Everyday Misogyny: 122 Subtly Sexist Words about Women (and what to do about them)

 

Everyday Misogyny: 122 Subtly Sexist Words about Women (and what to do about them) | Sacraparental.com

 

‘Feisty’ is one.

‘Bossy’ gets a lot of press.

And don’t get me started on ‘working mother’. How many men have you heard described as ‘working fathers’, let alone ‘dadpreneurs’?

Subtly sexist words about women and girls.

Not the obvious, awful insulting words (which are depressingly many and varied), but the ones that fly under the radar, and contribute to a culture that undervalues women.

I started writing them down a little while ago. I was musing on how men don’t get complimented on being ‘bubbly’ or ‘chatty’, and that these are behaviours that are, well, unthreatening to men: is that why they are compliments?

And doesn’t the act of writing for all the world to see sound less brave and revolutionary when you slap a label on it like ‘mummy blog’?

I got to a list of seventeen before asking my friends at the Feminist Mothers Aotearoa Facebook group for their un/favourite examples.

Last I looked, the thread had 425 comments and replies. I’ve added most of the suggestions to this list, though I’ve omitted a great number of the direct insults that we can all recognise as sexist (even if some people think they are acceptable for use.)

The list has gone from my seventeen to 122 words or phrases used against women.

Is this trivial? Should we spend our time on something more important? Here’s Dotty Winters’ take on the question:

Women are either equal to men, or they aren’t and language that goes unchallenged is one of the many ways we allow inequality to lurk around in the dusty corners of offices. There are huge and shocking implications for gender inequality worldwide. People die, are refused healthcare, or suffer attack as a result of gender. Faced with these atrocities it can feel petty to gently challenge the unequal use of the word ‘abrasive’ but the same system perpetuates both behaviours and it’s all based on the same flawed logic.

[Read more at Standard Issue.]

This is what I think: the world would be a better place if everyone stopped talking about and to women like this, especially if it’s because they’re identifying and eradicating their own, sometimes unconscious, sexism.

Remember this pyramid? The words in today’s post are sprinkled liberally through all three of the bottom layers, and even higher.

 

Violence Pyramid by Ashley Fairbanks | Sacraparental.com

Image description: Persona A: “It was just a joke! Why do you care?” Person B: “Sexual violence exists on a pyramid. Your joke contributes to a culture of violence.” Pyramid of five layers: 1: the top, pinnacle = murder; 2: rape, sexual assault, physical, emotional and financial abuse; 3: harassment, threats and verbal abuse; 4: traditional roles, glass ceiling, rigid gender-based stereotypes, 5: sexist/homophobic/transphobic jokes, problematic language, objectification. Artist: Ashley Fairbanks, used with kind permission.

 

And of course it’s not an either/or dichotomy. We can care about the language we use and still fight human rights abuses in Myanmar and child marriage around the world. Indeed, changing how we talk to and about women will help us dismantle rape culture and raise kids who are world-changers.

So here is my list so far of dozens of sneakily sexist words to get us all thinking. Please leave a comment with your response, and any ideas you have about making the world a better place for everyone.

You’ll nod in agreement with some of these examples, and be puzzled at the inclusion of others. Everything here is listed because a real woman has heard it in use and understood it to be used in a sexist way. Feel free to exclaim that you didn’t know a particular word could be sexist, but please don’t dismiss people’s experiences as you do so. I will be moderating the comments to ensure we have a friendly discussion. No sexist comments will be published.

A special thank you to my very favourite satirical Twitter account, @manwhohasitall, some of whose gems have been turned into graphics on Facebook, reproduced below. The best is on Twitter, though, so do go and follow her. (I’m going on record with my hunch that she’s a she.)

Double-standards: These words punish women for behaviour that is acceptable from men

These words are used against women who have ideas and opinions and are confident in expressing them

Bossy.

Abrasive.

A ball-buster.

Aggressive.

Shrill.

Bolshy.

Intense.

Stroppy.

Forward.

Mannish.

 

Opinion manwhohasitall

 

We can probably all agree that these are words people use to show criticism and disapproval. What’s less obvious is that they are sexist, for two key reasons:

  1. these words are used disproportionately often against women
  2. the behaviour they describe often goes unremarked in men.

