Our daily lexicon is overburdened with sexist labels for women. But years of using them with impunity has interwoven offensive vocabulary into our subconsciousness, so much so that these slurs now hide cleverly in plain sight. We say them now impetuously, most likely unaware as to the heavy baggage they carry.
For instance, the first thought for many upon hearing a woman from a humble background is marrying a partner rolling in money would be that she is a ‘gold digger.’ There is also the reality of go-getter women in top leadership roles who, despite their experience and caliber, face accusations of being ‘bossy‘ and ‘arrogant’. Or that a sexually independent woman is perceived as a ‘slut.’
Where have these labels stemmed from if not the male gaze that derives its foundations from those of patriarchy? Why must women be reduced to a boxed living limited within boundaries drawn by someone else other than themselves? Are these labels so indispensable to our language and conversations that we cannot do away with them?
15 Sexist Labels For Women You Are Better Off Ignoring:
Let’s let a woman embrace culture, tradition, wardrobes, appearances the way she likes without reducing her to a nasty, false trope, okay? Okay.
Keep a roll of tape handy for the next time someone calls you loud for laughing or speaking or making merry in public. Not for yourself. For their mouths. And then you can laugh some more.
3. Trophy Wife
A ‘trophy’ wife? That is literally what objectification looks like. Despite appearances and perceptions, a woman isn’t an award one wins in marriage. Maybe men should feel good about themselves in terms of real achievements?
Women with minds – in offices, at schools, in colleges, or in families – are dubbed ‘bossy’. But if they’re demanding what they’re owed or worth, is that really so bad?
Follow or unfollow traditions and rituals as much or as little as you want but be wary of this duplicitous term – ‘sanskaari‘ – for, it holds someone else’s understanding of honour that they are endowing on you. And is that a weight you should carry?
Should a woman with sexual agency and independence have to be shamed with such tags? Be called loose, easy, a whore when she dresses in clothes that show skin?
7. Ice Queen
Cold, expressionless women – yes, that is how we conduct ourselves to be when a stranger makes a sleazy pass at us or a nosy relative urges us to get married and become mothers. Icy or not, our crowns aren’t coming off.
This specific targeting of women who have older appearances, heavy-bodied figures, dress in what naysayers like to call ‘prude’ outfits, is as toxic as they come.
9. Gold Digger
Believe it or not, women’s lives aren’t driven by the pursuit of wealthy husbands, expensive cars and palatial houses. Our Punjabi songs have been getting it wrong all along.
This is one every woman advocating for her rights on the internet should be familiar with. It’s a favourite of trolls to shut us up with. But have we? No, because the concept of equal rights isn’t ‘extremism’.
Women who know what they want, more especially what they don’t, often have to brave this label thrown at them. But then again, if they are that iron-minded, then they won’t have a hard time paying zero heed to society’s judgments.
What is a clingy woman if not one who is looking for her partner to give her her dues or one who rightfully demands the communication anyone is entitled to in a relationship? Just be a good partner instead of labelling yours.
13. Crazy Cat Lady
It started off as a pejorative for women who didn’t marry or who embraced the solitary life. But women have beautifully reclaimed it for themselves, in defence of their choice to be single and with animal. Call ’em crazy, who cares?
14. Abla Naari
Are women helpless? We are picking ourselves up along our journeys when we need to, learning to navigate life just as everyone else is. And for the times we can’t, we’re trying our best. We don’t need patriarchy looking out for us.
The world is made up of both low and high IQ people. So it takes special venom to chalk out a category within that for women who are pretty to look at but dumb to converse with. The bimbo. It’s a trap, this stereotype. Don’t fall into it.
Views expressed are the author’s own.