Is fanatical sex grammatically correct

Urban Dictionary has become an Eldorado for misogynists and racists

Urban Dictionary should also be known to many in this country as an endless source of absurd explanations for sometimes more, sometimes less absurd phenomena. The English-language Internet dictionary should be what happens when the Duden and Reddit collide - and take a lot of speed.

At the same time, contributions keep appearing that sound as if they were formulated by misogynist representatives of the alt-right movement. Ex-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, for example, is referred to as a "mega-slut juggling cocks" and compared to a strap-on dildo that "attracts lesbians when they want to play the man". The most popular definition of the word "racism"? "Absolute bullshit."

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According to the entries on the page, social justice is a wish that applies to all segments of society - "except for white, straight cis-men". And, before we forget: feminism is of course nothing more than the lie of gender equality, which actually only men wants to suppress.

What should not be unusual in the comment areas of the relevant pages is quite problematic here. After all, Urban Dictionary is not just any online dictionary, it is one of the 31 most visited pages in the United States according to the web analytics tool Quantcast. In April 2017, the site had almost 130 million page views.

"Urban Dictionary aims to show that we define our language ourselves by speaking it."

The website was started in 1999 by Aaron Peckham to parody ordinary dictionaries. "Dictionaries can be pretty bulky and often take themselves far too seriously," he told California Polytechnic State University graduate magazine in 2011. In the beginning, most of the definitions came from him and his friends. At that time the web server was still under his bed. In 2014, however, the site already had more than seven million definitions of various words, acronyms and idioms.

"Other dictionaries are perhaps better researched, but the true linguistic competence and meaning is actually shaped by the people who speak the language," he explained in 2013 to the New York Times. "Urban Dictionary aims to show that we define our language ourselves by speaking it. "


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Most of the users are men between the ages of 15 and 24. It lists well-known English slang expressions such as "struggle bus" ("a metaphorical paraphrase for a difficult situation, such as a difficult school exam") and "moobs" ("the phenomenon that men accumulate fat in the chest area so that it looks like they have breasts; especially in overweight men, but strangely it can also appear in men who are actually not overweight "). But there are also some word creations that are less common, such as "starwank" ("the act of satisfying yourself while staring intently into the night sky").

Ultimately, anyone with a Facebook or Gmail account can suggest a new word or phrase. In addition, volunteer editors - basically anyone who visits the site and clicks "Edit" - can decide whether or not to accept suggestions. The users do not have to do anything more than choose between "Add", "Can go" or "Not yet decided".

"Women: Things about vaginas that lie to men and steal their money."

According to a report by the New York Times from 2013, the opinion of five users is enough to add a new definition to the online dictionary. There are hundreds of suggestions for some terms. However, around two thirds of the proposals have apparently always been rejected. Which of the descriptions are most appropriate and which make it all the way to the top is decided democratically by thumbs up or thumbs down.

Whether the definitions are offensive or grammatically and content incorrectly does not necessarily matter. "I love the imperfection about it," Peckham said in a 2011 interview with the Guardian. “The grammar, punctuation and spelling of the people - it's so raw. All of this comes straight from the hearts of the people who write the posts, with no corrections. Perhaps not only is meaning in the eye of the beholder, but also spelling and punctuation . "

Nevertheless, there are of course certain criteria according to which the "users should decide whether or not a proposal should be published on Urban Dictionary. These stipulate that the names of celebrities may be published, but those of friends not; nonsense, insider and." Posts in capital letters should be rejected; and ethnic or sexual slurs are allowed, but not racist or sexist entries.

Where the difference between "ethnic and sexual" and "racist and sexist" lies does not seem very clear to many of the users - or is deliberately interpreted differently.

For example, the term "skank", in German "slut", has almost 200 definitions that apparently "document discrimination but do not approve", as the guidelines put it so nicely. One of the definitions reads: "Derogatory description of a (usually young) woman who implies her worthlessness or vulgarity and lack of personal hygiene and suggests that she is lower class, has dandruff or pockmarks and is skinny; may or must imply promiscuity not. [The term] is applicable to all segments of the population, but is predominantly used to describe 'white trash'. "

Another user paraphrases the term "Kim Kardashian" and explains it as follows: "A worthless slut made famous by a sextape and inexplicably made famous by the same society that America made for all the idiots who, for some inexplicable reason, worshiped this whore. looks even more stupid. " We asked Urban Dictionary to comment on this definition, but received no response.

