Ask a Raging Feminist: What phrases do we need to get rid of?

Women’s Health magazine recently shared that it will be banning the words “bikini body” from gracing its covers. Which made us wonder, what other phrases or words need to be dropped from our lexicon? We asked our favorite “Raging Feminists” to chime in, and they did not disappoint.

What words or terms would you like to see disappear?

MAIDEN NAME. I can’t believe we’re still using this. It is disgusting on all levels.” — Chanel Dubofsky

Here’s a word I think is ready for the Dumpster heap: emasculate. It basically means ‘to belittle the identity, humanity or agency of a person’ — but only if that person happens to be born male. If not, don’t worry, they’re used to being belittled. Am I right about this or what??” — Anna Holtzman

“‘It is what it is’ is one of the most offensive non-platitude platitudes ever. At its best, it protects the status quo, and at its worst, it justifies all manner of offenses, excuses horrific behaviors and reinforces terrible and damaging cultural norms that need to be challenged, fought and eradicated.” — Andrea Warner

“‘Crazy.’ While I understand why people use it about themselves or to reclaim power (we certainly used it in my family growing up about abuse, mental illness and our own demons), this word needs to be scrubbed from public discourse. When you use ‘crazy’ where you actually mean ‘awful, jerk-ish, ignorant, violent, mean, unreasonable, etc.,’ you are stigmatizing those of us with mental illness and making it even harder for us to seek treatment. It’s long past time those with public platforms stopped being lazy and said what they actually mean so that mental illness is no longer conflated with undesirable, controllable traits and actions.” — Katie Klabusich

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Diversity! I can’t stand it. Whenever I hear someone say they want more diversity, I just hear that someone wants to make it seem that he is open to people from all races, backgrounds, genders because he’s using the right language. But the word doesn’t find itself take hold in any action. Apparently if you say it, that’s enough. You don’t actually have to MEAN it or anything.” — Leigh Shulman

‘Baby bump’ grates on my nerves. It’s not a bump, folks! Also, ‘impactful’ just isn’t a word. Let’s stop pretending that it is.” — Jacqueline Bryant Campbell

I’ve always detested the word ‘co-ed’ as an adjective used to describe (only) young women, usually as a synonym for sexy. It piles so much misogyny into so few letters: a reminder that women seeking education are still to be judged on their youth, beauty and f***ability, AND an implication that the default higher ed student is male just as the system used to be, and women are there as interlopers.” — Jennifer Pozner

I would ditch MILF. Because, just, ugh. It reduces the agency of a mother to something of value if, and only if, she is deemed ‘f***able’ by some dude, while simultaneously hinting at the notion that the f***ability of a mother is rare. And hi, birthing children does not automatically make a woman unworthy of humping. Can we also get rid of the slang word ‘taint‘? It’s called the perineum, and that’s not a super-difficult word to learn. And, for the love of bell hooks, can we please stop uttering the word ‘feminazi’? No feminists have invaded Poland or expressed an interest in cultural genocide. It’s super problematic on a variety of levels, but tossed around offices like last summer’s beach ball.” — Lyndsay Kirkham

I really hate rape euphemisms: child bride, child prostitute, had his way with her, took advantage of her, inappropriate relations, sex with a toddler.” — Soraya Chemaly

‘Babies having babies.’ As far as I know, it’s not possible, and it’s super condescending to say to a teen parent. Teen parents aren’t some weird sci-fi storyline. We’re parents and young at the same time. Also, ‘Welfare Queen.’ It’s old. It’s tired. It’s a lie. It’s RACIST AF and classist.” — Gloria Malone

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‘Love the sinner, hate the sin.’ This phrase is used far too often by people justifying their bigotry. I live in the South, in the land of churches so big we call them ‘Six Flags Over Jesus,’ so I hear the phrase quite often from Christians, and it makes my blood boil. It is a clear message that they judge homosexuals and believe they are making a choice to ‘sin.’ Yet people who use this phrase get to bask in the smug glow of their declaration of ‘love,’ when what they are really doing is only another form of hate. This phrase needs to die in a fire.” — Amy Bickers

‘Whipped’. Because the idea that listening to your partner and fulfilling their needs makes you less of a Manly Man is preposterous. ‘Crazy bitch.’ The favored catchphrase of the scorned Terrible Boyfriend. As much as I appreciate its ability to warn women off of men who personify every lover who spurned them as an unreasonable overlord, the dismissive nature of this phrase drives me up a wall. It also allows these dudes to write off a whole relationship or person in two words instead of disclosing what really happened between them and someone else.

And finally, ‘seminal.’ Because talking about anything that has been super important in any particular field shouldn’t mean me having to invoke the Holy Name of Semen. Just saying the word makes me shudder.” — Seraphina Ferraro

As someone who has spent years analyzing the myths and mythology around virginity, I’d love to do away with phrases like ‘taking’ someone’s virginity or ‘giving up’ your virginity. Basically all the words that make virginity seem like it’s something you keep in your pocket that you carelessly left in a cab last night. Or worse, a precious gift or prize some lucky guy will get if he plays his cards right. Seriously, virginity is an abstract concept, not a hymen wrapped in a bow. If it wasn’t so ingrained in our culture, it would be nice to do away with the word ‘virginity’ once and for all, since all it’s really good for is to shame, judge and totally confuse the hell out of sex-ed-starved teens. In the meantime, why not think of virginity as a long series of sexual firsts you can experience throughout your life? (I even made a reusable punch card where you can keep track of them).” — Therese Shechter

Everyone can stop using ‘females’ as synonymous with ‘women’ yesterday. Also ‘crazy,’ since it’s generally used, as per Tina Fey’s definition, to describe a woman who keeps talking after men stop wanting to f*** her.” — Lilit Marcus

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