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Why Don’t Men Kick Each Other in the Balls?

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In Greco-Roman wrestling, boxing, and mixed martial arts, there is a rule that you never hit “below the belt.” The area of biggest concern is the testicles. As the Ultimate Fighting Championship rules specify, “groin attacks of any kind” are a foul. This is probably because groin attacks might make for short fights or ones where everyone just goes around protecting their balls. In any case, the skills being tested are of a different kind. But, even aside from that, this seems like a good idea and very civilized. I do not advocate for testicle kicking, not groin attacks of any kind, for what it’s worth.

I do think it’s somewhat odd, though, that men who fight each other outside of controlled conditions—men in street fights, bar brawls, and parking lot scuffles—also usually avoid hitting below the belt. These fights aren’t about training or skill, like those between professional athletes, they’re real attempts to do some damage out of anger or defensiveness. So, why no hits to the balls?

The question was posed by a woman on Yahoo! Answers: “If you dislike each other enough to want them to get hurt,” she asked, “why not do the worst?”

The answers, admittedly unscientific, were interesting. One of the common responses involved the idea that not hitting below the belt was “an unspoken rule.” Maybe it’s the Golden Rule—do onto others as you would have them do unto you—and some men mentioned that, but others suggested that it was a rule specific to manhood. It’s a “cheap shot,” said one. A “low blow,” said another.

But why? Why do men agree not to kick each other in the balls? Why is that part of the code?

I think it’s because it serves to protect men’s egos as well as men’s balls.

What would street fights between guys look like—or professional fights for that matter—if one could go below the belt? For one, there’d be a lot more collapsing. Two, a lot more writhing in pain. Three, a lot less getting up. All in all, it would add up to less time looking powerful and more time looking pitiful. And it would send a clear message that men’s bodies are vulnerable.

Chris Tuchscherer not having been just hit in the balls:

1a

Chris Tuchscherer having been just hit in the balls:

1

Not hitting below the belt, then, protects the idea that men’s bodies are fighting machines. It protects masculinity, the very idea that men are big and strong, pain- and impact-resistant, impenetrable like an edifice. So not hitting below the belt doesn’t just protect individual men from pain, it protects our ideas about masculinity.

When a man hits below the belt, he is revealing to everyone present that masculinity is a fiction. That’s why one guy said: “For ‘alpha male’ fights, nut shots are just wrong.” Alpha male fights are about figuring out which male is alpha, while preserving the idea that the alpha male is a thing that matters.

This is why men are quick to criticize other men who break the code. One of the best ways to control men is to threaten to kick them out of the man club. “If a guy kicks another guy in the balls on purpose during a fight,” one replied to the question on Yahoo, “he will forever be banished from manhood.” Another said: “Winning like this means that you cannot beat up the other guy by ‘real’ fighting.” It’s a matter of one’s own reputation: “A man who kicks another man in the balls,” said a third, “immediately loses all manliness and respect.”

So, men generally agree to pretend that the balls just aren’t there. The effect is that we tend to forget just how vulnerable men are to the right attack and continue to think of women as naturally more fragile.

I still don’t want anyone to get kicked in the balls, though, just to be clear.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

(View original at http://thesocietypages.org/socimages)

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julissa
2152 days ago
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Boston, Ma
Courtney
2153 days ago
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Portland, OR
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dukeofwulf
2151 days ago
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Lisa spends a long time trying to make nut shots into some gendered conspiracy, even though she has the real answer quoted right there in her post: “Winning like this means that you cannot beat up the other guy by ‘real’ fighting.” Exactly as d4nj450n said, nut shots are just one of a whole class of fighting techniques that are shunned in non-self-defense situations.
tante
2152 days ago
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"Why don't men kick each other in the testicles?"
Berlin/Germany
gcapell
2152 days ago
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She obviously hasn't been to any Krav Maga classes :->
Sydney, AU
d4nj450n
2152 days ago
Bull. Bar room fights are dominance displays. You don't kick the balls because the point is not to permanently hurt the other guy but to show you are tougher then him. You don't gouge the eyes or punch the throat either for the same reason. If you are feel you are in real danger of your life then you go for any and all targets. You see the same thing in wolves, lions, really all the other mammals. They don’t go for the killing or permanently maiming attacks when fighting amongst themselves.
sirshannon
2152 days ago
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wow.
ryanbrazell
2153 days ago
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I love Lisa Wade.
Richmond, VA

