent in English but will still only use the language in selected domains: online-hobby, online-news/research, work-technology etc. There is no opportunity to listen and use “street language”. As such, the definitions of trap that will feel valid for this group are the basic dictionary definition (not an insult) and the anime fandom definition brought up by Pete: “cute girl who is actually a boy” (also not an insult).

    I’ll be frank: using anime-subculture specific word interpretations is the natural, right and proper thing to do on a site called “I drink and watch anime”. Any other domain interpretations are of secondary importance.

    That said, definitions of words are never fully homogenous even within a single domain. Where me and Pete and Fred explain how we use the word in the anime domain, Irina shared her own usage and influences for the same context. That’s great! We all learned something new about each other and the world around us.

    The only thing which would be bad would be to deny the authenticity of another person’s linguistic background and the possibility of their differing definitions and usage being honest and valid. For example using provocative phrases like:

    “Just have the backbone to own it”
    “…people use derogatory terms and don’t have the courage to stand by them”
    “Just don’t pretend it’s not that and shut down any conversation”

    to imply that if you use a word differently from me, you must either be a liar/pretender or a coward.

    …and yes, those are all direct quotes from this blog entry.

    So, seeing all the reactions and comments, I can more easily understand how difficult it is for Irina to imagine people coming from a linguistic background so contrary to her own in regards to the term discussed (again, Irina’s take was a new discovery for me, too). But denying another person’s interpretation and labelling them a coward/liar before giving them a chance to speak is plain wrong, and something which should be avoided in the future.

  2. Mr.cat says:

    I am sorry but I am confused here…
    Are you asking my/our view on words like TRAP or LGBT community?

  3. Aero says:

    To me, ‘trap’ is absolutely a slur because as you say, no one experiences a pleasant trap, and to reduce someone (even a character) to their masturbatory experience and shock at an unpleasant revelation, even in jest, is distasteful at the very least. While it is not -always- used this way (see the very end of my post for details), it is the one I’ve heard most often and the reason I will not use it.

    It’s a term I’ve even seen people use to describe themselves, but much like f****t, b***h, c**t, and other words of this nature, while these people are certainly welcome to use such terms if they want, I refuse to partake in such descriptors because the terms are steeped in mean-spirited or hateful context.

    Similar topic of particular interest: The word ‘bara’ is sometimes made out to be, since it means ‘rose’, ‘derogatory in the same vein as f****t’ but the truth is it was more like ‘pansy’ (from what I’ve read). It -was- still derogatory, but even then, this was the context of the word in the 1970’s-80’s, according to Japanese gay men at the time. The term was notably used in the title of Barazoku magazine, which featured comics of this style as well at the time.

    Nowadays (~40 years later) in the West it means ‘muscular men’, and I’ve even seen it used as a noun, i.e. ‘he’s a big bara’. I think somewhere along the way it may have been confused for the English slang ‘bear’ meaning ‘big often muscular gay man’ which led to the use of ‘bara’ in the west, but that might not even be related so take all of these words with a grain of salt. I’m not a historian lol

    I have seen detractors from the term even use them to categorize their posts, even after posting about such a revelation of ‘bara’s archaic roots – Is it hypocrisy or simply using a term most people are familiar with? I would argue the latter. I suspect at least some people using the term ‘trap’ simply don’t know what else to call such a character, because ‘trans’ is incorrect for what this term is describing and ‘transvestite’ is more accurate but also not ‘anime speak’.

    I use the term ‘bara’, and I suspect many others also use it, because it is the most accurate to what I am presenting – M/M comics that show / write (often sexual) relationships with muscular men, with a more realistic approach. ‘Gei komi’ is the alternative term, but also a much more generic one that almost no one in the West uses. ‘Bara’ nowadays sets a precedent that you’re about to see some muscular men in a most likely sexual context, with the added connotation of the burly art style. ‘Gay comics’ could mean anything, from yaoi, to fluffy BL, to coming-out webcomics, to ‘hey this man is fucking a monster who also happens to be male’ comics lmao.

    Personally, I think there is merit to not participating or discouraging in this kind of language – as you say, the more it is used, the more the negative term is normalized as the ‘correct’ language for such a character or person, and I have known many more who were upset at the word’s usage than happy about it.

    Some will argue that ‘trap’ is simply a fetish word, like ‘futa’ or ‘dickgirl’, and that fetishes need to leave ‘politics’ at the door. But that is another topic (albeit related), and is much more opinion-based (like this topic -isn’t- lol) so I will end this thought and this post with a TL;DR summary:

    People’s common uses of the word ‘trap’:

    Derogatory – ‘this cute lady is actually a dude!! lol u jerked off to -another dude-, straight guy!’ [tone of disgust]

    Ignorant – ‘this character’s a trap, she’s actually male.’ [matter-of-fact, oblivious to any negative connotation or misgendering when describing]

    Intentional – ‘he’s a trap, I know, I love my OC!’ [actively chooses to ignore negative connotation, cutesy romanticizing of the term much like how people use b***h to teasingly describe people or OCs, possibly ironic usage]

    /end

  4. Dawnstorm says:

    I tried to reply multiple times. At one point I was surprised to find one half hour has passed with me staring at the empty form and typing nothing. It didn’t feel like half an hour, and it was definitely way too much time to spend on no progress. So I quit.

