my queer dyke cunt

I officially feel like an angry dyke because the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has deemed my identity “vulgar.” In denying “Dykes on Bikes” a trademark, the attorney decided that ‘dyke’ is offensive, scandalous and vulgar. I love how people in power are allowed to regulate the self-identification of marginalized populations. Don’t they realize that we’ve spent generations trying to take back the terms that they have used to oppress us? These are *their* terms and we’ve reclaimed them. Now they’re ours. And since they are now ours, they can oppress by regulating them. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant.

Update: i’m an idiot and forgot to thank Jason Schultz for keeping me abreast of all this. And bless him for being willing to go to bat for us crazy dykes.

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17 thoughts on “my queer dyke cunt

  1. The Bay Area Is Talking

    Is “Dyke” Offensive?

    Okay, here we go again… with content (or at least language) that’s way too racy for television but that shows up in our aggregator. And this time, the post is about a story in the news and makes a very…

  2. WryTerra - Dependant on Happy Accidents

    We Decide What You Are, Thankyou

    There’s a girl out there called Danah Boyd. I first discovered her via her extensive (complete) list of Ani DiFranco lyrics which has become an indispensible resource for me. I then discovered that her field of study (primarily social technology…

  3. Lisa Williams

    Wow, that totally sucks. Where do we write angry letters? I bet Greg Aharonian of PATNEWS, who’s a big critic of the Patent Office’s stupidities, would know.

  4. gandalf23


    The USPTO isn’t regulating “the self-identification of marginalized populations.” They’re just saying you can’t use “Dyke” in a trademark. Nothing is stopping Dykes on Bikes from continuing to call themselves that, they just can’t trademark that particular name.

    Kinda like I can’t trademark “Honkeys on Donkeys” (sounds funnier than “on Bikes”) , “Kykes on Bikes”, “Mother Fuckers on Bikes”, “Ass Rimming Blow Job Givers on Bikes”, “Chinks on Bikes”, or “Niggers on Bikes” as they’d be offensive, scandalous and/or vulgar. I can still create groups with those names, I just can’t trademark them.

    If Dykes on Bikes feels they need trademark protections, they might want to consider trademarking “D.o.B.” or “DoB” Although I’m not sure why they’d want to trademark their name anyway. Are there competing lesbian biker groups trying to use the same name?

  5. Eric

    the question is whether “dyke” has been successfully coopted, or if it is still a slur.

    the DoB organizers note in the article that “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” seems to have had no trouble at the USPTO.

  6. gandalf23

    I just read the linked article. Should’ve done that first 🙂

    “Some of the women involved in the “dyke” case took the patent office rejection personally. For them, it reignited painful memories — some not too distant — of shouted insults labeling them “bull dykes.”

    Germany, 48, said she heard that slur a lot as she was growing up in Marin County. She still hears it from hecklers who see the rainbow sticker on the back of her black motorcycle helmet.”

    Sounds like “dyke” is still being used as a slur.

    Queer is a bit different. It means strange or deviating from the expected. My grandfather and uncle used it as a carpentry term to mean bent or not straight. “This board’s a little queer. Hand me that straight one.” As far as I know, “dyke” only refers to a lesbian, it does not have any other meanings.

  7. joe

    Since I’m not familiar with queer history, could you give a pointer to the rest of us to the history of the word “dyke” or “dike” and how it is “*their* term”? I know the history of the word “Chicano” becaus I am one…

  8. p@

    wow… i was watching this unfold yesterday on the ‘circuit’ if you will… you posted, then the Gate ran on it… then it blew up… pretty interesting just a rant on some words could propagate so quickly.

    anyway, i thought it was cool… well, goodluck with the name registration, i’m sure some law-gger out there could give you some advice as to a rebutal to their decision…

    hey chicano joe, words aren’t worth a thing outside of the perspective of the person using that word… why bother with the word man, round it up man, easy.

