Sometimes, sexism involves overt acts of aggression. Other times, it's as subtle as the language we use. Certain words carry sexist connotations that we're not even aware of, and when we use them, we unintentionally perpetuate gender norms.
"The language we use says a lot about how we expect men and women to behave," Ted Mentele, expert in didactics at the language-learning app Babbel, tells Bustle. "Men are often positively described with words that relate to strength, agency, power, virility, intelligence, and independence (analytical, logical, confident, practical, Casanova). Women, on the other hand, are often described positively with words that carry a meaning relating to a nurturing, loving, non-confrontational, or even meek demeanor (compassionate, enthusiastic, lady-like, bubbly, demure)."
In addition to the compliments we use differently for people of different genders, some words are used as compliments for some people and insults for others. "The patriarchal bias is clear to see when looking at words that describe sexual power or promiscuity," Mentele says. "While a man is a ladies’ man or a playboy, a woman is a [...] scarlet woman, or Jezebel. It’s perceived as normal, even commendable, for a man to have multiple sexual partners, as it’s seen as a marker of his power, while a woman who is promiscuous is generally considered to be dirty or untrustworthy."
To show how gendered the English language really is, Babbel put together a list of words with subtly sexist connotations. Here are some of them, along with less gendered terms that we can use instead.