Language Matters

If you are a woman, you have probably noticed that the English language has an abundance of derogatory, hateful, nasty, defamatory and downright ugly words to describe women and their anatomy. Where men are concerned, the English language really doesn’t have comparable terms for the male of the species. Take a moment and think about it. How many can you come up with?

Language is just another area in which women are treated unequally. Language has long been important to me. Many years ago, when I was deeply involved in the animal rights movement, I spoke at one of our meetings about colloquialisms we use on a daily basis  They are so much a part of our language that we use them without even thinking about them. Some examples include:

· More than one way to skin a cat

· Like shooting fish in a barrel

· You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear

· Like a rat in a trap

· A wolf in sheep’s clothing

· Kill two birds with one stone

My suggestion, at the time, was to substitute BROCCOLI for the non-human animal species named in the phrase. When used, it gets people’s attention, pointing out to them the inherent cruelty of the common phrase. Guess I was ahead of my time, in light of the recent discussions about the Affordable Care Act. Now I’m starting to feel bad for broccoli.

And, of course, it’s common when making derogatory comments about people, they are compared to animals in a negative way. Some of the name calling includes:

· Pig
· Dog
· Cow
· Horse’s ass
· Snake
· Harpy
· Rat
· Worm
· Hare-brained

For me, instead of defaming the person, whose acts or actions are deplorable, it demeans the very character of the animal. Personally, I think calling someone a “human” is a more accurate and defamatory epithet. That’s because, for me, we humans have more offensive characters than do any other species of animal.

So, now that you’ve had some time to ponder the inequality of our language, how is your list coming along? Has it become clear yet that both women and non-human animals are most often the ones for whom negatively descriptive words are used?  Have you come up with a list of insulting words and phrases for men?  Those most often used include calling a man a girl, a douche bag, a sissy or a pussy. Doesn’t that seem to imply that being female is negative, instead of calling into question negative male characteristics or behavior? Instead of attacking bad or negative male characteristics and behaviors, these words attack the female. Even when a man is called a dick, is that really negative? After all, isn’t his penis a man’s most prized and protected possession? Isn’t that generally something he’s proud of and proud to possess?

My point is, think before you speak. Consider the meaning and, if you still insist on name-calling, then consider using more appropriate words or phrases. Use ones that go more to the point to characterize the behavior you find offensive. Words have power, so use them appropriately. Here are my suggestions when a male steps over the line:

· Dick-less
· Little man
· Suffering from shrunken balls syndrome
· He’s a real hand job
· Eunuch
· Castrado
· Suffers from vagina envy
· Limp dick
· Testosterone poisoning
· Suffering from penis separation anxiety

Then there is my personal favorite, one that I’ve used for years:

The bigger the gun, the smaller the dick.

Feel free to share your suggestions in the comments section.


33 Comments on “Language Matters”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Welcome to the front page, Ecocatwoman! This is a great post. I’m trying to think of some more examples, but my brain is a little slow today from the flu. I’ll keep working on it.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    I wonder why men are called “dicks” and “pricks”? And I do think that’s meant to be negative.

    • It’s meant to be negative, but think of the oh so charming anatomical names women are called. Do they really compare? Do you think men get outraged if they are called a dick? I know I’d go ballistic if someone called me what McCain called his wife in public (you know that C word, which I refuse to use). Maybe, if we put our index finger & thumb about 2 inches apart & called them “itty bitty dicky” then they might be upset.

      • bostonboomer says:

        No, I don’t think they compare. Usually “dick” is used to refer to someone who has some power. But it’s not a compliment and I doubt if most men want to be called those names.

      • NW Luna says:

        Yes, it’s not the same level of insult for men to get called a “dick” compared to the slang for women’s genitals. However, I don’t like to imply that small should be humiliating. People (and their parts) come in all sizes depending on what you got genetically. If I remember my anatomy class, no matter how different in size flacid penises are, they’re all about the same size when erect. I always thought men were pretty silly to get hung up on size. But it might be fun to take advantage of for insulting insecure men.

        I thought the saying was also: “Small penis, big war”?