Here’s some more context for this, again from Dotty Winters:

A 2014 study for Fortune.com by Kieran Snyder examined 248 reviews from 180 people, (105 men and 75 women). The reviews came from 28 different companies, all in the tech sector, and included a range of organisational sizes.

One word appeared 17 times in reviews of women, and never in any of the reviews of men: ‘abrasive’. Other words were disproportionately applied to women, including bossy, aggressive, strident, emotional and irrational. Aggressive did appear in two reviews of men, in the context of them being urged to be more aggressive. Reviews of women only ever used aggressive as a criticism. The gender of the person writing the review didn’t affect the results of the study.

[Read more at Standard Issue.]

 

From the Ban Bossy campaign, and heaps more in this post about subtly sexist language | Sacraparental.com

 

Take action

When men and women display the same behaviours in, say, a workplace, men are much more likely to be called ‘assertive’ ‘confident’, ‘powerful’ or ‘a strong leader’, while women get this list.

How can we change things for the better?

  1. If you find yourself describing a woman with one of these words, ask yourself what you would say if a man behaved this way. Would you comment at all? How would you describe him? Think carefully before letting any of these words out of your mouth. Here’s a tough question to think hard about: is the problem with the woman or with you?
  2. If you hear someone else describe a woman this way, what could you say? Please leave suggestions in the comments below! One possible script, to attempt to open up conversation: ‘Hm, it’s interesting you call her ‘shrill’. I don’t hear men with strong opinions called that. Have you ever thought about that?’
  3. If someone describes you with these words, especially in a performance appraisal setting, calling out sexism can be a big deal.
    Responding to professional (or any other) criticism is a complex dance of emotional intelligence, and each work setting has its own challenges. If you want to call someone on sexist feedback, you could try something like:
    ‘I’m interested that I’m being called ‘bossy’ and ‘opinionated.’ I wonder if you could help me sift through that feedback, and see what I can take from it. One concern I have is that studies show that women and men displaying the same professional behaviour get seen differently, with women being called ‘bossy’ and men ‘powerful’, for instance. How much of this feedback is because I’m a woman, do you think?’
    Again, please leave your suggestions and wisdom in the comments below.

Anyone who is involved in giving performance appraisals, mentoring people or otherwise evaluating and describing human beings as a job, might want to stick this advice to journalists from Gloria Steinem on their walls (feel free to copy it and pop it in someone’s in-tray):

The most workable definition of equality for journalists is reversibility. Don’t mention her young children unless you would also mention his, or describe her clothes unless you would describe his, or say she’s shrill or attractive unless the same adjectives would be applied to a man. Don’t say she’s had facial surgery unless you say he dyes his hair or has hair plugs. Don’t say she’s just out of graduate school but he’s a rising star. Don’t say she has no professional training but he worked his way up. Don’t ask her if she’s running as a women’s candidate unless you ask him if he’s running as a men’s candidate. A good test of whether or not you as a reporter are taking sexism seriously is whether you would cite race, class, ethnicity, or religion in the same context.

[Read more in the The Women’s Media Center’s Media Guide to Gender Neutral Coverage of Women Candidates and Politicians, by Rachel Joy Larris and Rosalie Maggio, available as a PDF.]

 

From the Ban Bossy campaign, and heaps more in this post about subtly sexist language | Sacraparental.com

 

These words are used against women, when similar behaviour by men goes unremarked

Gossipy.

Dramatic (as in Drama Queen).

Catty.

Bitchy.

Nag.

Cold.

Ice queen.

Shrew.

Humourless.

Man-hater.

 

Words about women - what not to say! | Sacraparental.com

 

Banshee.

Fishwife.

Lippy.

Ditzy.

-nazi, eg, Feminazi

Militant, eg, militant feminist.

-zilla, eg, Bridezilla

Diva.

Prima donna.

Blonde (how many men are said to have ‘blonde moments’?)

Have you ever heard a man called a gossip? I’ve certainly heard men engage in the activity, but not criticised for it very often. And as I read somewhere recently, if you think men don’t start ‘drama’, you need to pick up a history book.

Take action

Unkindness is unkindness, whatever the gender of the person practising it. If we need to speak about poor behaviour, let’s choose words that are not unfairly gendered.

