So we all know that we’re not there yet in terms of gender equality. We see and experience a patriarchal society every day. Here are some of the commonplace words and phrases that, in my opinion, further cement this on a day to day basis.
Girlboss – what does this even mean? The implications seem to be that it’s so extraordinary for a woman/girl to be a boss that we need a separate phrase to describe it.
Bossy – When was the last time you heard a man or boy being described as bossy? Need I say more. Maybe this isn’t as much of an issue with children growing up now, I’d genuinely be interested to know, but certainly growing up in the 90s assertive young women were shamed for being bossy meanwhile their male peers could take the lead without comment. “She’s not bossy, she’s the boss.’
Man up – I catch myself using this phrase still. I call myself out on it of course, and I’m using it less and less, but growing up this was a totally normal phrase. It’s damaging for men and women by instilling the ideal that men can’t show emotion and can’t be weak and that women are required be more like men.
Skinnie Minnie – This one on first glance maybe doesn’t fit with the theme of this post however when we note that this is apparently the ultimate compliment for women in our culture. Congratulations for not taking up space… Ummm ok. Women seem to be on the receiving end of the worst of diet culture and by using phrases like this we are encouraging our own oppression.
“That’s so gay” – Thankfully people are using this less and less but I still hear it, particularly when the school kids are out at lunchtime. Another phrase I’ve heard from them was “you’re such a bender” which is particularly troubling as you have to question where they are learning this. We no longer get that kind of language in the media so they must be getting this stuff at home. It’s not difficult to understand how wrong these phrases are – gay is not a synonym for rubbish. No matter which definition for the word gay you use this makes no sense. Homophobic slurs are not cool, witty or clever so why are children still hearing this, learning it and repeating it?
“[Insert adjective] for a girl.” (Strong, clever, articulate etc etc.) Why are we still using these phrases as “compliments”? There is nothing complimentary about it. And while we’re at it why are we infantilizing grown women.
In that same vein “the girls in the office” is a phrase I hear at work A LOT and it makes me squirm with rage. Let’s stop belittling women, it’s very tiresome to be fighting this same nonsense day in and day out in 2017.
Are there any phrases that you think I’ve forgotten? Leave them in the comments below.