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bliss_eternal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-04-07 07:31 PM
Original message
What words or terms do you consider offensive to women...?
...and why? Also do you have a scale? For example, are there words that will just send you in to a rage? Where others irk you but you can handle seeing or hearing them?

For example, I have a good friend who is from the south. She grew up during the fall-out over civil rights. So she is very aware of the history of certain words and how they were used. For example, gal" makes her see red. The word "sass" or hearing a woman of color referred to as "sassy", makes her uncomfortable.

"Gal" was a term used to refer to black women exclusively, during that time. When she hears that word, she hears someone "trying to put someone in their place." It was also a way to lump people together, and deny individuality. To just say "gal" no one had to call anyone by name, or even admit someone had a name.

"Sassing" was the way black women were reprimanded by whites for again, not remembering their place. While my friend recognizes that most people using the words today aren't familiar with their history, she still makes an effort to explain it to people--particularly in cases where someone seems to need to say these things a lot. For her, it also is dependent on one's age and what era they are contemporary of.

Her grandmother always told her,"...don't ever let a anyone call you "gal." You let them know you have a name, and to address you by that, or not at all." Again, this word was considered one of disrespect and to show power over others during that time.

My friend's daughters, are young adults. They think she's insane.LOL! They tell her,"...mom, things aren't like that anymore." She reminds them it's important to know history, or we are doomed to repeating it. They roll their eyes and sigh. ;)

When I've noticed women referring to other women as "gals", it makes me cringe. Though my friend and I don't have identical history with the word, for me it still says to me someone see's someone as "less than." I've typically heard it used by women of a certain age in reference to their "domestic help" or service technician (manicurist, hair colorist, etc.) From women not of that age, I've heard it more as a term for a contemporary (as in "gal" pal or "gals night out").

Personally, I've always disliked c**t, or the "c" word. :puke:

I tried to beat up a boy in hs, for calling me that. It took two of my male friends to pull me off of that guy. I was furious.
It had little to do with having a sense of history of the word at the time. I just sincerely believed it was the ultimate vulgar insult against a female, and I was going to kick his ass. :grr: :mad:

From posts around the boards, I have some ideas of what various members here think of various words. But I still wanted to open the discussion, so people could share the "why's" and personal histories with particular words.

Looking forward to responses!
:hi:
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gollygee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-04-07 07:50 PM
Response to Original message
1. I read in a book
by Bill Bryson that "sassy" is the American version of "saucy" and is how Americans pronounced "saucy" at the time the word saucy was popular. I can't help thinking that "saucy" has serious sexual connotations regarding vaginal moisture. Maybe I'm wrong.

I hate the word "bitch" because I think it's a term of ownership.

I'm not aware of the use of the word "gal" like that, but then I've never really heard anyone use it except if they are stretching a bit trying to find a feminine equivalent of "guy". Or in the song "Buffalo Gals".
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bliss_eternal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-04-07 08:49 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. I remember that song.
LOL! :)So funny!

Very interesting comments on "saucy". I hadn't considered this, but I can see how you would feel this way.

Gal is rarely used. So when I did hear it, it stood out for me.

In two cases I recall in particular... One used it consistently to refer to black women, as she was from a generation that did that. The second, used it to refer to all of her service technicians (hairstylist, colorist, manicurist)--they were all "gals" consistently. I think she got it from her mother, who did the same which I noticed when I met her. "The gal that colors my hair..." or "the gal that cleans my house." Kinda' interesting.

I know it's kind of weird, but I so rarely heard that word it stood out for me. No one of my generation used it (with exception of in the Buffalo Gals song :P). But it is far more common for women my friend's age. She helped me flesh out the history of it and context.

She also referred me to an interesting magazine article about racial awareness. There was a quiz and it asked,"...if you are caucasian, do you refer to women of color (specifically blacks and latinas) as "gals?"
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ismnotwasm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-04-07 08:43 PM
Response to Original message
2. Whoa
I didn't know that about "gal" I was thinking it was a good gender specific term opposite "guy". But I STRONGLY feel that the biggest mistake of modern feminism was ignoring the concerns of women of color. Black women literally had to make their own feminism at times, as did other women of color. I like that LionessP is posting here sometimes, because she brings another element into feminism here besides the American born.

