I happened to come across a certain tweet, when I was scrolling through the innumerable threads of death, disaster and occasional call for submissions of magazines in twitter. Now, it is a burning place so any tweet hardly goes down without a debate. A woman, in a single line asked everyone not to refer to women as “females”. Scores of people came out in support and also against her; one even declaring with an an angry indifference that feminism has gone too far.
Why is it wrong, if at all it is, to use the word “female”?
I did a little research and found out the following points~
1. Female, in the dictionary denotes a sex that can bear offspring (basically, a biological distinction) and a characteristic which is related to women, or female animals. Some say, that using the word female (as in female officers, female teachers, female students and so on) is derogatory because it reduces them to their reproductive system, or certain characteristics that are considered “lady-like”
2. Female then, must also refer to the sex which bears offspring within animals too. Woman is essentially a human, but a female can be a dog (bitch, actually) or any other animal.
3. In a Time article, I found that the word female, has been used as a disparaging term for men. Men who appear “female” are weak, meek and inferior. That not only is outrageous but also is deeply concerning. It hides a subtle misogyny which is found in slang all over the world. Have you ever wondered why it contains a colossal amount of obscene terms about women and promotes misogyny with little equivalents for men?
In my native language, there is hardly a few slang terms which do not disrespect women. This says a lot about how we have, unconsciously internalised and normalised disrespect, as something which is supposed to be “cool”
4. Now, this poses an obvious problem. Female is an adjective and woman is a noun, hence how can a noun describe another noun (as in woman teacher)? If not female, then what should be the word to refer to women, or men for that matter (because of course, you can’t call someone a male teacher now)?
What do I think?
Some points in the argument are right, specially regarding the word used in a disparaging way for both men and women, which should stop anyhow.
But regarding common usage of the term, I am not sure of its derogatory undertones. We, in our daily life, use the word “female” often, with an honest intention. Now, if it becomes a slang, a derogatory word ever, it shouldn’t be used but right now, it seems excessive in a way to ask everyone not to use it. Nevertheless, we can of course use the word ‘woman’ instead. But remember, not using ‘female’ also mean that the word ‘male’ shouldn’t be used too 😊
Simply, we should be a little careful in our usage of terms and language. Boxing anyone in definite characteristics isn’t something we can/ should do.
Being a feminist, I feel really alarmed by the way pseudo-feminism has spread its wings far and wide. It’s because of their faulty logic that a whole movement for equality loses its true spirit. Some go to huge lengths tarnishing men, everything they do and propagating misandry. Sometimes, I really want to scream at pseudo-feminists (largely whom are women, sadly) that FEMINISM IS NOT ABOUT HATING MEN.
As Diane Nguyen said (a character from the web TV series BoJack Horseman)
I do wonder as a third-wave feminist if it’s even possible for women to “reclaim” their sexuality in this deeply entrenched patriarchal society. Or if claiming to do so is just a lie we tell ourselves so we can more comfortably cater to the male gazeDiane Nguyen
Do you think third-wave feminism has largely given way to pseudo-feminism? Do you think the word”female” is derogatory? Lastly, what do you think about Diane’s statement?
Do share with me. I can’t wait to hear your opinions!
Take care and stay safe! Thank you for reading ❤
Reference article: Time: Why we need to reclaim the word female?
© Tryst with mind- 26/08/2020