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julissa
2216 days ago
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2221 days ago
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JoeTortuga
2221 days ago
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That top scene is where Korrasami started for me.
Columbus, Ohio

ronracer: Nothing ever changed by following the system

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ronracer:

Nothing ever changed by following the system

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2237 days ago
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Educating a Friend

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Me: So, let's say that you're at school and you see a guy you know. I mean, you guys talk every once in a while and he's pretty cool, but you're not like friends or anything. You just talk to him every once in a while.

Guy Friend: What's his name?

Me: I don't know. Frank?

Guy Friend: No.

Me: Okay, fine. His name is Will. Okay?

Guy Friend: I don't think it really suits him, but okay.

Me: ...So anyway, you're at school during lunchtime and you see Will. So, you notice Will's not eating anything. That's when you realize that Will has no lunch, no money for lunch, and no way of getting either. He's just sitting there like he normally would. He's not acting any differently and he's not asking anyone for anything. Not money, not a fry, not even a salt packet, but you know he's gotta be hungry. So, what do you do?

Guy Friend: Do I have any money?

Me: Yeah. You have enough for you and another meal.

Guy Friend: Duh, I buy him lunch.

Me: Okay, cool. So, like you said, you buy him lunch. You buy your lunch and you buy his lunch and you go over and hand it to him. And, he says, "Wow. You know, that's really nice of you, but I wasn't gonna ask anyone for lunch. I was probably just gonna wait until I got home to eat." And, then you say--

Guy Friend: Nah, it's cool.

Me: Exactly. You say, "Nah, it's cool. I'm just being nice. It's a gift." And, Will says, "You know, that's awesome. You're really nice, bro." And, after that, you guys start hanging out. You guys are like really good buds. You are always hanging out and laughing and just having a good time. So, you guys are friends for a few months, and it's tons of fun. Then, one day, you go up to Will and you say, "Hey, Will, you know, I've been thinking, and I kinda want that five bucks."

Guy Friend: What five bucks?

Me: Hold on. I'm getting there. So, Will says, "What five bucks?" To which, you reply, "Well, we've been hanging out for a long time and it's been really fun, but like, I've done a lot of really nice things for you. Like, I'm always nice to you and I always listen and do things you wanna do, so I was thinking that because I've been so nice, you should pay me back that five bucks I spent to get your lunch right before we started really hanging out."

Guy Friend: What? Why would I--

Me: I'm not done yet. So, then Will looks kinda hurt and he says, "But I thought you were just being nice. I thought that was just a gift." So, you say, "Whether or not it was a gift, don't you think you kinda owe me that five bucks since I've been so nice to you?" And, Will says, "No. I don't think I owe you that!" And you get mad, so you say, "Well, I think that you do, so I think you're being really shitty and stuck up about this and I feel like I've been completely wronged."

Guy Friend: Oh, my God. That's so fucked up of me. I would never do that to Will. Will was nice. We were buds. That's way screwed.

Me: I know, right? Hey, just wondering, have you ever heard of this fictional place called "The Friendzone?"

Guy Friend: Well, yeah, but...

Guy Friend: ...

Guy Friend: ...

Guy Friend: oh

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julissa
2422 days ago
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Courtney
2425 days ago
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kazriko
2410 days ago
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I don't think this analogy is entirely inclusive of all facets of the problem. It seems to only address one, while ignoring all of the other mis-communications (both parties expecting different things, and interpreting all of the other's actions through the lenses of their expectations) and sunk cost fallacies involved in these situations. Also, most of the time the guy involved would be thinking about it in terms of dating the other person from the beginning, so much of the premise of this story wouldn't apply.

