In the course of my daily reads, I sometimes follow one or two of the discussions that occur in the LinkedIn groups for writers, editors, etc. There’s a little too much breast-beating and chest-thumping a lot of the time, and this is the subject of today’s little rant.
A few days ago, a discussion was begun by a graphic novel artist who was fretting over his project being threatened by a recalcitrant collaborator. In his post title, he expressed frustration that his project was “about to go tits up.” He then explained the conundrum and asked for input on how he might handle his partner.
The chorus of PC clucking began.
“First, “tits-up” has got to go.”
In response to my defense of his use of the idiom, there was this:
I can’t get far enough past “tits up” to care what your problem is. The argument that “everybody’s got ’em” probably won’t make this expression any more palatable to most women. I can be as raucous as anybody, but for me this term is a buzzkill!
And this (my favorite):
The use of “tits up” is intrinsically derogatory and sexist, even though to you it was probably just a harmless, cute, slang way to vent your frustration and anger. You might want to keep in mind that you’re talking to a coed crowd, and be respectful of the half of the planet responsible for bringing life here.
This is from a crowd of “writing professionals.”
So, apparently, the use of this phrase, with a commonly understood meaning equivalent to “belly-up,” got the feminist crowd all atwitter with indignation. We shouldn’t use language that might offend some of the members here, intended or not!
The expression is no more “intrinsically sexist” than the word “niggardly” is racist. I might argue that if it were intrinsically sexist, then perhaps its use ought to be more carefully confined. Certainly one would not use it in a business letter or a commercial loan application, but this is a web-based “water cooler” environment.
Seems to me that this is another instance of the PC crowd running amok. More Rhinoceros hide, please.
(I am reminded that Annie Proulx’s short story, “Tits Up In a Ditch,” published in the New Yorker in June 2008, was once the inspiration for blues song which remains unwritten.)
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