Everyone’s talking about how amazing women have performed at this Olympic games. Basically, they’ve kicked ass. But, back in the world that most of us live in, there’s still an incredible lack of respect for women and girl’s ability in sports…and in life.
I am so tired of hearing language that implies being or acting like a woman makes one inferior, incompetent, or less desirable. ”You throw like a girl.” “Stop acting like a little girl.” “He’s such a woman.” ”Stop being a pussy and man up.”
The list could go on and on. Our language is filled with idiomatic expressions that equate being a girl or a woman with being weak, irrational, unstable, cowardly, incompetent, immature, and undesirable.
It is impossible for people to grow up hearing and using these phrases and not be affected in some way. Whether it’s subconsciously internalizing the messages implied in these phrases or consciously accepting them as truth, they impact every single one of us. They create a society in which no matter how often a man acts irrational, immature, or hyper emotional, he is still “acting like a woman.” When he acts in this way, it is an aberration, it is an exception to a “normal” male state of being. But when a woman acts in this way, no matter how infrequent, she is a reflection of her entire gender.
No matter who is acting immature, irrational, or inadequate, it is always labeled as a female trait. Now, couple that with the fact that being competent and strong is referred to almost exclusively as a male trait (Man up; Grow some balls; Act like a man) and we have a perfect storm for creating deeply internalized sexism in both men and women.
How about we make a conscious effort not to use these kinds of phrases? Phrases that equate negative attributes or inadequacy to women and positive attributes to men. How about we use language that describes actual behavior?
If someone is acting immature, say that they’re acting immature. There’s no need to gender-ify these behaviors, because, in reality, both men and women act immature.
And screenwriters, holy crap, stop putting these phrases into your scripts. Seriously. Surely you can find a more accurate and creative way to describe someone’s behavior that doesn’t contribute to patriarchy and systemic sexism. K? Thanks.