(TW: discussion of homophobic and transphobic slurs)
In Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer, I believe it’s in a conversation between Jacob Black and Leah Clearwater that Jacob asks her when she became such a breeder. Normally I would take the time to properly quote, but the internet doesn’t have this conversation on record, nor do I have access to the literature.
The first time I read this book, that comment was quite a shock for me. It stirs some thoughts about the words we throw at each other and what they mean–both to the person hurling the insult and to the person receiving it.
Homophobes and transphobes use terms that are tried and true as hurtful and offensive. Faggot. Dyke. Shemale. Just a few brief examples. ‘Breeder’ is the term that I understand queer people use to similarly insult straight people. I have no queer community that I belong to, I don’t regularly speak to anyone who is anything short of straight and cis. This limits my knowledge of what language is actually used and what actually offends, so I apologize if any of my conclusions are ridiculously incorrect.
When a person maliciously calls a gay man, or even a feminine man, a ‘fag’, the intent is to pick the most sensitive subject possible to humiliate/embarrass the man. An insult is meant to put someone down, make them feel bad about some part of themselves, or to stir up a fight, so a sensitive subject such as sexuality is easily accessible and highly effective.
What can a queer person call a presumably heterosexual, cissexual person to insult that person for being what they are? What could you say that would be offensive?
Now, even if calling that straight person a breeder makes you feel better, how do they feel about it? Should they feel bad that they are the breeding people in our society? No, in my opinion. But, should a gay person feel bad when someone calls them a fag? Also no, but even I’d still feel shitty if someone called me a dyke or a he-she. We feel bad because it’s true and it’s being hurled in our faces with hurtful words that are meant to make us feel wrong for who we are.
So how do straight people feel when someone calls them a breeder?