A ranty, funny, dead-serious intersectional feminist blog.

Words Used to Silence Us — A Glossary

Still from AllOut.org video “Russia: Don’t Go There. We Will Not Be Silenced.”

New and Improved! (6/23/2015): This list has been updated since its original publication in 2012 to a) include words suggested by readers and continued experience doing this thing I do and b) clarify some of the definitions.

It happens all the time, every day, in ways we might not even notice until someone points it out to us. When people don’t like our ideas and opinions—when they don’t like the reality we tell them that we experience—they use words that attempt to reduce what we say to the rantings of some irrational creature whose emotions somehow suck all meaning from what she says and who, by the way, cannot appreciate humor.

Have a look at some of the words the people around us use to silence us when we talk about feminism—or just our lives—along with my definitions/interpretations of their meanings.

(Thanks to friends and readers here and on Facebook and Twitter for contributing to this list.)


See also “Emotional.” This word seems to be most often used in an effort to make women feel as though we are scaring people away with our terrifying emotions. We’re told that if we were only less angry, we’d reach more people. “You’ll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” That may be true to a point, and yet anger is not only a natural reaction to the injustices we see and experience, it’s often a catalyst in our becoming activists. But people who use this word rarely allow that our anger might be justified and rational. Instead, this word (as Sid points out in the comments section below), “is meant to imply ‘flying off the handle and completely unreasonable, and by the way I can’t talk to you when you’re like this–all not agreeing with me and shit.'”


Though it’s really in a class by itself, this is one of those catch-all terms (stay tuned for more of those) that is refreshing in that it doesn’t hide behind semantics. It says what it means! You are a woman and therefore, the speaker dismisses you. You have thoughts and opinions that they don’t like, and you are not afraid to tell them when they’re wrong, and when all else fails, this word sums up all their disdain for your gender and your unladylike behavior.

An MRA favorite.

An MRA fave.


This word (along with its synonyms) is used in a sociopathic attempt to invalidate your perceptions. Also known as gaslighting. Plus, it’s a slur.


Like “bitch,” the word “cunt” is gender-specific. It seems most often to be employed by people who want not only to dismiss a woman but to utterly degrade her at the same time. “Cunt” means “vulva” or “vagina” but let’s face it, those words don’t carry the same weight. This word makes clear that your being a woman is the real problem here, and by the way, the worst thing I can call you is a word for that body part that defines your sex–a word that doesn’t just identify that body part but tells us (by the context in which it is invariably used) that there’s something inherently wrong with it.


You have brought up an emotionally charged subject the speaker doesn’t want to deal with. “You’re just creating drama.” “She’s such a Drama Queen.” Yes, some people thrive on drama, stirring it up wherever they go. But discussing a subject you’re passionate about is not the same thing. Calling people out on bad behavior is not “creating drama.”


This word gets whipped out when the speaker doesn’t want to engage with our actual argument, especially when we’ve attempted to clarify it for them because they didn’t get it the first time and misconstrued our meaning. Especially if we show any emotion in the process. “See, now you’re just getting defensive.” The speaker has obviously struck a nerve, so nyah-nyah, and this renders your argument invalid somehow.


You are a woman showing emotion and that is a Bad Thing so you should stop talking now because clearly you can’t have a rational discussion if you FEEL anything. You will almost never hear this word used to describe male behavior unless actual tears are involved. Men are passionate. Women are emotional.


You are placing emphasis on something that is obviously not a priority for anyone who is not some kind of radical feminazi and you should really lighten up. “You’re exaggerating the importance of the issue. It’s not that big a deal.” Also, shut up.


Feminists are all angry lesbians who hate men and want to rule the world. Don’t you dare admit to being a feminist and for rich, old, white Pete’s sake, do not talk about sexism, rape culture, the gender gap, equality, or any of that angry woman nonsense.


You didn’t like something the speaker said or did for reasons the speaker doesn’t like and is not willing to learn about, so obviously the problem is with you. Grow a thicker skin.


Humor is King! The speaker is hereby officially, divinely, and in all other ways absolved of all responsibility for and/or scrutiny of his/her words. “I was only joking!” “Can’t you take a joke?” “You have no sense of humor!”


Not only are you a woman, but you’re a feminist, so you must hate men, so you must be a lesbian, because everyone knows lesbians hate men. “Lesbian” is the best insult some folks can come up with. I don’t personally find it insulting, but I do recognize it as a desperate attempt to shut me up.

Not All Men

What can I even say about this? It’s a phenomenon to the point where I get comments like this:

He's kidding, right? Right?!

He’s kidding, right? Right?!

I wish I thought he was kidding, but unfortunately, I saw his other comments. This is a phenomenon to the point where a woman created the #NotAllMen hashtag to ridicule the men who say this, and they appropriated it to talk about how not all men are awful. I just…


See also “Sexist.” Along with “White Knight,” this is a go-to for Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) who read or hear stuff they don’t like. Yes, there are women who hate men, but Google “misandry” and you’ll find hundreds of links and images whose message is “Feminism=Man Hate.” People using this word are (in my experience) mostly not interested in being a part of a conversation that includes women who identify as feminists, but rather want feminism to go away entirely.



As Sid astutely points out in her post on the subject, this word is often code for “shut up.” You have pointed out a problem, and the other person doesn’t want to hear about it. Facebook is filled with memes that tell us we have no right to be “offended” by anything, which is another way of saying we have no right to speak up when we see something that needs changing.


You are a woman with opinions you’re willing to discuss and defend. How dare you.


(See Exaggerating, Hypersensitive.)


