No doubt men and women communicate differently. While for decades we have discussed gendered languages and its impact, sometimes in the most simple ways – by using everyday words – men control women in ways they don’t realise. The last time you were told to ‘relax’ or not ‘panic’ or even told you were ‘overreacting.’
While 38% of the world speaks a gendered language as per a World Bank report, a lot many say seemingly harmless words. Here’s a look at that list.
1. Just relax: Often when women are highly emotional- be it in sadness or anger- men dismiss their concerns by asking them to relax. Every time a woman tries to make a point, raise her voice and fight, men render their reaction as a symptom of their period or their craziness.
2. Why are you screaming?: It is not a hidden fact that anger is seen as unwomanly and women aren’t allowed to be angry. But if they do express anger, their concern is dismissed by men who make it look like they are weak, cannot handle the situation or are crazy.
3. You are overreacting: Whenever a woman expresses her concern over something wrong that has happened to her or about a debilitating pain she is suffering from, their voice is ignored by men who render their concern as an overreaction. This is the reason why many women are labelled as malingerers- those who fake their pain or illness. This further affects the knowledge and importance of women’s health.
4. It was just a slap: Often, women who are abused are gaslighted by their husbands who say that it was just a slap or just a small instance of violence and that there is no need for women to react or file a complaint. Not only men but women’s families too say that to nip the bud of women’s resistance and make them feel as if they are too weak to not bear a slap!
5. It happens with every woman: Whenever a woman raises her voice against injustice that happened against her, her resistance is silenced by people who say that it happens with every woman. This statement in turn makes women question themselves if they are too weak to not bear a small instance of sexual harassment. That they don’t have the strength that other women who are abused every day embody.
6. You should know self-defence to fight back: On the surface, this might look like a healthy statement that encourages women to fight back. And I am not denying that. But then how is it encouraging for women who can’t afford or don’t want to learn self-defence? Wouldn’t they end up feeling weaker than other women who fight back with harasser physically? Why should every woman be forced to undergo hard training in order to be strong enough to fight back? Why can’t we ask men to stop harassing?
7. You cry a lot: It is a common misconception that women tend to cry over small issues. Tagging along with this misconception, men often shame women who cry. They label them as a weak person who cannot deal with things as bravely as men do.
8. Are you on your periods?: Often men say this to women who are raising voices or are emotional. Using this statement, men render women’s concern as unimportant and only a reaction to hormonal changes that women’s bodies undergo. Because of this, women too feel disadvantaged and weak for overreacting or giving in to the hormonal changes.
9. You are faking your period pain: As said above, women’s pain is often ignored as a slight discomfort. The same goes with period pain. If women take an off because of their period pain, they are shamed for being weak and not being able to bear a small pain.
10. You are such a drama queen: I remember when I was a kid and used to worry and cry over unfair treatments at school, my male friends nicknamed me a drama queen. I started feeling ashamed of myself for worrying over “small” issues and even started ignoring the symptoms of depression that were slowly taking over my body. Similarly, many women who worry over and react to gender discrimination, their voices are dismissed as unimportant by calling them drama queen. The problem is that gender inequality or any sort of unfair treatment is never seen as an issue. But a norm that everyone should adjust to.