Reading the Future in the Past.
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Perhaps my life experience is not all that it could have been, but if there’s one constant therein, it’s that I’ve had relatively decent exposure to popular culture these last four decades. Whenever I hear someone speaking on what it means to be ‘Orwellian’, there are usually one of two themes at play. The thing in question is either fascist/communist in nature, al la Hitler and/or Stalin and their oppressiveness, or said thing involves the excessive policing of language by certain moral power-mongers screaming into the zeitgeist, usually just to hear themselves talk. Generally speaking, I find it’s the latter, but I digress.
Language changes over time, as one would expect, as does the appropriate use of any given term. As this Cracked.com listicle demonstrates, the word ‘slut’ no longer means what it used to in days past. The famous writer Cory Doctorow uses terms in his recent writings that I’ve never heard of before the past year, like ‘enshittification’ and ‘greedflation’ to describe modern economic and tech phenomena. As Carlyn Beccia pointed out in her recent essay on the word ‘cunt’, the history of that word is complicated and by no means did it always imply a ‘severely disagreeable woman’, similar in evolution to the promiscuous connotation of slut.
My feelings on the matter are that there are a small minority of women who deserve to be insulted in this way, but to my mind, this is rightly overshadowed by the modern misogynist trend of using the C-word to unjustly demean women regardless of their agreeableness, merely because any given man can’t get what he wants from the object of his desire, but I digress.
There are lots of other ways language changes to suit modern sensibilities. I, for one, laugh at anyone today who laments getting ‘rebuked’ in the midst of a serious conversation (usually Evangelicals) for the simple fact that it has too many biblical…