Will ‘Dyke’ Ever Stop Being The Go-To Insult From Men?

I have short hair. Wow. I must be a "dyke."

I have short hair. I almost always have short hair and when I “grow it out,” it’s still most people’s idea of short. Having naturally curly hair that is crazy and usually unmanageable, my super short pixie cut works for me and personally I think it fits my personality quite well.

But having short hair has opened me up to being called a dyke on several occasions. Dyke, as with all derogatory terms, is revolting. I take offense to it not because someone is trying to “insult” me by suggesting I’m gay, but because it’s a disgusting word that should never be used. You want to try to hurt me, come up with something better, because calling me a gay woman, or at least some dipshit’s ignorant way of calling me a gay woman, is only hurtful because of the term, not because being gay is in any way, shape or form is an insult to me.

Last night while I was out with a friend there was a mild altercation at a bar. She got up to go to the bathroom and while she was gone, since it was packed, I pulled her chair in close to me and put my feet on it. A gentleman, excuse me as I rephrase that, a dickbag started to get into it with me about how he wanted that chair blah blah blah… he called me a cunt, I could hear the Swedish accent attached to it all and asked him what it was like to come from a country where almost 10% of the population has Chlamydia. Also an asshole move on my part, it’s statistically correct, and if you’re going to call me a cunt over a chair, I’m liable to say something back. The woman of the group came over, apologized profusely for his behavior and all was well.

As I was leaving I went to say goodbye to the gal, hugged her and thanked her for her apology although it should have come from the dickbag. He glared at me, I glared back and before I knew it he was following me down the street calling me “fat” (always super original), “ugly” (this is actually subjective, so maybe in his eyes I was and that’s fine with me), then the winning comment “you have short hair, you dyke.” While I was quite happy that he was able to see that I have short hair and that he was obviously excited enough to point out to me that he knew the difference between short and long, it was the dyke comment that killed me. As I said, not because of what he was trying to do with it, but because it’s a word that comes from such hatred and homophobia that it made my skin crawl. So I did what any normal person would do, or rather what I would do when face to face with such hate, and smacked him across the face before walking off and taking cover in Tattoo Guy’s tattoo shop.

As I said I have been called this many, many times. If a man wants to insult me either because I’ve refused a drink, supposedly looked at his girlfriend the wrong way, or snubbed his advances while I’m walking down the street, this is the go-to phrase. I have even been called a dyke by one of our commenters on more than one occasion (thanks to ip addresses, I know it was the same person), and again, in response, I had to lash out.

While I will always defend anyone’s right to say what they want, I will not stand by and let such words slide. Ever. All I can figure is that when you somehow insult a man’s masculinity, he wants to try to belittle you in some way, and “dyke” seems to be the easiest route for those who lack the necessary brain cells, class and intellect to reach for a term that could actually be creative.

The night came to an end on my fire escape with my friend where I, similar to the sweet woman of the group from earlier, apologized profusely for my behavior. It was wrong and childish to smack someone I don’t know, but it was wrong and childish of him to follow me down a street trying to hurt my feelings over a fucking chair. I really hope that someday men (and women) will realize that when trying to insult someone calling them “gay” or a “dyke” or any derogatory term is more insulting to them than to their intended victim. Mostly we’re just going to feel bad for you that you were raised to think that homosexuality is something worthy of an insult. And if someone else has the balls to call me a “dyke” again, I will smack them. If your parents didn’t raise you to accept people who are different from you, then you’ll deserve it. But what he really deserved was a punch to the head; perhaps, that could have knocked some sense into him. However, considering I’m still on probation until August 15th, I should really be keeping a low profile even if it does mean having to ignore the instinct to defend every gay person I love and have yet the honor to meet.

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    • Maggie

      Good for you, Amanda! Sure, maybe smacking someone isn’t the right response, but I’ve been in a situation like that before where you know words won’t do anything to help, and it’s a heat of the moment kind of thing. I had short, spiky hair for a couple of years and people automatically assumed that it was my way of coming out, despite the fact that I’m straight and nobody ever asked me to clarify anything (not that I needed to!). I was called a dyke several times, and finally settled on my favorite response that I still use to this day: “Oh, are you calling me that because you think I’m gay or because you have an embarrassingly small penis and are intimidated by strong women?” That usually shuts ‘em up. If it doesn’t, the ‘ol face smack will do the trick ;)

      • Sabrina

        Haha Maggie, I think I will use that line now every time a man harasses me on the street. I can just see it now… “Oh, do you feel the need to comment on my large breasts at 10:45 in the morning because they are really so stellar that you just can’t help yourself, or because you have an embarrassingly small penis and are intimidated by beautiful women you will never be able to sleep with?” Thank you.

      • Talimtaki

        I have a pixie cut, and sometimes I’d rather get called a name instead of stared at every time I leave the house. Living in the bible belt is so much fun.

        Also, “Oh, are you calling me that because you think I’m gay or because you have an embarrassingly small penis and are intimidated by strong women?”

        I think I love you, and I’m using this from now on.

      • Maggie

        Aw, shucks :) Use that line as you see fit, ladies! It really is hilarious to see the looks on their faces. I’m of the opinion that extreme insults like “dyke” are used by ignorant, insecure people who are unhappy with their own lives, so shutting them up feels pretty great.

      • Amanda Chatel

        Yeah, Maggie, I’m totally using that line going forward, too!

    • Sam

      Multiple times in the past decade, I’ve cut off all my hair and suddenly everyone’s favorite insult is “dyke.” And when guys grow out their hair, lots of folks decide their favorite insult towards them is “faggot.” Is there anything more banal to utilize as an insult than something that naturally grows and then needs to be cut? Sigh…it just proves that assholes’ brains evolve significantly slower than the rest of humanity’s.

    • MR

      That’s a nice picture of you. What were you discussing again? :)

    • lisa evans

      Well aren’t you doing ame thing your accusing men of by using that “go to line ” small penis insults whenever there’s an argument or discussion its the same thing a lot of time unprovoked. The best thing to do is ignore or explain why it is hurtful and walk away.

    • Emo Kid

      All my friends in some way refer to me as the ‘Emo Dyke’ of our group. However i don’t take offence, because I’m happy to be gay and they don’t mean it offensively. It’s when people say things about me being single, alone and unable to find love that upsets me. It becomes difficult to deal with becuase none of them know my history and i find it hard to tell them, and they say things without realising. They all know im gay, and are fine with it and it’s because they’re ok with it that when they use ‘Dyke’ it isn’t offensive and i don’t get hurt.