[Unpopular Opinion] Watch your language, young lady!

Maybe this is the language major with a minor in women studies in me speaking, but I think the things we say are just as important as the things we do. The words we use reflect our biases in ways we don’t even realize, and it is only by being aware of these biases that we can begin to reduce the affect things like misogyny, sexism, and ableism have. Here are a couple words/saying that really make my blood boil.

That’s so gay!

Nothing that can be referred to as “that” is gay because gay is a sexuality and only living things have sexualities. Yes, I realize you don’t mean anything to do with homosexuality. Really what you’re saying is “That’s so uncool/stupid/something else bad!” That’s what makes it so bad. You are perpetuating the idea that gay = not right, and that’s not right.

Girl push-ups/you throw like a girl

I understand that as a whole girls are in general less physical than boys, but just like the above example, whenever you attach an unattractive quality with a group of people, you are encouraging the idea that that group of people also has that unattractive quality. In this case, being a girl is being equated with being not as good as a guy. I’m not okay with this.

You’re such a girl/pussy/bitch/cunt/sissy!

Has anyone noticed that the worst insults for a girl or a guy involve calling her/him something related to a girl? It’s not only that I disagree with this kind of language in the first place, but by using it (even if you think you’re “reclaiming it as a woman”), all you’re doing is saying that there’s nothing worse than being a girl.

That’s so retarded!

See “that’s so gay!”

Hey guys! (When referring to a group of girls or boys and girls.)

I’m so guilty of this one as well, and it’s a hard habit to break, but it’s an important one. When you qualify a group of people as “guys” you are erasing women from the picture. You are saying that the norm is male while being a female is outside of the norm. Again, this creates that whole hierarchy thing with women on the bottom.

Maybe the language we use, especially if it’s infrequent, doesn’t seem like a big deal, but as readers I would hope that you would all know otherwise. Language has a kind of power. It can create, and it can destroy. When you choose your words, you are helping to create our world. Choose wisely.

What do you think about language and how it affects our reality? Any words or phrases that set your blood boiling? 

About megtao

Student. Writer. Nerdfighter. Fights for love, justice, and awesome.
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6 Responses to [Unpopular Opinion] Watch your language, young lady!

  1. I HATE when people say “that’s so gay”. I actually get really ranty when I hear people do it.

    You’re totally right. Language is power and people don’t seem to understand the impact their words can have (or they don’t care? Either way it’s no good)

  2. Meg says:

    I was actually thinking about how people use the phrase “that’s so gay” the other day. I honestly thought it was one those phrases that had phased out since I couldn’t remember the last time I heard it – but then my brother used it. In front of his almost two year old son. I was too shocked at hearing him say it to say anything, and before I had the chance to his wife jumped in started telling him off for it. It made me start wondering about how many children are growing up hearing their parents or relatives using these slangs, thinking that they’re perfectly acceptable in society, when in reality they are rude or offensive. I completely agree with you that language is a power, but sadly it’s a power that most people overlook or don’t realize they have.

    • megtao says:

      So many kids are growing up hearing it because no one pays attention to their language. It is something that teachers are being trained to keep an ear out for, but how many listen to that…

  3. I agree with all that you’ve said. Honestly what bothers me a lot is that our language does not account for mixed gender (in reference to your: Hey guys!) What are we supposed to say in such a situation? Hey guys-and-girls? (wordy), Hey everyone? (kind of awkward by virtue of just not being used), Hey y’all? (I’m not from the South). In more academic papers it still is considered proper to refer to a single person as “he” (or sometimes even as “she”), but by doing so we do eliminate a gender. I think that this problem is gradually being brought to attention, but we still need singular and plural pronouns that don’t necessarily privilege a gender.

    • megtao says:

      I agree completely. I tend to go for the hey y’all, even if it does sound southern. The English language is totally male-dominated, and it definitely has an affect on the position of women.

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