Sunday, April 11, 2010

#1: Gendered Words

My mom and I were talking about words that get applied only to men or only to women.

She pointed out after I referred to Cheryl as "spunky" that no one would ever call a man "spunky." She also mentioned "bustling," in reference to an article she read about a female CEO. I mentioned feisty, which is about my least favorite word ever; it refers to a woman who shows spirit but no power; it's a diminutive disguised as a compliment, and it reinforces a man's position of power over the "feisty" woman. It's a sort of "oh, how cute, the kitten has claws" situation, and it makes me so mad.

We couldn't really think of similarly disempowering words used toward men, which makes sense. Men aren't thought of as inherently lesser; when one wants to degrade a man, one calls him a woman.

What other words fall into this pattern?

10 comments:

  1. I have seen "bustling" used in fiction to describe many a nervous man.

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  2. Never heard it applied to a man. Often I have seen it applied to a busy marketplace- or a fat, busy woman used in a pejorative sense. But then I see anti-feminism everywhere.

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  3. Mrs Seid,
    The reason you see anti-feminism everywhere is that it exists everywhere.

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  4. Troy once described me as feisty and I took it as a compliment without really thinking. Now after reading this I wish I could go back 4 years and slap him for that.

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  5. Ruthy - post this to the word geek queen friend Barbie!

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  6. Do you refer to me as your mom?

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  7. What is this geek queen friend Barbie?

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  8. @Ethel - if you look on Ruthy's facebook wall, you will see conversations with her weaver friend Barbie who is a self-described word geek.

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  9. Often, yes, I refer to you as my mom or my mother. It sort of is automatic, and is anyway easier than clarifying whom I'm talking about all the time. When I'm talking to very close friends, your name pops out more often but not all the time; when I'm talking to family, it is always your name, except when I'm talking to siblings, when about three quarters of the time it's "your mother."

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