Occasional reflections on Life, the World, and Mathematics

Gay Paree


I’m wondering how to understand the comments of David Cameron in the House of Commons, disparaging Nigel Farage for pronouncing his name to rhyme with massage and not to rhyme with… well, disparage. Except that what he said was (in reference to a comment on NF by another MP)

I’m glad he takes the English pronunciation of Farage rather than the rather poncey foreign-sounding one that he seems to prefer.

Now, ponce is one of those English expressions that I’m sort of familiar with, but not sure I get the nuance of. I understand it to be a term of ridicule for effeminate or homosexual men, and the OED agrees (though the earliest meaning seems to be pimp or kept man). But I’m not sure whether that’s the current understanding that natives have of the word. So I’m not sure whether Cameron’s comments ought best to be understood as gay-baiting, French-baiting, or a twofer where the French are mocked for being gay and the gay are mocked for being French. And Farage is mocked for being both. There are times when Cameron can’t resist reminding everyone that he was at Eton.
I’ve long been fascinated by the centuries of schoolboy-level taunts, where the British consider the French to be insufficiently masculine and probably gay, and the French think the same of the British.

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