Monday, January 1, 2018

Skeeffo: A New and Needed Word

Annamaria on New Year's Day 2018!

I know! I should be all happiness and light on the first day of the new year.  People expect me to project my typical cock-eyed optimism.

Though it may not seem like it at first glance, this really is a jubilant essay because it celebrates my favorite public events of 2017.

I am talking about the #MeToo Movement.

2017 was the watershed year, when AT LAST brave American women outed men who abused them. During the past several months, we have seen powerful men disgraced, sent packing from high profile jobs.  No longer can they use their power platforms to be disgusting toward women.  Disgrace will dog their steps for the rest of their lives.

Women are no longer too embarrassed to speak up.  A new day has dawned.

Given the tsunami of publicity, I don't think I am being overly optimistic that something very basic has changed.  Many men who got away with it in the past are now notorious.

Think you can still do that sort of thing?  Want to try it, Mr. Big Shot?  A little piggish behaviour?  Tempted to use your position to grab a woman's privates?  To show her yours?

Is it worth your entire reputation?  Your job?  Your future?  All the admiration you've garnered for your past achievements?  Wouldn't you rather zip up your fly?  And keep your hands in your pockets?  And bite back those nasty insinuating words?

Men all over the United States have to be asking themselves if the paltry rewards that were theirs in the past are now worth the risks.

I only hope the trend spreads until civility is everywhere in the world.

To keep the trend going, I do think we are missing one thing.

We need a word to designate a man who engages in such disgusting behaviors.  So far, there has been no pejorative clear enough.  We have terms for women who "misbehave."  Plenty of them.  But what do we call a such a man.  "Bastard" isn't specific enough.  "Pig" has too many other meanings.  We need a word as unambiguous as "whore."  Something that means only that sort of man.

I propose a new invention to describe a very old, but until now secret set of behaviours.  I say we call such a man a "skeeffo."

I take my neologism from the Italian adjective "schifoso," which means "gross" or "disgusting" in the dirtiest possible way.  The noun "skeeffo" would designate men like Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, Donald Trump in the way they have treated women.  A skeeffo is a man who thinks he ought to get away with it.

To put a colleague on notice, all a woman would have to say is, "Be careful.  Martin is a skeeffo."  

I like how a person has to twist his expression into one of disgust to say "skeeffo."  I am spelling it with two f's because it looks more disgusting that way.

Do you agree that the language needs such a word?  If not 'skeeffo," what would you suggest?

 I hope we all find a great year in 2018.  And that the little girls born this coming year will never have to suffer skeeffos in silence.  


  1. As support for your word, skeef in Afrikaans means crooked, and can be used in a derogatory sense. So it'll catch on over here!

  2. Oh Michael, I love coincidences, and this is certainly a great one. We need such a word, and I am happy that my entry into the competition gets this boost from Afrikaans. Skeeffos of the world beware! Your power days are numbered!

  3. Invent away, AmA. The language (and the world) will be better for it. Maybe they can have a scarlet 'S' branded on their chests?

    1. Thank you, EvKa! I’m glad you like the word. I am afraid about the scarlet S, though. Skeeffos are such egomaniacs they already think they are Superman. I’m afraid they’d be opening their capes to show off the proof.

  4. Great word! And you must have known deep down what it meant in Afrikaans. Perfect!

    1. Thanks, Sujata. I think there is something onomatopoeic about making the sound “skeef” that may account for it. So looking forward to our joint launch. :))

  5. I believe "skeevo" has been used in New York for years as meaning sleazy, so it's obviously on the mark. Must be if you got EvKa to go along with it.:)

    1. You know much more about NYC underworld slang than I, my brother. Anything that helps us have a term for the particular lowlifes we need to be able to name us a definite plus.

  6. I love skeeffo as a term for this, ESPECIALLY given the Afrikaans meaning. I solidly support its use (and the outing of those who deserve to have it applied to them)!

  7. Thank you, Susan. Another skeeffo bit the dust today. The more we see careers go down the tubes, the less likely we are to see more skeeffo behavior in the future. I was fourteen the first time it happened to me. Too innocent to know what it meant.

  8. Yes, this was a great aspect of 2017. And now Hollywood women have begun the "Time's Up" campaign, which has set up a legal fund to help women all across the economic/industry spectrum fight sexual misconduct in the workplace.
    A full-page ad in the NY Times on Jan. 1 about it and article the next day.
    America Ferrara, one of the leaders, just announced it on Colbert's show.

    However, the groper-in-chief whose "finger is on the button" is still, unfortunately, in the White House.

    If only Me Too and Time's Up applied in the White House.