Weegies, teuchters, neds and chavs: microaggressions and pejorative language in Scotland

You won’t read the slurs in this post again on the Village Aunties, unless it’s under very particular circumstances. The eagle-eyed among you will have spotted the following clause in the Village Aunties guidelines page, Take Heed:

Village aunties challenge language and actions that reinforce oppression.

Use of language on this blog that reinforces sexism, heterosexism, racism, transphobia, and class oppression (to give but a few examples) will not be tolerated. Not taking heed will get commenters summarily banned according to the sole discretion of the village aunties.

This includes such terminology as “ned”, “chav”, “pikey”, “white trash” and other insults regarding people’s position in the class structure. It also includes “teuchter”, “weegie”, “Gaelic mafia” and other terms (including sectarian slurs) used to insult people according to where they belong in Scotland’s cultural landscape. Exceptions will be made only for individual village aunties who rightfully claim a label for themselves, and for the use of words from Scots or other languages in the context of that language, as long as they are used non-pejoratively. For instance, self-identified ned feminists are more than welcome; as are posts written in Scots that use the word “teuchter” in its original sense.

Many readers may be shocked, puzzled or annoyed to read the second paragraph. The white people among us (which includes me) know we can’t use “the ‘N’ word” or “the ‘P’ word”. Most of us understand why. There are a range of words in between these almost universally acknowledged slurs, and general insults like the lovely Kiwi insult “ya egg”, where the degree of taboo, offense or potential hurt or exclusion are debated.

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village aunties are go!

After the results of the Scottish parliamentary election in May 2011, I decided it was time to fulfil a long-standing dream and start a collaborative feminist blog for discussing issues relevant to Scotland as we move toward independence.

I spoke to a bunch of people, including Lallands Peat Worrier and The Feminist Blether at The Free Hetherington, and posted about it on Facebook and Twitter and on my own personal blog. There was a lot of interest. I asked the good folks at Bella Caledonia to go for a drink with me so I could pump them for advice on a venture such as this, then had to cancel and never got round to organising another drink.

I told people I would call a meeting first to get some initial collaborators together. Then as time moved on, it became clear that I was hesitating. I was spooked by the interest, and becoming increasingly anxious about the response my radical line would probably evoke once I put it out there. Plus, I had just finished my last freelance job and was feeling, frankly, very lazy after a stressful few years.

But it’s a New Moon today and I’ve sat up all night drafting a village aunties’ manifesto and some rules for the blog.

Now I’m going to contact all those people who showed an interest and see if they have any feedback on the manifesto and rules so far. These documents are pretty severe and serious and hardline so I guess I’ll end up with a minority of the original interested people on board. But that’s OK- a collaborative blog only needs a few people. Hopefully this will inspire others to set up their own blogs with their own rules and manifestos, or lack thereof. I hope folk who don’t agree with everything the village aunties stand for will still come here for some reading and robust discussion.

The next step will not just be writing posts here; I also want to encourage women, in particular, to write and comment here and elsewhere, and to think about setting up their own blogs. People need support and advice and many people just plain need access to computers and the Internet. These issues are all equally important in ensuring a diversity of voices on the New Scottish Web.

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