  9. barb dybwad

    “If Dykes on Bikes feels they need trademark protections, they might want to consider trademarking “D.o.B.” or “DoB” Although I’m not sure why they’d want to trademark their name anyway. Are there competing lesbian biker groups trying to use the same name?”

    That’s a pretty myopic view, no? I have some friends who run a custom clothing business called Dykes in the City. As they won’t be able to obtain a trademark, there’s nothing to prevent anyone else from ripping off their name. They could trademark DITC, but they want to market their clothing to dykes, which has unfortunately been dubbed “offensive” by the USPTO.

    Also, as noted in the comments over on BoingBoing, the USPTO doesn’t seem to have much trouble issuing trademarks for the term “bitch” which, to me, is far more offensive than “Ass Rimming Blow Job Givers” (which I personally would have no trouble issuing a trademark on, but hey, I’m a liberal ;)).

  10. Josie Fraser

    The word dyke does have many (geological) alternative meanings. The relative mainstream acceptance of the word queer has probably got more to do with the relative power of the male gay population, plus hetrosexism in general.

    The noun by the way is charmingly apt in this context: ‘dyker’

  11. Daveman

    I like dykes,,,,,,,,i like bikes,,,,,,,i like apophenia,,whatever the fuck it is,,,,when someone dont like you for who you are it is they who are missing out on the big picture of life,,,too many lil details can really sidetrack you sometimes,,,,,DDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD

  12. Mr. Jigsaw

    You realize that all those terms were never yours to begin with? They were made up to oppress you. You’re not reclaiming them.

    Make up your own fucking slang. Dyke.

  13. paulo

    who gives a fuck you stupid fat meff, people will see u on a bike and they will know ur a dyke on a bike. becasue u probably look like a dyke, and thats why you are a dyke. what im trying to say is that ur a fucking lezzer because ur ugly and no one wants to dick you. x x x x x x x

  14. Jamie

    On face value, and thats exactly what I am measuring this on so there is your easy way out to destroy the points I make.

    Homosexuality takes a lot of courage to proclaim in todays society, I admire you for that. Those who deride it should look at the fact animals display homosexual traits and behaviours. Put down your bible people, it doesn’t need another bashing. Homosexuality is one of the many flavours of sexual desire and, science suggests, a natural occurrence (bash that bible some more, it WILL get rid of my sinful typing…).

    Headline – I’m hetro, I don’t whinge. Yes, I know you aren’t going to like that comment. Yes we could liken it to oppressed people, slaves, communists, people with ginger hair. It has already been done it is boring.

    I’m wondering where the f**k you got:

    ‘how people in power are allowed to regulate the self-identification of marginalized populations’


    Regardless of sexuality, it suggests your head is up your own arse.

    People who aren’t LGBT (is that right)? People really don’t care I hope, and just let people live their own lives as they want. If it hurts no-one (do not judge lest thee be for all the horrified brainwashed religious people out there. Why are YOU still reading)?

    What annoys me – People who shove their sexuality in my face and whine.

    I dated a girl from work, we didn’t make out in the car park. Numerous lesbian/gay couples made a strong point of doing so, and at every opportunity proclaiming their sexuality with pride. So they should, until it gets very very very very very very dull.

    Focus your energies elsewhere, like banning religion.

    Take it steady


  15. Cr@zy

    OK, if you were truly comfortable with the fact that you are a homosexual why do you feel it is necessary to advertize this fact to the world? You do not see heterosexuals creating special clubs trying to advertize the fact that they are heterosexual… (“The Super straight biker Club!”) It just sounds stupid doesn’t it, not as dumb as “Dykes on bikes” but almost?

    To be honest with you, I love that you call yourself a Dyke, it’s the same word I use for you and all of your kind, and it suits you well! Keep up the good work, maybe you can call your biker gang the “lezbo lady lickers” since Dykes isn’t going to be available? It sure has a nice ring to it, not as nice as “Dykes on bikes” but at least it maintains that theme of self hate you are going for.

    You are the best excuse for birth control I have ever had the displeasure of coming in contact with! Please stay Dyke! Dyke…


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