If bitch is generic, I can live with it. I don't like it--but I can live with it. The attempts to reclaim the word by feminists have met with some success as in BITCHphd.

However, The fact that it's used against both men and women is disingenuous, because it still means female dog, and it still is used by dog breeders in that sense. I don't like and don't tolerated it directed against women specifically. Interestingly, my daughter, HATES bitch, and if she uses a gender specific pejorative term, she'll use *unt or other genitalia based names. Her reasoning is that bitch is animializing, "They're calling you a dog" and references to genitalia at least to her, "At least it's a body part I have and am proud of" She obtained this attitude in the army where she was surrounded by what she calls "swinging dicks"

But I believe in the power of words, and the history behind them. Any word that historically subjegates and degrades women is on my list. The sad thing, is that it's such a long list. There isn't one in particular that stands out, it's the whole mind set. What the words say is women are stupid, they smell, their genitalia is dirty, bad and ugly, women can't control their own sexuallity, that women are more like animals than human beings, that women need to be controlled, that women are weak physically and mentally, that women want money in exchange for sex, that a woman's (apparently) ulitmate goal is to use men, castrate men, "demasculinize" men.

(I have to make a disclaimer though. I know and use all the words, I grew up motherfuckering this and that and did a lot of work to change my way of expressing myself. The best way was to get a great vocabulary, and I did/do but once in a while I dummy down and have at it.)
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bliss_eternal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-04-07 09:27 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. The power of words...
Edited on Tue Sep-04-07 09:39 PM by bliss_eternal
...potent stuff.

Interesting point about feminism's history and the women that were left out (women of color). Particularly when we consider the ideas perpetuated onto women's ethnicities. For example--the docile, quiet asian woman. The korean nail salon worker. The black woman as mammy--the ultimate nurturer and maid. The fiery, sexual latina (one I've heard Rita Moreno railed against when she started out in Hollywood--that's how the typically cast her). :eyes: Exoticism, fetishizing darker skins, etc.
(I too appreciate LionessP's perspective here :hi:)

On gal:
One doesn't need to have been from the south to see black women this way. For example, I caught five minutes of that Tori Spelling show. (lol) There's an older black woman that works with Tori, at her bed and breakfast. Tori commented on how much she enjoys being with the woman because of memories of her nanny growing up. She said she probably spent more time with her nanny than she did her parents, and she felt very close to her.

I know MANY black women that migrated to California in the 40's. The only work many could get was as domestic help and caretakers of caucasian's children. They were frequently referred to as "our gal." :shrug: Who knew?

Come to think of it, isn't this a term used in some old movies--but for women in general? Every blue moon I'll see an older film where some guy says that or a variation of it. The executive meeting someone for a meeting will say,"...can my girl bring you some coffee?" Or "My gal's the best!" in reference to his secretary. Or a guy will say,"my best gal" referring to his sweetheart.

I appreciated seeing your daughter's feeling on the b-word. I can relate.

Having memories of a time when hip hop and rap DIDN'T feature so many negations of women, it's difficult to reconcile myself with what it's become. It's so gross now. Watching that change as it happened is a sore spot for me. I can't stand hearing "b" and "ho" and "skeezer" and "skank". All of those derogatory terms, in what they like to call "music."

It's so bad now it seems nothing more than curse words and name-calling, put to music. :eyes:
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ismnotwasm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-05-07 07:36 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. Hip hop and rap
I remember those days as well. I remember the chills going down my back at some of the intense social commentary. I quit listening to a lot of it, unless someone--usually one of my kids, tells me about something really good. My kids tell me that the most offensive is "mainstream" hip hop, as is mainstream rock, metal, almost any genre. Rap *is* a lot about lyrics so repetitive name calling and degrading terms for women are picked out easily. Plus it's supposed to be in your face and bold. My kids also tell me that mainstream rap and hip hop is not even close to the best out there, and the old school styles are only heard in certain clubs or underground. Evidently there is even a guy who does his rap from a prison phone. (I don't know how it sounds though)Things like that.

