[Ads-l] Is "Jezebel" a racist name?

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Thu Feb 11 04:48:29 EST 2021

I hadn’t thought much lately about “Jezebel,” a word/name I think I never called anyone, though I was interested in the name reuse [other than in jezebel.com already mentioned] in Apocalypse of John 2:20-23 some time ago. In Thyatira, she, reportedly, led some into “sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.”
So, however the use of the name may or may not have evolved, from way-back (maybe including in 1 Kings 16) she was called evil for more than one cause: very roughly, uppity and foreign.
V. P. Kamala Harris no doubt has faced variants of both charges, even though (and sometimes because?) she is more capable than most of her detractors.

Stephen G.

From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of Chris Waigl <chris at LASCRIBE.NET>
Sent: Thursday, February 11, 2021 12:00 AM
Subject: Re: Is "Jezebel" a racist name?

On Wed, Feb 10, 2021 at 5:24 PM Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu>

> [...] and leaving aside the question of racism—it’s clear (to me at
> least) that the term is more obviously misogynistic than racist. That
> additional dimension [...]

I think to take account of the impossibility to do what you're trying to do
here, that is to cleanly separate misogyny and racism into dimension as if
we were talking vector calculus or linear algebra, the portemanteau
misogynoir has been coined.

My impression parallels that of Tomas Alvares. There's a lack of the
capacity to talk about these topics with sufficient insight here, and a lot
of defensiveness, which can't fill the gap.


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