Thursday, February 24, 2011

Assigned an Essay

Fair warning sent out to all potential Tops/Doms/Dommes/Spankers:

If you, for whatever surely valid reason, decide to take it upon yourself to assign to Miss Rayne Bailey (Yours Truly) a task, big or small, that has anything at all to do with writing, be prepared for a novel! Break out your bifocals! Get your reading lamps! Fix your hot mug of tea, kick back, and settle in for an evening of literary adventure!

Dear readers, the above notice is here-to-for displayed to any and all future writing-assigners, as a result of one such writing assignment, recently detailed to me, by a gentleman I met at the spanking party described in my last post.

During an online group chat, with other party attendees, this fine gentlemen decided to make a comment indicating the interchangeability of two slang terms, and I, rather presumptuously and before I could stop myself, made the mistake of offering to provide him with the etymology of the two terms, so as to illustrate their uniqueness from each other. To my great surprise, he took the bait, and assigned me an essay, minimum 500 words, to be in his inbox by the end of the week!

In my eagerness to please, and my voracity for linguistic studies, (and spurred into creative fecundity by the astute suggestion of another gentleman to add in spanking references wherever possible), I ended up completely overshooting the word requirement (not on purpose!) and concocting, if I do say so myself, quite a titillating bit of literature.

Reproduced for you here below, dear readers, is the very essay, detailing the etymological history, as I found it, of the two slang terms "gangsta" and "ghetto," written for a truly upstanding, dignified, and inexorably kinky gentleman.

Rayne Bailey

Etymology Essay: Ghetto and Gangsta

As per the Urban Dictionary (1), the slang term “gangsta” refers to: “a member of the inner-city underclass, known primarily for being antisocial and uneducated. Also known for ready access to illegal drugs and weapons, and staggeringly poor marksmanship.” One would hope, for many a young lady’s sake, that such “staggeringly poor marksmanship” would not extend to less illegal, more intimate activities for which accurate marksmanship is also a necessary skill… Another definition from the same source claims that a “gangsta” is: “One who willfully promotes and participates in self-serving culture in an effort to project a particular image of 'toughness' or to make oneself intimidating. Willingness to blatantly and horrifically misuse the English language is a necessity.” In no way is the writer reminded, at all, of any toppish gentlemen recently to have appeared within her experience—not, at, all, in any way, shape, or form.

For a slightly more run-of-the-mill definition of the term, one can turn to the more mainstream Webster’s online dictionary (2), which identifies it as simply a shortened version of the word “gangster.” As the title “gangster,” however, has also historically been applied to esteemed members of the Russian and Italian mafia (and also the Japanese, although translated into a different language and therefore less relevant to this discussion), it must be stated that “gangster” and “gangsta” hold two very different cultural histories. Indeed, “mobsters” or “gangsters,” especially those of pop-culture, have tended to be quite well-dressed, well-mannered, and well-versed individuals (the term “well” here being relative)—albeit prone to certain behaviors which could be seen by mainstream society as rather violent. (Here the writer is attempting to refrain from drawing a connection between a “gangster” and the reader himself, who would seem to exhibit many of the aforementioned characteristics of said “gangsters,” including a commendable taste in attire and a certain propensity for rather patriarchal, dominating attitudes toward his female counterparts, not to mention a slightly skewed perception of socially appropriate levels of “violence,” especially in matters relating to and of domestic discipline.)

Now, due to the fact that most documented materials in the world are in fact subject to the wills and wonts of those currently in possession of societal power at the time of their creation (hence the disproportionately bloated records of many a young lady’s supposed “misdeeds” at the hands of her punisher, who holds not only the implement of her discipline but also the pen making official note of her behavior), the above definitions of the underground term “gangsta” must be taken with a grain of salt. They are, in fact, definitions from the point of view of “outsiders” to the particular culture from whence the term itself came into existence. A closer look, then, at the true origins and meanings behind the term, as it is employed by those who created it, would be in order, which would require first-hand interviews with “insiders,” or, “gangstas” themselves. As the writer’s primary concern is for her own physical safety (hence the writing and turning in of this essay with the utmost attention to detail and deadline!), this area of study will be proposed here as a possibility for further research to be done by other scholars in the field who may be more willing to engage in such grassroots inquisition.

As for our second term of concern, “ghetto,” a much more easily accessible body of etymological history is available for study. (Here the writer hopes that the reader does truly appreciate the depths of research which had to be surmounted in order to accurately complete this essay.) The term had its origination during the bygone years of 1605-1615 (when many a disciplinarian still openly spanked his or her partner without fear of social ostracization (3)), in reference to the name of a Venetian island where nation-less Italian Jews were forced to reside, and derived from the Italian verb ghettare, or “to throw.” It is presumed that this act of “throwing” in fact alluded to the throwing of the Jews out of Italy, and not, indeed, to the throwing of a naughty young lady over a dignified Italian gentleman’s lap, be she Jewish or Gentile. (Here the writer wishes to inform the reader that she is in fact Jewish, and therefore not averse to making light of such situations.)

With these origins, one can easily see how the term then came to be applied throughout the centuries to other cramped and deplorable urban areas where dislocated peoples, usually Jews though not always, were forced to live in close quarters, with limited economic opportunities, aka: “an impoverished, neglected, or otherwise disadvantaged residential area of a city, usually troubled by a disproportionately large amount of crime." (4) Considering the close relation, so far, between the two terms “gangsta” (subject and/or object of crime, product of “inner-city” life) and “ghetto” (locus operandi of crime, synonym of “inner-city”), one can easily see how the reader may have become confused and come to view the two separate concepts as interchangeable. The pointing out of this syntactical blunder is in no way meant to reflect upon the intellectual strength of the reader, as such a mistake is quite understandable, and should therefore not be taken as a slight of any shape or form upon the reader from the writer, please and thank you, Sir.

