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‘Damn Ya Ass Fat/What’s Ya Pronouns’ Is a Statement of Queer Joy

You don’t need a gender studies degree to sling thirsty, respectful game in the DMs

The claim that “cellar door” is the most beautiful phrase in the English language is routinely disproven, knocked down yet another peg whenever some new meme circulates and permanently embeds itself in the brains of everyone who reads it. The expression “30-50 feral hogs” was so powerful it overshadowed the discussion from which it sprung, and “I will face god and walk backwards into hell” has evolved from a meme to an idiom, divorced from the initial Dril tweet the way “Hallelujah” exploded beyond Leonard Cohen’s original recording.

Personally, I’ve spent the last six months with the phrase “damn ya ass fat, what’s ya pronouns” stuck in my head, and it appears I’m not alone. The post is funny, then striking, then funny again. It’s even structured like a simple joke, presenting a stereotypical guy-harassing-girl DM that’s punctured by a “woke” question — you know, trying to find the words without being disrespectful. That’s the power of a nice ass: Its appeal can transcend gender identity or the legibility of someone’s gender expression, or compel those with gender-indifferent sexualities to send messages like this at 6:37 p.m.

“Damn ya ass fat / what’s ya pronouns” made its Twitter debut in the form of an incoming DM screencap via @replyguys_txt last June, and has racked up nearly 150,000 likes and more than 20,000 retweets since. Replies to the post are overwhelmingly positive, variously deeming the message “unironically based,” “king shit” and “chaotic good.” Those replies that aren’t full-throated endorsements of the DM’s “chad energy” are still largely in favor of the vibe, and most give the anonymized sender an A for effort.

Obviously the screencap struck a chord, but it’s also not the first message of its kind. Some replies admitted, “I’ve sent this same exact set of texts before,” and at least one hero had posted a similar tweet four months earlier, racked up 87,000 likes, and never tweeted again.

On the receiving end, the most heartening response to the tweet and its inevitable reposting over on Reddit were the number of people, cis and trans alike, expressing their wish to be hit on this way. One redditor commented, “I would actually fall in love at that moment lmao,” only to be outdone by a Twitter user offering to “give him my entire body, that’s how low the bar is.” Other comments had a modicum of chill while still driving at the same point. If they got this DM, it would work — even if checking someone’s pronouns is a low bar to clear.

Whether or not someone sticks their pronouns in their Twitter bio has become yet another front in the culture war, and it seems to disproportionately be men mocking other men on social media for listing “he/him” after their day job and preferred college basketball team. It’s cliché to blame this macho friction on toxic masculinity, which condemns even basic gestures of caring like wearing a facemask during a pandemic, but clichés arise because there’s a basic truth to them. And if displaying your own pronouns is seen as beta behavior, one can assume the same goes for asking for someone else’s, even if the ask is done in the horniest way possible.

In that environment, it makes sense that a DM asking for pronouns as a matter of course — as though the sender is powering up another volley of compliments and wants to check if they should tack “girl” at the end or not  — is celebrated with replies full of crown emojis. But there’s more going on here than just a rando doing the bare minimum in a DM slide. The thing about courtship is that you establish the rules of how to flirt with another person while flirting with them, like building a ladder while simultaneously climbing it. This is what makes flirting fun; this is also why flirting sometimes sucks.

Asking about someone’s pronouns is (to many people) a new aspect of 21st century dating etiquette, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a bummer. Just ask whoever sent this now-legendary DM: The pronoun question is necessary, but the answer doesn’t have to change your approach to hitting on someone — especially if they have a fat ass.