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

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Thu Feb 11 10:09:32 EST 2021

In my experience "Jezebel" (misogynist or not) is a racially neutral
term. There's no reason to believe that the evangelical pastor wouldn't
have called a white woman a "Jezebel" just as readily. I was surprised by
the article's assumption that it was racist - and that everyone with sense
knew it. That's what caught my attention: the charge of obvious racism
attached to the word as a word.

Moving from words to images, the "Black Jezebel" image doesn't seem to
differ significantly from the "White Jezebel" image.

As far as I can tell, the depersonalized "Black Jezebel" image under
discussion isn't a Jezebel *because* she's Black, which seems to be the
assumption here. She's a "Jezebel" who happens to be Black.

Words, as they say, have meanings, and it's good to know what words mean in
general use.

If someone truly feels that word X is racist (rather than simply thinking
that's what they should think), then obviously it's racist *to them.*  But
that's not enough to label the decontextualized lemma as "racist," or -
more important - to impute racism (a serious accusation) to anyone who uses
it, or used it in the past.

There can't be a very significant proportion of the population outside of
the pulpit that uses "Jezebel" seriously anyway, and discussing a word
rationally on an academic forum such as this will hardly either promote or
discourage its use.


On Thu, Feb 11, 2021 at 8:44 AM <dave at wilton.net> wrote:

> I concur with Chris and Tomas.
> A term can be both misogynistic and racist, and trying to tease apart
> which facet is worse is both a fool's errand and one that can only lead to
> making one or both of them more acceptable.
> This strikes me as parallel to, or even an aspect of, the
> intersectionality debate in feminism.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> On Behalf Of
> Chris Waigl
> Sent: Thursday, February 11, 2021 12:01 AM
> Subject: Re: [ADS-L] Is "Jezebel" a racist name?
> On Wed, Feb 10, 2021 at 5:24 PM Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu>
> wrote:
> > [...] 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.
> Chris
> --
> Chris Waigl . chris.waigl at gmail.com . chris at lascribe.net
> http://eggcorns.lascribe.net . http://chryss.eu
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> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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