  1. Before you comment on a woman’s tone or attitude, consider whether you need to at all. Seriously.
  2. If you do need to, choose a word that could equally describe a man’s behaviour. Say that someone is being unkind, rude, selfish or inconsiderate. English has plenty of options.
  3. Ask yourself if you speak critically about men as often as you do about women.

The Women’s Media Center has a several-page glossary of sexist terms with context and, critically, gender-neutral synonyms. Check it out whenever you think of a sexist word that you are in the habit of using and would like to change. Here’s their entry for ‘strident’, for example:

strident used primarily to describe women (especially feminists) indiscriminately and discriminatingly, “strident” (as well as “shrill”) has become a stereotype that means little more than “She makes me sick!” Alternatives include: harsh, jarring, raucous, dissonant, discordant, unharmonious, clashing, sharp.

[Read more in the The Women’s Media Center’s Media Guide to Gender Neutral Coverage of Women Candidates and Politicians, by Rachel Joy Larris and Rosalie Maggio, available as a PDF.]

 

Patronising words, with no male equivalent

Feisty.

Supermum.

Working mother.

Career woman (have you heard of ‘career men’? Or as they’re usually known, ‘men’?)

Yummy mummy.

Little old lady (I like to imagine that woman driving an ambulance in the World War II, or doing a family’s laundry without electricity.)

WAHM (Work-at-home mum): As Katie Macintyre wrote, “When I work from home I’m a “working from home Mum”. When my husband works from home he “has his own business” with no mention of the fact that he’s a Dad.”

Fierce. This one is newish, and seems to be used mostly by women applying it to themselves, and each other, without pejorative or patronising intention, but I reckon it can go either way. See for instance how flowery the illustrations of Shakespeare’s use of the word are in this Pinterest search:

And though she be but little she is fierce.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, III, ii

Spirited. I can’t think that I’ve heard it of a man, except for groups and teams: ‘a spirited defence’.

(I’m not your) mother:

 

westpac ad sexist

 

Take action

Stop using these words, eh? Or be careful to use words like ‘spirited’ and ‘feisty’ of men and boys too, if you enjoy using them in a positive way.

‘Working mother’ is a tricky one. It’s probably more useful for society to see both fathers and mothers as people who work both at home and in other jobs, so rather than abolish ‘working mother’, it might be nice to popularise seeing men as ‘working fathers’.

Andie Fox at Blue Milk writes some of my favourite stuff on how women’s care work is largely unacknowledged and unpaid. She’s an economist and a brilliant writer. Check out her stuff for more nuance:

On the economics of divorce: What Scott Morrison fails to understand about how divorce affects women

The truth about how your home life interferes with your work life

On in/equality in parenting (This one hit me like a train.)

 

These words insult women based on their sexuality and sexual expression

Slut.

Trollop.

Frigid.

Easy.

Tease.

Loose.

Man-eater.

Cougar.

Asking for it.

Prude.

The town bike.

And yes, about a hundred more, including some examples of things men had called real women I know that made me feel ill.

Take action

This one’s easy. Don’t comment on other people’s sexuality or sexual expression if you’re not, you know, participating in it.

A good test to use, if you really do need to talk about sexual behaviour – perhaps in the abstract, with a teenager – is, again, only to use language that fits people of any gender.

Try to take all the judgment and emotion out of what you’re talking about. It might be a challenge, and it’ll be good for everyone.

These sexist words about physical appearance aren’t used for men

Mutton dressed as lamb.

Slutty.

Curvy.

Mumsy.

Cheap.

(That dress is) flattering.

Frumpy.

Let herself go.

Faded beauty.

Mousey.

Plus-size (have you ever heard of a plus-size model who was male?)

Clotheshorse.

Brunette.

Take action

How other people choose to dress is none of anyone else’s damn business.

My mother was, of course, correct in her advice: if you can’t think of anything nice to say, just say nothing at all.

For more on this, I really love Andie Fox’s practice:

A little while ago while sitting on the beach I realised how good I am at picking faults in women’s bodies, my own included of course but that’s not really so surprising because I know my own body very well and I’ve been living in a misogynist world, oh all my life. What I found while sitting on the beach was that I could size up a woman in 10 seconds flat. So well trained was my eye that I could spot her imperfections in an instant. Worst of all I could do it completely without thinking. Hi, could you tell me which way to the cafe? Hey, thick ankles by the way.

