Erroneous Idioms: “It takes two to tango”

When taken absolutely literally, I suppose this saying isn’t untrue. I can’t attest to that, as I don’t dance, and now have a funny image in my head of someone tango-ing by themselves.

I imagine the way this saying is most frequently used is in relation to altercations of some kind. When someone says “It takes two to tango,” they often mean to insinuate that a fight between two people needs two willing participants who intended and willfully got into that fight (hopefully I’m fairly representing the usage, any straw-man is unintentional).

 

As always, it shouldn’t take much thinking to realize what bullshit this is.

First of all, ladies, if anyone ever tries to tell you in relation to domestic violence that “you must have done something to provoke him,” “it takes two to tango,” or worse, “you must have done something to deserve it,” you have my permission to punch them in the throat. Physical violence is never deserved. Not only that, but domestic violence is an obvious example of “fights” with unwilling participants.

Even outside of domestic violence, there are some people in this world who do actively look for violence, and try to initiate it when they can. It starts to sound like a victim blaming practice the more you think about it. Is the mugging victim guilty of tango-ing with their mugger?

It doesn’t always “take two to tango.” Don’t let anyone try to use this corrupted rationale on you.

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Erroneous Idioms #3: “Fight Fair”

Fight Fair, fighting fair, give him a fair fight, etc. We’ve all heard it before. Here’s what it’s likely intended to mean, or at the very least, SHOULD be taken to mean:

1. In a sanctioned, competitive fight, (boxing match, mma competition) one ought to abide by the rules of the competition. 

2. In a street fight, if one is attacked by another intending to do them harm, one ought to respond with proportionate force. (Eg, if someone drunkenly shoves you and starts to walk away, you ought not shoot them in the back, or maybe this.)

These seem like common sense, but I’ll go into a bit of detail in a minute. First, it’s important to point out what this idiom could be, and perhaps sometimes is taken to mean:

1. In a street fight, if one is attacked by another intending to do them serious bodily harm (kill them, rape them, stab/cut them) one ought not to do things like bite, spit, pull hair, or hit the groin, because these types of attacks are rude.

Now, I really shouldn’t have to spell it out since that’s basically written in parody, but I will anyway. If someone is seriously trying to hurt you, you need to think about what you’re willing to do. Is “not spitting at someone because it’s rude” more important than living? I’m pretty sure the answer ought to be a resounding No, it’s not. There’s no such thing as a fair fight when one person is attacked by another. Always do whatever it takes to stay alive, as long as it doesn’t break #2 of what the idiom might be suggesting. Think, be cautious, don’t over react, but also don’t hold back if someone threatens your life.

 

As far as I’m concerned, this is something that should be made a point of in all basic self defense classes.

Erroneous Idioms #2: “A Lion Does Not Concern Himself with the Opinion of a Sheep”

Here we have another gravely flawed idiom that ought to be deconstructed. The meaning is pretty clear. The idiom basically says this:

Translation: “Really important powerful people don’t have to bother to listen to what common people think”

Not only should this immediately smack of ad hominem, but it’s a bit worse than that. This idiom gives the powerful reason to ignore reason, and ignore popular vote.

It’s anti-democratic, which is a small problem, but not absolutely definitively wrong.

It is absolutely definitively wrong because it supposes that the powerful inherently have more sound judgement than the weak. Talk about an attempt to maintain the status quo. The idiom deliberately seeks to avoid listening to reasonable arguments based on an ad hominem principle that goes something like this:

“Common/weak people inherently possess weaker arguments than the powerful”

I shouldn’t need to spell it out anymore than that.

Do society a favor, anytime you hear someone use this idiom, laugh at them for using it.

Erroneous Idioms #1: “Whipped” as A Patriarchal Text?

Super super short post.

I noticed something a few weeks ago actually that I ended up writing down because I wanted to mention it on here. I’m pretty sure everyone is familiar with the term “whipped,” used to refer to a subservient male in a heterosexual relationship with a woman.

Anyway, I overheard someone use it in a conversation while in the cafeteria and I thought to myself, “funny how it doesn’t apply to women, and there is no female equivalent.”

Clearly written by a “whipped” male. Psh, so beta. Either that, or pretty much true. Probably true.

Before I could even begin to ask myself why it would be that there wasn’t a female equivalent, the answer was pretty obvious.

Society advocates subservient women, and has done so for a pretty long time, so of course subservient women won’t be mocked for being subservient.

On the other hand, it doesn’t really fit in with the patriarchal world model if men are subservient for women, so some patriarchal genius (read: “Asshole”) came up with the modern colloquial understanding of the word “whipped”. The idea of course was to steer men towards being dominant over women.

My advice for fixing this? (Because of course you want to hear it)

Make fun of subserivent women too. You can even just start using “whipped” to refer to deliberately (it wouldn’t be funny/appropriate to call abused/battered/subjugated women whipped) subservient women. Or, we could keep whipped as an exclusively male term, and use something else instead. How about “flogged”? Yeah, that’s good.

From now on, deliberately subservient women should be made fun of by referring to them as “flogged”. 

I have spoken.