Stop Swearing!- Don’t Demean Women

stop swearing! don't demean women

stop swearing! don’t demean women

The prevalence of misogynistic swearwords always felt like a slap in the face to women, friends who grew up in India. They became increasingly appalled as they observed how some Indian viewing platforms had normalized the use of expletives alongside tales of violence from the countryside. In parallel, a vicious backlash against women who expressed their opposition was being fueled by the seeming anonymity that social media provided, complete with threats and insults.

Why are the majority of swear words insulting to women?

The swearing directed at women is not limited to India; it has spread worldwide.

A Democratic congresswoman named Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called out a Republican congressman on July 23 for allegedly using a sexist slur against her on the steps of the US Capitol. She stated, “He called me disgusting, crazy, and out of my mind during my speech on the House of Representatives floor.” Representative Yoho called me a “fucking bitch” in front of reporters. This brought up a lot of issues regarding sexism and misogyny in fields like politics and finance where women are typically underrepresented.

People frequently believe that politics is a very masculine environment where many men purposefully exclude women by demeaning them. You may recall the infamous words “grab them by the p***y” that the President of the United States famously used to refer to female journalists and reduce women to their genitalia. Let’s take a look at the meanings these insults have in case you think I’m being overly dramatic.

The definition of common curse words

When a woman is called a “bitch,” it means that she is being unreasonable, malicious, aggressive, belligerent, or bossy. As in the case of Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez, it is evident from her circumstances that no woman is immune to these insults. Despite her remarkable journey and respect in the field, she is still reduced to a misogynistic slur. However, when we use that to describe a man, the term “bitch” is used disparagingly to describe a subordinate or submissive man. Since the term “bitch” originally referred to a female dog and “being someone’s bitch” means yielding to their authority, it again demeans women by conflating femininity with servitude.

We have the traditional curse words mother******, sister******, and son of a b***h in our collection. These phrases all convey the idea that men are the doers and women are the ones who are done to. While the woman is a passive participant in the act, the men play the active role of “doing a woman.” “All the verbal-linguistic emphasis is placed upon the poking element; f***ing, screwing, rooting, and shagging are all acts performed upon the passive female,” feminist author Germaine Greer writes in her book The Female Eunuch.

Swear words that refer to sex or sexual organs

As it is the mother or sister whose honor is tarnished when someone calls a person a ma******d or behen****, insults directed towards men are often based on the honor of women who are related to them. Baap**** is not nearly as offensive, though, because, unlike women, men gain status when they engage in promiscuity. Furthermore, the insult “baap****” doesn’t hold up culturally because women aren’t viewed as doers.

Cu*t, ch*t, and p***y are examples of insulting words used to refer to women’s genitalia. Other words used to shame women for having sex include ra**i, wh*re, sl*t, ny*pho, and prostitute. So, to belittle a woman, people minimize her beyond her sexual promiscuity or her reproductive organs.

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People also degrade men by using the insult words p***y, c**t, and ch*t; p***y is a term for male cowardice, and c**t, an extremely offensive term for vagina, denotes an idiot or unpleasant person. However, there is a male equivalent to this class of epithets: d**k or la**a in Hindi, which denotes an irresponsible person. Some have argued that men should start using the male equivalents of misogynistic terms to degrade women, but as I already stated, calling someone a baap**** or bhai**** lacks almost all gravitas.

Many words today are also used by both sexes equally, allowing women to insult men by calling them “sluts,” just as men once did to women. According to Melissa Mohr’s Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing, “many swearwords have become more equal-opportunity, not less, with the development of feminism. Men and women can now both use the word “b****.” However, using mother****** or slut in a gender-neutral context does not change their sexist connotations. For instance, a woman telling another woman or man to “don’t cry like a girl” still means that having feminine traits is unfortunate.

Despite reclaiming epithets like “sluts,” their sexist roots continue to hang over us.

In terms of intersectionality, we must acknowledge that the majority of communities on the margins have been subjected to the worst language. Before, many of the terms people used to describe marginalized groups, like f**, n*****, and gay, had negative connotations.

Feminists and other marginalized groups have attempted to reclaim these words and use them as empowering terms to combat these insults. For instance, the Los Angeles SlutWalk, a march that challenges the stigma associated with women and sexuality, is an example of how the word “slut” is now used in an empowering way in feminist discourse. However, the truth is that it only functions as an empowering tool when a member of that community makes use of it and in a specific context. These words are extremely harmful to women when they are used by men, who historically have held more power than women due to patriarchy. Men can still use these words to imply sexual violence against women or to denigrate them, even after they have been reclaimed.

How can we use profanity to be more inclusive?

One option is to continue using the outdated terms and to do so without regard for their semantic connotations, rendering them meaningless but still connoting anger. But that would defeat the point of swearing.

Or we could go with the more difficult option and create new, gender-neutral profanities. Why not include some fresh swear words?

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