“Calm down! You’re getting all worked up—you’re going to blow a gasket!” Shut up. No, seriously, just shut up now. The speaker is not even listening anymore, and the goal here is not to relax you but the exact opposite. Walk away and live to fight another day.

Sexist (or Reverse-Sexist)

Yes, you heard right, someone just called you “sexist” for talking about women’s rights and issues and possibly implying that men enjoy privilege and power over women in our society. This accusation is most often leveled by men who are uncomfortable having their privilege pointed out to them and really wish you’d stop.


Also, “whore.” Mandaray put it best in the comments: “A lot of times, when men are frustrated with a woman, they will immediately use one of these terms to not only dismiss her, but to imply that she is sexually “overavailable,” thus making her have even less worth somehow. ”

Bonus Word: White Knight

This one is for the guys. You’ll hear it when you speak out against sexist behavior on the part of male friends who have done their homework and know all about the feminist conspiracy to castrate all males. It means that you don’t really care about feminist issues, you just want to score points with the chicks. It means that you’re a big wussy who likes girls and girls have cooties. It means the speaker is very likely an anti-feminist MRA who believes in Straw Feminists.

Bonus Word #2: Butthurt

I saved this one for last because Wow! It combines many of the words on this list (Hypersensitive, Overreacting, Emotional, Offended, Relax, to name a few) into one neat little rape-culture-promoting package! It’s not just me, right? I really never thought about it, but when a friend wondered what it meant, I realized that this word had always bugged me due to the vaguely rapey implication. Anyway, as my friend pointed out, this word is used when the speaker wants to express utter dismissal and invalidation of your thoughts, ideas, and feelings. Neat!

Some readers also related phrases used to silence them (you’ll notice some familiar words):

“Oh, you are one of those.”

“Not THAT again!”

“We don’t want to hear from you.”

“Women like you…”

“Stop taking everything so personally!”

“Learn how to take a joke, not everything is about how hard it is to be a woman.”

“You’re too sensitive. Don’t take everything so seriously. Relax.”

“That’s just coming out of nowhere!”

“Is that what they’re telling you in those sociology classes?”

“Isn’t [feminism] when women try to be like men? Are you a lesbian?”

And here’s a topical tweet I ran across RT’d by @EverydaySexism. Follow them if you haven’t–a steady stream of eye-openers.

While there are certainly exceptions, most people who use words like these in the ways I’ve described are not trying to understand our points of view. They aren’t here learn anything, even though they may ask questions seemingly in earnest. They’ve already made up their minds, and I’ve found it’s really not worth my time (or the emotional toll) to engage with them, so I mostly don’t. But for those who say these things without thinking, maybe this will help us help them understand why words matter—how while some of us have run out of fucks to give and will probably never STFU, others hear these things and decide to stop speaking out about the things that matter to them.

We need marginalized voices, and we need privileged people to make room for those voices. One of the ways we do that is to stop resorting

PSA: Abusive commenters will be deleted and banned, so kindly piss off in advance. (Comment Policy)

126 responses

  1. Parama Roy

    Great article. :)

    Just a few days ago one of my classmates told me that I am argumentative and that I always show my attitude, when all I do is value and express my opinion and don’t tolerate any nonsense. If a person is being a jerk, I don’t see why I shouldn’t say it out loud. If that makes me a bitch, I am okay with that.

    Also, they can use the above words as much as they want. I will keep being myself and speak up when I should, without bothering myself with their stupid reaction. I think that’s one way to handle. such situation.

    April 20, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    • I love yor attitude. Rock on! :D

      April 20, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    • Yeah, what that really means is that it makes them uncomfortable that you have so many opinions. My new war cry is NEVER STFU! ;)

      April 22, 2014 at 9:25 am

  2. Jay Blue

    Here in New Zealand Cunt has moved to being used as an insult towards men.
    ‘You are a useless Cunt’ ‘Fucken dumb Cunt’
    It is often paired with useless to the point that even when Cunt is said alone it is to imply stupidity or incompitance.
    Grew up hearing it used this way.

    April 4, 2014 at 11:17 am

  3. Hi Rosie

    My reply seems to have disappeared. I’ll try again.

    “…his/her words.”

    You should start putting these gender lists in alphabetical order,
    rather than using the all too still commonly used male word first order.
    It is 2014, and about time to stop seeing women as the second gender,
    rather than in joint first place with men.

    March 17, 2014 at 2:30 am

  4. Hi Rosie

    Yes, words do mean something, and do matter a lot.

    ”…his/her words”
    You should start putting these gender lists in alphabetical order, rather than using the all too still commonly used male word first order.
    It is 2014, and about time to stop seeing women as the second gender,
    rather than in joint first place with men.

    March 17, 2014 at 2:27 am

  5. Elizabeth

    I’d give some consideration to “housewife”. The way some folks act, it’s as if a woman’s moral, intellectual, and aesthetic development regresses to infantilism the moment she stops devoting herself to waged work. (Or is stopped from devoting herself. A significant number of ‘housewives’ I know are women with some degree of physical disability, especially illness and invisible disability, that make it difficult to work to someone else’s schedule. Whole lotta autoimmune diseases in the housewife population.)

    It’s the funny thing about the double bind, that no matter where you come down, somebody gets to silence you. You’re wrong if you’re a slut; you’re wrong if you’re a prude. You’re wrong if you’re a feminazi, but you’re also wrong if you’re not “empowered”. (Though the intended meaning of “empowered” I’m thinking of is something that winds up looking more like “kicky”. Don’t be a victim, girls!) I think you could go through the list of all these words and most of the time it wouldn’t be too hard to come up with an opposite concept that also gets used to silence us.

