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Why The Labels Yummy-Mummy, Sexy, Ladylike, S*** Don’t Describe Us But What MEN Think

Gendered insults are present everywhere & are a part of our day-to-day life. Now they have reached a new high! Are you also a part of this?

During the US elections, Democratic Party representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, popularly called AOC won a second term for the New York’s 14th Congressional District. But, before all the winning, during the months leading to the election, she battled gendered insult hurled at her.

Her fellow political rival, called her a “f****** b****”, making it amply clear to the world that, gender parity is still a distant dream because, no matter how hard women try, there will always be certain words that will be used to ‘put women in their place’.  

Yes, gendered insults are everywhere

Gendered insults make up for nearly 2.9 million – Yes, you read it right – tweets a week. This makes up for nearly 419,000 sexist slurs a day. If on average, a person takes about a minute to tweet, that is roughly over 6000 hours in a day! Take a moment to let that sink in.  

Gendered insults are everywhere – our living rooms, our conversations and our social circles. As these words travel through radio waves, network cables and make it to our vocabulary, it only reinforces sexual stereotypes and inflates belief systems in society.

Some of these gendered insults have mutated beyond recognition. Pretty princess, ladylike, damsel in distress, dainty, demure, delicate, soft are used exclusively for the female gender. We use them carelessly because they appear harmless at face value while they harbour the deeply rooted idea of women being frail.

Even television, books and news reports are curiously embedded with words like ‘protection’, that continue to insinuate this idea of women being ‘weak’ – a word we never use for men.

All compliments are related to our physical appearance! Why?

 Women have always been insulted for their physical appearance. Words like curvy, hourglass, bootylicious and voluptuous are all used to describe not only the body shape/size but also the attractiveness. In reality, these words are dripping with sexual overtones and they further objectify women.  

Women can climb up the corporate ladder, they can become supreme court judges or Presidents, but the one thing that will continue to tag along with them is ‘the label’ they will have to make peace with because, women, are never one thing.  

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‘Yummy-mummy’, ‘working-mother’, ‘career woman’?

They slip in and out of various roles throughout their lives and the labels brim with gender stereotyping.

Yummy-mummy, working mother, career woman – our narrative of these roles for women makes it that much harder and impossible to achieve the perfect balance of every role we undertake.

Amidst this noise, as the female gender goes on the eternal quest of ‘can women have it all’, and if during that quest should someone lose their nerve, we have a separate list of terms for that too – no, not because women are human, but because, they belong to a gender that is not male – the labels we have are ‘hormonal’, ‘menstrual’, ‘moody’.

Ever heard of ‘yummy-daddy’ or even ‘moody men’?  

Ever heard of ‘yummy-daddy’ or even ‘moody men’?  

Our lives are full of phrases and some of which even wears the garb of a compliment (like a yummy-mummy) but all it does is to slot women in a box.

Think about all the different ways we use words – especially for girls and women.  

When men argue, it is a debate. When women argue, it is labelled a catfight.

This only means snubs aimed punitively at women have become commonplace. You want to attack someone, hurl a word that attacks not just the person but also the gender. Call them a ‘b****’, ‘wh*, ‘sl‘, ‘career woman’, and abuse the entire species without batting an eye. 

Labels hurt just like slander does

Yes. Labels hurt just like slander does. These words have the power to communicate not only our ideas but also transmit our emotions. These terms dripping with societal conventions can break the confidence and debilitate the spirit women have taken so long to build.

Women may have scaled Everest, but any threat to the male ego has only yielded to name-calling – style men have used for centuries.  

We are human first

If we want our women to stand up for themselves, we don’t need ‘protection’, we need respect. Women don’t need ‘help’, we just need acknowledgement. And hell no, we don’t need labels.  

It is time to build a new narrative that builds our self-esteem. We need to be addressed for who we are. We are human first.

So, the next time, we find ourselves bracketing someone under the umbrella of gender, pause for a bit. We are talking to one person. We are not addressing their gender.  

Women have been stuck in a reckless cycle of ideas and stereotypes for too long. We have to break this and for this to happen, we need a new dialect that is free from these shackles.

We need a new voice, a voice that can be heard, felt and that can empower.  

Image Source: Still from short film Behadd/Hum TV, YouTube

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