    I thought it was a very good post, and if I share anything it’s the on-the-one-hand/on-the-other-hand confusion. In additon, though, I’m confused about how language works. So when you say this:

    *******If you can do something that requires zero effort or investment at all on your part and would make someone’s life a little better, why wouldn’t you do it?******

    I think it’s possible that non using the term comes with hidden psychological costs. When people step on someone’s foot by accident, most people say sorry and mean it, and they try to not to step on people’s feet again (in fact they didn’t want to to begin with). What we don’t usually hear is: “Yeah, well, if you’re going to be like that, how about not standing where I put my foot down? Aren’t you feet a tad too large? I mean it’s hard to miss them.” And so on. Why? Because it’s very easy to understand for anyone what it’s like to have your foot stepped on.

    With language? I’ve often heard people ask if we think in words, and often guess that we couldn’t think at all if we didn’t have words. I keep hearing variations of that again and again, and it puzzles me. If that were correct, how could children learn to speak at all? What about when we know what we want to say, but there are no good words (I’ve experienced that a lot trying to reply to this post)? What about bi-lingual kids? Is a thought that could be expressed in two languages, two different thoughts?

    In short, having your usage questioned can come with a sense of ontological insecurity: I’ve always thought this word was safe, and if it isn’t how can I trust myself? I’m not a bad person, am I? A confusion between word-habits and thought-habits, because we can’t quite tell where the problem begins. And if cracks start to show in your world-view, you may need to double down, if only to keep going.

    But that’s widening the split between people. If you double down and defend your usage (an identity preservation move), that also means you may re-inforce world-view divides as they occur in society. So “they” are bringing “their baggage” along, as if they aren’t weren’t part of the community to begin with, or if anime didn’t mine really awkward situations for rote comedy. When people speak up, it’s not people bringing in their baggage; it’s invisible souls being raw from having the same spot poked over again. Yeah, it’s funny for others. Except for professional trolls, few people enjoy being spoilsports. Is it a minor thing? Yes, but it’s the same minor thing over and over and over again, and it always hits the same spot. It goes from an irritation to an inflammation to something chronical.

    I’ve been way more often on the offending side. Using hurtful words, liking problematic stuff, I’ve done it all, and not only once. There’s an erroding effect here, too. it’s cumulative. You grow quieter and quieter and your posts grow more serious in tone. And eventually you’re afraid to speak up at all. In an escalating conflict, I can understand how people choose the side that makes them feel better about themselves. I’m an extreme introvert, and I shy away from conflict, so I’m not likely to go that route. I’m much, much, much more likely to retreat into a turtle a shell and poke my head out from time to time to see if the storm has blown past. Not this time, though. I need to reply.

    I think the only way forward is to face conflict for what it is, and find a way to engage in it without cutting ties. Honesty. And you can only really do this in a relatively save place (no place is absolutely safe for a topic like this, not even your own head). There are only so many places left on the web, where I would make a post like this. I was a lot more eager in the early 2000s when I first came online, and I messed up a lot more, too.

    On a balance sheet, getting rid of a silly joke term would have to be really funny to weigh up against all the pain it causes. But how will you ever learn that your silly joke is something that hurts people, and how will understand if they don’t speak up? If there are a lot of people who find the joke funny, and only a few people how find the joke hurtful, and then a few people have to explain the same thing over again. Of those people some may not know how to explain themselves, while others might succumb to the tedium and futility of the task. The anger and frustration that often comes with the explanation? It’s not very rarely actually anger, and most often frustration – and also often a battle with fatique. A little too sarcastic for your taste? Imagine the tedium of explaining yourself over and over again without a guarantee that anyone’s actually listening.

    Well, I for one at least try to listen. But I’m also too frightened and too tired to reply honestly most of the time, so how would they know how much I appreciate the explanations? If my frustration (also with myself) were to slip into the reply, how would that come across? What about a curt “thank you”? Would that come across as authentic, if I’m also struggling with seeing a clear way forward? It’d be a thank you paid forward, for when I finally click in. It’s such a mess.

    Finally, one thing I learned the hard way – and it was a very hard way – is that when someone tries to explain to you something very difficult about how they hurt, that this may just not be the best time and place to say: “Yes, but have you considered how that would make you feel.” Often it takes courage for people to open up. Have they considered how that would make me feel? Oh yes, they have. More often than I have, in fact. The fear that I’d say something that begins with “Yes, but…” may just be why I haven’t heard it sooner. It took a while for it to sink in, and I had to see other people make the same mistake I made, for it to stick. Oh, and for someone to say something like “those whiney sissies really need to grow a thicker thin.” No. No no no no no no! That’s not, that’s never what I meant to say. (Those weren’t words directed at me. It’s the sort of thing people say to each other, when they feel they have each other’s support. I felt called out regardless.)