    December 22, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    • Ben James

      Hrmmm. Maybe I have a different understanding of the term ‘housewife’, as I see that this is a positive attribute in many ways. I’ve been a ‘househusband’ for a time and I found it to be an honor to be called that term.

      Isn’t it the ultimate devotion wen you are prepared to work to a given cause without monetary gain? For someone in charge of creating a home there is no price that can be compared in my opinion.

      At the moment my wife is a ‘stay at home’ mother, and I work in order to support us both. At no time do I feel there is any difference in worthiness between us, as I wouldn’t e able to do what I do without her, and she couldn’t afford to run our household for us without me. We are a team, one and the same.

      Housewife is a term that can be used positively or negatively, depending on personal values.
      I find that people more intent on making money tend to use this term in a negative way, and people that value family and close relationships, a qualitative life, and honest non egotistical people enjoy the term ‘housewife’, and it depicts that they are capable of having a stable form of living other than to have a couple both working, having less time for anything else.

      December 22, 2013 at 6:02 pm

      • Anthea Brainhooke

        Listen to how women refer to themselves when they talk about being a housewife. They almost always say “Oh, I’m just a housewife,” while looking down and using a non-threatening tone of voice.

        I’m glad that’s not how things work in your household and that things are changing in general, though.

        December 23, 2013 at 3:26 am

  6. If I say, “Wow, that bitch is a real cunt.” it has absolutely nothing to do with me feeling superior as a male or a desire to degrade a woman or her gender. That’s YOUR perception. It has to with her having an extremely unpleasant personality and it carries exactly the same weight and meaning as when I say, “Wow, that jerk-off is a real dick.” THAT my friend, is equality.

    November 21, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    • Anthea Brainhooke

      Oh look, there’s another one. “That’s YOUR perception.”

      December 22, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    • Ben James

      True. However in both cases I also see that people who use vulgarity, abusive behavior and stereotypical remarkes in order to describe another person have a lot to learn in themselves before judging another.

      December 22, 2013 at 5:41 pm

      • I don’t care if someone swears. I care what they’re saying and why they’re saying it. I have witnessed people saying some really vile and horrible things without ever raising their voices or using naughty words. Don’t get caught up in the packaging.

        March 25, 2015 at 4:26 pm

    • Lisa Lewis

      No. Language rinsed of context and connotation in order to make sanitary comparisons like that one means nothing at all. INequality is when sex-specific insults to women emerge from and are consistently reinforced by sexual and other forms of violence against women consistently carried out against them by men for centuries. “Jerk-offs” who are said to be “real dicks” can walk away from that accusation with the knowledge that it is probably more or less isolated from any material consequences whatsoever; and there might even be quite a few other men who think that the kind of behavior that gets some of their brethren called “dicks” actually makes them quite appealing, even heroic.

      April 4, 2014 at 11:14 am

    • Or you could just call them an asshole and save some syllables. It’s a gender-neutral term. Everybody has one.

      One thing she didn’t mention in her takedown of “cunt” is that it carries different cultural baggage than “dick” does. “Dick” used negatively never means anything more than “pushy and rude”, as penises often can be when misdirected. “Cunt” carries all sorts of OTHER negative connotations like “smelly” and “disgusting”. Individual women’s health situations quite aside, those are concepts that were invented to justify discrimination against women by saying that women are nasty and filthy. I have never, and I mean NEVER, heard of it being a societal norm to think of a guy’s junk that way.

      You probably knew all this already and you’re just being an asshole, but just in case…

      March 25, 2015 at 4:25 pm

  7. If Danny said ‘dear’ to my wife he’d get a thick ear :) Excellent list and I suspect it maybe roles over into phrases and social contexts. Language seems a very effective way of attacking a group and making the hate stick, as the abuse is made concrete at a subconscious level.

    The idea of myself as a white knight is well laughable, but I get the idea of advantage on the simplistic level that 6′ Scots don’t get a lot of abuse until they go online. I really had no idea they could be so hysterical. The odd part being that most of my online is games related and every single hysteric I’ve encountered has been a middle aged guy.

    November 21, 2013 at 2:19 pm

  8. Nora Miller (@nmillaz)

    Agree, as always, with your expanded list and the various astute comments.

    Turns out the same kind of problems exist for kids who are yelled at and shamed by their parents: http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2013/11/06/yelling_at_your_kids_don_t_do_it_oops_you_just_did.html

    November 6, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    • Wow, yeah, that makes total sense. “You’re either growing aggression or growing shame.” Boom.

      November 6, 2013 at 12:34 pm

  9. Garrett

    Women, you are not alone, Men have the same problem. Asshole, Dick, Loser, Nerd, Douche-bag, Man Whore, Skeeze. Etc etc. Don’t be a victim. Man or women, don’t take abuse or bullying from ANYONE. We are all in this together. Let’s not keep dividing ourselves.

    November 6, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    • Absolutely, these and other words and phrases are used to shut men down, too. I did include men in the intro (and White Knight” is aimed exclusively at men who support women).

      November 6, 2013 at 12:27 pm

      • Ben James

        Yep. Most times though I haven’t felt that I was shut down by a comment… Instead I have realised that I’m conversing with a fool, and choose to end the conversation as quickly as possible, to disassociate myself with them.

        I don’t feel I have an ego to appease, but if I must make a point after copping an insulting blast, I make sure it is short, sharp and cuttingly accurate.

        For example: a work colleague goes to me ‘look at that front desk babe mate, she’s a scorcher’ to which the reply was ‘well lucky for us we hire on performance not looks, otherwise you’d be out of a job, and the way it looks now I’m starting to think you rate poorly on both accounts’.

