By Imogen Dolen Parry
This is the article in which I break down and debunk the myths that surround gender, sexuality and feminism. This is a list of terms and phrases we continue to use despite their somewhat offensive and degrading connotations- this is when and where you abandon these terms and phrases.
- Feminazi: An infinitely inappropriate and offensive term. The Holocaust is difficult to describe because none of the words in the English language are capable of demonstrating how atrocious it really was. I cannot pretend – none of us can – to know how awful such a time was. This is why, comparing a woman who is fighting on behalf of all those who fought and died before her and all those to come, to be simply paid justly, to a Nazi who took part in ruthless slaughter of a population is NOT OKAY. Feminism is the reason your mother is allowed to have a job or the reason your sister can go to school and take HL Physics. Do not compare us to a participant of a mass murder scheme, it’s disgusting. The suffering of others should not be used as a device to degrade a group or individual, nor should it be a means of furthering one’s own political agenda.
- Slut/Whore/Hoe: Here is the first thing you need to understand about these words. A SLUT ISN’T A REAL THING. NONE OF THESE ARE REAL. I will give you some time to absorb that.
“A slut” is a term we developed to label girls who have “more sex than we think they should”. Of course, sex can be very dangerous to your health and it is important to always use protection and to be cautious of STIs and STDs. However, if a girl has a lot of sex, she is in as much danger as a boy who is having a lot of sex! Just stay safe kids!
So, what is this term? The term’s meaning is based on a much antiquated idea that women should be pure, have no sexual desire and that their virginity is their most prized possession. This idea states that women are to be sexy and desirable but must NEVER be sexual creatures themselves. When their virginity is taken, they shall bleed, experience pain and a part of them will be taken by a man. This of course is A LIE you have been sold! You will not be soiled after you have had sex, you do not lose a part of you and become worth less, you have control of your sexuality and you may have as much or as little sex as you like.
So, if you use this term- please stop, you’re making a lot of people uncomfortable and perpetuating a culture that shames women for making choices of their own over their bodies.
- “Divide yourselves up into boys and girls” I have never understood the point of doing this, but it is a tactic teachers constantly use and serves little purpose other than the perpetuation binary gender normativity. If you have been living under a rock, these words might be new to you. Gender is something completely socially constructed, it’s how you feel about yourself- how you identify. Sex, is your internal and external sex organs and your biological make-up, this is to say, your hormones and chromosomes. So from this we can deduce that there are more than two genders. By telling your students to suddenly be a boy or a girl is hugely exclusive of the individuals who wish to identify with neither or both genders. We are overdue in altering our vocabulary and attitudes towards the non-binary community- start now.
- “Don’t be such a pussy!” There are a lot of YouTubers who speak about this term and tell stories of their male friends being seriously upset and embarrassed about being called this during their adolescence. The reason it’s used as an offensive term is because it compares boys to vulva and thus “womanhood” (of course by this point I hope you have understood that your genitalia is completely irrelevant to your gender but most people remain unaware of this, hence the popularity of the term), and being a woman is seen as weak and degrading! Not only does using this term perpetuate the stereotype that women are frail and it is a shame to be one, but also pressures boys to identify with the characteristics of the gender they were assigned at birth. This phrase alienates and demeans the non-binary community.
- “Run like a girl” JUST STOP. I AM GOING TO LIST SOME FEMALE OLYMPIANS FOR YOU RIGHT NOW. Shelly-Ann Fraser. Florence Griffith-Joyner. Serena Williams. Lyudmila Kondratyeva. Annegret Richter. You don’t need me to tell you that women can run. So please, stop using this phrase.
- “That’s so gay” This one is so simple. There is nothing wrong with being gay. In using this term, you are being inherently homophobic. You are not only encouraging and contributing to a culture that excludes and shames the gay community but also, making anyone around you who is gay/bi/pan feel insecure which very often will lead to self esteem issues, depression, anxiety and a great many other mental disorders. Why would you do that to anyone?
- “She’s frigid” Here is a perfect example of the double standards girls face. We call girls sluts when we think they are having too much sex, but on TV we see so many perfume, food, car, clothes adverts where women are almost naked. So how do we dress? How do we act? How do we say “no” to sexual advances we don’t want? “She wouldn’t let me touch her- she’s frigid”. No. She is a person who is allowed to make decisions for herself. Maybe she isn’t ready, maybe she doesn’t like you. Maybe she is asexual. She isn’t frigid, you’re just not something she wants.
- “A real man” Again, NOT A REAL THING. This phrase is often used when trying to encourage a boy or man to behave in a more “masculine” way. This is generally not a useful piece of advice as it forces the individual to believe that their way of being isn’t valid, isn’t “manly” enough and that to be a “real man” they need to demonstrate that they are strong and powerful. There are those who are assigned male at birth and who never feel in touch with that gender and by telling them they need to “be a man”, you pressure them into a gender they may not be. Not only this but by putting pressure on boys to demonstrate outdated “male” characteristics we are nudging them into a life of feeling constantly dissatisfied and insecure about their masculinity- they feel they must incessantly prove their masculinity in carrying out acts of strength and control, this is one of the reasons rape is so prominent.
I hope that if you are someone who uses terms such as these, you will henceforth make an effort to refrain and maybe make sure your friends do the same. Of course, if you do need to tell your friend to stop using the term “slut” then make sure to tell them gently and in private.
We all make these mistakes so don’t feel anxious if you have used some of these- most people have, it’s what much of society has taught us to do. But this is your opportunity to make it less likely for your best friend to be called “frigid” when she tells someone she isn’t ready to have sex with them, less likely for your classmate to feel alienated and excluded because they can’t identify with the gender they were assigned at birth and less likely for your sister, your niece, your mother, your best friend or your aunt to experience sexual violence during her life. It’s literally up to you.
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