The guys involved should realize that the person they're obsessed with isn't the only option possible, that would solve many of these issues.
Colorado Plateau
skittone
2423 days ago
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Worth reading to get to the payoff.
satadru
2424 days ago
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At first glance, I thought this was perfect, but didn't the concept of the friend zone also encompass pining for somebody and doing things for them with no expectation of reciprocity? Wasn't Dickens ALL OVER THE FRIENDZONE? Remember Agnes from David Copperfield?

When did the friend zone turn into "I'm nice to you so now you owe me something?"
New York, NY
dukeofwulf
2424 days ago
Agreed. I've always taken "friendzone" to be a colloquial term for "unrequited love," and all the frustration and sadness that comes from that situation. Totally don't understand the backlash currently happening against the term.
Courtney
2420 days ago
the "frustration and sadness" of unrequited love comes from the person *not loving you back*. Doing things to *make someone* like you, and that person not liking you, and then insisting that they should because you were so kind for them etc -- friendzone. Unrequited love and the idea that if you are just kind *enough* or great *enough* somehow they will turn their affection on -- friendzone. Or more succintly: turning human interaction into a transactional vending machine system, where if you input enough kindness coins, the sex will eventually fall out. It's not different, it just has a different name in this century.
satadru
2420 days ago
I'm willing to concede that the term "friendzoning" implies an insistence on quid pro quo, especially if that helps us become more aware of the problem. I'm perfectly happy saying "unrequited love" to refer to the benign, general case.
bibliogrrl
2424 days ago
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PERFECT
Chicago!
adamcole
2424 days ago
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Perfect.
Philadelphia, PA, USA
grammargirl
2424 days ago
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OH SNAP
Brooklyn, NY

I believe you. After everything weve been throughI believe...

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I believe you. After everything we’ve been through, I believe you.

Teen Wolf is a documentary about real-life lesbian couple Allison Argent and Lydia Martin and you should be watching it.

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julissa
2482 days ago
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Don't play with my heart like that.
Boston, Ma
Courtney
2480 days ago
the actual truth is too sad for me to speak it, the pain is still too near
Courtney
2482 days ago
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Portland, OR
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So Funny It Hurts

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Illustration by Kristen Tomanocy

By Guest Contributor Eric Anthony Glover, cross-posted from Midnight Breakfast

Some months after I’d come out as queer to my friends and family, I happened upon a Louis C.K. meme about anti-gay rights advocates—particularly those who argue they shouldn’t have to expose their children to same-sex marriages. The meme’s caption read, “Two guys are in love but they can’t get married because you don’t want to talk to your ugly child for f*ckin’ five minutes?” As much as I’d like to tell that you that straight allies don’t deserve cookies and congratulations for exhibiting the bare minimum of human decency, I’d be lying if I said C.K.’s words didn’t move me. After years of shaming from straight people, whether in purposely oppressive ways or indirectly cruel ones, it always strikes me as miraculous when some of them support my cause—especially if they’re cultural icons. And given the thousands of Likes and Shares the Louis C.K. meme received, I’m guessing his words touched a few others, too. Thing is, I doubt it would have gotten as much mileage if the caption had included C.K.’s full quote: “… Who f*ckin’ cares about your sh*tty kid? He’s probably a faggot, anyway.”

On the one hand, I personally find the punchline funny: it subverts the sentimental direction of the setup, makes fools of the people he’s frustrated with, and arguably turns the word “faggot” into a weapon against them. On the other hand, it’s not the only time C.K. has used the slur for a laugh, and he hasn’t always been so progressive while doing it. Louis C.K. follows a similar pattern with the word “nigger,” insightfully addressing the horrors of racism in some of his stand-up, but gluttonously employing the epithet for amusement in other instances. And it’s not as if he does so without racial awareness, either; despite being half-Latino, C.K. has publicly acknowledged looking white, identifying as white, and benefiting from white privileges — such as never being marginalized enough for slurs like “cracker” to truly hurt him. As a black man with the opposite experience, I find myself on edge whenever I hear him speak. Although I haven’t forgotten his beautiful bits bashing racial prejudice, I have to remember that he’s prone to blurting “nigger” at whim, and doesn’t always care to add a constructive reason.