    Word of advice: if it’s online, don’t reply to anything while upset. Calm down. Take your time. Some issues are buried deep down in your respective world views, and such issues are best discussed one person’s issues at a time. When a person finds the courage to speak up, don’t stop their momentum by saying predictable things about your own worries. Your worries are not unimportant, but there’ll be a later opportunity.

    As long as you stay in touch.

    • Irina says:

      That is excellent advice and probably the best thing to come out of this. Although not always easy to follow

  5. tanteikid94 says:

    I love this comment session. Educational

  6. I won’t be using the word again. But if someone says I was being hurtful or cruel when I used it in the past, they are full of it.

    • Irina says:

      Of course.

      • I am congenitally unable to read all the subtlety and subtext other people see and often miss even context if it is at all vague. I can see that as a benefit – on my good days – because I am convinced that a lot of people are too busy seeking subtext and deconstructing arguments to recognize truth or accept that someone is saying exactly what they mean. My experience is that face value is where most of reality exists.

        I’m going to have rough edges my entire life. Some have gotten smoother but they will never wear off. I have little choice in it. They are MY uniqueness. But there isn’t a lot of forgiveness for – or understanding of – it going around.

        If instead of freaking out and screaming about how one has been insulted people would just say, “Hey, that can have an insulting meaning because .” the world wouldn’t be filled with so much strife. Or better yet, take a deep breath, count to ten, and consider “Is there a context in which this isn’t intended as an insult to my existence? Could that context apply here? Honest mistake by someone without my awareness?”

        Or if that fails, “This guy insulted my group. Is it productive to hurl insults back? Do I really gain anything by entering a pissing match with an idiot? He will enjoy the flame war. Should I encourage this? Does breaking out the pitchforks and torches really demonstrate my solidarity with my group? Maybe I am playing right into his hands.”

        “Or maybe… I myself enjoy the heat of the flames?”

        The kinds of battles that extreme advocates fight in social media accomplish nothing. Most people who watch consider it a spectator sport. Few participate and nobody changes their minds. That is why I love the long form of the weblog and the intelligent discussions it encourages.

        But… my suggestions work as well in the real world and allow one to live authentically without being ripped apart by the slings and arrows of outrageous behaviors. Not a lot of people understand this and advocacy
        leaders have no interested in pour oil on troubled waters. Troubled waters are what gives them power and relevance.

        I do not believe that one can be insulted without the intent to insult on the part of one party and the acceptance of the insult on the part of the second party. To react in kind or to grow depressed is to accept the insult. Intent is all too often *assumed* without thought and the acceptence is something we *assume* we have no control over.

        Assumptions continue to make an ASS of U and ME.

        • Irina says:

          well one can feel insulted which might not be the same thing. When I first came to North America I had only heard the term cunt as a playful jab between friends only ment in jest or even fondness. And despite the fact that is entirely how I used it, I know the first time I used it here quite a few people were insulted and hurt. So although I never meant r heard the expression as an insult towards women I can’t pretend that doesn’t exist and I now know. Were they insulted? Maybe not but they still felt that way.

  7. This is a great example of how a person’s psychology can be expressed as language, (which might be redundant, but I’m not sure…)

    Sometimes, comparing edge cases can help me understand something. So, if I use your example of “trap,” I ask two questions:

    1. If I use the term and the person I’m talking to bursts into tears because the word is so wounding, what would I do? Well, seeing that I choose not to be evil, I’d try to understand their perspective and would stop using the word. I mean, why be cruel?

    2. I I use the term and the person I’m talking to tries to punch me because they hate anyone who uses the word, I’d defend myself and would be less inclined not to use it, because the response was confrontational.

    I _think_ what that tells me is that using words I know are hurtful is cruel. I don’t want to be cruel. But if someone attacks me, I’ll defend myself, because, you know, human and all…

    For me, as much as I’d love to cloak myself in the cloak of “look how good I am!”, I have to be honest and say it’s not just a choice not to be evil that prevents me from using the word. I don’t use the word because it is imprecise AND because it’s cruel. The word’s etymology is not clear to me and its usage varies wildly; plus, I’ve seen that people are hurt if I use the word.

    Given that, I can’t think of a reason to use it.

    Love the varied conversations going on here!

  8. 7mononoke says:

    Hallelujah, this post made my day. You’re right on point. Trap is an insult. I don’t like hearing it, but what I like even less is people trying to defend it as something harmless. 😛

  9. Fred Heiser says:

    I missed the bus here. I wasn’t aware that trap was a derogatory term. I always took it as an over the top reference to a line in star wars. I was oblivious to any implication of danger and not taking the term literally.

    Is there another word in animespeak to be used? I don’t care to call some one effeminate. Calling a self identified male that would be just as problematic.

    The only literal trap I have seen in anime was the young Yuuji in ,Fruit of Grisaia. Cross dressers and drag queens don’t inspire any negatives in me. Feminine looking boys don’t either. I suppose it would be different if there were an iconic novel called The Trap about someone’s self destruction and abuse of a children’s to give it a greater meaning.

