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2 Dec 2014

An examination of “butthurt” – Today I am going to talk a little bit about language on the internet. That’s an incredibly broad subject, of course, and to cover it thoroughly would probably require a book. Since I don’t feel quite like writing a book today, I’m going to focus on just one word. Over the past decade and a half, this word has spread like a cancer. It needs to be retired. I have no illusion that my little discussion today is going to help bring that about, but I’ve seen a lot of discussions about this word, and very few of these discussions really get to the heart of what is wrong with it. If nothing else, I would like to pull back the curtain and expose this word for what it really is.

“What exactly does being offended or getting all bent out of shape have to do with your butt hurting?”

What is this word you ask? Well, brace yourselves, because here it comes: “butthurt.”

If you have not heard this word before, you apparently do not spend much time on the internet. I envy you your innocence. You may find this discussion enlightening nonetheless—but I should warn you that I will be quoting from some sources that use language some might find objectionable. I’m not going to censor these words, as they are illustrative of how “butthurt” is used and perceived. We’re also going to have to deal with some unsavory ideas to get to the bottom of all of this, so keep that in mind as well. Caveat lector and all that.

Defining butthurt

Let’s start with what the word means. I began my search at Know Your Meme, although the KYM entry on the term wasn’t added until 2009, making it a relatively late definition. Instead, I’m going to start with the earliest definition available. That would be the one in the Online Slang Dictionary, which predates KYM by ten years.

offended, upset, or angry, usually by a small slight or a friendly insult. I was just kidding. Don't get butt-hurt!

Sounds harmless enough, doesn’t it? We’ve all seen (or perhaps been) people who take jokes way too seriously, so we can probably all relate to this.

The first definition appeared on the Urban Dictionary (a depository of crowd-sourced definitions) two years later, in 2001:

getting your feelings hurt, or getting all bent out of shape. He got all butt hurt when she wouldnt give him a ride.

This definition seems overly broad, and not quite as helpful as the OSD definition. But there are a total of 77 entries for “butthurt” at the time of writing, and later efforts seem to get closer to the mark. Take this entry from 2006:

Getting your feelings hurt, being offended or getting all bent out of shape because of something petty or stupid. Roney got butthurt when Drew did not help him clean Scat

The addition of “because of something petty or stupid” is an important addition here, and goes beyond the original OSD definition. Now we’re not simply dealing with jokes or “friendly insults,” we’re talking about people overreacting (“getting all bent out of shape”) to trivial things.

If you clicked on the link to Urban Dictionary above, you’ll notice that I’ve chosen the (at the time of writing) #2 and #4 definitions, but I haven’t touched the #1 and #3 definitions, both of which were added in 2003. Never fear; I will get back to those, as both of them have much to contribute to our discussion here.

Moving on from Urban Dictionary for a moment, though, Wiktionary also has a definition; this one was added in 2007:

(slang) Overly annoyed or bothered by a perceived insult; needlessly offended. Don't get so butthurt; it was just a joke.

We’re back to specifics here, as opposed to simply “something petty or stupid,” but there is an important difference from earlier definitions: the addition of the word “perceived.” In other words, the thing at which the subject has taken offense is perceived by the subject as an insult—implying that it might not have actually been an insult at all.

The last definition we’ll look at before moving on is the one from KYM, which the site says was added “five years ago” and last edited “about a year ago” (what’s wrong with precise dates?). This is the most recent definition and, given the aggregative nature of the website, is probably a decent representation of how the term is perceived:

Butthurt is an online slang term used to describe a strongly negative or overemotional response. It is used to draw attention to a person who shows signs of being irritated due to a perceived insult, an unfavorable situation, or a lack of decent communication. On occasions, it can be also used to describe unreasonable users behaviors without an apparent explanation.

There are some important additions to the general understanding of the term here. For one, this is the only definition I found that defines “butthurt” as an online phenomenon. I can say that I’ve never heard the term offline, but this is not surprising, seeing as I do not live in an English-speaking country, so I can’t really comment on the veracity of this aspect of the definition. It sounds reasonable to me, though, and I think it is important—I’ll get back to why later, when we talk about how the term is actually used in the wild.

