re: linguistics pet peeve, gender discourse, "dude"
I guess the discourse on this has died enough that it’s safe enough for me to vent on some speech act theory:
Yes, nobody gets to define what words mean for you when you use them. But _you_ also don’t get to define what words mean for the community where you’re using them. You don’t get to decide whether people _should_ be hurt. That’s just not how language works, language is not programming, it’s social. Language acts have both illocutionary and perlocutionary force and they’re distinct. Or to translate the jargon, intention does not determine consequence. (As Austin points out, this is a general property of acts; speech acts are just not an exception).
There are people in this world who will make an offensive joke about weight or race etc. and 100% genuinely mean it as a friendly joke. The illocutionary act can be purely ‘brightening up and bonding’. The perlocutionary act is still racism, body-shaming etc.
Maybe in your community you can use ‘dude’ as a gender-neutral vocative. This is decided by how it affects the people on your community. When you call _me_ dude, you’re misgendering me. This is 100% independent of whether you intended to do that or not. It’s the perlocutionary act, not the illocutionary. To use Austin’s formula,
*In* calling me 'dude', you were just using a familiar vocative you considered to be ungendered,
but *by* calling me 'dude', you misgendered me.
Upon being informed of that, the correct response is to 1) understand the datum that 'dude' can perform misgendering 2) apologise and 3) mind how you use it from now on.
(To make a parallel – most of my transfeminine friends like to be called ‘girls’, for many reasons. Many of my cisfeminine friends consider it to be belittling and demeaning. If I call a cis friend 'girl' and she feels belittled, then _I have belittled her_, that's the perlocutionary act, doesn't matter if I didn't intend it that way (illocutionary act). Therefore I mind how I use the word 'girl'. I don't get to decide whether it may be belittling or not.)
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