15 Sayings That Are Actually Pretty Sexist

Lets not glaze over the fact that there's nearly endless sayings that are normalised at others expense.
non sexist caption on t-shirt
Photo by Ece AK from Pexels

Some of the most enlightening experiences come from allowing yourself to step out of your body and view situations from another party's perspective. When coming into discussions that guarantee opposing beliefs, either personal or political, it's never a bad idea to open your mind to new possibilities and experiences others face that you might not.

When you really think about it, It's kind of funny how we often say things without much thought behind it. Why do certain sayings catch on better than others? What does it really mean? Could it be hurtful to someone around you? For too long we've disregarded old discriminatory phrases, it's time to change it.

1. "You ________ Like a Girl"

"You run/throw/fight/scream/cry/drive like a girl" all very obviously implies that girls are at the bottom of our social rank and that they're the worst thing to be in nearly any given situation. While it might be one of the oldest and most normalized sayings we still use today, it has the effect to be quite detrimental to not only children's mental health but young women's as well.

2. Literally Any "Joke" About The Kitchen or Laundry Room

Not only are these types of jokes not original or new, but they also reinforce toxic gender-based stereotypes that are rooted in a time period of alcoholism and marital abuse. Studies have also shown those that who make or find humor in sexist jokes are far more likely to be rape apologists, show aggression in romantic relationships, and genuinely hold misogynistic beliefs. Most often, these "jokes" are simply a masked medium to silently express one's distaste and disrespect towards women and girls.

3. Being told to "Man Up"

Being told to "man up" never feels that great, oddly enough even as a woman I've experienced this. The phrase essentially equates being tough, courageous, and unaffected by difficult situations exclusively to being a man. Whereas each and every one of us at some point will endure hardship and durations of time where courage is critical.

Omitting others from this stoic association only adds to the negative influences men are expected to deal with. It shouldn't be taboo or a joke for men to express how they feel, everyone deserves to feel validated in their own emotions and secure with themselves without the burden of not appearing manly enough.

4. Phrases like "Working Mom"

In comparison, how often do you hear the phrase "working dad"? Hardly ever. The challenge of juggling a successful career and raising children has been isolated to only women, which is pretty outlandish taking into consideration the number of fathers who work while simultaneously having children. It can be offensive to hear due to the negative connotations the phrase might conjure, like thoughts of being unreliable, weak, or overworked. 

Just because you're a parent, it doesn't mean that's all you are. Your identity may encompass being a mother, but it should also include who you believe you are and what you're passionate about. Overall, it's time to break free of these limiting, outdated labels and just exist as you are.

5. "Who Wears The Pants in The Relationship?"

This phrasing might make you think it's directed solely at LGBTQ+ couples, and while that's true occasionally, it's commonly directed towards straight couples where the woman often makes final decisions.

Questioning when a mutual decision, or one made by a woman, is made indicates a power imbalance that only strengthens the toxic association that it's necessary for the man in the relationship to have uncompromising, authoritative traits. It goes without saying that a healthy relationship isn't going to work unless all parties have their voices heard, no matter the topic or final decision. 

6. "You Trained Him Well"

Likening men to trained animals is not only dehumanizing but it's terribly embarrassing! Believing that men need to be trained or taught how to behave like an adult is primitive in nature, and it allows the individual to completely scapegoat their ignorance for their environment onto the false pretense that men aren't as mature as women. Men deserve basic human respect not to be spoken to as if they're a house pet.

7. "Friend Zone"

Nobody likes being put into a box by others, especially a box that's saturated in intimate thoughts, pity, and guilt trips. Some people find it considerably degrading to be thought of as being in the shag zone by their peers. Usually, the desire to be just friends is ignored by the other party with feelings, which inevitably leads to the incredibly uncomfortable diminishment of their platonic friendship.

8. Using "Ladies" to Address Inattentive Men

Maybe because it's an accepted stereotype that women talk too much that we believe it to be funny when referring to distracted men as "ladies", but it's really not. It makes the women in the room feel as though they're the butt of the joke constantly. "Lady/Ladies" has so many unflattering connotations that it's difficult to not take it badly when it's thrown around so colloquially, even in professional work environments.

9. "Female Athlete/Doctor/CEO"

Distinguishing the sex of a professional person majority of the time isn't necessary, yet it somehow still finds a way to get attached to the careers of women. It would sound strange to hear "male doctor" right? So why is it so acceptable to say "female doctor"?

It's a sexist insinuation that it's so remarkable that a woman is able to achieve such grand career accomplishments as a man would, that it's fundamental to mention her sex as well as her job status. Although it's gotten better throughout the years, it's still an unpleasant phrase you hear once in a while.

10. "Grow a Pair"

Almost interchangeable with "be a man", the phrase is applying pressure to hide genuine feelings as if feeling sad or unhappy emotions aren't part in parcel of being a man. Everybody should be allowed to express being vulnerable without the fear of being judged or laughed at. All in all, no, you don't need to swallow your sensitivity just because others deem it weak.

11. "Boys Will Be Boys"

Accountability. When we dismiss the actions of little ones based on their gender, it tells children that they don't need to think about how their actions affect others. When kids are in such an impressionable stage in their life it can borrow into their subconscious thoughts and be brought through life up until their late adult years, which can significantly and negatively alter the thought processes of immediate friends and family members in their life. Actions require explanations, not excuses.

12. "They're Asking For It"

Usually, this disgusting remark pops during discussions about sexual assault. Absolutely nobody, man, woman, or non-binary, is asking for it. Clothing, intoxication, age, attitude, sexual orientation, personal beliefs, and taking back consent are not reasons to justify an assault on another human being. We don't walk around every day wearing helmets, does that mean we deserve to get hit on the head? No.

13. "What a Tease"

Piggybacking off the previous point, this saying undeniably perpetuates rape culture by placing the blame on a victim. Consent can be given and taken away at any point, and not a single person owes another individual anything if expectations or plans suddenly change. 

14. "She's Crazy"

Instead of ignoring personal shortcomings, personality flaws, and mental health issues by brushing off another person's concerns with the phrase "she's crazy", it would be healthier to acknowledge your own wrongdoings and assess the situation from a wide lens.

By devaluing the thoughts and worries of a partner or friend, we're actively choosing to ignore all other perspectives and only see our side of the story, which isn't beneficial to anyone and definitely won't solve anything. Don't be so quick to place the blame on others if you can't see their position in the discussion.

15. "Don't be a Pus#y"

I've saved the best, and arguably the most risque for last. Calling our peers pus#ies when they're visibly upset or discontent has been so deeply normalized that we've disconnected the fact that it degrades women and girls.

Casually insulting our friends only enforces the thought process that, once again, being a pus#y equates to being the weakest or worst thing you can be... a girl. How do you think that impacts the impressionable minds of children that over-hear adult conversation? How does that affect how kids value their female companions?

If you've realized that you've been using some of these common phrases, don't be too hard on yourself, as long as you continue to change your actions to uplift the people around you.

Another simple and effective way to create support is to educate the people around you that use this language, and briefly explain why it's so problematic.

While it's not exactly your job to teach everyone around you about oppression and systemic sexism, sometimes sparking a conversation is all you need to change the minds of people for the better.

Just a 'lil content creator from the Okanagan interested in worldly exploration and self reflection.

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