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"It doesn't help anyone to pretend certain words don't exist by removing them from the dictionary," said Peckham in an interview with the Guardian six years ago, defending the decision to publish insulting paraphrases. "I can still remember looking for such terms in a normal dictionary when I was twelve. It was frustrating because you knew they existed."

Time and again in the past, Peckham has presented himself as an advocate of free speech on the Internet and wrote all in one Amicus Curiae the ACLU: "Everyone deserves the chance to express themselves and everyone deserves the chance to understand the others. Urban Dictionary tries to facilitate this understanding (and at the same time be funny). A dictionary that reflects reality because it is people who Gives freedom to define the world in their own words. " However, that does not justify the publication of blatantly sexist terms and comments.

For example, the fifth definition of "women" is "things about vaginas that lie to men and steal their money." In addition, "women" are also referred to as "manipulative human beings" and "the opposite of man," "who is extolled and revered in American society, but is in truth as bad and depraved as man himself."

Urban Dictionary may be an extreme example, but in fact women have always been discriminated against in lexical reference books. In 2016, the English-language Oxford Dictionary came under fire because an anthropologist noted that some of the examples were extremely sexist. "Why does the Oxford Dictionary portray women as 'fanatical feminists' with mysterious 'psyches' and 'high-pitched voices', implying that they can neither do research nor do a PhD but can do 'all the chores'?" Asked Michael Oman-Reagan in a post on the website medium.

As early as 1987, Mary Daly, the author of a feminist dictionary, coined the term "dick-tionary". What it meant was "any patriarchal dictionary: any secondary, obedient, tacit dictionary created by 'Dicks'." In fact, there were several people at the time, like Daly, who called for full recognition of the roles of women in society through the promotion of words and definitions by and about women.

Lindsay Rose Russell is Assistant Professor at the Department of English at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She explains that dictionaries have traditionally always represented a male point of view, because "the English language contains many words that devalue certain social groups" and women are one of those groups that are one of the most vilified. An example is the overlexicalization (the formation of countless words or lexical terms for the same concept) with regard to words and phrases that have to do with female promiscuity, such as "slut", "prostitute" or "easy girl".


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"This is of course also reflected in dictionaries and is completely exaggerated in some - it depends, among other things, on the prevailing style of the dictionary," says Russell. Of course, you have to see that Urban Dictionary was invented by male college students, but Russell also emphasizes that "anti-feminism, sexism and androcentrism always start in people's minds."

Urban Dictionary and similar online dictionaries are still justified because they close a lexical gap. "Most dictionaries have always been very squeamish about words that describe explicit sexual acts," she says. "Some of the earliest dictionaries that gave descriptions of various practices were extremely reluctant to define them. Many of them described the word in Latin. So if you looked up something but couldn't speak Latin, you didn't know what the word was Definition stood. "

"Anti-feminism, sexism and androcentrism always start in people's minds."

Unsurprisingly, the term has several entries in the Urban Dictionary. Under "titty fuck" there is also a definition on Wikipedia that redirects you to "mammal traffic". Here it says: "A form of sexual intercourse in which the sex organ of the sexual partner is rubbed on the partner's breasts." Similar to the Urban Dictionary, Wikipedia is also a crowd sourcing project. However, the guidelines of the online encyclopedia expressly emphasize the desire to produce "high quality content". The whole thing is based on a system of checks and balances that includes cross-assessments and automatic programs.

Peckham told the media institute Poynter in 2012 that he found one aspect of the online dictionary particularly worth preserving: the character. "The users come up with extremely original definitions and don't take the whole thing too seriously" - according to him, a clear distinguishing feature from other dictionaries or Wikipedia. "[Our dictionary] is not intended to be an official authority, nor should it be free of judgment."

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But it is also a fact that the Urban Dictionary is regarded as an official authority by many people and even by American courts. According to the New York Times, the online dictionary has already been used in court to describe "iron" ("handgun"), "catfishing" ("the phenomenon of vultures creating false identities on the Internet") and "grenade" ( "the lonely ugly girl in a group full of hotties"). The outcome of a procedure is not decided by the definition of an online dictionary, but in the end the Urban Dictionary represents a lexical authority that has already been cited in legal decisions.

Given how many racist and sexist comments there are on this page, that's pretty scary.

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