This definition also broadens the scope of what might set off the butthurt behavior—the “triggers,” if you will. The idea of a “perceived insult” is there and in the primary position, but also listed is unfavorable situations, which to be honest could mean just about anything. I take this to mean “when things don’t go the subject’s way.” The “lack of decent communication” seems a little odd, to be honest, and the best I can come up with on this is what could be called “sitcom communication,” where people end up making things worse by not being upfront about whatever problems they might be having, thus leading to (supposedly hilarious) misunderstandings.

Finally, the KYM definition goes beyond the basic “making a mountain out of a molehill” phenomenon, saying that the term is also used to describe what appears to be inexplicable—that is, irrational—behavior. This will also be an important point later in the discussion. For now, though, I’d like to talk a little bit about how “butthurt” first came into being.

The origin of butthurt

According to KYM, the earliest sighting of “butthurt” in the wild was in 1998. In fact, we even have an exact time and date: seventeen minutes and five seconds before midnight on the 6th of July, 1998. The term was used in a comment left on the website of the famed Swiss artist H. R. Giger. You may have heard the name before: He was responsible for the design of the original aliens in the film Alien, for one. Although Giger was credited as a designer for the original films, he was not credited in the sequels; his public protest against this was described by a commenter, known only as “Doug,” as “butthurt.” KYM quotes only the last few lines of the comment—the lines in which “butthurt” appears, but I think context is important, so here’s the whole thing:

I have the first entry in the June section.... This is my response to the Lamester in charge..... My email is intact here...use it. as far as knowing art, I do not think GIGER's whining and crying is art. Although I will admit some of his earlier works were inspiring, they now merely bore me. I am much more IMPRESSED by Frank Frazetta's portfolio, and yet we hear no whimpering from him do we? He is a GIANT in the ART WORLD. I cannot truely compare Fraz to Giger or Vice Versa, but that is the wonderful thing about having my own opinions. Many times DESIGNERS are not credited for their art in HOLLYWOOD! It is the nature of the Machine. If GIGER wants to cry, let him drown in his tears, then maybe this INSURRECTION will close. I have read enough about it in the magazines I buy. Enough is enough. Giger can cry all the way to his grave, but will that make him a better artist?? I think it is Giger's own damn fault for being an idiot! Why did he not have a contract that stated that no matter how many ALIEN films are made, that he gets billed as the designer? Hollywood has tossed Giger for more talented artists, and even those artist who can emulate his style, without the tears and the hurt butts. If giger reads this I would be amazed, not only that he can comprehend a bunch of letters placed into groups and spaced randomly to create words which in turn create sentances, but that he can even UNDERSTAND the INTERNET! GIGER is LAME. all he can do is rely on his ALIEN paintings to make him famous! Well I used to be impressed until I read all this BUTTHURT he has been going through. Oh poor baby Giger. HR Puff-N-Giger.

So there you have it: the place where it (presumably) all began. You may be asking yourself a question, though. In fact, if you’re like me, you may have been asking this question ever since you first saw “butthurt” being used—what exactly does being offended or getting all bent out of shape have to do with your butt hurting?

KYM says: “The term “butthurt” originates from spanking.” This phrase has a footnote citation, but that citation simply leads to the Wikipedia page for “spanking” instead of, as one might expect, the source for this statement. There does not, in fact, seem to be any source for this statement other than KYM itself. However, a closer look at the Giger comment above seems to lend some credence to this interpretation. In describing the emotional content of Giger’s reaction, the author uses “whining” and “whimpering” once each, “tears” twice, and some form of the verb “to cry” three times. These are the only words used to describe Giger’s reaction, and they all fit the image of a child who has just been spanked. So it would appear that the term “butthurt” originally referred to a response similar to that of a child who has just been spanked: petulant, peevish, and whiny.

There are other interpretations of the term, of course. Wiktionary, for example, lists as a related term beneath its definition the phrase “pain in the butt,” and under “See also” it offers variations on this phrase, substituting “arse,” “ass,” “bum,” and “rear” for “butt.” I’ve seen this meaning referred to in online discussion boards; on the straightdope.com messages boards, for example, one user opened a thread with “I don't understand why someone having their feelings hurt is referred to as ‘butt hurt’” and the first reply was “Think ‘pain in the ass’.”