        December 22, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    • reader

      The problem with your comment is it implies the responsibility to counter abuse/bullying lies with the abused/bullied. From a psychological perspective that’s not a healthy mindset. It shifts blame/responsibility from the abuser to the abused. Sure we should try to help one another & stand up for ourselves but the blame & shame should only be directed at the abusers/bullies. Careful how you word things to avoid this.

      December 22, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    • Stop calling people victims just because they point out bad behavior. If you can’t be arsed to speak up for yourself, that doesn’t mean we have to shut up.

      March 25, 2015 at 4:28 pm

  10. “Bossy.” In boys/men, this is called “natural leadership qualities.”

    November 6, 2013 at 10:55 am

  11. What Mandaray said indeed! I have some contributions too: I’ve been called aggressive and confrontational because I’ve well, confronted guys in bars who grab me or tell them very clearly not to touch me. I’m the aggressive one, because some one harassed me. Makes perfect sense. Also for feminists who happen to be men, they don’t get called sluts and bitches, but I think they get homophobic slurs tossed at them. Like being called “gay” or a “fag” because a man happens to be a feminist. Or being made to feel less manly for having feminist opinions.

    November 5, 2013 at 5:57 pm

    • Yes. Great points! Thank you.

      November 5, 2013 at 6:25 pm

  12. abc123

    I have one that I will call “I’m bigger than you so nanny nanny boo boo. Shut up.” I’ve noticed a lot of times a man will find an excuse to stand up, in order to put you in your place and assert their male dominance. Suddenly there is a picture on the other side of the room that needs straightening immediately or a speck of dust that HAS to be wiped. Then they will remain standing inching closer and closer to you to make their relative height/size more apparent the more you stand your ground.

    November 5, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    • Yeah, intimidation is a great way to silence someone. Yuck.

      November 5, 2013 at 6:27 pm

    • Gypsy Chaos

      I have encountered this one many times. Often, I’d get it while sitting at a bar, brushing off some guy’s attempt at a pick up, standing close to me. When I get tired, I stand up. I’d love to have photos of the typical look I see! I’m 6′ 1″ so usually I’m taller than the guy trying to use his height as an advantage.

      I’ve experienced this in the workforce as well. In those cases, most of the men are fully aware of my height, yet seem to forget about it when we’re sitting. Yes, they’ll stand and approach, and think I should be intimidated. Unfortunately for them, not only am *I* tall, my father, husband and now two sons are inches -in two case, many inches – taller than me. That type of intimidation just doesn’t work with me.

      December 22, 2013 at 2:47 pm

  13. “Hysterical.” It’s a classic, but still in use – I got that thrown at me just last month, when throwing data at someone who had literally said “lol ‘rape culture'” as part of a discussion. (I replied, “Women are often called hysterical when arguing forcefully with facts. Do you need footnotes?”)

    November 5, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    • Oh, wow. Good one.

      November 5, 2013 at 1:16 pm

  14. great one. keep fighting the good fight! [hugs]

    November 5, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    • Thank you! <3

      November 5, 2013 at 12:51 pm

  15. Don’t forget “cunt.” As in “never mind her, she’s a total cunt.”

    May 9, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    • Added to the new edition going up today!

      November 5, 2013 at 12:15 pm

  16. Slightly off topic but Danny sounds a bit like Freddie of Tigerbeatdown Freddie’s Boners fame! I think it was this bit “If my voice is making you uncomfortable you are free to silence it in your house but it will not be silenced in the public. I’m a good person & the good of all is my cause.” that reminded me so much of Freddie and his Boners.

    “Now– from my angle, what you could do is actually engage your self-critical process and become a better advocate for your ideas. Or you can censor, and flip out, and continue to police your space against any kind of constructive criticism. Meanwhile, I will engage in the ethical project of my life, which is the project of liberation, a project which I do not and will not ever ask for anyone’s permission to undertake.” Freddie de Boer.


    May 9, 2013 at 7:47 am

  17. Pingback: Fantastic compilation « Striving to be a better feminist

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  20. I do not know if someone else has noted a big missing term on this list: racist. Race exists, and just because one talks about it (on its own as a social construct or in relation to class, religion, gender, etc.), does not make them a racist. To pretend we live in a post-racial society is to flat out lie… I hate to say it, but it is because of the color of his skin and his name (both identified as markers of race) that so many people in our country have no problem calling for the president’s birth certificate again and again…

    Just because I talk about women’s rights does not make me a feminist…
    Just because I talk about my faith does not make me a Jesus-freak…
    Just because I’m passionate about conversation does not make me emotional or crazy…

    It means I observe. It means I’m engaged. It means you cannot hold up your end of the argument so you retreat to defensive name-calling tactics. Why not just listen to my point instead? And at the end, say “I respect your point of view. Let’s agree to disagree, and maybe bring up this conversation again after I thought about it some more.”

    Alright… I’m done.

    November 22, 2012 at 3:03 am

    • Anthea Brainhooke

      If you believe women deserve the same rights as men, you are a feminist.

      November 21, 2013 at 3:22 pm

  21. selfesteemedboy

    How about cock block. Aside from using its meaning correctly people often call a female a cock block when shes advocating female rights as if all females speech of gender equality are intent on denying the male orgasm.

    November 16, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    • Interesting! I hadn’t heard that one, but it’s a fascinating metaphor, isn’t it?

      November 16, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    • I wonder if it really means, “Oh, this girl won’t sleep with me, she’s a feminist (i.e. lesbian, hates men, whatever).” ?