    To me a trap is just a surprise

    • Irina says:

      From what I kno it is from Star Wars “IT’s A TRAP” the meme started being used on 4chan with androgenous characters. Because you could get trapped into jerking off to a guy…I’m pretty sure it was ment as a joke…

      • I have never been on 4Chan. I have never jerked off to an anime character, either. (Although if I did unintentionally jerk off to an anime guy, I wouldn’t be bothered by it.) That origin would never have occurred to me. The trope still needs a better word for characters deliberately written to be one gender but look like another. I don’t think transgender is appropriate either.

        TV Tropes calls it “Dude looks like a Lady”.

        The trope is usually just the fancy of an author who wants to make a joke of it (Some Like it Hot, 1959, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, and Marilyn Monroe) or wants to give boys an excuse to feel ok about feeling attracted to another boy. Very, very few anime take gender identity seriously.

  10. Cytrus says:

    Eh, I didn’t comment on the loli post, with all its shaky linguistic claims, because I believed you deserved the opportunity to get things out of your system and wind down. But honestly, this is getting kind of worrisome.

    The methodology of those two entries is the same: to deny the reader the right to their own linguistic usage and emotional interpretation, then beat up on the scarecrow thus constructed.

    Just reread this paragraph:

    “I guess in a perfect (risk free) world I would say use the expression trap because it fits what you want to say. Because you mean to slander the character or the notion. Because you are describing someone or something that’s duplicitous. Just don’t pretend it’s not that and shut down any conversation. That’s the worst of both worlds…”

    A string of “you”s telling the reader what they are allowed to think and mean, topped off with an assurance that any other interpretation can only be “pretending”. But hey, not to quote, but at least you’ve managed to “shut down any discussion” by pre-emptively declaring your correct answer.

    I’m kind of saddened by this :/.

    • Irina says:

      I should probably reassess my wording then since it’s obviously not how I intended it. Do you have any suggestions?

      • Cytrus says:

        I can’t guess at your true intentions other than what I’ve already read, so I can’t suggest how to express those. One idea would be to avoid using “you” unless you mean “you”… that being kind of obvious.

        • Irina says:

          Well I’ve never hidden the fact that my writting skills are atrocious. I thought it was possible to use you like “one” as in a not specific way. As for seriousness, I honestly have not decided where I stand on the issue. Some days I feel like language should be handled carefully other days I feel like it’s a simple tool and like any tool some people are more skilled than others so it’s difficult and possibly not that useful to overanalyse or take every word personally. I have deffended both sides of the issue at various points and I’m likely to do so again.

          • “You” can be used as “one” but it is context sensitive. When writing to – or of – a specific person or group, the two are not interchangeable.

            When writing as a generality they are somewhat interchangeable. It is a pronoun that includes the entire species. Short for “you all”. “One” is considered the more formal means of address.

            • Irina says:

              Got it. I think.

            • lealea477 says:

              “You” is direct speech….is that what your trying to say?
              No one has ever shouted “ONE.” when try to direct speech towards a particular target.
              ‘You’ would also be a very informal way of addressing someone.

              ‘you’ doesn’t equal collective, in the word “you all” ‘you’ is still a personal pronoun and ‘all’ is the indefinite pronoun.

          • Cytrus says:

            Irina, our exchange was followed by a variety of semantics advice, but I do not think that’s the point here. Let’s say that in the sentence: “You never know when it’s going to rain, so I always keep an umbrella on me”, the word you is interchangeable with one, and effectively means I. The intended nuance is different depending on the choice, because here the speaker aims to present their own reasoning as something more universal, applicable also to the listener. But the general meaning of the sentence remains intact regardless of whether you use I/you/one.

            However, in creative writing correct merely means passable. It is not a strong and positive goal to aim for. Stating that readers might feasibly arrive at the right interpretation of your words, at least if they are already in synch with your thought patterns, would be setting the bar as low as it gets. As writers, we accept the majority of the burden of interpretation within a given conversation, constantly seeking the wording which naturally guides as large a portion of our audience as possible to the right conclusion.

            It was in this context that I suggested reconsidering the usage of you in that paragraph, but only depending on your intent (which, as I’ve already mentioned, I’m not clear on). If you are addressing the reader there, then it’s obviously appropriate. If the purpose of the paragraph is something else, the usage can be misleading despite technically remaining correct. That’s the difference between correct and optimal, I suppose.

    • Interestingly, that’s not the impression I walked away with. I’ve always been fascinated by how language can be so differently perceived.

      If anything, I has a sense that the wording _might_ have been a tad apologetic, and I didn’t think it had to be!

      • Cytrus says:

        This is likely because Irina consistently intersperses her more serious claims with quips belittling/poking fun at herself. However, if you read enough of her entries, you can see how that is just a feature of her writing and a constant regardless of the seriousness of the topic or how confident her statements are. Once you realize that, you can stop taking this artistic touch at face value and realize that a lot of what she writes is not apologetic at all.

        • “However, if you read enough of her entries, you can see how that is just a feature of her writing and a constant regardless of the seriousness of the topic or how confident her statements are.”

          Would all of them constitute “enough?”

          I’d have to say that if it’s not enough, then I’m not sure what would be!