However, this meaning makes no sense to me. A “pain in the butt” describes someone who is an annoyance to you—that is, the person having the emotional reaction is you, and you are reacting to the aforementioned pain the butt—but “butthurt” is used to describe the very person who is having the emotional reaction. I’m not alone in this; a few comments farther down in the Straight Dope thread, a user wrote: “When someone is a pain in the ass they're super irritating to you. Butthurt is used in the sense of having one's feelings hurt instead, so I don't think they're connected.”

I think this explanation is something that happened after the fact, an attempt to explain the term by drawing on existing and superficially similar terms or phrases. I brought up the Straight Dope thread not just to illustrate this point, though. There is another popular interpretation of the “butthurt,” and this interpretation is far more problematic and troublesome. To be honest, when I first encountered “butthurt,” my mind went to this interpretation—perhaps because I found the term on the internet and just assumed the worst. So before we go any further with this discussion, we need to deal with the elephant in the room.

Does butthurt refer to anal rape?

Although the question that started the Straight Dope thread I mentioned above is innocent enough, the thread title itself caught my attention: “Is butt hurt an anti-gay slur?” Let’s set aside for a moment the assumption that anal rape is a uniquely gay phenomenon—this is problematic, of course, but obviously not true. If you read through that thread, you will see a number of comments from people who also equated “butthurt” with anal rape.

They are not alone. Remember those Urban Dictionary definitions I skipped over before? Well, it’s time to come back to the definition that is currently ranked third:

some one who doesnt know how to take a joke, and they take the joke like they just took it to the ass hey its just a joke, dont get all butt hurt

The fact that this definition is ranked third means that a lot of people agree with or approve of it—it has been upvoted 1,658 times (and downvoted 688 times). Part of that could be due to the fact that it is a relatively early definition, dating back to 2003, but there are eight definitions from 2003 and only three of them have over fifty upvotes, so it can’t just be the fact that it’s been around for a decade.

It’s not just Straight Dopers and the denizens of the Urban Dictionary; while researching this entry I found an article in Persephone Magazine by a self-described “angry feminist” calling herself “Elfity.” The question posed in the title is “Can we please stop using the term ‘butthurt’?” and the reason for this plea is the connotations of anal rape. While Elfity admits that this is not the common definition, she also says that the term “can’t be separated from that meaning.” The crux of her argument is best represented by the following quote:

Essentially, the term is used when someone is upset that someone else has gotten the better or them or beaten them or bested them in some way. That is to say, they dominated them. You know, like when someone is raped.

So, is that what is going on here? Is “butthurt” a term that originated as a reference to spanking but has now, thanks to the power of the internet, been at least partially transformed into a reference to anal rape?

The problem with language is that it is constantly evolving. One of my favorite examples of this is how “nice” evolved so much that it ended up meaning the opposite of what it originally meant—and with the way it is being used today, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was on its way back over to the negative end of the spectrum. So I cannot discount the possibility that “butthurt” has taken on meanings that it did not originally possess. That being said, I believe focusing on the anal rape connection is misguided—not because it’s not an important issue, but because it draws attention away from what is really going on when “butthurt” gets tossed into an online argument.

The truth about butthurt

While I think the truth about butthurt is actually pretty simple, I’ve rolled out a number of threads in this entry so far, and I want to tie them all together before I get to the punchline. I’m going to start with the most recent thread, the quotation from Elfity. For Elfity, butthurt is all about being dominated. Right before the passage I quoted above, she gives two examples of “butthurt” in use: “Sandra is in a bad mood because Hugo took her parking spot? She’s just butthurt. Mike won’t stop complaining that his bro beat him playing video games? Butthurt.” These are the only examples she gives, and they do indeed support her assertion that “butthurt” is about domination. The problem is that, while these are definitely examples of butthurt behavior, they are by no means the only examples.

Let’s go back to the KYM definition for a moment. I’ll save you the trouble of scrolling back up to read it; the important part of the definition for our purposes now is the list of triggers for butthurt behavior: “a perceived insult, an unfavorable situation, or a lack of decent communication.” The middle item, “an unfavorable situation,” covers a situation in which one person is dominated by another, but it is not limited to that. If you’re thinking, “Well, that could apply to just about anything,” you’re on the right track. The truth is that you can be butthurt over just about anything. Upset that your favored candidate didn’t win the election? Butthurt. Dissatisfied with the rules in a game you’re playing? Butthurt. Annoyed that your lover did not wake you up to go out dancing, thus leaving you hanging on like a yo-yo? Butthurt (and most likely trapped in a Wham! song). Notice the lack of domination by anyone over anyone else in these scenarios.

