Don’t Call Me Woman

The undertones of misogyny that still linger in our society today.


emma harris

Calling a female “woman” is outdated and sexist, and it needs to stop immediately.

“Spit it out, woman!” “You’re crazy, woman!” No doubt, you have heard various versions of these phrases throughout your life. These very phrases, these exclamations attaching the word “woman” onto the end of a sentence, is the embodiment of the subtle and deep rooted misogyny that still exists in our forward facing society. It reveals the sexist behavior we let slip past without any repercussions, the behavior that still lingers from a society we have worked hard to leave behind. It unveils the alarming reality that we live in a world that still uses gender as an insult. This is my plea to stop calling women “woman” and urge others to do the same. 

You may tell me that people say “man” all the time, so it’s no different when people attach the word “woman” onto the end of their sentence, right? But there are some very key differences that dramatically and drastically change the situation. “Woman” sounds less like a term of friendship and more like an insult.

Notice that when people say “man” it’s almost always in a brotherly fashion and never as an exclamation of frustration. Can you remember the last time someone didn’t attach the word “woman” onto a sentence as a way to express their annoyance? Have you also noticed that pretty much only men use the word woman? In fact, have you ever heard one single woman, whether in real life or television, use the word “woman” like this?

I’m not saying I don’t even hear “man” being used in a moment of frustration; it does happen. However, it is used as a term of endearment and impartiality enough that it cannot be called out as insulting or as a sexist term, but rather just a broad nickname. A nickname, you might notice, that’s used in reference to women as well as men, meaning it does not have the same undertones of misogyny using the word woman does, a name that does not have gender fluid application. Being called ‘man’ has nothing to do with gender, but there are certain implications when people use the word woman: it sounds as if only a woman could be capable of being so silly or dumb, as if a man could never do such a thing or act such a way. It reduces us down to one thing: our gender. 

‘Isn’t feminism supposed to be owning your gender? Why do you feel insulted to be called a woman if you’re a feminist?’ I feel insulted because, in the tone of which most people use it- most men use it- it’s an insult. It’s not meant to be a fact or celebration, but as a depricatory word. You’re right: being a feminist means owning our gender and demanding equal treatments. It also means standing up to sexist and demeaning comments and names, and the fact that our gender is used as an insult is a clear indication that our society still has some developing to do. The reality is that being called “woman” should be taken with pride, it shouldn’t be any cause for alarm or outrage. But those who use it, which may be only when they use it, are (perhaps subconsciously) demeaning women. It is not our gender we are ashamed of, but the use of our gender as an insult. I’m proud to be a woman, but never call me ‘woman.’