I was repulsed by myself. So I tried something new. When I was next at the beach I made it my mission to find something I liked about every female body that my eyes came to rest upon. Once I got going it wasn’t even that difficult. And the most surprising thing for me? Not how differently I started to view other women (for that had been the whole point of the exercise) but how differently I started to view myself. My participation in the hatred of women’s bodies had been every bit a form of self-hatred.

[Read more at Blue Milk.]

 

These words praise women for behaviour that is unthreatening to the patriarchy

Ladylike.

Bubbly.

Vivacious.

Flirty.

Sassy.

Chatty.

Demure.

Modest.

I think people often use these words (probably unconsciously) to praise women for being unthreatening.

There’s nothing wrong with being bubbly, but if it’s a word used to underestimate and undervalue women’s other qualities, maybe it’s one to relegate.

These words dismiss women as pawns of their hormones and physicality

Emotional.

Hysterical.

Hormonal.

Menstrual or pre-menstrual.

Flaky.

Moody.

Over-sensitive.

These basically mean ‘disagreeing while female’.

 

emotional manwhohasitall

 

Clucky.

Maternal (when not about one’s own children).

Neurotic.

Irrational.

Baby brain (As someone said on the Fem Mamas page: ‘Ffs give exhaustion its real name’).

Baby weight.

These are problematic for a few reasons.

  1. Men can and ought to feel emotions, just as much as women, right? Colours are for everyone. Feelings are for everyone.
  2. Emotions are good things!
  3. It is patronising, presumptuous and insulting to dismiss a woman’s argument or behaviour by blaming it on her biology. If you don’t agree with her, say so. If you think she’s being unreasonable, say so. Don’t pretend you know anything about her personal biochemistry.
  4. It’s also tone policing, and that really has to stop.
  5. Some men and some women love small children. Some don’t. Let’s try to take people on their own terms without making assumptions about how they feel about kids.
  6. Women experience a lot of pressure in the realm of child-bearing. Lay off! A person can enjoy holding one baby without being ‘clucky’ or hearing her ‘clock tick’. As Sarah writes, ‘Get out of my uterus!’

 

 

Take action

  1. Choose gender neutral words if you must refer to someone’s irritability or unreasonableness. But first: is she being unreasonable, or is she just disagreeing with you?
  2. Don’t let these comments slide when you hear them.If you’re feeling sarky:
    ‘Exactly which hormone do you think makes her disagree with you?’
    ‘I might be interested in my endocrinologist’s opinion of my hormone levels, but not yours.’For a more opening-the-conversation callout:
    ‘When you call me ‘hormonal’, it feels icky. I don’t want you talking about my body like that.’
    ‘You know emotions are good things, right? Let’s talk sensibly about the issue, but let’s not pretend we aren’t human beings who feel things while we do it.’
    ‘Please don’t dismiss my argument in such a sexist, rude way.’What else could we say? Pop a comment below with your suggestions, please!

These sexist words minimise women’s achievements

Mummy blogger.

Female engineer.

That’s good, for a girl.

Like a girl (run like a girl, throw like a girl).

Mumpreneur.

 

Dadpreneur manwhohasitall

 

 

Take action

Swap these words for gender neutral ones:

Blogger. Business owner. Entrepreneur. Good.

 

mia hamm run like a girl

 

Words that define women by their relationship to men and children

Spinster.

Barren.

She wears the pants.

Housewife.

Houseproud.

Soccer mom.

Mistress.

Kept woman.

 

Words about women’s health that should be renamed

These brilliant suggestions came from a member of the Facebook group.

I bet there are plenty more that women would like to rename or reclaim, since pretty much everyone doing the anatomical, physiological and medical naming over the years has been male.

Incompetent cervix.

Failure to progress.

Elderly primagravida.

Irritable uterus.

What would make your list? Please leave a comment below.

These words limit girls and boys and perpetuate sexism.

How we speak to and about kids is a larger topic, of course. Here are just a few words to be careful about:

Princess (as a default term of address to a girl you don’t know well.)

Tomboy (because a girl who likes to climb is no less a girl.)

Girly (‘a girly girl’) (because boys can like pink and sparkles, and not all girls do.)

