Recently my husband made me watch this video - Do things like a girl!, in which they ask people what is the meaning of doing something like a girl. It’s a nice one and I highly recommend that you watch it. In this video, anyone above the age of 8-9 knew that it was used as an insult. Boys even younger than that knew that they were being insulted when they were compared with girls. The video features mostly caucasian children, teens and young adults from USA but things aren’t better in India, in fact they are much worse.
Religion tells us that if a man sins in a specific way in his current life, then he gets ‘punished' with the next birth as a woman.There are jokes across all geographies making fun of driving skills of women. “Be a man!”, “Man up!”, “Show us some balls!” all tell us that, to show courage and gumption, you have to stop behaving like a woman. Hindi language has extra provision of suggesting that someone is cowardly by saying that "they are wearing bangles” - directly indicating towards the gender associated with jewelry.
‘Breezer' a light alcoholic drink, was deemed beneath drinking, by someone I know, because it is a 'ladies'' drink. During social occasions, women are often told off, in a light vein, to take part in 'lighter' and hence more suitable discussions than the heavy duty stuff only suited for the male mind. Crying - a form of anger and emotional release, is considered extremely weak and an effeminate trait. Shouting and beating people up - also forms of emotional and anger release aren’t as bad, rather manly and hence more acceptable.
“She is one of us guys”, is a compliment for a girl. She has won her place in a social group comprising of guys and they almost treat her like an equal. But analogous to it, if rarely a guy is called “One of us girls", by a group of women, then he should prepare himself for some lifelong hammering by his male friends. It is a joke on him, that he will take to his pyre.
Even the most eloquent of statesmen also fall victim to such use of language. Recently our esteemed Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi, lauded Seikh Hasina, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, for acting tough on terror, ‘despite’ being a woman. Wow! She must feel on the top of the world. Mr. Amitabh Bachchan in his good intentions, pointed that we can call our daughters - 'Beta', but we can’t call our sons - 'Beti'. He meant how special his daughter is for him, but it made me think about what would people think of a person who lovingly called his/her son 'Beti'. “Crazy!” Right? It sounds like an insult and not a loving moniker.
But, this is just the top micron, of the tip, of the iceberg of insults, associated with the female gender. In my opinion it is a full blown research topic.
True that our generation did not invent these phrases, idioms or sayings. They have been handed over to us by generations, some of which even equated women with cattle. Many of us use them unmindful of what they truly imply or indicate. But every time we use a phrase like this, we are not only insulting all the strong, intelligent, wise and fun women who fill our lives but we are also propagating another cycle of this verbal abuse. Let’s try and use our words consciously, we owe that to our daughters, if no one else.
Also, if there is a wise-ass reading this, who knows not a single woman worthy of being called strong or intelligent, who does not consider his mother, sisters, wife, daughters, colleagues or friends in either of the categories, clearly he has wasted his time reading my blog. I suggest he go back to his Playboy or Hustler or whatever cutting edge literature he frequently ‘sees' …