We’re getting closer to the truth about “butthurt” here. I think it’s finally time to bring in the number one definition on Urban Dictionary. I’ve been saving this one because it is a real gem, and because the author (probably unknowingly) tells us a lot about the mindset of people who use this term—not about the people to whom the term is applied, mind you, but about the people who apply it to others.

An inappropriately strong negative emotional response from a perceived personal insult. Characterized by strong feelings of shame. Frequently associated with a cessation of communication and overt hostility towards the “aggressor.” Adam got butthurt when Mike stole his bitch.

This is truly classic. Note, first of all, the formal-register language: “inappropriately strong negative emotional response,” “cessation of communication,” “overt hostility.” I used to play a game called “Dictionary” with some online friends. In this game, a group of people take turns picking obscure words from the dictionary, and everyone writes definitions for these words. The person who picked the word that round tosses in the real definition, and then everyone votes on what they think the word actually means. After you play this game for a while, you learn to mimic the sort of language used in dictionary definitions, thus (hopefully) increasing your chances that your definition will be picked and you will get points. The definition up there feels like it was written by a beginner Dictionary player—it is in fact a horrible definition, but it sounds official, which is probably why it has so many votes.

Leaving aside how horrible the definition might be, there are a number of things here that tip the author’s hand, showing us that he (I could go gender-vague here... but we all know this was written by a guy) is firmly on the side of the butthurt labelers, not the butthurt labeled. The first sign is something that we have seen elsewhere, namely the addition of “perceived” to “insult.” Since I already mentioned this above, I’ll move on to sign number two: the scare quotes around “aggressor.” This operates on the same level as “perceived”—we are questioning the truth value of the claim. Was it really an insult? Was that person really an aggressor? Or are we just overreacting?

Sign number three is the entire second sentence, and this one needs a little more unpacking. The author has stated in the first sentence that butthurt is primarily an emotional response, so we expect that emotion to be clarified in the next sentence. It is, and what we get is... shame? Let’s think about that for a moment. We know that the emotional response is “inappropriately strong,” so what exactly does it mean to feel “inappropriately strong shame”? And what would a person in that emotion state likely do? Would they lash out at others? Would they complain about their plight? After all, these are the behaviors associated with being butthurt. People suffering from shame, though, don’t really want to do anything that might draw attention to them—they want to be small, to curl up in a corner and hide from the world until the shame goes away.

So why does the author name shame, of all possible emotions, as the primary aspect of butthurt? Because that’s the emotion the author thinks butthurt people should feel. They are pathetic, pitiful, and should be ashamed of themselves. The fourth sign—the example sentence—reinforces this idea (and incidentally, drops any pretense of formality). “Adam got butthurt when Mike stole his bitch.” There are so many things wrong with this sentence, but what is important for our purposes is the fact that it does not really illustrate the definition at all. Mike “stole” Adam’s girlfriend. That doesn’t sound like a “perceived personal insult” to me; it sounds like a really horrible thing to do to another human being. It also sounds like a perfectly reasonable thing to be upset over.

It should be clear by now how the term “butthurt” is being used, and to whom it is applied. For a word that is used so widely, “butthurt” has a curiously narrow scope in terms of usage. Although it can be described as synonymous or at least similar to “hurt,” “offended,” or “upset,” it differs from those words in one key aspect: it always reflects negatively on the subject. That is, it is never used as anything but an insult. Despite the puzzling number of Urban Dictionary example sentences written in the first person, you will never hear anyone in real life use this term to describe their own feelings—except maybe facetiously.

At the beginning of this section, I addressed the idea that “butthurt” was an expression of domination by one person over another. To recap, I think this is somewhat misguided because dominance only applies to a fraction of the situations in which “butthurt” is used. I think there is a more important reason why focusing on the dominance of one person over another is barking up the wrong tree, though: the term “butthurt” is used not to describe an act of domination, but the reaction of a person who feels that they have been personally wronged in some way.