          Serious topics can often be presented in a way that’s accessible using humor. I mean, the topic of A Modest Proposal is anything but funny. But the humorous treatment, even if it’s dark humor, made the work a classic.

          To the point where it was published in 1729, and we’re still talking about it today.

          As further evidence, I would point to the number of comments here and in most of the other posts here on I Drink and Watch Anime. I can’t think of a site that has presented topics that are so thought-provoking, while at the same time nurturing a place where people with so many different perspectives feel comfortable sharing and discussing their points.

          That’s ain’t easy to build! I know a ton of corporations who pay buckets of cash to build something like that — and routinely fail.

          So I’m just not seeing what you’re seeing at all!

          • Irina says:

            I’m speechless – Thank you

          • Cytrus says:

            Oh, I think you’re seeing what I’m seeing much more than you realise! While you’ve written at length about the validity and effectiveness of the tools used in Irina’s writing, my previous comment never challenged those aspects. To the contrary, you can see how I went to silly lengths to use neutral vocabulary to make this point clear. I offer not criticism, but neutral analysis.

            The main point of said analysis is thus: Irina’s humorous takes are a writing tool, a means to an end. And you seem to agree here, citing another author who used humour for a very specific purpose, and also referring to Irina “building” a safe space this way – surely an intentional action.

            Once we’ve established that part of her writing as a consciously-used tool, we can separate that layer from the rest of the text. That gives us insight into which parts of the text represent Irina’s more instinctual, knee-jerk thoughts. And those parts turn out to be mostly bold, strong statements.

            This is fine by itself. I by no means believe there is any obligation for a person to be apologetic about stating what they believe in. So Irina not being apologetic is, again, fine. The point made here is that reading this entry as overly apologetic is giving too much weight to the surface-level features of the writing, while underestimating the foundation lying behind those features.

      • Irina says:

        Well I thought there was a way that people might think I’m imposing my views and obviously I was right. I lack in delicacy in general, this isn’t news to me.

    • Hmmm… “Trap” is to feminine appearing males in anime as “pervert” or “exhibitionist” is to nudists. If we go back to the origin of the term, I suppose that is possible. It would be slander.

      If one *didn’t* know the origin of the term, it would be slandering the person using it to call it slander. There is no such thing as an innocent slander, there has to be intent.

      • Cytrus says:

        Yes. Slander most definitely requires intent. Which is why the speaker’s right to the interpretation of their own words is important. Take that away and anything can be misconstrued as slander/offensive.

  11. Dewbond says:

    I have to agree with the above points. I always felt like “trap” felt like a cute joke term for the running gag of extremely feminine looking boys (which is half of anime btw) passing themselves off as girls for laughs and jokes. I never thought of it as a slur against the LGBT community.

    Though I do get why they might dislike it, but it feels that they are bringing their baggage into a community and expecting everyone to just adapt to it. Whether that is right or wrong is debatable, I find the concept of a ‘trap” to be funny and 90% of the time done in fun jest, but then again I do not have the experience of living an LGBT life, or being discriminated against, so I can’t fully understand their viewpoint.

    That being said, the anime community needs to be ready for more of this to happen: people bringing in their cultural baggage into the fandom.

  12. Scott says:

    I have a thought on why people don’t like changing their words when even asked nicely. People don’t like being told that they are wrong. That’s at least from personal experience and something I need to work on too. If I spent a lot of time working on something, putting together something, or just saying something in a different way, I have a habit of thinking I am right about something. I thought I would be better at that by now, but I didn’t change as much as I hoped 😐.

    • Irina says:

      That’s a great point. Of course it’s human to get defensive. We ment something innocently and get acused of misdeeds that’s no fun for anyone.
      This said, I tend to think of you as one of the most balanced and thought out peole in your subjects. I don’t see ho you would need to change since as far as I’m concerned we could all be a bit more like Scott. I know I could.

      • Scott says:

        I’m glad you think that way, but I do have a lot of things that I need to work on personally. Such is the life of a human being, huh?

  13. Anonymous says:

    It depends on the intension of the word. If there is malice behind it, I wouldn’t engage with it. If there isn’t, you can use it amongst your own circles and do at your own discretion. But use cautiously if you feel ppl will be outraged by it who are not part of that circle. That’s my stance. I never used trap maliciously, I use it as a joke.

    • I used to feel the same way about “faggot” or “fag”. I used to use those words as a joke and with no malicious intent. One day, I had a friend pull me aside and ask to to not say those words in front of him. He knew I had not ill intent but as it turns out, it was the word that was used as he got his ass kicked for being gay as a kid. He had only asked me not to say those words in front of him but I can’t bring myself to say those words at all, anymore. It brings too many bad feelings to too many people who don’t deserve those bad feelings. In other words, I now feel that the effect or impact a word has is more important than the intent behind it.

  14. A Library Archivist says:

    Expecting the outrage mob to cure themselves may be a tall order. Americans voted overwhelmingly for Trump because we’re sick of LGBQPTs telling us we’re bigots because we don’t like them and won’t make their issues the center of life in Middle America. We abandoned the cities they inhabit. We turned off the TV stations they run. We don’t buy their products.

