5 Insults You Didn't Realize Were Gendered

by Megan Grant

Derogatory sexist and stereotypical remarks are so prevalent that a lot of the time, they take the form of insults that we didn't even realize were gendered in the first place. A common example is the word "b*tch," which — as many of us know — is technically a female dog. Instead, though, we've come to use it to describe women that we find nasty, and men that we find weak... like women. (Not.) But just because we've normalized these words to the point of dismissal does not mean that they are no longer gendered.

This is so much more than a discussion of name-calling. It's not simply a matter of hurting people's feelings. These words carry more meaning than we typically acknowledge before they fall out of our mouths. It is casual sexism, often reducing people to body parts and then using their anatomy against them or others. Women's genitals are all too often used to imply weakness and vulnerability, while men's are used for quite the opposite: Insensitivity.

It's a difficult discussion to have, because while many of us are begging for a culture and society that are kinder and more inclusive, others are arguing to simply raise children that are thicker skinned. Where do we draw the line? Can we really deny that these words are gendered, and rather offensive?

1. P*ssy

The word itself isn't the problem, because there are plenty of ways to use it that don't involve insulting someone. It's a body part, and people will sometimes utter it during, ahem, intimate moments.

The problem here occurs when people use it to lash out at men. "Dude, quit being such a p*ssy" translates to, "Dude, quit being so weak," insulting his manhood while simultaneously implying that vaginas are weak. First off, calling anything percieved to be feminine "weak" is a classic example of toxic masculinity; it teaches men that they're not allowed to do things like show or feel emotions. And as for vaginas being weak? I strongly beg to differ. Between sex, periods, and childbirth, vaginas go through a lot. I actually think we should start using "p*ssy" as a compliment. "Sweetheart, I'm so proud of you for running that half marathon. You're the biggest p*ssy in the world."

P.S. Let's also not forget that "pussy" is an actual thing: A cat.

2. Dick

Merriam-Webster defines "dick" as "chiefly British" (as in "fellow" or "chap"), and secondly specifies that it is "usually vulgar." And so, here we are once again using it in a derogatory manner. It's funny how we've taken another body part and turned it into an insult, again, typically hurled at men. The word turns a penis into a negative thing, and limits and objectifies men to their anatomy. Plus, anytime someone calls a guy a dick, I totally imagine a giant, human-size penis. Not cool.

3. Prude

While perhaps not as crude or vulgar as the first two examples, this one is still important nonetheless. Merriam-Webster defines "prude" as "a person who is easily shocked or offended by things that do not shock or offend other people." To me, this is saying that a prude is someone who is maybe a little more sensitive to things, or a person who possibly holds different opinions from the majority. Neither of these are — in any way, shape, or form — a bad thing.

Regardless, we so carelessly and dismissively toss this word around to describe women — yes, mainly women — who are "pickier" when it comes to sex. She dated a guy for a month and still wasn't ready? Prude. He took her out to dinner and she didn't put out? Prude. And let's be honest here: The ease with which men particularly use this word is no accident. I think the bigger question here is, why do we expect women to give their bodies away more quickly and easily than they feel comfortable to? Furthermore, there's no winning here: If a woman isn't a prude, she's a slut. Either way, we lose.

It's been said before — and many, many times, at that — but when someone has or doesn't have sex is totally up to them (and their consenting partners, if sex is on the table). Sex on a first date? Sweet. No sex until the 20th date? Peachy. It's a personal choice.

4. Tw*t

This is yet another word used to describe a woman's genitals in a vulgar manner — for the third time, now, turning anatomy into insults. Unlike the use of the word "p*ssy," "tw*t" is more commonly thrown at woman, and frequently by other women, at that. This part is still a mystery to me. It's kind of like when women call other women sluts, whores, and skanks. Why? Why? WHY?! It's like we're setting ourselves back 50 years. We don't want men to call us these names, so why would we use these ugly names for each other?

5. F*ckboy

Oh, the horror. This one makes me want to tear my hair out. This is like the male equivalent of "bitch," and we all know what happens when a man calls a woman a bitch. He better run. Fast.

This word became super trendy more recently, and it's popping up in memes, quotes, and graphics everywhere. Every time I see it, I can't help but roll my eyes. We women so emphatically, so passionately urge men to respect us. Then we turn around and start calling them f*ckboys. I just can't make sense of it.

Images: burdun/Fotolia; Giphy (5)