In his defense, C.K. does seem conscious of the harmful, emotional repercussions that charged language can have on historically oppressed groups. Take the deeply moving opening of Louie‘s first season episode, “Poker/Divorce.” In the intro, C.K. — who plays a version of himself in the series he writes and directs — gets into a discussion with his comedian friends over whether it’s ethical to casually use the word “faggot” in his stand-up. His gay comic buddy Rick Crom explains how hearing the slur could affect some of his fans:

“You might want to know that every gay man in America has probably had that word shouted at them while they’re being beaten up. Sometimes many times. Sometimes by a lot of people, all at once. So when you say [faggot], it kind of brings that all back up.”

I, myself, have heard “faggot” used by loved ones even after they understood the terror and struggle of my coming out process. Like C.K., they never said it with the intent to hurt me, but the impact remained the same. “Faggot” is connected to my darkest moments of self-loathing and a lifestyle of unending panic between them. “Faggot” is my body literally shaking at the idea of being exposed; it’s crying myself to sleep after getting the wrong kind of erection; it’s knowing that, should I marry a man, only certain immediate relatives would show up. “Faggot” is being convinced, to the core, of lacking goodness—and resigned to the idea of never deserving any.

As convenient as it would be to suspend those feelings — whether for a loved one who can’t grasp how much it hurts you, or for the sake of a comic trying to get a laugh — the pain doesn’t stop whenever straight people decide it should. And they certainly don’t get to dictate the prescription. More often than not, when I hear fans defend C.K., they firmly position him as the solution, not the problem. He’s forcing us to confront our demons. Re-exposing us to uncomfortable topics. Pushing us to recognize the absurdity of prejudice.

Except queer folks like myself live in constant awareness of the cultural cancers and destructive attitudes directed toward us for existing. When Louis C.K. “investigates” a queer issue, we’ve long lived it. And even if C.K.’s comedy is then meant for “educating” heterosexuals, I fail to see how loosely using “faggot” helps build bridges or foster more understanding. Despite all the attempts of fans to rationalize and justify his use of slurs, there remains the distinct probability that C.K. has said “faggot” simply because he wants to.

In 2010, C.K. said on NPR’s Fresh Air that the “Poker/Divorce” scene was based on a conversation he had with Crom in real life, at the age of twenty-two—and that he since “never forgot” how “devastating” it can be for queer people to hear the word “faggot.” In the same interview, Fresh Air‘s host asked him in what context the slur is ever appropriate for stand-up. This was C.K.’s response:

“Well, I feel like when I get asked that, I get defensive about it. I start saying, ‘Oh, well, no,’ it’s okay that I say ‘faggot’ because this or that,’ but to be really honest with you, I’m not sure why I say it… I feel like I’m not sure I should be saying it… There are times I go, ‘Is this okay, really?’ What does it mean that I’m hurting people that I don’t know, like, who are watching me on TV?… And is it okay to hurt people?… Sometimes I think it is. Sometimes I think it isn’t … I’m not sure why I’m so often disgusting on stage. I don’t always know where it comes from.”

Aside from the fact that “sometimes” he feels okay hurting people, the NPR interview confirms an even more discouraging detail about C.K.’s madness: there’s not exactly a method to it. All too often, my apologist friends argue that C.K. gets a pass on certain words because he’s being analytical, subversive, intellectual, etc., but the comedian has admitted that there’s no consistently calculated intent behind his slur usage—at least when it comes to “faggot.” And in any case, his most assertive justification for saying it –which surfaced in his 2008 routine, Chewed Upisn’t particularly profound. Despite the entertaining exposition behind his stance, C.K.’s overall argument for using “faggot” is the same any middle-schooler, modern rapper or common conservative would use to save face: “faggot” doesn’t mean anything homophobic to him. Therefore, the people it affects most shouldn’t be so sensitive to it.