    Anime trannies tend to be less offensive than real ones, even the more extreme ones like the guy in Moyashimon or the more recent Midnight Occult Civil Servants. If LGBQTs want to be allowed a normal life, they have to conform to normal people standards of public behavior. Most refuse to, and the public rejects them. We call this “natural consequence”, and you just stand back and watch them faceplant. This is what they deserve, and expecting insults on Twitter to change perception of them for the better? Nope. A whole world of nope.

    The new EU rules on copyright are going to kill the internet, with Jack Dorsey screwing up Twitter by removing “following” to topics instead? Yeah, the rage mob is going to get deplatformed. What will they do without their phones to insult each other? Without their echo chambers to mindlessly agree with each other? I also have to wonder if anime streaming will die, and if we’ll end up in DNS timeout, 404 hell for every anime streaming site that springs up because anime will get banned for not complying with EU copyright laws. Will the great Firewall of China become the EU model as well? They’ve already banned memes in the EU. Will your bowing communist Canadian PM support that for Canada? The rage mob has created the opportunity for censors to destroy the internet, and all the good it has done will end. It will be like 1980 all over again.

    • Holy shit, dude! Are you okay?

    • Irina says:

      Oh wow – read up on Trudeau. I wish he was communist.

      • A Library Archivist says:

        He’s far left and crooked. He’ll get replaced by the backlash votes from the opposite spectrum. Whom is as far right as he is as far left? A more polite Canadian version of Trump to replace your Panderbear Trudeau.

        • Irina says:

          Trudeau wants to privatize health care and consistently pushes in favour of industrial oil and gas interests. He has also proposed several bills to considerably reduce support and security for workers. I’m not sure what is called left in the US nowadays but it’s pretty centrist by Canadian standards. Even occasionally right leaning on some issues.
          You gotta remeber it’s his dad that brought the military out in peacetime during the October crisis.

          • A Library Archivist says:

            Huh. I did not know that. That does sound pretty far from Communist. Why all the creepy pandering when overseas? Its like Obama bowing at everyone. Or the Pope kissing African’s feet.

    • ramon3ljamon says:

      “If LGBQTs want to be allowed a normal life, they have to conform to normal people standards of public behavior. Most refuse to, and the public rejects them.”

      Trying to understand your point here.

      What specifically do you have in mind when you talk about the “normal life” LGBTQs want or the “standards of public behavior” most refuse to conform to?

      • Likely he wants them to stay in the closet. Public demonstrations of gay affection disgust some people as strongly as if someone walked naked down the sidewalk – and what’s wrong with that?

        • A Library Archivist says:

          I’m speaking for Middle America here. I know how they think. I’m one of them. Creepy pedo trannies reading to kids to try and “normalize” tranny behavior in public is NOT okay. Especially when two of them are felons, one of them a child rapist. See article: https://thefederalist.com/2019/03/19/houston-library-features-convicted-child-molester-reading-trans-books-children/ There’s a number of articles reporting on this story, and there was another rapist in that group, a man dressed as a woman, reading to children. They were given permission by a tranny rights activist at the library, who should face felony charges for child endangerment if Texas hadn’t gone soft in the head. Even in California, that library administrator would be hauled off to jail.

          Middle America buys ammunition when we read things like this. We vote to close libraries. We take a very hard look at our public officials come voting time. Stuff like this is a hundred million votes for Trump. The Left pushes this kind of agenda on normal people and we retaliate. Expect more. We hold grudges. That’s what Middle America thinks. Don’t kid yourself its just “his opinion”. Pop the filter bubble and read outside your comfort zone.

          • Quick question. Have you ever met a trans person? I’ve met many and not a single one is a creepo or a pedo. Also, how do you define, “tranny behavior”?

            • A Library Archivist says:

              Yes, yes I have. I live in California. All the trannies I’ve met were evil, creepy, and bad. They were also bullies and verbally attacked people who wouldn’t support their gender insanity. So thanks for assuming! I grew up in a place where gay people came to die of HIV, I learned that the trannie who adopted a dozen foster children at my primary school was raping them, but since they were all handicapped the police were kinda indifferent so it went on for a couple decades before evidence was brought against him. People like you protested his arrest because he was trans, but he was just a pedo rapist in a dress, and hurt a dozen kids. Do you have any idea how angry that makes me? And when trannies defend each other blindly, I get more angry. So yes, I know trannies, and I hate them.

            • I’m a tranny. Being trans has nothing to do with pedophilia. Those are some false and disgusting accusations you’re throwing at my community. You are full of shit. Please turn off Fox News and seek professional help.

            • A Library Archivist says:

              Much like all your brothers, you deny reality and proof that is contrary to your insanity. Stay in the cities. You aren’t welcome out here.

            • Irina says:

              You are however welcomed on this blog and for dinner up here.

  15. I just want to say that I totally get why people jumped down Ru Paul’s throat when he called himself a, “tranny.” It reinforces the false idea that trans women are just men that like to cross-dress. This keeps people thinking of us as weird men who don’t need any support or respect when, in reality, trans women are women.

