Why does the middle finger often get blurred or "blackbarred" without even touching the rest of the hand when it's censored? I mean, unlike with certain censored words (like, say "f***" for everyone's favorite four letter word) it's pretty obvious to anyone with half a brain exactly what gesture the person is performing, so doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose? Or am I just missing something that's egregiously obvious to everyone else cause I'm dumb like that?
The point is not to stop people from seeing it, the point is to get it past the censors. Give them a nod, and they're fine with it.
Give them the bird, on the other hand, and suddenly they're all offended.
It's probably a form of Loophole Abuse. Technically, it's censored, so the Powers That Be can't say anything, but it's just that the censor doesn't actually do anything.
How did the middle finger on its own come to be synonymous with telling someone to go fuck themselves? And what's with the so-called "Chinese middle finger," which is actually the pinky?
I dunno about the Chinese, but the middle finger insult comes from the Hundred Years War during the Middle Ages between Britain and France. The most feared soldier on the field of battle at the time was the English Longbowmen, who quickly established their reputation of deadliness early in the war. Whenever a Longbowman was captured by the French, they would cut off the middle finger (and sometimes the index finger for good measure) in order to render that particular Longbowman useless, seeing as the ring finger is unable to take the pulling power required to draw a longbow. And so, overtime, the English developed a taunt at the beginning of each battle where they would flash their index and middle fingers at the French, kind of like the "Peace" sign but backwards, to show the French that their bowmen had both of their fingers. Overtime it was shortened to just the middle finger being flashed...and the rest is history.
It's actually a lot older than that, dating back to Greco-Roman civilization at the very least. The ancient Romans even had a name for it — digitus impudicus or the "impudent digit" — and according to Wikipedia's article on "The Finger," reference is made of using the finger in ancient Greek comedy in order to insult someone. Another possible origin dates back even further to the first-century Mediterranean world, where extending this finger was one of many different methods that were used to divert the ever-present threat of the "Evil Eye."
*QI Klaxon* That little story was invented in the 1970s, and the first recorded use of the sign itself was in 1901.
Likely to be a phallic symbol - a classic anthropologists answer, but probably true. Might have been used to ward off the evil eye, but the "horned hand" gesture was more common for that.
Regarding the "Chinese middle finger"; I'm not sure if it's related, but the Japanese seem to use the extended pinky to imply sexual intercourse. If I recall correctly, this was used in the Ranma ½ anime (not sure if the manga) when Ranma was faking being married to Akane: He made this gesture before entering her room while being pestered by Ukyo. It doesn't seem to be a truly obscene gesture, though (but don't quote me on this, I'm not entirely sure). Also: the "backwards V sign" mentioned below, do is used as obscene.
According to my parents, the pinky means "you are last" or something similar to that.
Joke time! A little boy would go to school every day and on the way he'd pass a whore house. One of the whores would always greet him by saying "Hi, little boy!" and waving her pinky finger. One day the little boy said "Miss? Why do you always wave your pinky finger at me?" The whore laughed and said "Cuz that's the size of your thing!" The next day, the boy passes the whorehouse on his way to school and the whore waves her finger and says "Hi, little boy!" The boy dumps all of his books out of his book bag, waves it at her and says "Hi, lady!"
From what I've read, it's saying you have a small penis, with the single finger showing the size of the member.
The Japanese gesture of an extended pinky is used to refer to a girlfriend, so in the above example, Ranma was likely implying that they were a couple, rather than that he was having sex with her. On the other hand, making a fist with the thumb between the index and middle fingers is a sexual gesture in several asian countries, and is a good way to offend a whole room of people at once.
I'd just like to point out that in the UK and Ireland the gesture is still a backwards v sign, although the middle finger is becoming more popular.
Really? This UK troper always thought that the middle finger meant "up yours" and the backwards v meant "fuck you". Slight difference, but a difference none the less. (For the record, she uses both obscene gestures equally).
Rumour has it that the two fingered gesture (White man speak with forked hand?) was originally used by English archers to insult the French who, being tired of being shot to bits by English longbowmen, had a tendency to cut the bowfingers off any that they caught. Waving them at a hostile Frenchman was an invitation to come and try to take them, whilst waving them at a French POW could be either mockery or (perhaps) a threat. This rumour may or may not be true, and in any case the French tend not to recognise the gesture as anything other that the WW 2 era 'Victory V'. We still use the middle finger, but that may have been re-imported from the US.
In Shakespeare's era, "biting your thumb at someone" seems to have been the equivalent gesture (as mentioned, for example, in Romeo and Juliet as the Montague and Capulet boys square off) ... probably a 'Suck my cock' gesture. Dante refers to an unrepentant sinner in the Inferno 'making a fig with his fists' at heaven. This is even more obscure, but likely to be some kind of obscene gesture as well is a known gesture: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_gestures, see entry for "Fig".
Wait, so is the biting your thumb at someone calling them basically a cockbite? And the whole fig thing does look kinda like pudenda.
Why is it such an uncomfortable hand gesture? I have to hold my other fingers down with my thumb and I end up with sore knuckles.
Because it's high level. You'll have to grind your skill on other obscene hand gestures first.
You just need more practice flipping people off.
The serious answer is that it has to do with the way the tendons and muscles of your hand are arranged. Try to move just your middle finger and you also move your ring finger, and because a thing called a flexor that allows for the actual movement of the fingers is shared between all the fingers but the thumb, which has its own.
You may also want to try cracking your knuckles more often. Loosen up the joints a little. Plus, you don't have to have your other fingers down at the knuckle and flush with your palm; just enough to get the point across.
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