Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Sexist Language Matters - Here's Why

Sexism is a disease, which has spread everywhere, including the written and spoken word. 

e you start noticing it, you too will see it as clearly as a glass of iced water being thrown in your face. As my boyfriend says, once you become aware of it, you can't un-see it, so you start noticing it everywhere.

When you point it out to people that they are using sexist language, less than 1% of the time they will apologize and say something like 'old habits die hard'. Around 50% of the time they will get aggressively defensive and demand to know if you are saying they are a sexist pig, because of using words that everybody else uses.

The rest of them will call you a feminazi.

After a while, yo
u become allergic to the sexist language, and even more to the response it brings when you feel a need to point it out, because all sexism is bad and words do matter.

Today, I am sharing some of the responses I post when I come across sexist semantics and sexist language on the Internet. After posting this stuff, I try to take cover, and most of the time to not look at the responses to my comments, because of both the dismissive attitudes of some and the rage and fury from others. 

Quotes that contain sexist language:

As for the common argument that the person who made the quote is smart, so we should disregard the sexism and see inspiration, and nobody is perfect...Personality culting is wrong, because it legitimizes things that should not happen, just because the cult personality said or did it.

And, yes, I am aware of the commonly used argument that it is a quote, and you cannot change a quote. You can choose a different quote though.

And, to anyone who wants to complain that this is petty of me, when there are important thing
s like rape, and I should have empathy for the ones who are raped, and aren't I lucky enough to have such a charmed life, that I can think things such as words are important, you don't in fact know what my life has been like or is like. Try to consider that people don't and sometime can't talk about everything.

“Words are things, I am convinced…I think they get on the walls, they get in your wallpaper. In your upholstery, in your clothes and finally…Into you” - Maya An

Humankind Vs Mankind:

This total disregard for wo
men in every area of life has to stop. Where do things like sexist language stop, and things like rape cultures and pay deficits start... There should be no sexism. 

A nicely edited quote - "I refuse to accept the view that [hu]mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood [and sisterhood] can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word." ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.  (This was posted on a Facebook page, called 'Flowing with Change', by the founder of the page.)

For thos
e who say no offense is intended, you are putting adding another burden besides the impact of sexism on the shoulders of people like me, by claiming that ignorance is the same as innocence

And, for those who claim that they are women so therefore can't be sexist, yes you can be sexist. If you are using sexist semantics you are being sexist. 

To those who say that referring to everybody in the masculine is grammatically correct, you should consider how ironic it is, to make something correct, by putting sexism in it.

Stop using expressions such as 'having the balls' or 'dick swinging', to describe things like courage, strength... This is sexist, because courage and strength are not specifically male traits. As well at that, you should not call somebody a pussy, for saying something you don't respect.

'' guys...''

Stop masculinising us all. Guys is just the modern way to call everybody Man or Mankind.It is about time women stop being Guys, Man, He, Mankind, Mrs. His Name and the other male words which disregard gender identity with the excuse that it is an expression, it is correct grammar, it is not important... Most sexism is a convention, which lurks in society, accepted and sometimes unnoticed. The most difficult to solve problems are those which are accepted and even defended out of habit or worst still are hidden. 

There are no good reasons to argue for sexism and everything to gain by not being sexist. Strangely, this does not prevent lengthy discussion defending why there should be sexism, by those who claim that sexism does not exist, or that objecting to sexism is the cause of the sexism (so, was it the egg or the chicken that came first?), or that sexism is too trivial to object to, when one could be spending time stopping world wars, ending homelessness.... 

To those who say this is not what this post is about, I give priority to standing up for women's gender identity, since the abuse and disrespect is so widespread, and many are so dismissive about it. As far are many are concerned, there is always some good reason to put women and their rights on the back burner, so I am saying no to all the other so called priorities, unless they also respect women. As well as that, it is so easy to replace sexist language with equality-friendly language, that one has to wonder why so many refuse to do it. 

