I find it humorous that we both had the same thought experiment. I read
"honky" as less offensive than "redneck", but that may be subjective
To be very plain:
The image we conjure up of a "gypsy" is a stereotype. "Gypsy" for
invokes images of coin hip scarves and veils and brightly painted caravans.
Mysterious women. Homeless vagrants who are selling snake oil. Fire eaters.
Sellers of junk.
Even if we removed the negative ones, and "gypsy" made us just think of
"sexy mysterious woman", isn't that just objectifying women? Or sexualizing
a race of people? Is that any different than talking about which race has
bigger or smaller penises? Or saying that Asian women are "exotic" and
black men are "savage"?
So yeah, the more I've thought about this over the last few days - and the
last year or so ago, since I first suggested "spiral" - I've been realizing
that "gypsy" is a problem. Maybe it's not, at least in America, the slur
that it is in parts of Europe. But it's still a stereotype loaded word.
The other objection is "very few are complaining, why not wait til more
people are complaining?"
Well, we can wait until it's a big problem, or we can acknowledge the
direction things are going, and head it off before it becomes less of an
accepted word. Would I rather be too PC, or like my grandma, who I had to
remind that "negro" is not an appropriate word anymore in the 2000s? I'd
rather error on the side of PC, in this particular case.
For me, the tipping point, as I explained in my previous e-mail, has been
first and second hand accounts of people of actual Romani heritage having
issues. Yes, some do and some don't - but that's precisely the point I was
communicating when I came up with the "redneck" thought experiment. Some
wear "redneck" with honor. But definitely, *definitely* "redneck" is
used as a slur to disparage people who are seen as inferior.
On Sun, Nov 1, 2015 at 5:41 PM, Tom Hinds <twhinds(a)earthlink.net> wrote:
When this discussion started I decided to actually use
honky instead of
gypsy the next time I called. I would of course explain to the dancers
this extremely important and delicate issue that is now confronting the
contra dance community. Why not get a chuckle from the floor? I
appreciate the suggestion of red neck but I think honky flows better. See
the end of this email for calling examples.
Several people have thanked me off list for what I said because they don't
want to be seen as insensitive. Basically we think there's way too much
mental effort and concern based on 1 person's complaint. That I'm actually
taking time at all on this topic is a bad reflection on my judgment.
Ron, I really want to know: since you started dancing have you thought
badly of the Romani people because of the use of the word gypsy? Is there
any caller or dancer out there who has thought badly about Romani people
because of this call?
At the time that I wrote my last email, I also wrote the following but
decided not to send it because I didn't want to be seen as insensitive.
Here it is. Maybe you'll get a chuckle.
As a caller I've often used self-defecating humor to get dancers to
relax. It shows that we callers are human and can make mistakes etc. It
also takes the focus off of them and on to me.
With that said I was thinking that we, the white majority in the US, might
consider pointing the finger at ourselves in a joking way. This might
show minorities that we to can take a joke and perhaps communicate that, in
some situations, it's important not to take things too seriously.
Let's do away with the call gypsy and replace it with honky. Here are
"Honky your partner"
"Honky 'round your neighbor"
"ladies honky once and a half"
If a Romani person ever complains to you tell them this: naming a move
after an ethnic group is one of the highest honors of our dance community.
The only other people to be so honored are the Dosidoes.