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Fightin' Words


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To the editor:

I was troubled to read that in her review of the Bauhaus show [September 4] Monica Kendrick used the phrase "overheated theatrical fagginess" to describe Daniel Ash and Peter Murphy. As one who is often overheated, sometimes theatrical, but always a fag, it's not so much Kendrick's wordplay that's bothersome as it is her word choice.

Granted, the word "fag"--like "nigger" and "dyke"--has undergone what linguists would call a semantic shift in the last decade or so. When delivered by a gay-friendly party, such as gay men and their compatriots, the word can be liltingly campy at worst, empowering at best. My friends and I refer to ourselves as fags, and that's suitable; if my boss did so, that's a lawsuit. And to hear the word aimed at you by a carload of wasted hetero frat boys at 3 AM on your way home down Halsted Street can be chilling.

Obviously I find little offense in the word "fag," given the appropriate circumstances. But in a concert review? Wouldn't "fey," "pouty," "foppish," "mincing," "effeminate," "Paul Lynde-y," even "queeny" have sufficed? After all, even straight men can be fops, but only gay men are fags.

And would Kendrick have used similar potentially offensive words in other reviews, such as calling a painting "niggeresque"? Or a play particularly "spic-ish"? Or a film in the "cuntlike tradition"? I doubt it.

Because this is the Reader, I'll assume Kendrick is no homophobe, but next time maybe she should look to her thesaurus instead of the lexicon of offense when crafting a review meant for the public's eyes.

Erik Piepenburg

N. Pine Grove

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