Little lady.

Jail-bait.

Heart-breaker (and any other words that sexualise little kids, suggesting they are into romance or sex when they’re only four years old.)

Pretty (I’m just suggesting that if you use this, it’s not the first thing you say, or the thing you say most often to a child. Another opinion here, though.)

And let’s put bossy in here again, too.

 

Bossy holds girls back | Sacraparental.com

 

Take action

Think hard about why you use any of these, and whether your use of them dismantles or reinforces a sexist world. Consider ditching them and looking for replacements you’ll enjoy using to build up the kids you love.

For dozens of phrases for feminist parenting, check out my post here.

 

Colours are for everyone - and heaps of other ideas of things to say with kids to help them experience freedom | Sacraparental.com

 

These words pit women against one another

Bitchfest

Catfight

Mommy wars

When two men or groups of men are debating, we call it debating, or discussion. If they yell, we call it robust, or heated. Or Parliament.

When two groups of women are debating, let’s call it debating, too.

These words damn with faint praise

There’s nothing wrong with these words in themselves, but research on the references people write for graduates (see below) has shown that they are more often used for women than for men, who are more likely to get words of more ringing endorsement like ‘excellent’, ‘accomplished’ or ‘successful’.

Caring.

Compassionate.

Hard-working.

Conscientious.

Dependable.

Diligent.

Dedicated.

Tactful.

Interpersonal.

Warm.

Helpful.

These words come from this fantastic tip-sheet from the University of Arizona Commission on the Status of Women, available as a PDF here:

Avoiding sexism in reference writing

I don’t know about you, but I’m a bit tired after all of that. Shall we chat further in the comments?

If you’re so inclined, you can also follow me on Facebook (for daily links and resources), Twitter (for general ranting) and Pinterest (for plantations of links including my Gender Politics board).

 

Everyday Misogyny: 122 Subtly Sexist Words about Women (and what to do about them) | Sacraparental.com

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56 comments on “Everyday Misogyny: 122 Subtly Sexist Words about Women (and what to do about them)”

  1. Francesca Reply

    Fantastic list! Reading it I kept nodding and wincing as I thought how often I’ve heard all of these. Love the quote at the beginning too, especially ‘People die, are refused healthcare, or suffer attack as a result of gender’ . There is a serious problem in the healthcare industry where female patients are assumed to be ‘dramatic’ or ‘hysterical’ about their symptoms (or their children’s) , and this can be very, very costly.

    • Robert Reply

      Upon reading this article, I was saddened to see what this society has come to. You complain about words like ‘bubbly, working mother, etc.’ but there are words that are used to describe exclusively to men too. ‘Macho, effeminate, house husband, etc.’

      This hypersensitive nation is encouraging people to feel offended, but feminism is a dying cause. You are doing more harm than good, and your fellow women know it! The same happened to me. I am a gay man, and in the 15 years that I have been out, I’ve never faced abuse. But I have taught to takenoffence to a slew of questions and comments that simply aren’t offensive, unless you convince yourself that they are.

      The gender wage gap does not take into consideration women’s career choice, that in general just happen to be different from those of men. Furthermore, I can tell you that I have NEVER come across a woman who earned a single cent less than me for doing the same job. That’s illegal.

      It’s commonplace to come across feminists inventing new, creative ways to feel offended, and it’s SO damaging.

      What used to be a fine cause that helped secure the female vote and the female’s right to work has turned into something bitter and man-hating. I am sorry if this post offends.

      • thaliakr Reply

        Robert, I’m afraid you are incorrect in a few of your assumptions here, and missing a few points.

        1. This is an article about language used against women. You are welcome to write one about words like macho and effeminate. That would be a different article. See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whataboutism

        2. You speak about a society and nation, but don’t identify your own. I live in New Zealand, and I would definitely not describe it as hypersensitive to offence.

        3. Feminism is neither a dying cause, nor one that is doing more harm than good.

        4. I’m glad you have had the pleasant experience of never being abused. You are in a minority. It would be wise and compassionate for you to listen to those who are in the majority here.

        5. Your information on the gender pay gap is simply incorrect. You may like to do some further reading. Here’s a place to start if you need it: http://women.govt.nz/work-skills/income/gender-pay-gap

        6. I don’t hate men, and I don’t see anything in this article that suggests I do. You seem to be creating a straw, er, person.