This does not mean that the use of “butthurt” is itself necessarily not an act of domination; at least, it is not a domination of violence, aggression, or intimidation. If it is domination at all, it is a domination of dismissal or trivialization. By comparing a person’s reaction to that of a child who has just been punished, you have made it impossible for anyone to take them seriously. It is a common tactic used to avoid any argument your opponent might bring up, simply be discrediting them as a rational agent (this is where the idea that butthurt people are irrational becomes important). Logically speaking, of course, this is not a valid tactic—it is, in fact, an example of the genetic fallacy—but online arguments are not known for their strict logical rigor (and, as we saw above, “butthurt” is primarily an online term).

In the process of researching this entry, the most interesting thing I came across was an article written for Gawker by one Mobuto Sese Seko (not the Nigerian dictator—this is apparently a pen name that was used by a guy named Jeb Lund). Mobuto/Jeb gets it right, I think, when he sees “butthurt” as the next step in the development of reductive insults, after “u mad?” and “u jelly?” By dismissing your opponent as either simply angry or jealous, it is easy to trivialize what this opponent may have to say. The crux of Mobuto/Jeb’s article, for me at least, is this paragraph (the first sentence in particular is a gem):

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.

Mobuto/Jeb then goes on to draw the same conclusion as Elfity, that “butthurt” is a reference to anal rape—or, in Mobuto/Jeb’s words, “forced humiliating sodomy.” I’ve already given my reasons why I think this interpretation is a stretch, but it is undeniable that this word has this connotation for a lot of people. It’s yet another reason why this word is horrible—I just don’t think it is the primary reason. That would be because it can be used in any situation to belittle or dismiss someone you don’t agree with.

Sticking with the idea of “butthurt” as violent or aggressive domination for a moment, I’d like to look at an image that I found on KYM. For those of you too lazy to click that link, it is a screen capture of Emperor Palpatine from the original Star Wars trilogy. It is captioned both top and bottom with lines from the third film—lines that the Emperor speaks to Luke—but there is a twist. The original lines are: “Good. Use your aggressive feelings, boy! Let the hate flow through you.” In the meme version, “hate” has been changed to “butthurt.”

When I first saw this photo, I thought it was passingly clever. The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized how insightful it really is—that what Emperor Palpatine attempts to do to Luke is exactly what people who use “butthurt” attempt to do to the people they are labeling. Directly before the lines referenced in the meme (well, not directly before, since at this point in Return of the Jedi we are leaping back and forth between the climaxes on Endor, the Death Star, and the attacking Rebel fleet), we see Luke watching as the Rebel fleet is being destroyed by Imperial forces. The emperor begins to goad him: “Your fleet has lost. And your friends on the Endor moon will not survive. There is no escape, my young apprentice. The Alliance will die...as will your friends.” When he sees his words having the desired effect, he really pours it on: “Good. I can feel your anger. I am defenseless. Take your weapon! Strike me down with all your hatred, and your journey towards the dark side will be complete.”

Amazingly enough, this works. Luke ignites his lightsaber and swings violently at the emperor—only to be blocked by Darth Vader. The emperor utters the lines parodied above after Luke kicks his father (um, spoiler?) down a flight of stairs. Interestingly enough, it is only then that Luke realizes he is being manipulated, and he extinguishes his light saber. Is the emperor trying to dominate Luke here? In a way, he is, but he is not using violence, aggression, or intimidation to do so. He simply goads Luke into giving into his anger, knowing that the anger will do his (the emperor’s) work for him. It is only after Luke proves incorruptible (admittedly after a severe trial) that the emperor resorts to violence. And what happens when he does that? Luke’s father finally finds the last bit of humanity left in his soul, and he kills the emperor. Lesson: Goad your opponent into giving vent to his anger and you can just sit back and watch him implode; attack him when he has taken the moral high ground and you run the risk of engendering sympathy for your opponent while you become the bad guy.

Maybe that’s a slightly tortured interpretation of Jedi, but it makes perfect sense when used as a meme for butthurt. It is not so much an indicator of violent domination as it is an attempt to goad your opponent into destroying him or herself.

Granted, so far I have been assuming that people being labeled as “butthurt” are not actually butthurt, that the term is being used by people as a tactic to discredit their opponents and invalidate their arguments. I won’t deny, though, that there are plenty of examples of people out there who fit the definition of “butthurt” perfectly. This video of an outraged Team Fortress player is one such example—and if you’re looking for more examples, just browse through the related videos on the right-hand side of the page. (I should warn you that while most of the video is censored for language, a lot slips through, and a lot of the language that is not technically cursing is unpleasant, to say the least.) If you manage to make it all the way through the video, you will hear a closing summary statement made by one of the players who witnessed the tantrum: “You heard a five-year-old getting butthurt about life.” (Note the use of term to indicate immaturity as opposed to being a reference to anal rape.)