    I don’t agree with the way people decided to handle the Ru Paul thing. Screaming at popular celebrities who have generally been positive forces in the community is not a great way to get people on your side.but I totally get where they’re coming from.

    • Irina says:

      Yeah I think he was using the term for transvestites rather than non cis women. At least in the article I read he was referring ot himself and as far as I know he isn’t trans. This said, I do not know the details.

      • People who jumped down Ru Paul’s throat may have been looking for a reason to jump. I ought to be able to refer to myself with any terminology I want. The word transvestite and the abbreviated “tranny” long, long, predates the term transgender.

  16. Kapodaco says:

    “On the other hand, there’s something very odd about being told, “could you use a different expression, that one has a lot of associated trauma for me and it hurts a bit to see it constantly” and reacting with anger! If you can do something that requires zero effort or investment at all on your part and would make someone’s life a little better, why wouldn’t you do it? Why would the idea of it make you angry?”

    I don’t know if you’ve ever lived in America, but as someone who is full-blown American to the core, there’s a thing called “Freedom of Speech” that many take to represent as “I can say whatever I want, whenever I want to” that is included within their rights as Americans. When one grows up in an environment of “rights” and privileges born through vague titles, I think they become obsessed with that entitlement, so someone telling them to not say a particular thing is like stepping on their “Freedom of Speech” mindset—censorship of one’s rights gets people antsy in America. I used to be similar in my youth; I hated when people asked me not to use a word, because I was so stringent that it wasn’t the word itself that was the issue but the intent behind it. Online, of course, it’s so hard to really distinguish, so it’s trickier… not to mention different people will take things in wildly different ways.

    • ospreyshire says:

      That’s all too true about American culture. As someone who is an ethnic minority, I’m sick and tired when people say/do racist things while playing the freedom of speech card. Whenever I call out bigotry, then all of a sudden I’m the bad guy who’s trying to censor them. That or if some words or deeds are shown and I call them out, they sometimes say “But I didn’t mean it!” like it’s some get out of jail free card (I could also use this logic in a TV and movie standpoint, but I’d go all day naming various examples). There are even double standards of the majority getting away with things I wouldn’t even dream of doing or saying which shows how unbalanced the system is. When people say or do these bigoted things, then I prefer them to be honest about it so I know not to be around them, yet so many people try to pull off dog whistle words to circumvent any judgment.

      • Irina says:

        But the calling people out is also protected by the same freedom. If you are free to say whatever word you want then the guy next to you can call you a biggot. That’s how it works, isn’t it?

        • That’s how it’s supposed to work. But too many people have chosen to interpret freedom of speech as freedom from consequences.

        • Anonymous says:

          Hate speech isn’t the same thing as freedom of speech though. There’s a thin line, to the point it can be blurred quite easily between the two.

        • ospreyshire says:

          That’s true, but with the way people react, you would think it wasn’t the case. I also despise the notion (sadly people have been thinking like this recently) that calling out bigotry somehow makes the person calling it out a bigot or hateful which makes absolutely no sense. It’s pure projection and childish un-accountability on the bigot’s part in those arguments.

    • Irina says:

      I have lived in America but there’s a lot of legal limitations to speech there and censorship in media is really rough so I can see why the citizens would get a little freaked out. However being asked to kindly not call a specific person a slurr doesn’t seem like an all out attack on freedom of speech since the request is also protected by that same freedom, isn’t it? I mean there’s a difference between you cannot use that word and would you mind not calling me that word.

  17. Pete Davison says:

    The problem with “trap” is that in terms of anime (and gaming) culture, it established its meaning as “cute girl who is actually a boy” completely separate from the transphobic interpretation that outrage culture tends to ascribe it to. I first heard the term in reference to Bridget from Guilty Gear, and there was no maliciousness there — it was a joke more than anything. “Hah, you think this girl is cute? Surprise, it’s a boy!”

    I’ve actually never seen it used in an actually transphobic fashion — those actual transphobes that I’ve been unfortunate to run across online (which thankfully is not too many) have tended to jump to more obvious slurs like “tranny”, whereas I have only *ever* seen “trap” used in the anime/gaming context — and in that latter context, it’s always with affection for the character in question. It’s an interesting, distinctive thing about that character, and often something that people like or even find sexually attractive.

    This doesn’t mean that it doesn’t get used inappropriately, of course. I don’t doubt that there *are* some transphobes out there who use it in a negative, insulting manner or even use it to justify violence. However, as with absolutely any word — including “faggot”, which is thrown around pretty liberally online these days thanks to chan culture, and “nigga”, which has become pretty broadly used since hip-hop culture reclaimed it from its racist roots — context is important, and you can’t simply say “don’t say this, ever”, because the way different people understand “offensive” words varies enormously from subculture to subculture. And people don’t like being told what they can and can’t say, regardless of the reasoning!

    Know your audience, and make sure *they* know exactly what you mean. I wouldn’t call my mother a faggot nigga, but I might well call my friends those same words during a particularly heated game of Mario Kart. Likewise, I wouldn’t stroll into some sort of LGBT community and start throwing “trap” around, particularly if someone had already indicated that they don’t like that word — but if I was, say, discussing Fate with a group of enthusiasts and Astolfo came up, you bet your ass the word “trap” would be used liberally.