  2. Jenni Reply

    I was just mulling this over and it occurred to me that even the words used to describe physical attractiveness are, in themselves, quite telling. Think ‘pretty’ & ‘beautiful’, words that are also used to describe scenery and objects. I don’t recall hearing of many handsome paintings, for example.

    • thaliakr Reply

      I feel like ‘handsome’ as a general adjective was more common 100-200 years ago (I’m thinking Anne of Green Gables usage!), also used to describe women. But you’re right, it’s definitely not used now for anything other than men, whereas pretty and beautiful are general-purpose.

  3. Jessica Parsons Reply

    Loved reading this! If you’re still adding, then on medical terms that should be reclaimed, then “hysterectomy” is top of my list.

      • Lori Reply

        Well… except that “hyst” part is the Greek-derived root word referring to the uterus. Equivalent to the medical term “oophorectomy” – there’s no judgement there, it’s just a descriptive term. “Hysteria” and “hysterical”, however, came from the idea that intensely and intrusively emotional states (in women) were due to the uterus, and those terms *do* need to be eradicated.
        (this from a person who learned medical terminology as part of training to be a medical office assistant, and again later in training to be a pharmacist)

  4. Sarah Reply

    Long time reader, first time commenter :-) Reading your posts always takes me so long because I have to follow so many links and I get all distracted and don’t come back to comment. You make me think really hard with posts like this. I grew up with two older brothers, and a father who is pretty dominant, and so much of this is just (I think) completely unconscious for them, and so for me too. And my brothers have daughters, and it’s likely the same for them too. It’s so so so hard to swim against the tide. But so important when I look at that pyrimid. I think my first step is to share this on my (recently revived) and see how that does. Thanks so much for putting this on my radar. Have to go follow some of those links now.

  5. FC Reply

    Brilliant post, (as usual!) Thank you. Lots of to think about, and in the mean time, my husband and I can play bingo when we go to visit my f-in-law next week!

  6. Mary Sea Reply

    What a valuable post. Flip. It certainly warrants multiple re-reads as many of those words are part of my everyday lexicon. Or should that be EXicon? Thanks for the enriching piece of writing!

  7. Charlene Reply

    Ooh I needed this. I was speaking to a friend today and she has just started a new job. She said, I’m so glad there’s more guys in this job – hopefully it will be less bitchy. I felt hurt and offended on behalf of my sisters but I didn’t want to sound preachy so I said nothing. In reading this I realise that if you expect ‘bitchiness’ surely that is what you’ll experience.

  8. Shan Reply

    Great article I have said why isnt it incompetent penis for erectile dysfynction if it is incompetent cervix? It’s also the lack of lexemes for women. What’s the female equivalent of emasculate?

  9. Pingback: The Ninety-Seventh Down Under Feminists Carnival | Zero at the Bone

  10. Steph Reply

    Nurturing. That’s one I get a lot — also “Co -dependent.” When was the last time you’ve seen a man labeled “nurturing” or “co-dependent”? I could probably think of others… for myself, I have certainly told men that they are “sensitive,” “co-dependent,” a “drama queen,” etc in an attempt to balance the playing field. Looking at this post is helpful in so many ways.

  11. Eve Reply

    Excellent. I have a thing about misogyny and ‘putting women in their place’ language. I’m taking an educated guess here, but I think the Bible was written by males, from a male point of view. In the name “Eve” is the lesson: Everything bad that happens is because of you females. Males were created good; females were created bad. Except for Mary the Virgin: she was a good girl. Mary Magdalen: now she was a very bad girl – it took a man to make her good. Other examples, too many to mention. Most cultures are male dominated as we know. So many of these cultures have a clear message in their language about women and behaviours toward them: females must be controlled and dominated. It happens in our so-called enlightened nations, too. I feel that this may be an integral part of homo sapiens behaviour. We can challenge and vent all we like – but will it ever change?

    • Jotunn Reply

      I like how you comment really gets to the meat of the matter. And no the Bible was written by GOD, cough cough…short men cough cough.