But even if his argument in Chewed Up were convincing, C.K. has still contradicted it. Take his 2009 act, Hilarious. In one routine, C.K. describes a character archetype he used to see in English period films as a “faggy lord with a ruffled shirt.” He then does an impression of what the male archetype would say, clearly suggesting that the character is attracted to other men. “Faggot,” in this instance, is deliberately tied to the homophobic connotation C.K. has said he’s never attached to the slur.

The bit from Hilarious reinforces a simple truth: separating slurs from their cultural baggage is difficult work—both for the oppressing group and for its historical victims. Obviously, expecting marginalized individuals to simply turn off their sensitivity at the drop of a hat—even for the sake of comedy—is a sometimes impossible request. Insisting to queer or black communities that “faggot” and “nigger” should be severed from the emotions they trigger is like shoving a man’s head into toilet water, growing indignant about his squirming and yelling, “Breathe, already! There’s plenty of oxygen in that H2O!”

Of course, hearing Louis C.K.’s multiple pro-gay bits dulls the edge that comes with his affinity for “faggot.” And it seems that C.K. has resolved to no longer use the slur in further stand-up, according to his response in a 2011 Reddit Q&A. Although it’s nice to hear he’s likely retired the word, it’s still unsettling that it took him a full two decades to do so after his seminal talk with Crom. And while he’s been making up his mind on the matter, he’s given less progressive fans years of fodder for justifying slur usage. C.K. addressed the issue in the same Reddit Q&A:

Q: How do you feel about people using your stand-up as an excuse to say “nigger” and “faggot”?

Louis C.K.: yeah i don’t know. ive seen that happen and it doesn’t make me really… so happy all the time. But that’s them. I did those bits as a kind of analysis of the words and what feelings they bring and how they’re used. I was playing with some fire. It was interesting. I think that the discussion of the word faggot that I did in the [Crom] scene was a bit of an evolution. I pretty much never say faggot on stage anymore. It’s just worked it’s way into and out of my act. it’s not interesting anyomre and i”m not goign to say it just to say it. Nigger … still pretty interesting. [sic]

What C.K. has contributed to the analysis of “nigger” is beyond me — as is the idea that “nigger” is somehow less worthy of C.K.’s “evolution.” Equally over my head is whatever rationalization C.K. has for saying the slur “just to say it,” or for being unconcerned that others use his bits to do the same. “But that’s them,” it seems, is C.K. shirking responsibility when misguided fans burn others using the fire he plays with. And although “analysis” would of course be useful if it yielded any thought-provoking results, it’s difficult to tell what new information C.K.’s “nigger” musings have uncovered.

Much like my reaction to the word “faggot,” “nigger” (or “nigga”) is usually cause for extreme discomfort, even when the term is used without malicious intent. Several white friends throughout my life have failed to grasp the heart-in-throat anxiety the phrase can provoke in the moment, and I’ve reminded them to use the “N-word” euphemism or omit “nigga” from the rap lyrics they recite. Although I used to figure the word’s gravity spoke for itself, some of my white peers — just like C.K.—have proven that using slurs is a higher priority than preventing black pain.

Admittedly, C.K. has not only performed excellent bits acknowledging the unfairness of racial injustices, but he’s also uttered “nigger” in some of his comedy out of relative necessity. In Chewed Up, for instance, he addresses why the “N-word” phrase offends him more than the actual word “nigger,” arguing that the euphemism is simply “white people getting away with saying ‘nigger.’” Because of the bit’s dependence on differentiating between the two phrases, being confined to using “the N-word” alone would hamper his ability to get his point across with efficient comic timing. Using “nigger” in this portion of his routine has, at the very least, more grounds than none.