The other genre's tend to say the same thing, but in harder to recognize terms, so I never participate in a blanket condemnation of rap or hip hop, because I remember.

Remember the first hit by Sugarhill gang, "Rapper's Delight" that silly, break though song that changed the music world? At the time, I was with my son's father, who was American Indian. He was a "city indian" (As opposed to a "Rez") I was at a party, the only white person there. Like a lot of lost kids of color and cultures, these "city Indian's" had picked up the cadence of the street, of established territory, were attracted to deep soul of black music, and black presence (I don't believe they understood this at all, there was prejudice, a lot of it). The music, the clothes, the lifestyle--as best they could.
Anyway, this party was were I first heard that song. They played it over and over and over. I knew something had happened, I didn't know what, but I never forgot it.
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Lilith Velkor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-05-07 12:38 PM
Response to Original message
5. "hubby" makes me gag
"rule of thumb" is slightly annoying

The C-bomb doesn't bother me, though. I'm used to it in the British context where it's not gender-specific.
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ThomCat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-05-07 10:54 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. What does it mean there that it's somehow not gender specific?
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Lilith Velkor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-06-07 11:56 AM
Response to Reply #7
9. It's a generic insult for both genders, as is "knob" or "prick"
The American equivalent would be "asshole."

If you spend a goodish length of time in pubs, especially in Scotland or Ireland, you get immune to it, and it's fun to watch an American sexist asshole deflate when he lobs a c-bomb and you just laugh at him.

YMMV and all that...
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noamnety Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-08-07 07:30 PM
Response to Reply #9
15. My understanding
was that it's an insult for both genders that still refers to vaginas. In other words, it's insulting men by calling them female body parts that repulse us. Is that wrong?

I see prick or knob used as an insult, but not against women, because we don't insult women by making them masculine in the same way that we insult men by emasculating them.
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Lilith Velkor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-13-07 06:09 PM
Response to Reply #15
20. No, women also get called "knob" or "tool"
Sometimes "prick" as well, but that's only used for women like Thatcher or Rice.
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raccoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-06-07 09:25 AM
Response to Original message
8. "Girl" used to refer to an adult female(s) annoys me.

You hear it in the workplace all the time, the "girls" in the office, who may be in their 40's and 50's.

Or, a man might say he's met a nice girl, or wants to meet a nice girl--in her 20's or older.

Can you imagine a 20-something woman saying she wants to meet a nice boy?

The c word really bothers me, but a whole lot more.

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Lilith Velkor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-06-07 12:04 PM
Response to Reply #8
10. Eesh, that is annoying
So are gay men who say they want to meet a nice boy (when they mean young man.)
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ThomCat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-06-07 12:13 PM
Response to Reply #8
11. Adults who call and adult a "girl" always irritate me
but I rarely say anything anymore because women jump in to defend it and insist it isn't demeaning.
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Katherine Brengle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-06-07 02:21 PM
Response to Reply #8
12. Ditto on "girl"
Ugh. Ick.

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lizerdbits Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-09-07 02:58 PM
Response to Reply #8
19. Another vote for that one
Edited on Sun Sep-09-07 02:59 PM by lizerdbits
One job I had in college (loading luggage at an airport) I was virtually the only female and I was girl or worse, girlie by some of my coworkers most of whom were not much older than I was. Otherwise nameless, despite being able to lift more than a few of the men. (The ability to do that leads so priceless expressions on their faces :) ) I don't care when older relatives refer to my sister and I as 'you girls.' It's when it's used by men, especially when they're not much older than you are, to imply you are child-like.

I work with a 65 year old man who has called me 'hon' and 'sweetheart' which was a little odd but I just let it slide. His daughters are probably older than I am. I have noticed it's fairly common with men around that age, so I always attributed it to age difference in that case, though it certainly happens with younger men. For some reason if it's coming from someone much older it doesn't seem to be as bothersome. I guess it's because they're about my dad's age. If a man I worked with who was 40's or 50's called me those things I would be much more bothered by it. I associate those terms coming from a younger man with a 'don't get your panties in a wad sweetie' type of remark. With this coworker (or with other men that age who use those terms) I have never been talked to or treated like that at all in the workplace.

