When I arrived in the UK, it was hard to ignore how surprised people were that I would come from sunny California to the North of England. What would usually follow is a conversation about where they were from, which would inevitably end up at some discussion of what city or village or part of the UK was or was not a shithole. Always that word, everytime.
As a student of how we talk about places, I knew I needed to dig in. Led by Alice Butler-Warke, my student at the time and now an established academic, we used Twitter data to dig into what people meant when they called a place a shithole. One of the most fascinating findings was that men and women used it differently – men regularly used to term to describe someone else’s place, where women used it to describe their own place.
As we discovered, a certain former occupant of the White House would use the term in the very male way soon after.
+ 2018 Alice Butler and Alex Schafran. What sort of place is a ‘shithole’? It depends on your genderThe Conversation, 22 Jan., 2018
2018 Alice Butler, Alex Schafran & Georgina Carpenter, What does it mean when people call a place a shithole? Understanding a discourse of denigration in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, DOI: 10.1111/tran.12247