Gender degrading insults

I want to know what was going through the mind of whoever decided that calling someone a “pussy” or referring to them as a “little girl” were valid insults. What goes through a person’s head when they insult someone by referring to them as a ‘pussy,’ something that could be interpreted as either slang for female genitalia, or cats?

We have seen this very issue in the current United States presidential election. With the recording that emerged of Donald Trump saying, “when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy,” his view of women becomes clear. By simultaneously degrading women, and contributing to rape culture, he illustrates that he believes he is superior because of his class, race, and sex. To get a better understanding of just how degrading he can be, watch this video.  

Photo by: Robyn Welsh

Photo by: Robyn Welsh

Oftentimes, people don’t think anything of it. These insults are simply seen as a way of dismissing a person who is not strong enough to do something, or pressuring someone into doing something they are scared to try.

In order to examine the issue, we must first think about the foundations of masculinity. Society teaches boys that in order to be ‘manly’ they must be strong, not show their emotions and that they must be dominant and controlling. There are barriers that are placed around “the ideal man” like an inescapable box. When one tries to step out of the box – they are often brought down and ridiculed for their choices. These barriers contribute to why men feel so pressured to be hyper-masculine and why they fear the lack-thereof.

I know so many extremely strong women and men. There is no stronger sex – just strong individuals. These insults suggest otherwise.

Young girls are taught from a young age that being ‘girly’ means wearing dresses, doing hair, being light and dainty, or feeling like a princess. But why are these the characteristics that define femininity for so many aspects of society? These are choices that a person makes – whatever their gender – to feel how they want to feel, that somehow became ingrained in society as ‘girly’ traits.

This shouldn’t be the case. Women who are empowered and strong, who wear whatever they please and act how they want, women who speak freely and burp unapologetically – they are “girly” too, just not in the way we are trained to think. We need to break down the barriers around the word in order to teach women that they do not need to be submissive.

Now, think about the implications of using insults that suggest all women and men should be a certain way. By calling someone a “pussy” these preconceived ideas that have been taught to so many people are enforced in the worst possible way. The insulted are taught that they are not strong enough, while the insulter is strengthening this notion in their own mind.

In our current social climate, people have become accustomed to using gender degrading insults without even thinking. What I ask of you is this: stop using gender degrading insults. Gender is a spectrum and no one should have to feel bad for where they naturally fall. If that’s too easy, just stop putting others down altogether.