    And this isn’t even getting into people who happily refer to *themselves* as “trap”, such as at least one person I followed on Twitter when I was more actively using it. The person in question referred to himself as male, but also frequently posted pictures of himself dollied up in cute panties, skirts and thigh-highs and called himself a “trap” when he did so. He expressed no desire to transition; he just enjoyed wearing the clothes, and sometimes got a thrill out of it.

    • Irina says:

      I’ve mostly seen it in memes myself as in “look out – it’s a trap!”
      I also know a lot of women ho refer to themselves as bitches. It’s a pretty common word. It’s in songs and is suppose to be the equivalent of hot girl and not an insult. But I still think it’s silly to pretend it was always just a neutral descriptor or even a compliment. I make the same analogy with trap. Sure it may have gotten reappropriated or it’s used without malice but it wasn’t meant as a compliment.

      • Pete Davison says:

        As I said, all about context and intent.

        While it’s definitely worth acknowledging that the same word can have different meanings to different people (or different groups of people) that doesn’t necessarily mean you should jump to assuming the worst and taking the negative meaning as default.

        But where in doubt, probably best to find another way to say what you’re trying to say! 🙂

    • The problem here is that you cannot truly know what lies in the hearts of your listeners. Many people will not tell you what they really think of an expression. Sometimes when they do tell you, it isn’t a calm discussion of the derivation of a phrase and why it is disturbing. It may be cryptic little hints and clues. You can hint and talk around something all day long and I will NEVER have a clue that I am upsetting you, Likely I will be baffled by what you say.

      Or it can be anger far out of proportion to what was said. I understand that some people find trap insulting. Fine. It isn’t a word that has any special meaning to me so I’ll stop using it. I do not want to cause anyone to perceive insult. (There are limits to this. Anyone can find insult in ordinary speech if they look hard enough.)

      But I still don’t understand WHY it is insulting. Let’s get real here. In the event that I mistook a guy for a gal, maybe even masturbated that night in bed while fantasizing about him/her, who cares? (I have met rare guys IRL where that could happen.) I find out the next day it was actually a beautiful guy. No harm on either side. How does one perceive insult from that?

  18. Cactus Matt says:

    I mean a part of me likes to keep the anime world and the real world separate. It’s why I have no issues ‘lewding loli’s’ but find the sexualisation of real elementary and middle school aged girls distasteful and wrong. The same goes for “traps”, but I guess the problem is is that I honestly like “traps” just like I like “futanari” (not the same thing but I promise I’m getting to a point). I like any anime character that’s cute or sexy whether they have a penis or not. Do I wish there was a better, catchier, anime-centric term for males dressed as females that didn’t have problematic sensibilities? Sure. But because it’s about anime (i.e. fictional characters) I personally don’t have a problem with the term. But I agree we should all be open to dialogue on the matter.

    • Pete Davison says:

      Futa > traps. Fite me

      • Cactus Matt says:

        Well duh, obviously futa’s are better but you don’t see many (or any) futa’s in anime so I’ll take what I can get.

        • Pete Davison says:

          True. You need to watch the “special anime” for that.

          • I’m curious. How do y’all define the difference between “Futa” and “trap”?

            • Pete Davison says:

              Futa = female with penis, trap = boy dressed as girl.

            • Pete Davison says:

              actually, extending that slightly, I believe the strictest definition of “futanari” involves having both sets of genitals (the root of the word, “futa” being one of many ways to say “two” in Japanese), but there are various interpretations of it by various artists — some have male and female genitals, some have just a penis, some have a penis and testicles.

              Broadly speaking, it is understood to be a drawing/animation (and this is the crucial bit — no “real” person is referred to as futanari, so far as I can make out) where the majority of the body is drawn with obviously feminine features (curves, breasts, facial features), but there just happens to be a big ol’ dong down below. Like the usage of “trap” with regard to anime, it is typically unconnected with actual trans issues in terms of narrative and characterisation; a futa character is not typically represented as someone who has transitioned, or an intersex person. It’s just a visual fantasy and a fetish, hence the fact you only really tend to see them in hentai.

            • Irina says:

              I should read all the comments before answering

            • Irina says:

              ok here’s the less serious one. Or Futa got big boobies and traps have flat chests.

            • Pete Davison says:

              ah, but that discounts the existence of loli and pettanko futa! Or are we getting too meta now…?

            • Irina says:

              Futa is generally used for a female presenting hermaphrodite with female secondary sexual characteristics and both set of genitals.
              Trap is a biological man who presents as a female character (occasionally identifies).
              This seems like way too serious a description

        • Irina says:

          This is clearly the conversation we need to have

      • Irina says:

        I dunno… both are chraming.

    • Irina says:

      I really like the word otokonoko personally. I think it’s super fun to say.

    • I know IRL people with sexual dimorphism. (The nudist community is a very safe place for that sort of coming out.) Would never dream of calling them a trap or a futanari. They’re people, not anime tropes.

      It is entirely possible to have one set of terms for drawn images flickering on a screen and never apply them to real humans.

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