On ‘Butthurt’: Are You ‘Butthurt’ If You Think ‘Butthurt’ Is Homophobic Or Misogynistic?

PIC: Lara604 (CC)

PIC: Lara604 (CC)

Mobutu Sese Seko writes at Gawker:

The wages of criticism on the internet is an uphill battle against endless counter-arguments made in bad faith. Bob Costas learned that on Sunday night. He responded to a gun-related murder-suicide with an appeal for gun control. Conservatives howled. You know who else liked gun control? Hitler. Gun control is bad, because anything Hitler favored is bad. Like freeways or crushing communism.

Sadly, Hitler references are almost overwrought at this point. There are analogies. They require books or History Channel episodes. The internet, meanwhile, evolves ever more efficient ways to marginalize arguments. This isn’t new. A few years ago, Bob Costas would have only been “care- and real mad.” But that’s four words. Now he’s just “butthurt.” Goodbye, Mr. Costas.

Although it’s by far the most offensive iteration, “butthurt” is just the latest in line of cop-out dismissals. If you’ve been wasting your time on the internet for more than a few years, you probably remember its ancestors.

U mad?

It’s going to be famous forever, if only for Cam’ron’s using it on The O’Reilly Factor in 2003 and spawning a legendary animated gif. You can use it a lot of ways, but the most basic one is, “You’re mad, so I must be getting to you, and that means nobody can take you seriously.” You win both because you score off the other person but also because he’s no longer rational, so his argument is invalid. At that point, the only way for your opponent to win the confrontation is a race to prove who cares the least about the internet. One day, we will develop the ability to reduce the “you are care and mad” battle to two people uploading pics of themselves doing sad-semaphore kabuki. Until then, the whole gambit will always be sort of funny, because each person has to try to write fewer words than the other guy, and if the goal is to prove that neither one gives a shit about the internet, then why were they arguing to begin with?

U jelly?

Proving the other guy is mad only works so much, though. Anger is manly, and it can seem confident. Being angry can be reasonable sometimes. Jealousy, on the other hand, is weak and pathetic. Real men—real winners—don’t get jealous; they just get what they want. Proving that someone is jealous proves three things. One, they are less satisfied and less important than you are—full of so much fail. Two, they’re just as irrational as some guy blowing his stack, so you can also dismiss their arguments as an irrational emotional display. Three, serious levels of care detected.

It’s easy to write this all off as merely stupid slapfights in article comment sections, but everybody does it. You can watch celebrities on Twitter shrug off criticism from other celebrities because they don’t have as many followers. Tom Clancy once responded to a hilariously negative Christopher Buckley review with, “Sonny, when your paperback sales begin to approach my hardcover sales in, say, England, do let me know.” Last year, I wrote a long criticism of a popular website that I thought was staffed by bozos, and an award-winning journalist spent about 15 minutes tweeting and sub-tweeting about how desperately I must have wanted to write for it. (I’m still not sure if he had any idea that he was, at best, proving my point when he bragged that he’d just been hired there and I never would be.)

You’re butthurt.

Both “u mad?” and “u jelly?” are reductive and bad, but “butthurt” probably does more to signal the clanging approach of a moron than any other word short of “Ayn.” Butthurt surpasses the others, because it can mean almost anything. Someone who’s butthurt can be furious or whiny or victimized or petty or jealous or devoid of perspective. There’s nothing you can’t apply it to, so long as you want to signal a total lack of respect for the other side.

For example:

  • “Palestinian representatives outlined a list of butthurt to the UN last week, hoping for a UN Resolution on Palestinian Butthurt. The UN failed to tell them to get over it and just move to some other Arab country.”
  • “President Franklin Delano Butthurt addressed the nation, claiming that December 7th, 1941 would ‘live in infamy’ just because America got its butt hurt by the Japanese.”
  • “I’m sick and tired of the butthurt over at Jezebel from all their PC Meter Maids being afraid of men telling it like it is about how girls get themselves raped.”

That’s the other aspect of “butthurt” that makes a legitimately awful term. Because jealousy and anger are emotions; they spring naturally from our thoughts and feelings. There is no mode of argument, no state of grief, no kind of righteous anger that actually results in your butt hurting. No one suffering a breakup feels “butt ache” from listening to love songs on the radio.

There is, however, a pretty obvious cause of butthurt that everyone envisions when they try to think of its point of origin. It’s called getting fucked in the ass.

Read more here.

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  • emperorreagan

    One of my most vivid memories of pain is losing my footing while chasing another kid down a flight of concrete stairs and landing 4-5 stairs down on my butt, bruising my tail bone. That’s the first thing that occurs to me when people use “butthurt” but the frat-bro-homophobic-dominating interpretation makes far more sense based on who I’ve seen use it regularly. Either way, not the kind of word that’s going to enter my vocabulary.

    • Andrew

      I don’t respect people who use the term much, but I have to admit “President Franklin Delano Butthurt” is kinda funny in a sick way.

      • Tuna Ghost

        Oooohhhh I get it now, because he was always sitting down right

    • kcorb

      I always think of corporal punishment. That butthurt look kids would have after coming back from swats in the principles office.

      • InfvoCuernos

        That’s pretty much the way I’ve always interpreted it. The article says its used to indicate a combination of jealousy and anger, but I don’t think jealousy comes into play in any definition of “butthurt”. I think its pretty common for people that have been victim of certain things to see those things everywhere they look, especially if its directed in a negative fashion in them. I’ve used the term “butthurt” exactly once and was accused of insensitivity to survivors of child rape. I was just thinking of “being sore” at something.

    • aaron

      Oh I have had a similar butthurt experience with some cement stairs that some genius decide to paint with high gloss paint in Washington state where it rains 9.5 months out of the year. I used the stairs on a regular basis for a few years and slipped but caught myself multiple times and always thought “goddamn how stupid to paint stairs that get rained on, one of these days im gonna slip and bust my ass or die.” The stairs never accomplished their attempts to injure me for 3 years straight until literally 5 days before I was moving away from there and they caught me on the 5th step from the bottom and I had a serious butthurt after my ass bounced off the four remaining cement steps then the cement ground at the bottom. Thankfully I didnt break my tailbone and oddly enough no one was around to see it but I limped off just cursing and contemplating killing whoever painted those.

  • HalfTonSon

    More PC thought police bullshit. God, please can the internet find another hobby besides calling out everything that can possibly offend anyone? We’re getting to the point where it’s more important to nail someone saying something stupid about some group than it is to actually help that group.

    Anyway, it’s just a dumb, douchey-sounding phrase. Seriously, I’ve cringed over this phrase [too many] times and the last thing I think of is anal sex. It sounds like the kind of insult a 9 year old would make up on the spot. I can’t believe adults are even discussing this, but here we are, oops.

    • Echar Lailoken

      You would dare censor my overly sensitive outrage!

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  • HCE

    Who in the hell is Lara604, and what does she have to do with being butthurt?

    • Mr Grim

      Looking at the photo, I’d say she’s everything to do with it. (Assuming it’s a selfie.)

  • HowardBrazee

    As long as those who hate what Hitler stood for are at the forefront of fighting the basic Nazi belief that Big Business and Big Government are bedfellows.