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Don't Call Me A Dyke Unless You Are One

Sep 20, 2013

By Jackie
Hi, my name is Jackie and I’m a dyke. I’m also a lezzer, a rug muncher, a muff diver, a fanny lover, a vagina afficiaonado and she who drinks from the furry cup. But in order to call me the majority of those terms of loving endearment to my sexuality, you will also have to first be either myself or someone I know and who’s sense of humour and personality I know well, ie a friend.
Alice Arnold, aka Clare Balding’s other half, recently wrote a piece in the Telegraph about what is acceptable language (mainly to do with Tottenham FC and the use of the word “yid”) but she also used the example of when AA Gill called the lovely Clare a “dyke on a bike” in a commentary piece about a TV show she was making. Now, I come from a family and friends circle where my sister calls me a hairy dyke when I show her my hairy legs because I haven’t shaved them for about 10 years. I get called a dirty lez by my other dirty lez friends. I also get called a raging homo by one of my best friends. In my world they are allowed to call me those names. But ONLY they are allowed to say that to me.
What makes them worthy of this? Because I get to call them a sexy bitch, or a crazy cat lady, or also a raging homo or dirty lez. We are friends. There is no way in hell I would ever walk up to a random black person on the street and call them a “nigger” (that has literally pained me to type that but I need to in this piece for my point). But I have used the term as a white, working class woman towards black or mixed race friends I’ve had. Why? Not because I am racist or trying to insult. No. Because we have had a mutual respect for one another (otherwise known as being friends) and have known that no harm was meant by it. God knows how many times I’ve been called a “honky” by them. Lovingly, of course.
Looking at the word “dyke”, I have no issue with it. I actually quite like it. It’s quick, it’s punchy and it’s to the point. And it’s used to describe so many different types of lesbian, so it’s an integral word to our community as a whole (if it didn’t exist we wouldn’t have babydykes, bull dykes, diesel dykes…). Considering it originated as a derogatory word for butch women, the lesbian community has done well to reclaim it as a word that is synonymous with endearment and also to use it as a neutral synonym for lesbian (thanks Wiki).
What this all comes down to, however, is what every person feels is appropriate. If you’re my best friend and you don’t like the word dyke, or want to use the word dyke, I’m not going to force you to use it or use it excessively around you. But if you don’t know me, be careful. Because if it’s used maliciously, this dyke will be taking your ass to the police station.

Jackie is the kind of lesbian who likes knitting in pubs, music festivals and bringing her Running Man moves to the dancefloor on a regular basis. Even in heels (success rates vary). Find Jackie at Beatrix & Alabama and over on Twitter @BeatrixAlabama

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