      Honestly I don’t feel like it ever will change, its down to the basic fact that women have been systematicly oppressed and controlled because they have allot of power, and if you don’t control them hard, most men wouldn’t have a chance. And that is why violence is often towards women, that is the one area where men usually are more powerful. Women have so much sexual and psychological power, most men are fucking terrified, just take a look at the red pill blogs, its thousands of scared little 40 year old boys.

      However in more enlighten circles of people, lots of equality is currently happening, more confident men that know there value are much less threatened by women and value the equal companionship. The issue is allot more deeply rooted than allot of the feminist propaganda will admit. Its not a matter of stop saying these words and it will go away, maybe if you police hard enough the insecure men that are afraid of women will hide it better, I guess that’s good, better to be around. But the core dynamic will still be there, damn Im ranting, anyway, I liked your comment. I think the key is to always search out the good people, that will respect you. Amen praise god…..

  12. Alyce Reply

    I agree with a lot of these things BUT I feel some of these things almost make it out that we are ashamed to be women or embarrassed. Women do get their periods and menstruate and also have curvy bodies. And, I definitely no, that we do get moody and emotional. It is what we are and what our bodies are meant to do due to the increase in hormones. Therefore, there’s no need to lie about this, because it’s a fact. I’d rather embrace it and be open about it, not deny what I can’t control.
    AND baby weight is not an insult. That word is just for women and it is nothing to be ashamed about as women put on weight for childbirth.
    YES, a lot of these words are things we can attempt stop using, and the same goes for certain words towards men. However, in regards to the hormonal and emotional part; I can definitely tell you a lot more women have cried at work, compared to men. Women are more emotional than men, that is just how it is. Rather than make it a taboo topic and run away from it. I say just embrace it. Show them emotions are good and keep doing what you’re doing; then we may confront the issue that men hide their emotions and decrease the male suicide rate. We can all learn from each other. Respect and understanding is key

  13. Lorraine Reply

    One word that drives me crazy is “harridan”. I suppose curmudgeon is the male version but I still cringe over harridan.

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  15. Rachel Reveley Reply

    I was away from home with my 2 year old daughter for a few days and needed to distract her for a few minutes so found some kids TV. It was a programme called Milkshake which is basically an MC between shows.

    A programme about a princess finished and the male presenter started talking about the Princess being bossy. I emailed them immediately in disgust and of course had no reply.

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  18. Francine Reply

    I am also bothered by the use of “woman!” as a pejorative; typically used in frustration or anger. I have also heard “wench” used similarly-but that’s a little more obvious.

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  21. Crystal Reply

    Great list! I’m a little surprised MILF didn’t make the list. Men who use it seem to think it’s a compliment but It’s disgusting and I’ve never heard anyone talk about DILF’s

  22. Lauren Reply

    Great list, I am currently doing a design project on language and feminism focusing on the way we use ‘just’. It is something that women tend to do to ourselves, when we have achieved something some women tend to say “I’ve just done this” or “I was just about to get that to you” or “sorry I just…” thus in turn can diminish our reputation and put less value on the completed task. Men don’t tend to use it nearly as often. Maybe you could add a section on things we do ourselves without realising it. I know I said this far to often and is a very hard habit to break, but now I am aware of it and I think that’s the first step in change! I hope to find more words like this to add to the research so if you have any that would be great!

  23. Cortney Reply

    Earlier today, I suggested an alternate solution to a coworker. He told me not to get “worked up.” I’d add that somewhere on the list.

  24. Eve Reply

    I went to a Round Table ‘Ladies Night’ last night – the one night of the year when the wives are allowed to join their husbands at an evening meal. We women were toasted for our ‘beauty’. My husband remarked casually (and just for our table) that he could see a few ‘mingers’.

    I looked ‘minger’ up today – and all its synonyms and related idioms.

    I would like minger banned.

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  26. Marian Reply

    Thank you for this article! I came upon it while searching for guidance in addressing a colleague who refers to me as “supermom” (sigh). This article is quite validating and I feel better about initiating the conversation. Thank you!

  27. dave Reply

    I’d add “calculating” to this list. Seems very gender-specific in current times. Successful females are calculating, successful men are smart. As if rising in a chosen endeavor is trickery and subterfuge for a female, but aptitude and perseverance for a male

  28. Simon whorrall Reply

    I agree with 4 or the non gender specific terms but most of the rest are not good. X

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