Most of the time I have seen the term used on the internet, though, the person being called “butthurt” does not seem particularly butthurt. Perhaps this is because I do not play online games like Team Fortress. I suspect that, outside such venues, “butthurt” has become less a descriptive term and more a rhetorical weapon. Since this all allegedly started with the comment made on Giger’s message board, let’s bring things full circle. As I mentioned above in “The origin of butthurt,” Giger was upset because he was not credited for his original work when the film Alien: Resurrection (the fourth in the series) came out. But why am I explaining this to you when you can read about it in Giger’s own words?

That letter (you read it, right?) is presumably the sort of “whining and crying” that Doug was referring to in his comment on Giger’s website. There is a threat at the end, but it is a fanciful one—Giger of course is not really wishing death on those responsible for shafting him. It is more clever than anything else, and I don’t see anything in that letter that sounds like butthurt. It is possible that Doug is referring to other public comments that Giger made, but can you really blame Giger? He was responsible for creating one of the most memorable monsters in modern cinematic history, and they slowly but surely took that away from him. I think he had every right to be upset about it.

Now let’s look at Doug’s comment. If you didn’t read through the entire comment before—and, honestly, I can’t blame you, because it’s a wall of inane, sputtering drivel—he calls Giger a lousy artist, tells him to suck it up because Hollywood often doesn’t credit artists for their work, calls him an idiot for not seeking a contract that would ensure him credit in future films, and then puts forth the hypothesis that Giger is likely illiterate. That summary is, of course, far more coherent than the comment itself. If you cut through all the ranting, you are left with someone who does not like Giger’s work (“Although I will admit some of his earlier works were inspiring, they now merely bore me”) and is (for some reason) infuriated that Giger might be upset about not receiving credit. To be perfectly honest, if anyone is overreacting, it would be Doug.

The truth is that “butthurt,” while having its limited uses, has always been about dismissing, trivializing, and belittling someone you don’t agree with. It is supposedly used to describe someone who reacts strongly to some trivial insult or other situation, but who decides how trivial that insult or situation is? The person applying the label, of course. Essentially, what you are doing when you call someone “butthurt” is saying, “I don’t care about seeing things from your point of view. I’m going to impose my worldview on you instead.” In that sense, it is, I suppose, a form of domination.

Assuming that you are not genuinely butthurt—acting like that guy in the Team Fortress video above, for example—this domination only works if you let it, though. When the emperor tells Luke to embrace his butthurt hatred and anger, Luke eventually (granted, after beating the ever-living crap out of his dad) realizes that this is precisely what he must not do. If you react to someone calling you “butthurt” by flying off the handle... well, I hate to break it to you, but that’s pretty much the textbook definition of the term. Because “butthurt” is just a stupid word used by unimaginative people who can’t think of a better way to win an argument. If there was ever a more insignificant thing to get upset over, I don’t know what it is.

I decided to write this entry today because a friend of mine was recently called “butthurt” on a certain online forum. He thought it was hysterical, and he mocked the person who used it. I don’t think it really changed anybody’s mind on the greater issue at hand, but it sure did defuse the insult. We got to talking about the term, and I decided to do a little research on it to see where it came from and what it really meant. The rabbit hole went a little deeper than I thought it would, and here I am on the wrong side of over five thousand words on the subject. At first I thought it was just going to be a simple etymological study. Now, though, at the end of this, I hope that I have shown why this term is so inane. There’s no denying that some people see it as a reference to anal rape, so to attempt to declare that meaning invalid would be pointless. I do believe that this is a later accretion, though, and it does not come into play in many situations where “butthurt” is used. What really makes the term obnoxious is the fact that it is a weapon used by the weak-minded to trivialize others. I’m not going to argue or plead for its abolition—words will be words, and they will be used as long as they are useful. I do think that we can limit this word’s usefulness, though, by seeing it for what it is and how it is used. Like the emperor’s mind games, the only winning move in the game of butthurt is to simply choose not to play.

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