      • NW Luna – I don’t disagree with you. And I’m not saying every man should be called names. But size does matter to them. And the point of the name calling that is primarily directed at women, girls and LGBT folks is humiliation, and establishing a power over dynamic. I’m just saying our language is lopsided & I’m searching for some parity. Would I prefer living in a more polite, reasonable, honorable world? Yeah, but that’s not our reality. Sometimes we have to stand up to the slanderers and give them a dose of their own medicine. It may be the only thing they will understand.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Don’t forget you can edit your comments now, Connie.

  3. dakinikat says:

    Welcome to the Front Page!

    This is really quite thought provoking … I still think it all comes from the idea that men have dominion of every other being so anything below them get labelled lesser and is given chattel status.

    • That & men – depending upon your point of view – are the givers of language. They certainly seem to have more control over language. Maybe we need a Woman’s Dictionary (I was so tempted to spell that Dicktionary). I am so bad.

      • bostonboomer says:

        There have been some positive changes in the language. Back in the ’60s, women were called “girls” all the time.

      • northwestrain says:

        So true BB! In English class we only read male authors — NO great women author, or painters etc etc. He was used — and we women had to learn how to write in a way that included women & get a passing grade.

  4. NW Luna says:

    Personally, I think calling someone a “human” is a more accurate and defamatory epithet. That’s because, for me, we humans have more offensive characters than do any other species of animal.

    Word!

  5. foxyladi14 says:

    Welcome Ecocatwoman! the more the merrier. :)

  6. NW Luna says:

    The abundance of invective to describe women arises from how the group in power (men) thinks about others. The Standard is automatically assumed to be male, and the Other is female. Similar concept to why most groups’ names for themselves simply mean “The People” or “Us Humans” or similar — yet the others are Barbarians for the Romans, or Heathens to city-dwelling, Xian Europeans, or Demons to the Chinese.

    Anybody read Mary Daly’s “Wickedary?” She had new definitions from a feminist point of view. I still use “snool” once in a while, which meant something like “stupid patriarchal male.”

    Cock and bull story :
    1: patriarchal history
    2: any highly respected account of the exploits of cocks and bullies which effectively erases the existence and history of women and all Others

  7. northwestrain says:

    Could be that the human species is still evolving (or some are de-evovling)?

    Let’s face it the old white boy’s club is speaking another sub humanoid language – and they have very little rational awareness.

    While spinning on my drop spindle today I was thinking about the meaning of Easter – first time Christ was born. it was to a a woman (virgin birth and all — with the help of the holy spirit fellow. So the son of god dies — this time he is reborn without the need for a female reproductive tank.

    Welcome Connor to the front page.

    Gandhi was on to some thing with his handspinning.

  8. Interesting post, ecocatwoman! Thanks for getting us thinking and talking :) I think it’s one of those things… I think Eskimos have more words for snow/ice than other culture’s languages do… because it’s more relevant. So we have more misogyny embedded in our culture and our language reflects it.

    I still think snake fits Huckabee (he reminds me of the episode of X-Files where the nicer, gentler sounding preacher trying to tear down the Church of snakes and signs himself was… actually a snake…) ! To me that fits Huckabee to a tee! Yick!

    • But snakes were sacred to the Goddess, which is why snakes are so vilified in the Judeo-Christian-Muslim cultures. Anti-Goddess, so anti-snakes & CATS!

      • well I do think it is an insult to snakes to be compared to Huckabee… I’ll give you that :) but I still think the snake-in-preacher-clothing (hypocrite) is an allegory that works without denigrating women or animals… :) same thing wolf in sheep… it’s not a derogatory (imho)…it’s more allegory/analogy… we often see things (i.e. human nature) in animal nature more clearly than we see it amongst ourselves… I think that’s why there’s so much animal farm in our vernacular.

  9. peggysue22 says:

    Great post, ecocatwoman [have to remember how to spell this]. Language absolutely does matter and the words used against women are all meant to demean, belittle and humiliate. I absolutely hate the ‘C’ word for instance. It makes my claws come out. Reducing women to their sexual parts is a deliberate objectification. That’s all we’re good for or so the ‘manly’ men claim.

    The one hopeful sign in this regard [for me at least] are the new and wildly popular heroines in the popular culture. Lizbeth Salander and Katniss Everdeen are decidedly ‘not’ traditional stereotypes–the martyr, the victim, the women-in-waiting. These are female characters outside the mainstream, gender-bending, warrior survivors in both cases. It’s possibly the only positive thing I see at this juncture.

    Thanks for the thought provoking read!