Part 1 - "Seminal"
Part 2 - The Privilege Dictionary
Part 3 - How Do You Swear at a Straight White Man?
The Privilege of Vocabulary (Part 1):
"On 4 April 1967 Martin Luther King delivered his seminal speech at Riverside Church condemning the Vietnam War"
~From The King Encyclopedia, Stanford University (Emphasis added)
"As one stands in front of it, the 99 spots, each of a different colour, seemingly pop in a brilliant chromatic display. What makes this example so special is the date: made in 1992, it is one of the earliest works in the series, made in the same year that the artist was nominated for the Turner Prize. One of the most important artists of his generation, this truly seminal work shows Hirst hitting his creative stride."
~From a contemporary art sale at Sotheby's London (Emphasis added)
If I could time travel back to the 16th century, and get my hands on the pea-brained idiot who coined the word "seminal" to describe the germinal, archetypal, original, preeminent, paramount, or primary works of an author, I'd clobber him to death with a dictionary.
Why get so worked up over "seminal", you ask? Well, I bet that you have been blithely throwing out the word "seminal" for years now without ever actually looking it up. I know I was until last week . If you have never bothered to check a dictionary before, allow me to educate you:
sem·i·nal (sěm'ə-nəl)It's shooting fish in a barrel to condemn urban slang as a sperm-and-misogyny-ladened pile of crap. But ladies and gentlemen, if you think that the lexicon of slovenly phallus worship is cut off at the borders of academia and high culture, then I invite you to read the definition of seminal to yourself once again.
1. Of, relating to, containing, or conveying semen or seed.
2. Of, relating to, or having the power to originate; creative.
3. Highly influential in an original way; constituting or providing a basis for further development: a seminal idea in the creation of a new theory.
[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin sminlis, from smen, smin-, seed; see semen.]
~From The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition (Emphasis added)
And yes, "conveying semen" is the PRIMARY definition of "seminal" in every one of the sixteen Patriarchal shitcan dictionaries I had the misfortune to lay eyes on! And that includes the Russian-to-English dictionaries too! And worse, we have been using this word to equate the pinnacles of human achievement with cum-shots for nearly HALF A MILLENNIUM!
'Seminal' is the crudest and most idiotic word that I have seen bandied about in the academic and arts communities. It's high time that we stop lowering our discourse to the level of a Seann William Scott movie, and leave this word to the urologists.
Did Stanford University really mean to imply that Dr. Martin Luther King was getting off on the Vietnam war? Of course not! Did Sotheby's London want their buyers to believe that Damien Hirst ejaculated onto his canvas? Not if they want to make any sales! Did the bloggers over at The Seminal want to equate their writing with masturbation? I doubt it.
But did the misogynistic fuckers over at The Guardian want to imply that they were jacking off to the oppression of Islamic women. You'd better believe it!
So if only to differentiate ourselves from the sexist assholes who snicker every time one of their jack-off buddies slips "seminal" into their conversations with women, we need to stop referring to our greatest human achievements as, "seminal"!
And if this article becomes the inceptive force for such a movement, I will be ecstatic!
 Loads of thanks to Jezebella, who pointed out the obvious for me.
Copyright July 2008 by F*ck M*sculinity