SEXIST LANGUAGE

Last Wednesday night (or a couple of weeks ago by the time this post is published) I spontaneously ended up going out for ‘a drink’ which escalated to several drinks and a lot of shots and a very hung-over Thursday at work. None-the-less I had a great time but there was a moment where I felt myself almost try to suck my words back into my mouth.

I told a guy to man up.

Yep. I instantly clapped my hand over my mouth. I caught myself being a bad feminist.

I’d bought him a shot of tequila and it was buy one get one free, he couldn’t handle both and the expression just kinda slipped out. He called me out, I called myself out and shots were had. But ultimately, even those who are fighting for gender equality can come out with the wrong turn of phrase.

This is because ideologies and gender assumptions are so ingrained in our language that we perpetuate gender inequality without a second thought.

Here are just a few of the phrases that really grind my gears…

 

 

Boys will be boys. Easily my least favourite saying ever. Let’s just excuse these boys and let them behave however they like because boys will be boys. It’s as if boys don’t need to take responsibility for their actions and it’s a very clear cut way of saying that we’ll allow boys to behave out of line and punish girls for behaving the same way. Gross.

Like a girl. You may have seen the Always campaign reclaiming the phrase Like a Girl and trying to eliminate the negativity of it by redefining what it means to throw like a girl, run like a girl and fight like a girl. It comes down to the same old idea that girls are weaker therefore femininity is a sign of weakness and therefore comparing a man to a girl is an insult.

You’re not like other girls. We need to eliminate this kind of compliment or at least repurpose this phrase altogether. It stems from the idea that being like other girls is a bad thing, which is bloody well isn’t ‘cos other girls are awesome. It’s like this whole special snowflake syndrome combined with the idea of ‘like a girl’ being a negative and it’s a very damaging phrase that promotes internalised misogyny.

Man whore. As if a man whore means anything different than a woman whore. But that’s what is so problematic with this phrase! It suggests that a whore is just a whore but a man whore is a more acceptable level of whore, almost something to be proud of. It’s a little bit like saying ‘female builder’, it’s pretty irrelevant to put someone’s gender directly in front of another word you’re using to describe them but the reason we do it is because we treat men and women differently; one set of rules for one and one set for another.

Bitch. Why is that a woman who stands her ground, doesn’t take shit and all-in-all acts like a man is referred to as a bitch? I’ve seen it time and time again, the female boss is a bitch/bossy/savage while the male equivalent is well liked. It’s because society cannot stand a strong woman… but a strong woman cannot stand society.

Grow a pair. Because growing a pair of balls instantly turns you into a fearless, kick ass man and you’ll suddenly be able to muster the courage to do absolutely anything you want. Nope. We don’t tell women to grow a pair of ovaries when they need to be more courageous do we?

That’s so gay. Perhaps this isn’t a gender issue but it certainly falls into the same category as the rest of these phrases. It slips out so easily from our playground days but we never think about who we could be hurting and what we really mean when we say it. What’s wrong with being gay? Literally nothing. And most people who let this one slip are quite level headed and against homophobia.

 

You could always start flipping these phrases on their head. Start telling people to grow a pair of ovaries, excuse shitty behaviour with ‘girls will be girls’ or compliment women with ‘you are like other girls and other girls are cool.’

Alternatively you could call yourself out. Call your mates out. Call your colleagues out. Call your parents out. Hell, call your fucking dentist out.

 

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all photos by Rebecca Claire, libfemblog.com (Sony Xperia X, edited with VSCO) // all rights reserved

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16 Comments

  1. Love this! I I appreciate that you’ve been so honest to admit that even us feminists can slip up too. I call other people out all. the time. So much so that I think it’s starting to annoy everyone, but I don’t care. That’s when they’ll change so I don’t call them out any more!
    One of the phrases I hate the most is “Don’t be such a pussy.” Like, what? Since when was a pussy weak?! They can handle a hell of a lot more than a dick can!!

    Hannah
    HannahInternational.co.uk

    Like

    1. I definitely annoy everybody at work when I call them out but you’re 100% right, you’ll stop having to call them out when they stop using that sorta language!
      Hahaha I didn’t even think of that one! Pussys create human life they’re like the strongest thing ever!
      xxxx

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well done for calling yourself out. I wrote a list of things that I feel like make me a bad feminist at Christmas time and I’m not sure if language was on that but for sure it’s an issue. A lot of people wouldn’t even realise that they are doing it so the fact that you and your friend acknowledged it and moved past it is great. ❤
    PS I literally have an item on my to do list that says "write words/phrases post" so I hope you don't think I'm copying you when you see it. It's more about diet culture and feminism…

    Like

    1. I’ll definitely have to have a read of that post, sounds right up my street! Course I won’t, I’ve seen a few on this topic before and I can’t wait to see what phrases you think are problematic, I bet there’s tons to say about diet culture. x

      Like

  3. Cool post.
    Out of all of these, I think I disagree with the ‘you’re not like other girls’ phrase.
    Using this term, at least to me, is that in some ways it isn’t meant to demoralise or compare in a negative way, but to say that a female (if we’re talking in romantic terms, for example) is different to other girls the person knows/has been with.

    Like

    1. Thank you :)
      I get what you’re saying, but tell me why, if your using it in the context of them being generally different, you’d say “you’re not like other girls” instead of “you’re not like other people”…?

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      1. Fair point, I suppose it’s making a point to the female, emphasising the point how special they are to you compared to other girls. There’s nothing wrong with the ‘you’re not like other people’ phrase at all, I suppose it’s not something we hear growing up/in films/tv. ‘You’re not like other people’ seems to have a negative connotation, implying the person is an outsider or ‘weird’, for example.
        I dunno, does that sound fair?

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      2. But it’s problematic and your comments show exactly how problematic it is because you think that if you change the word ‘girl’ to ‘person’ that it changes the entire meaning. This by definition is sexism. You’re essentially saying that “girls” and “people” are different subject matter, which equates to women not being people, thus becoming part of the problem.

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      3. Not at all. You misunderstand me. I’m saying that when the second phrase is used, it’s usually used to say that someone isn’t ‘normal’ or what have you. Nothing about girls being different to people, that’s silly.

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      4. It’s not that i don’t get what you’ve written, I understand your view of the phrase. It’s just a case of, even though you might see saying it as okay, it’s still a sexist and problematic phrase. Same as when people say “that’s so gay”, they aren’t necessarily homophobic or intending to sound homophobic but they are being without realising.

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      5. Fair enough, I can agree with that. It’s the lack of awareness, horribly written characters in film and tv as well as lack of understanding that leads to this, I feel. I’m learning! 👍🏽

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      6. I don’t watch a great deal of TV, and when I do the shows I watch reflect views like mine so I’m not referring to TV or Film in this post, more just general attitudes and my experiences of the phrases I hear people saying. I’m glad you can take something from this post though :) thank you again for reading x

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