The language we use.
June 10, 2013
My thoughts on how we speak about women came last year when I read a response Tina Fey wrote to a comment targeting her on the Net.
Before you read her succinct response, let me say that I think Tina is an awesomely, fantastic feminist (teeny crush along with Amy Poehler) using humour to point out the glaringly obvious, like the following:
I took pure delight in the way Tina composed her rebuttal to an unimpressed fan of her on Saturday Night Live – but I have to admit that the PS left me a tad disappointed:
Question #165: Why is it the mother who cops it in the end?
As much as this world appears to put ‘mother’ on a pedestal – even argue that her prime location is at home, due to her very, very, imperative importance – it leaves me perplexed that mothers are the first to land the insult.
And it’s everywhere.
In some cases, merely uttering the words, “Your mother…” is enough to send (predominantly men) into a frenzied defence of their poor ma.
On further pondering, I realised something that even I was partaking in.
Not only have I said, Son of a Bitch, countless times – in Uruguay, my country of birth, we use a VERY common phrase – for both sexes:
Son of a Whore, as well as Daughter of a Whore. Nice.
Ironically, Tina Fey stated the following – which is bloody fantastic and spot on – and yet she did the exact opposite in her PS sentence:
Most of us are guilty of incorporating women in our insults – but why?
Why isn’t it son of a…what? Dickhead? Prick? Bastard? Well, the last one is not wholly connected to men.
The fact of the matter is that there aren’t really harsh and hurtful equivalent terms for males, compared to what females are called. Logical really, seeing as females – especially mothers – are the tyrannous of the world, after all.
I found the following chart (the site I found it on, didn’t cite its origin):
As much as this is looking at terms relating to being sexually active, many of the negative phrases for women, spill over into day to day insults: slut – whore – bitch… There are two words missing (actually, I’m sure many more exist) that I hear used often about women:
‘Ganga’ – a girl who likes a gang of men to please have sex with her (aka gang bang). I’ve heard this ridiculous term said by teens – predominantly girls speaking of fellow girls. A disgrace.
‘C*nt’ – the harshest term to call anyone and a piece of the female anatomy.
How comforting it is; to know that our manner of insulting pits all its energy on women and mothers.
Women included. Lots of women. Including me…but not any more.
Will you join me?
I leave you with the following:
“He actively maintains the power of naming through force and he justifies force through the power of naming. The world is his because he has named everything in it, including her. She uses this language against herself because it cannot be used any other way.”
~ Andrea Dworkin ‘Pornography: Men Possessing Women’