      November 16, 2012 at 6:24 pm

      • selfesteemedboy

        No it really means denying a males orgasm but it shouldn’t be cast at females just trying to be free & enjoy birth right equality

        November 16, 2012 at 6:30 pm

  22. How about cock block. Aside from using its meaning correctly people often call a female a cock block when shes advocating female rights as if all female speech on gender equality is intent on denying the male orgasm.

    November 16, 2012 at 6:08 pm

  23. seesidwrite

    Thought of another one. Angry. Came to me as a friend of mine said he’d gone to Seattle Art Museum to see “all the angry feminist art,” explaining that there was a sign that explained how women still make less than men when they sell art.

    I failed to see the anger in that particular example, although you could say it was “justified, reasonable anger”–but that’s the thing, is that when they use “angry” in the term “angry feminist,” they aren’t talking about being reasonable. In THAT context, “anger” is specifically a term that is meant to imply “flying off the handle and completely unreasonable, and by the way I can’t talk to you when you’re like this–all not agreeing with me and shit.”

    November 13, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    • Yes. The thing that got me to finally call myself an “angry feminist” was that I got angry. Not anti-men, not unreasonably/irrationally/loudly enraged, just angry (and in my opinion, justifiably) at the way women are treated–the way I found myself being treated–contrasted with treatment of men in the same situations. It’s ok to be angry, and “angry women”–while it may very well be the name of my next band–is just another way of saying…well, a number of things on the list above. It’s a generalization employed by the lazy, the uninformed, and those dedicated to tearing down feminism.

      November 13, 2012 at 10:51 pm

  24. Kat

    Hello, I wanted to thank you for the post.

    On the note of “Joking”, something that I’ve seen have varied success is:

    a) Pointing out that joke or not it was offensive and that sexist jokes are still sexist. (Obviously this doesn’t work with most people, but I’ve had some luck with it.)

    b) Rape-joke specific, linking to/speaking about this article about rape jokes http://www.fugitivus.net/2009/06/24/a-woman-walks-into-a-rape-uh-bar/ . It was very helpful in explaining to a few people why rape jokes aren’t cool or funny.

    Thank you for your time.

    November 13, 2012 at 11:44 am

    • Thanks so much. That’s an excellent article.

      November 13, 2012 at 7:35 pm

  25. nmtucson

    Rosie, thanks for a great post. I too am glad to have found your blog.

    Now, being an active type, I wonder about the next step on this subject. Rosie has produced an excellent list of words used to silence us. So how do we respond when we hear them? What alternatives can we offer the speaker? What else could we say when we find ourselves tempted to use one of the words on the list?

    November 13, 2012 at 1:56 am

    • Thanks for this prompt. I am the absolute worst at responding to stuff like this in real-time. I’m looking forward to posting a follow-up with people’s ideas for how to deal with it.

      November 13, 2012 at 6:28 pm

  26. Sexism IS wrong. It’s something men and women both really need to pay attention to in their speech and writing, because it creeps in in all sorts of unexpected ways, even when we’re trying to defend ourselves against the same things from another.

    Men and women in full possession of their minds and hearts don’t hate one another. How could we hate the other half of ourselves? But then there are other types of men and women who see one another as the enemy. They say hurtful things and say “I didn’t say anything wrong!” And they believe it. I’m sure they do. And some do mean to wound when they say “bitch” to a woman or “pig” to a man, or any of the many, many other words used to denigrate a person for their gender.

    And some of the words–the labels used to tell women they ought to leave the conversation–are also aimed at men some of the time. And yet Rosie’s list is a glossary of words and phrases that are used unthinkingly over and over to let women know their input isn’t valued.

    Anyone who knows me knows I really hate to see men put down, denigrated, made the butt of jokes in popular culture the way women were a generation ago. Some might even say I overreact to it, but there you are. HOWEVER, the subject of this artile is how male privilege AS AN INSTITUTION has crept into our speech and behavior in hurtful and sometimes frightening ways (frightening as is when rape becomes jokey and somehow okay). It’s not about men being “bad” or any one man being “bad” because of an accident of gender. And anyone who thinks it is is not paying attention. Or possibly a troll.

    November 11, 2012 at 6:03 pm

  27. November 11, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    • JF

      While I think that is an excellent video, and one that thankfully exists…

      But it’s also beside the point. This is not the point of the thread. It’s words used to silence women. And in this context, you seem to be trying to use it for this purpose…

      May 9, 2013 at 7:42 am

  28. Thank you so much for posting. Just when I was wondering why I had that feeling in my stomach that something wasn’t quite right, I stumbled upon your blog. Hmm, I might have been called overly sensitive, which makes me then more sensitive, and on and on in a vicious circle. Sometimes words seem so little, but they mean a lot.

    November 11, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    • Welcome! Yes, that “oversensitive” thing seems engineered to make us believe that our perceptions are flawed. People use it without even realizing how they’re invalidating the other person’s feelings. But sometimes I think they know exactly what they’re doing.

      So glad you found your way here. I’m looking forward to your perspective on all this. :)

      November 11, 2012 at 5:41 pm

  29. Danny

    I have no problem with a female being called a feminazi if she is one a sexist extremist who preaches fascist female superiority & degrades all males as inferior dogs beneath them. A lot of people associate feminism with man hating because when feminism first became popular in the U.S a lot of woman in dominate feminist groups were rejecting the idea of having sex with a man because they wanted to deny men the gratification of having sex. If a man looked at a woman lustfully, talked sexually about them or owned pornography he was told “Your a pervert & don’t respect women” & was considered disgusting & often called pig. A lot of women preach sexist views under the guise of feminism & womans rights when their actually speaking against mens rights. Thats why I’m a humanist because humanists advocate for the rights of both genders & people as a whole whereas a lot of feminism (not all) is one sided.