We are not all Man, Mankind, Mrs His Name and whatever other degrading descriptions can be put on us to turn us into side kicks of the human race which are entitled to less that Man is. 

We have a right to respect in language, as well as everything else. 

~Melissa Flaherty

Photo by Lebanese Atheists: The woman is half the society and the one who educates the other half


  1. It's interesthing that even though stopping wars and ending homelessness is "more important" than changing simple sexist practises (like speech) the people who use this sort of rhetoric are generally not doing a lot to stop wars and end homelessness anyway so you think they could get off their farmville or call of duty or tumbler for a few seconds or interrupt their coffee date or hairdressing appointment or football game for less than a breath and actually think before they speak!!! Or stop attacking you for caring for something more serious than escapism :) thanks for posting

    1. generally not doing a lot to stop wars and end homelessness anyway...''

      I was commenting to my boyfriend about this a while ago. I told him, I think the same people are the ones who are more likely to be addressing both what is and isn't considered important, and those who want to endlessly argue with them are likely to be doing nothing but running a critique on everything they do and say.

  2. On, when I asked somebody on facebook to stop calling us all guys.

    '' I'm personally okay with the "hey guys" thing'' - You shouldn't be. It censors women out of the written and spoken word, in the same way as calling everybody man does. It is no accident, that these words which are supposed to be gender neutral are the masculine words. People really have not idea how much this actually affects the human psychology of how women are seen.

    1. its funny reading this you seem to be pushing your ideals on others in the same way you claim saying you guys does, it seems you are reading too much into the words being said and not their intent. more than a few times ive been the only guy in a room of women and someone said something to the effect of hey girls and i didnt nor would i think anything of it if it had been a mixed group i knew full well they were talking to all of us the gender of the word was in offensive, just like when someones said "ok kids" and im 30. or "ok gang". they are JUST words. i could be racist, sexist, etc with out once ever using a racial epithet or a sexist word. if youre gonna go picking fights start with the wage gap or glass ceiling not semantics

    2. ive been in a room of mostly girls when someone came in and said hey girls, by your logic i guess i should have been offended knowing i was emasculated instead of knowing they were just addressing the room. you are reading too much into the words used and too little about their intent. should i also be offeneded the next time someone says hey gang even though im not a gang member or hey kids even though im 30?


  4. Is there an email address or something, to contact Google?

    One thing facebook actually did right, a long time ago when they used to do things right was list gender as Female Male, as it should be, because that is alphabetical order, unlike Google who are using the conventional Male first order. I think, now that some are changing, Google + should be prompted in that direction too.

    As well as that, they should lose the 'maiden name' option, since there isn't even an word for men's former names if they change their name to hers on getting married. Considering this, I think Google is contributing to the pressure women are under to follow accepted customs which reduce their identity and visibility.

    1. Just curiois if your last name is that of a husband or father and if that is offensive to you and if so how you would suggest changing it.

  5. Just curious if your last name is that of your husband or father and if you are offended by that or have any suggestions of demasculinizing the tradition.

  6. Thankyou thankyou thankyou!!! You nailed it! These are my everyday thoughts. I comment these things in our family and otherwise too and people are really unaware of what impact words have. We have a long way to go to change it to the better, but I will fight for it as long as I live.

  7. I challenge the men who think this is "only words" to experiment with imagining every pronoun in every communication that uses he/his/man/mankind etc. to be changed to she/her/woman/womankind and to imagine casual comments such as "what a ballsy comment" instead of courgeous, meant cowardly and weak. Challenge yourselves to become aware of how ubiquitous male language is, and how you would feel if this were reversed. I doubt you even will be able to do it.
    Studies have shown these types of "microaggressions" to be very psychologically damaging to women. But I'm guessing you don't care about that, either. I mean, I'm supposed to be grateful I live in such a great country where woman have so many rights that I don't have to wear a Burkah or fear acid being thrown In my face by a spurned suitor. So tired of trying to explain this. Glad my your of duty on this fucked up planet is almost over.