Later on in the bit, he explains a time he thought of a white person as a “nigger” — and in a positive context — once again asking the audience to humor him in separating slurs from their traditional connotations. Further along in Chewed Up, he even uses “nigger” and “faggot” to describe a deer that hit his car, perhaps harkening back to his conceit of using slurs as innocuous insults.

In the same vein, C.K.’s character in Louie uses “nigger” on stage in the episode “Country Drive,” where he discusses the absurdity of reading Mark Twainliterature to his daughter, due to “nigger” appearing “forty times a page.” Using “nigger” in the stand-up scene, rather than “the N-word,” arguably heightens the urgency of his conflict to the audience—and ultimately underscores how disgusting the word still is to him.

Unfortunately, despite the times C.K. has used “nigger” with some vague semblance of judiciousness, there have also been times when he’s used the word carelessly, and even gleefully. In the 2011 HBO TV special Talking Funny — in which C.K. converses with comedy icons Chris Rock, Ricky Gervais and Jerry Seinfeld — C.K. leaps at the chance to say “nigger” with virtually no prompting:

Chris Rock: [Louis C.K.] is the blackest white guy I f*ckin’ know. And all the negative things we think about black people, this f*cker …

Louis C.K.: (smiling) You’re saying I’m a nigger.

Later in the discussion, Seinfeld says that he personally never discovered the humor in the slur. C.K. replies that “it would be amazing” if Seinfeld came up with “a great nigger bit.” Additionally, C.K. laughs (and bonds with Gervais) over saying “nigger” even when he’s off stage.

During his appearance on a 2010 episode of The Opie & Anthony Show, a radio program on which the late Black comic Patrice O’Neal also appeared, C.K. pounces at the opportunity to use the word “nigger” where there is no invitation to do so. O’Neal is just wrapping up discussing the origin of “kike” as an anti-Semitic slur when C.K. interjects:

“You know where ‘nigger’ came from? Originally? There was some black guy bein’ a nigger. So they called him a nigger. He was being a real nigger, so they said, “What a nigger!” And that’s where it started… Just a guy who was being such a nigger that it f*ckin’ made someone say the word.”

In a 2011 episode of the same program, C.K., Opie and Anthony discuss the looming possibility of an Adventures of Huckleberry Finn edition being published without the word “nigger” in it. C.K. argues vehemently that the novel would be neutered of its purpose and social relevance if “nigger” were extracted, basing his argument almost entirely on the premise that the book’s major supporting character is named “Nigger Jim” — whose moniker, he asserts, testifies to America’s shameful racial history. C.K. is mistaken; “nigger” is only used as an adjective rather than a name for Jim in Twain’s classic. Despite C.K.’s misguided point, however, I actually agree with the undercurrent of his position: taking “nigger” out of Huckleberry Finn would be to deny the inhumanity of slavery in the time period Twain wrote about. But leave it to C.K.’s crass use of “nigger” to alienate me.

At first, his use of the word during the episode is somewhat bearable, given the perfectly legitimate context Huckleberry Finn provides. C.K. seems to relish saying “nigger” at every conceivable opportunity, but always in relation to Twain’s prose. Once he’s asked who was offended enough to invite censorship in the first place, however, C.K. replies, “Just niggers.” His joke plays “nigger” straight, plainly referring to blacks to win a quick laugh from Opie and Anthony.

Soon after, C.K. even goes out of his way to involve a black caller named Kyle in his “nigger” game. Minutes before Kyle dials in, C.K. recalls a time Ronald Reagan discussed Huckleberry Finn on live television and struggled not to say “Nigger Jim” on air — at least, according to C.K. In the comedian’s version of events, Reagan stumbled and said “um … Jim” instead, due to the difficulty of omitting the slur. Once Kyle is on the line, C.K. deliberately addresses him as “Um … Kyle” — effectively labeling Kyle a nigger, and chuckling with Opie and Anthony about it.

