Is the term “dyke” offensive?

Is the term dyke offensive?

Any term is offensive if you use it derogatively. But no, in and of itself, “dyke” is just a word like any other word… kind of.

In case you’re unfamiliar with lesbian slang, “dyke” is a word that refers to gay women, particularly those of us who are more “masculine” or androgynous. In the past, this word was used as an insulting label  to put down our kind. But in recent years, we’ve taken back the term (as a way to raise a middle finger to society), which explain why you may have heard it used in lesbian circles.

Dyke marches, for example, are protests that, like pride parades, give lesbians a safe space to raise their voices and be heard by the masses. The term “baby dyke” kindheartedly refers to a woman who recently came out of the closet, and a “granola dyke” (my personal favorite) is a lesbian who resembles a flower child from the 60s.

So is it offensive? If you’re straight, yes. If you’re not, no – just use it with compassion.

Emily WatsonComment