I had no idea the history of 'gal.' I use it all the time as the female version of guys. Not to refer to someone specifically, but as a group, like the 'gals night out' example.

I do hear women refer to each other as ho or bitch, even at work. One of my coworkers always says "warn a bitch" when someone says something funny while she's got food/beverage in her mouth. It bothers me a little but not enough to say anything. And it's not done in anger or implying ownership as far as I've seen.
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jmm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-08-07 06:18 PM
Response to Original message
13. I can't stand any cutsie terms used during
a serious discussion, especially during a disagreement. I have a bad history with "sweetie." On my last full day of high school I was banned from the school store for telling the woman who ran it my name isn't sweetie after she accused me of forging a hall pass. A few months ago at work while trying to resolve an issue on the phone with another business unit a woman who is a trainer in their client service department started to say, "Listen here sweetie..." and I made certain she, as well as the whole room I was in ;-), knew what my name is.

Then there are the people who want to call me "girl." A bus driver got suspended after a couple of people and I complained when he started an argument with me, the highlight of which would have to be him saying he'd call me "girl" anytime he wanted to. I may not be old but I'm older than I look and I don't appreciate being talked down to like a clueless child. Even if I was it still wouldn't excuse people condescending me.

I think I might have posted this story before but a few years ago while discussing different aspects of our job a man told me I wasn't feminine enough because I always told him what to do. I reminded him I was his boss and was paid to tell him what to do. He agreed I was never unprofessional but he thought my personality was too strong.

There are only a few words that always offend me. Today while shopping I left one place because I heard a man refer to a customer as a "C" word. That word is never acceptable. I don't have a problem if a friend refers to my wardrobe as feminine or if my grandpa callas me sweetie but I hate the habit so many people have of talking down to women like we're suppose to be dainty little girls especially when they do it in a manner that dismisses real issues.
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noamnety Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-08-07 07:26 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. I've seen that used on DU before
Specifically, I've seen people in anger address another woman on DU as "girlie" or "chickie" - just so incredibly sexist and offensive.
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bliss_eternal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-09-07 02:06 AM
Response to Reply #14
17. What's worse...
...is when WOMEN are calling other women that shit.

:wtf:
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bliss_eternal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-09-07 02:05 AM
Response to Reply #13
16. GRRRRR!
I was in the midst of a major knock down, drag out here on DU regarding the language of bigotry. This *%^$ had the audacity to call me "sweetie" right in the midst of it. :grr: :mad:

When I called him on it (as I had his bigotry apologist stance) he tried to downplay it with he "didn't mean anything by it" blah, blah. Yeah right. :eyes: It was his way of putting me down because I wasn't backing down in the argument.

So patronizing and dismissive. Really offensive.
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wicket Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-17-07 12:51 PM
Response to Reply #16
23. Sounds like we've had a run in with the same person
;)
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bliss_eternal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-17-07 03:44 PM
Response to Reply #23
24. I wouldn't doubt it...
...we tend to speak out against the same bullshit, no wonder we encounter the same assholes. I've even got some of the same people on ignore as a few others here (in feminism). Par for our course, I guess. :hi: :hug:
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wicket Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-17-07 12:50 PM
Response to Reply #13
22. I've asked a poster on DU (not this forum) to stop calling me sweetie
But of course he still does it (and to other people too). :eyes:
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Book Lover Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-09-07 02:42 AM
Response to Original message
18. Incredibly amazing how a simple challenge about insulting language
makes *some* folks fly so off the handle.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...

See posts 37 downwards. Sorry I can't link directly, but putting someone on ignore will have that effect...
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ThomCat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-14-07 12:25 PM
Response to Reply #18
21. Wow. A lot of deleted posts for
what should have been a pretty innocuous thread.
:(
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