    November 10, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    • Where do I begin? You seem to have missed the point on a number of levels. As a man, you have no problem with a female being called a feminazi. Huh. But you have a problem with men being called perverts and pigs? Apparently some (not all) humanists think name-calling is an acceptable solution to a difference in philosophy. Clearly you don’t have a problem with invoking Nazis (who killed six million) when scoring points against women whose views you deem extreme. And you think it’s ok to call women names if you don’t like what they’re doing/saying.

      Men are not an oppressed group. Women have had the vote for fewer than 100 years. Men have dominated since the dawn of time. Women who trash men are wrong, but they are not feminism, and even though you are ok with trashing women, I won’t judge all humanists by your comment. There is a word for men who come to feminist sites to explain to women what’s wrong with feminism. I don’t like it much, so I don’t tend to use it, but I’m sure someone will clue you in.

      November 10, 2012 at 10:59 pm

      • Danny

        Feminazi is a term for women who are fascist in regards to gender issues. Nazis were extreme fascists & a lot of feminist groups (even if you say their pseudo feminists) are as well so the two was put together. If a person (man or woman) is being a hateful sexist fascist piece of shit I’m going to call them exactly what they are. I’m not one to be cordial with ass holes. I have no problem with anyone being called what they are. So no man is qualified to give an objective opinion on feminism because hes a man? Yeah thats not a sexist view at all. Where in any of my comment did I say its ok to trash women? I love women & always have since I was a boy. The feelings they are able to elicit in me is a power I revere & worship.

        To say men are not an oppressed group in any way is certainly incorrect. There are many double standards women use against men. Many women use the societal view that a man must never hit a woman has a free licence to assault men without facing any consequences. How many times have the cops been called over a domestic dispute & see a woman with bruises and automatically mean mug the guy before he has a chance to speak? And even if he tells the officer she was hitting him & wouldn’t stop they all give the same answer. How much do you weigh? Could she really hurt you?

        What about the 15yo girls in Florida who video taped themselves violently striping an 11yo boy naked & posted his humilation for the world to see? When he was screaming, crying & begging for them to stop they just laughed harder & kept going. When the police arrived at the boys house they told the mother they weren’t sure a crime had even been committed, that it just looks like a prank. In the end the girls were charged with a low misdemeanor & that wouldn’t have even happened if the mother didn’t want to pursue charges & the girls served no time anyway. If the situation was reversed & it had been two 15yo boys violently stripping an 11yo girl naked there would’ve been no confusion of criminal activity & the public out cry for punishment would be heard round the world. They would have been convicted felons on their way for a lengthy stay in prison.

        Those are just a couple examples of male oppression. I could go on but I’ve made my point. And what word is that Rosie? Its cool tell me how you really feel?

        November 11, 2012 at 2:56 am

        • Thanks, but I don’t need you to explain the origins of the term “feminazi” to me. This is a word that draws its power from a tragedy so profound most of us can’t wrap our heads around the scale of it. To use it in this way stands to hurt not only feminism but survivors (and their descendants) of Nazi concentration camps and other horrors–can you imagine that they might rather you didn’t compare women who you think hate men to a scourge that killed six million people? Is it so hard for you to see why that’s a bad analogy?

          You must have misread my reply, since I did not claim that a man is not qualified to speak to feminism. I said, and I quote,”There is a word for men who come to feminist sites to explain to women what’s wrong with feminism.” A man who walks into a feminist space and attempts to instruct feminists on feminism shows that he’s not here to learn but to teach, and while I’m sure we all have things to teach each other, that’s just not the way to make yourself welcome in this conversation.

          Are there double standards? Hell yes. Are there women who say and do unfair things to men? Absolutely. Is what happened to that boy an awful, terrible thing? YES. Are individual stories of bad things happening to men evidence of societal oppression of the male gender?


          You’ve utterly failed to make your point, and you’ve further failed to comprehend mine. Feel free to keep trying.

          November 11, 2012 at 3:31 am

      • dirty b

        The paragraph is one I had written, and missed it on the post read before I sent it. My bad, haha.
        No super extream elitism has been seen here by myself.

        November 17, 2012 at 12:14 am

    • Danny,

      I know you are coming into this with good intentions, but you’re kind of digging a hole for yourself brother.

      Calling yourself a humanist is great, and wanting the fair regard for both men and women is great. You are not going to find any dispute with that here (other than a minor quibble: humanism is generally understood to refer to a non-religious philosophy of humanity’s place in the world, but that’s a total red herring in this case).

      You’re digging a hole for youself in two regards.

      First, you are treating Rosie and the other women here like they are ignorant and unfamiliar with the term feminazi (not to mention nazi’s!!) or somehow incognizant of the wrongs done to men. They’re not. So, you are coming across as condescending, which is largely going to give the impression that you are insulting them, and I am sure that is not your intent.

      But more importantly, you’re completely derailing the conversation, which is specifically about words used to silence women. When it comes to gender relations, there are many, many topics worthy of discussion. Wrongs done to men is absolutely a valid discussion. Ways in which traditional patriarchal patterns have been harmful to men is absolutely another. Ways in which some people who have called themselves feminists have alienated both men and women in pursuit of more radical positions is yet another very valid discussion. But this is not the time, dude. This is not the place. This is Rosie’s post about how language is used to invalidate a woman’s contribution to a conversation.

      Do you have something to add? Add!

      Do you have something to dispute? Dispute!