One further area of study begs our attention—no, not that kind of begging, nor that kind of attention, Sir—that of the colloquial use of both terms as adjectives, rather than merely as nouns (such as “spankable,” rather than “spankee”). When one refers to a person or an object or a situation or really any feasible subject of conversation as “gangsta” or “ghetto,” as in: “that shirt is so gangsta, Mr. R*,” or “that carpet beater is so ghetto, Mr. L*,” what does one actually mean? (Here the writer wishes to reiterate that the above examples were merely that: examples, and in no way meant to reflect the true thoughts, feelings, opinions, and/or views of the writer.)

Again, Urban Dictionary comes to our rescue: according to this valuable resource, when someone refers to something as “gangsta,” they are in fact meaning something along the lines of “stupid,” “fake,” or even “moronic,” and therefore in fact would probably never be referring to the reader’s shirt, unless of course they were looking for a “helluva lotta trubble.”

Conversely, though related, the term “ghetto,” when employed as an adjective, is defined as, “jury-rigged, improvised, or home-made (usually with extremely cheap or sub-standard components), yet still deserving of an odd sense of respect from ghetto dwellers and non-ghetto dwellers alike.” (Thus, for example, the “odd sense of respect” for Mr. L’s aforementioned implement of choice, by both givers and receivers alike.) It stands to reason that anything made in a “ghetto”—a place of little resources and therefore ubiquitous resourcefulness—would by necessity be “ghetto”: “improvised” or “home-made.” Rather like some of the lovely homemade spanking implements that the writer has had the pleasure of seeing and experiencing (granted, these generally have in fact been “jury-rigged” with copious amounts of masterful skill and craftsmanship).

Our friend UD (5) also provides us with some illuminating example sentences of the adjective “ghetto” in common use, such as, “Why you always be talkin' ghetto? Get yo'self a propa' e-ju-ma-kay-shun, kid!” (Such “propa’ e-ju-ma-kay-shun” of course referring to one involving the uninhibited use of the cane, tawse, and/or paddle for maintaining proper classroom order.) And, “A TV Guide duct-taped to a 4 foot stick?! That's one hella ghetto 'mote control!” Notice, the 4-foot stick is here referred to as a “hella ghetto ‘mote control,” not a “hella ghetto ‘mplement ferspanking,” such as a carpet beater, or a FES.**

After some in-depth research and reporting, it is the writer’s hope that it has now become clearer to the reader that the two slang labels of “ghetto” and “gangsta,” even when used loosely as colloquial terms of description, are in fact entirely separate and autonomous entities, with separate, albeit related, etymological histories and usages. The writer thanks the reader very much for his time, energy, and patience, and begs—yes, that kind of begging, Sir—his forgiveness should any part of this essay have caused any undue and/or unintended offense and/or related unpleasantness (and also humbly requests a very reasonable exemption from chastisement in response to any form of typo or other grammatical inaccuracy, as a simple red pen would rectify the matter). The writer wishes to assure the reader of her unfailingly good intentions, and her ever-present wishes merely to please, rather than to incite—also two very separate modi operandi for accomplishing, hopefully, similar ends (6)… =)

(1) -- a truly enlightening source for English colloquialisms.

(2) -- another useful literary reference, for most commonly-used terms, though not all (indeed, the writer was surprised to find an entry for “gangsta” here at all…)

(3) A term here made-up by the writer, due to its dire need for, and unfortunate current lack of, legitimate existence as a viable word in the English language. Much like the term “spanko.”

(4) Also as per the ever-faithful online Urban Dictionary.

(5) UD – Urban Dictionary, for those in need of acronym translation.

(6) A spanking, for those in need of overly subtle girl-talk translation.


And that, ladies and gentleman, was my 500-word minimum etymology essay! *Mr. R - the reader/assigner of the essay, and *Mr. L (incidentally the same gentleman who made the spanking-references suggestion :D) have both generously consented to be mentioned here in conjunction with the essay.

Do hope you have enjoyed reading! It is rare that such literary opportunities come my way -- and it has been a pleasure to share this one with all of you :D

**FES here refers to an implement of choice for the reader himself -- a particularly intimidating leather strap which he tends to save, so I am told, for special occasions...


  1. Lol, bravo! You know my first thought when I started reading that was I bet it was assigned by Mr L... But as I got to the bottom of it, I see I was wrong. I SO want to hear you say "that shirt is gangsta, Mr R!" in person. :-)

  2. @lea - Mr L totally would! And NO, unfortunately (or fortunately?) you will NEVER hear me say that to Mr R in person :D Not even under duress!

  3. Very nice essay indeed. Good job, Miss Bailey

  4. Thank you Mr. L - high praise indeed from you!

  5. Hah, Mr. R made an amateur mistake: you always set both a minimum and maximum, with penalties for going outside either bound. Still, you did great work!

  6. Thank you, Dioneo! Oh rest-assured, Mr. R is no amatuer... I think he was setting a trap for me! Only time will tell... :D

  7. @Rayne I am dizzy from reading this. If I didn't know better, it seems to me like saasy's BS meter was needed here. Lol. My brain hurts after reading that.

    @Lea Oh and thanks for the info. [bree writes down "Yeah Mr. R., your shirt is gangsta" in her bad girl note book.] If Mr. R asks me where I got it from, I will never tell. Honest.


  8. Bree -- bring a BS meter anywhere near that and we would have a nuclear fall-out for sure! lol