While it may have been within personal bounds to make on-air “nigger” jokes with O’Neal, with whom C.K. had an established rapport, publicly prodding a black stranger with “nigger” was deliberately destructive. Like other instances in which C.K. has used the slur, there was no “analysis” in denigrating Kyle, just a display of self-gratifying, vicious humor at a black man’s expense.

Strangely enough, C.K. feels the term “crack whore” crosses the line. In a 2013 Rolling Stone interview, he said how demeaning and hurtful the phrase can be, and stood up against name-calling:

Rolling Stone: You once told Howard Stern a story about an encounter with a crack whore who attempted to murder you.

Louis C.K.: … I do want to correct that. “Crack whore” were not my words. I don’t think there’s anything meaner you could call somebody. “Whore” is a really mean word for a prostitute; it’s the derogative. I made no judgment on that woman. She was just doing what she had to to supply her crack habit, but that doesn’t make her a crack whore.

Rolling Stone: The part where she teamed up with a dude to try and kill you, maybe you can judge her on that.

Louis C.K.: I can judge her on it, but not as a “whore.” That was just rude.

For whatever reason, C.K.’s sympathetic thought process regarding “whore” doesn’t apply to “nigger,” although he apparently has a capacity for protecting people from “mean” language. Perhaps it’s outweighed by his anxiety over “nigger” and a resulting compulsion to explore it, but as possibly the most powerful comedian on Earth, it stands to reason that he could be more careful with his catharsis, and more compassionate toward his black fans.

I suppose, if nothing changes, that I could simply stop listening to what he has to say. Maybe I will someday, if his material ever becomes too much overall. But I hope I don’t have to. Several times over, I’ve seen a comedian of conscience and conviction surface during C.K.’s stand-up, bent on panning prejudice and poking fun at privilege. His frustration with racism and homophobia are so humanely and hilariously articulated that it could be a waste to give up on him entirely. It’s just a shame that right now — unlike his whiter, straighter fans — I often have to choose between his comedy and my comfort. If C.K. ever sought to change that, his actions would not only be kinder, but braver:

“I sometimes say terrible things ‘cause it’s funny to me. It just makes me laugh to say ‘AIDS.’ I know, it’s childish, right? And the word ‘nigger’ just makes me laugh. It just does. And it’s a terrible word and I think that all of us, all of us that use it ironically and think that we’re not being racist are fooling ourselves. Because say it to a black guy with your little ‘goatee irony’ and see how funny he thinks that shit is. It’s cowardly, and I’m definitely a part of that cowardice.”

Louis C.K. at Comedy Death Ray, 2006

As of now, C.K. is comfortable saying “nigger” to his heart’s content, on stage and off. And all the while, his liberal fans insist on giving him a pass due to his progressive stances. His condemnation of racism and homophobia proves he may not be doing more harm than good, but it baffles me that he’s still willing to do harm as well as good. If he knows how nightmarish “nigger” and “faggot” can be when said by our enemies, then he knows that the black and queer communities shouldn’t have to endure the same from our allies. Instead, to my disappointment, C.K. and his supporters have mistaken acknowledging social ills as an excuse to copiously, carelessly indulge in them.

Eric Anthony Glover is a pop culture critic with lots of opinions. He urges you to agree with them. When he’s not exploring the intersection of entertainment and social awareness, you can find him indulging in sci-fi TV, involuntarily daydreaming, or pounding out his next action blockbuster.

Illustration by Kristen Tomanocy

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smadin
2514 days ago
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Louis CK: not a good ally.
Boston
Courtney
2515 days ago
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"When Louis C.K. “investigates” a queer issue, we’ve long lived it. And even if C.K.’s comedy is then meant for “educating” heterosexuals, I fail to see how loosely using “faggot” helps build bridges or foster more understanding."
Portland, OR
IvyJanet
2515 days ago
I loved this and sent it to everyone.
julissa
2514 days ago
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Boston, Ma
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