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Someone ‘Splain this to Me…

Scraped from Alison Bechdel’s blog: the USPTO refuses to trademark Dykes on Bikes, claiming that “dyke” is a vulgar term.

Now, I am just not dykey. I’m not. I shave my legs. I am bad at softball. O.k., in the Air Force I was pretty good with a .38, but I throw a ball like a girl. My favorite sport is apres ski. So for myself I prefer the gentler “lesbian,” with its suggestion of women in flowing white robes, pretty much doing nothing. Or, within the clan, “sister.” Or “family.” Or even “of the Sapphic persuasion.”

But I am not one to refuse a woman (or even a womyn) her own label. If you want to be a dyke, more power to you. And as Alison points out, the word is in very widespread use. I like Alison’s point that “Google is a much more credible arbiter than some wackjob list of translations.”

I was going to run to Language Log and beg them to write about this, but they already have, several times in fact. I doubt we’ll get William Safire writing about this–I have always had a major issue with having someone so conservative write a language column for the de facto national newspaper of record.

Meanwhile, are you ready to work a swing state in 2008? I am. I plan to take at least one month off, no matter where I am or what I am doing, and devote it to electing someone who will not turn the United States into an echo of the Handmaid’s Tale.

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