Breeder: a Bad Word?

Is the term “breeder” a bad word? A derogatory expression? I never considered it as such before, but recently someone has told me they found it offensive. How do you define it? Why is/why isn’t it offensive? Your thoughts please.

My thoughts: I consider the word breeder to be a joking term referring to straight (usually married) couples who reproduce. A term usually used by queers because it is “common sense” that they can’t breed (false). Since queers are a tiny minority compared to straights, I figured a joking term like “breeder” didn’t pack too much punch – queers as a group are hardly in a position to invoke systematic oppression against straight couples with children.

Here’s one Urban Dictionary definition of breeder:

slang term used by people of homosexual persuasion to refer to heterosexual couples, who have a significantly higher risk of contributing to the population increase than the homosexuals do.

Anyway, please enlighten me.

Related to this post

11/29/08 UPDATE: Look at this rad post from oneofhismoms about a queer mom’s experience with the word “breeder”.

7 thoughts on “Breeder: a Bad Word?

  1. I suppose for me it’s just a comedic term to refer to people who plan on having, are having, or have had children. It’s not perhaps the nicest, but I don’t think it would be offensive… but that’s not for me to decide, since although I am straight I have made a conscious decision to not birth my own children, and when I tell people that, I usually get a lot of shit for it. So I suppose I use it to say that breeding is a system that I don’t want to be a part of.

    However, if a significant number of people do find it reasonably offensive, I suppose I should revise my word choices. I too am curious what others think.

  2. Pingback: Always Cheering for the Breeders « The Czech

  3. I dunno…I see it as a term used for those of us that have or intend to breed. I also have quite a few friends who are child-free by choice who have a range of possible terms to use, and I find “breeder” less offensive than “entitle-moo” but I digress. I’m also a proponent of not deciding how you are being offensive to someone else and this term would not fly in a safe space, but on the other hand, socially, (and assuming one is middle class and white) the decision to have a child is one that is socially acceptable and the choice not to is seen as aberrant.

    good question.

    All I can come up with is a solid maybe.

  4. Good point. If someone says a term offends them, I should take them at their word.

    I am taking that in consideration now, for sure. I remain interested in exploring the word “breeder” further… as in, how did it come to be derogatory? Who uses it to refer to whom?

    I, for one, was unaware of its use among the (heter) child-free set. See, so much to learn!

    Thanks for commenting!

  5. I suppose it’s offensive in the same way “cracker” is offensive, i.e. it’s derogatory, but it’s coming from an oppressed group and being said to a powerful group, so it doesn’t pack much punch. I’m personally not offended by it, as a straight person.

    I remember being in the car with my (generally pro-gay) mom a few years ago, and her telling me, “[Straight friend] sings in a gay chorus, and he told me about the word ‘breeder’! Have you heard of that word?! That’s what they call us!” The they vs. us mentality I think is what makes it offensive to some people – not that it divides people into an “us” and a “them,” but that straight people see it as an attack from “others.”

  6. “Breeder” is derogatory because it originates as a farming term: with bovines, for example, there are “breeders” (kept to make new bovines) and then there’s meat or dairy (Dairy being the cows’ role, meat being the bulls’ destination).

    So the term “breeder” is setting the group unlike oneself to be on a par with animals.

    Even without that farming association, it is negating their humanity and defining them by one aspect of their lives, as though “breeding is all they’re good for”. In that sense, it is in its way like a form of slut-shaming, even if the values on which the shaming is taking place are different from the mainstream society.

  7. It’s all relative on this one.

    Breeder is a clearly deragatory term, and that is the context I’ve seen it used in. It’s the flipside to fag, and is funny and enjoyable to use (like most pejoratives – aren’t people funny?), particularly if you are a member of that minority community.

    Is it offensive? Of course, but as pointed out above it doesn’t carry the same weight because it’s coming from an oppressed minority toward the majority.

    However, within my subculture (arts) the married hetero is not dominant, and to hear the scorn and derision my peers pour into that term can indeed sting. I understand that it’s a reaction to the unrelenting homophobia and persecution these friends get from the broader culture, but it nevertheless leaves me tagged as a ‘BREEDER.’

    Making straight people feel lame and uncouth for their orientation is objectively lame, but subjectively I understand it, and I do think it’s a pretty F’ing funny term.

    I would say use away, but remember that straight white men have feelings too :D.

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