      But don’t blow the whole conversation up into a historical overview of all gender relations including all abuses perpetrated against all people — it’s not useful input. It’s just going to annoy everyone, and… guess what? It’s going to make other people feel like you are actually trying to silence them. And again, I know that’s not your intent. I know you are a well meaning guy who believes in equal rights and treatment for all. So… don’t let yourself get miscast as a troll, and keep your eye on the ball.

      November 11, 2012 at 3:31 am

      • Blunt: Thanks for the thoughtful comment. Part of the problem here is that the word “feminazi,” even if it wasn’t already a loaded term, is not just used to describe extreme feminists. It gets used all the time to describe women who talk about feminism or hold feminist views. It gets used to make us feel unsafe expressing those views. That’s what this post is about, which you clearly get and Danny does not. You nailed it on the head when you used the word “condescending.” Danny doesn’t seem to have come here to contribute to a discussion about how women are silenced when talking about feminist issues, but to justify why some men want women to shut up. And he’s managed to use several words on the list in the process.

        Danny: Thanks for the handy object lesson! Couldn’t have planned it better.

        November 11, 2012 at 4:01 am

      • vox o reason


        First, we’re talking about INSTITUTIONALIZED privilege, and its just a fact that at the moment men have that over women. Believe me, I wish that weren’t true. But it is. Stop being defensive about it. Men are not an oppressed group. Period. Just like white people aren’t oppressed just because there are some black people that don’t like white people. It’s not the same thing. You can’t compare thousands of years of societal oppression to a few guys who might have taken a slug to the face from someone who weighs 50 lbs less than they do. It just makes you look ignorant. Do you realize that less than a hundred years ago, at a point when my grandparents were alive, women couldn’t even own property or vote? Comparing a couple of isolated incidents to something like that is frankly ridiculous.

        But then, based on your screen name and your incorrect understanding of what the term “Humanist” means, you’re probably about 15, if not physically, than mentally. So I’ll try not to hold it against you.

        November 11, 2012 at 4:13 am

      • Saying extremist feminists are anything like Nazis is just despicable. Not only because of EVERYTHING just said by these people in response to Danny’s comment, but also because it’s an example of people just say words like Nazi without even thinking about what it really means. Trivialization of language to oppress is not the way. Period.

        November 11, 2012 at 4:25 am

    • StumpBeefgnaw


      See me after class

      May 9, 2013 at 6:58 am

  30. Uuuggghhhh I cannot even EXPLAIN how much I hate the word feminazi. Why do people think it’s fine to use this word? Do they know what nazis actually are?

    November 10, 2012 at 2:17 am

    • Yeah, it’s sort of like when people use the word “rape” as an analogy for “you beat me at a game.”

      November 10, 2012 at 5:13 pm

  31. Thank you, thank you for this post! It really gave me strength to continue speaking out about women’s issues. I’ve heard almost all of these at one point or another.

    November 9, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    • It makes me so happy to hear that it helped you in any small way to keep putting your voice out there! I may have to expand this, as people keep giving me new suggestions.

      November 9, 2012 at 7:27 pm

  32. Great post!

    November 9, 2012 at 9:59 am

    • Thank you! I woke up this morning thinking about your Steve Perry piece.

      November 9, 2012 at 7:29 pm

  33. Also, princess, sweetheart, sugar, honey, darling, entitled, and “privileged.”

    I adore your blog name, by the way.

    November 9, 2012 at 1:53 am

    • OMG, yes, all the “feminine” diminutives that essentiallly mean, “STFU woman and get back in the kitchen,” or something.

      And thank you very much! Pure inspiration. :)

      November 9, 2012 at 4:36 am

    • I have a good (female) friend who lives in NYC and told me this story last week.

      After Hurricane Sandy, she was out in the city a long way from home. Subways were all flooded, of course, and so she was relieved to happen upon an available cab. She got in, and the (male) cab driver, started calling her ‘baby’. ‘Hey baby, where you going?’ She told him her neighborhood in Brooklyn. The driver told her no, baby, he didn’t want to go there.

      My friend is not inhibited (as I sometimes am) by the pervasive cultural expectation that women should be unfailingly polite no matter the provocation. Her response:

      “You don’t get to leave me stranded out here and call me ‘baby’, you asshole. If we’re that close, sugartits, you can fucking well take me where I need to go.”


      November 9, 2012 at 11:07 pm

      • Oh, hell yes!

        November 9, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    • Cy

      I actually don’t mind being called sweetheart, but I’ve only been called that in a comforting way. Primarily by the doctor that removes chunks of my skin to make sure I don’t get cancer and good friends and family that are trying to help me feel better or calm me down when I’m super upset.

      I suppose it’s all about context. Many of these words can be used in positive ways or just be stating facts. As an example: “Yeah, she’s really hypersensitive. She can feel a mosquito flying a foot away from her.” ((That would suck by the way.))

      May 9, 2013 at 9:04 am

  34. Misandrist. Dares to criticize a man, or a set of male behaviors. Because criticizing a behavior is equivalent to hating men.

    November 9, 2012 at 1:49 am

    • Yes! This line of thinking just blows my mind.

      November 9, 2012 at 4:32 am

      • JF

        Minsandry is a thing, and I think that there are feminists who subscribe to it…but that doesn’t make it a general thing. Or even a common thing. And mysogony is a whole lot more common (the firestorm that happened in Australia when our PM had the temerity to call our opposition leader on it would make for another interesting list)

        May 9, 2013 at 7:29 am

  35. I once used Feminist to stop a soap-box moaning individual who insisted I admit to being either a republican or a democrat. I wouldn’t, but the insistence continued, saying I had to be one or the other. So I retorted with all the power in my female voice and said, “I’m a feminist, they both hate me.” Said individual exited the room. Victory, even though I couldn’t have explained how inaccurate my statement was because this wasn’t the kind of person who would be willing to actually listen, which is why it worked to end the conversation.
    I probably intercepted the next insult to be thrown at me, since defensive and opinionated hadn’t worked.

