let’s learn about lesbian slurs! ⚢
an explanation on why non-lesbians (including other wlw) cannot reclaim and should not be using the term, ‘dyke.’
— by a lesbian ☀︎︎
what’s the origin? ⚢
the exact origins of ‘dyke,’ aren’t crystal clear; however, here are a few widely accepted theories.
‘dyke,’ may have originated from the term, ‘hermaphrodite,’ which used to be a common term used to describe people born with ambiguous sex characteristics. as the word became more widespread, ‘morphodite,’ and ‘morphodike,’ were also coined. it is believed that ‘dyke,’ came from ‘morphodike,’ and was used to enforce the stereotype that all lesbians look and act like men.
the term was first seen, in berrey and van den bark's 1942 american thesaurus of slang, with dike being the more commonly used variation. during the mid-19th century to the early 20th century, dike was known as american slang for a well-dressed man, with "diked out" and "out on a dike," indicating a young man was in his best clothes and ready for a night on the town.
the term ‘bulldyker,’ preceded dyke in in harlem renaissance novels printed in the 1920s. according to the context given by the novel, the term was seen as crude and disapproving. it is thought that this might correlate to the late-19th-century slang use of ‘dike’ for ‘vulva.’ the term, ‘bull,’ being added and used in an aggressive/masculine context may have linked the term, ‘bulldyke’ to previously mentioned term, ‘hermaphrodite.’
lastly, there may have been a conntection to middle english’s, ’bulldicker,’ specifically meaning “false penis,” which denotes false male genitalia, or “false man.”
all of these examples shame lesbians for their lack of attraction to men, also shaming their attraction to women.