    November 9, 2012 at 12:12 am

    • I love it! It’s so frustrated to talk to people who have no interest in listening–only in scoring points and being right. You shut that shit right down.

      My primary way of dealing with this kind of crap is to point out the fallacies, but that usually goes right over their heads. What I’d really like to do is change hearts and minds. El-Oh-El. Sigh.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:29 am

      • This is the kind of person who wouldn’t hear anything about fallacies, and would probably go so far as to think I said phallic. Ugh. Sigh indeed.

        November 9, 2012 at 12:53 am

  36. JackieP

    Great post! I used to be called ‘whiny’ when ever I would stand up for myself. Later on I would look at the person (usually a man) and say to him. Take it like a woman! (meaning we women are strong and have for centuries listened to men whine about how they are treated). And we did it without complaint. Well now it’s our turn to stand up for ourselves and if men and some women can’t take it tough!

    November 9, 2012 at 12:05 am

    • This reminds me of Betty White: “Why do people say grow some balls? Balls are weak and sensitive. If you wanna be tough, grow a vagina. Those things can take a pounding.”

      November 9, 2012 at 12:14 am

      • JackieP

        hahah! I forgot about that one. But she was right!

        November 9, 2012 at 12:19 am

        • A penis can’t even handle a kidney stone, much less a set of shoulders, and I’m the “oversensitive” one. Sheesh.

          November 9, 2012 at 12:23 am

      • I love that quote!

        November 9, 2012 at 12:30 am

    • And many men are still complaining about the unfairness of their lot (see anti-feminist/MRA). I don’t know what to do about that lot–they are exactly like the feminazis they claim to despise.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:32 am

      • JackieP

        only difference is they don’t see it that way!

        November 9, 2012 at 12:45 am

  37. I think you pretty much covered it all. I have also heard this from a fellow friend: “Stop taking everything so personally!”

    I like in Brazil, and men AND women here are still extremely sexist. It’s difficult to deal with it because I am ALWAYS shot down, and I’m not one to shut up. But as guilt always comes with societal oppression, I used to feel guilty – “Maybe I was too harsh” – “Why am I being so dramatic? – “I guess they didn’t mean any harm”

    Not any more though. I’m sick of it. If the men and women I used to be friends with don’t respect women, then I simply won’t be their friend. And I stand by that because if some one makes me feel bad I should cut them out.

    November 8, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    • Yes, we are taught to feel guilty if anything we do seems to cause others discomfort, but also to tolerate so much BS from other people! Kudos to you for rejecting all that, and for your tweet, which summed it up so well.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:32 pm

      • No problem. It’s my real feelings towards it and I won’t stop!

        November 9, 2012 at 12:39 am

  38. Sharon

    How about, “you just need to get laid”. Thank you very much. I’m married and my husband has no complaints.

    November 8, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    • Oh, yeah, that old saw. As if their manhood is all that stands between us and rational thought.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:20 pm

  39. An excellent list, Rosie. Well said. :)

    My only additions would be “slut” and “whore”. When playing League, a lot of times my male friends will refer to champions who frustrate them as “whores”–but only if they’re female. (EX: “Evelynn is a whore! I hate fighting against her!”) Sometimes I also catch my dad using the term “wench” to describe someone female that he doesn’t like. (Happened the other day when someone was walking slowly in front of him at a grocery store, oblivious that anyone was behind her.) In my mind, there is absolutely no reason to use these terms, unless you are discussing someone who is *literally* a whore.

    I find it interesting (and disgusting) that, a lot of times, when men are frustrated with a woman, they will immediately use one of these terms to not only dismiss her, but to imply that she is sexually “overavailable”, thus making her have even less worth somehow. When I’m frustrated with a man, I usually don’t go around calling him a manwhore or a manslut. In fact their sex lives rarely if ever even cross my mind, much less enter my discussion on their behavior. Why must women suffer the same? Why must I be made to fear being called a whore or a slut by my “peers” if I don’t act in just the right way at all times?

    No damned reason, that’s why.

    It is another reminder that women are sex objects, whether they want to be or not.

    November 8, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    • What Mandaray said.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:11 pm

  40. Reblogged this on Note To Self and commented:
    Fantastic post! Think about the words that you use, think about what they mean, and think about why you’re using them. Words matter. Ask any writer.

    November 8, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    • And we’re all going to slip up from time-to-time. The important thing is to be aware, especially when other people are using words to shut you up.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:09 pm

      • Agreed! For me, “bitch/bitches” and “butthurt” are the ones I need to stop using. Though in my mind, there’s a BIG difference between saying “bitches” to be silly, and saying it directly to someone just because they’re expressing a strong opinion. Butthurt probably needs to go entirely. I never really thought about the rapey connotations it held before, but you’re right. It’s out.

        November 8, 2012 at 11:11 pm

  41. As the person who contributed “Sexist”, I’d like to add that I think there’s an entire school of advanced bigotry that co-opts the language of anti-oppression movements and tries to gaslight you (huh, funny how often that happens) into questioning your own motives. See also: “Playing the race card,” “Intolerant (of my intolerance),” etc.

    November 8, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    • Yes! Thank you. And thank you for your contribution.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:00 pm

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