Is the word ‘woman’ an insult?
Is it just me or does everyone think it should not be an insult to be called a woman?
There is a ruckus in Britain this week because the Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbin was caught calling Prime Minister Theresa May a ‘stupid woman’. It certainly isn’t a nice thing to say, but is it sexist?
In this case, yes it is. If Jeremy Corbin considered himself to be on the same level as the PM, equal in all ways, he wouldn’t have felt the need to point out she is a woman.
More insultingly, he thought highlighting the fact she is a woman would benefit his argument, stressing that she is different to him and not in a good way.
Using the same insult against a man he would probably have said ‘Stupid fool’ or ‘Stupid Tory’, he would never have felt the need to emphasise masculinity.
I am not a stupid woman – I understand the historical baggage with the term woman. It was used to belittle. We used to tell little boys not to ‘cry like a girl’ and God forbid anyone should ‘run like a girl’ It depresses me to think that in 2018 a person’s ‘womanness’ could still be considered a disadvantage.
I want to take the word back. It’s our word. It should never be used to demean.
If I allow myself to be outraged when someone calls me a woman, don’t I validate the insult? Instead, I hope someone turns it into a hashtag #stupidwomenruntheworld.
Of course, ‘woman’ is not the only descriptive word to be distorted into a slur.
I know I am not alone when I flinch before I use the word Jew, but I shouldn’t. There are lots of words I baulk at to be honest, I am just too scared to write them here. All the words I am thinking of belong to minority groups.
By avoiding them I may have dodged any unintended slight, but I have also somehow suggested it could be insulting to be a certain ethnicity or sexuality and that is not right.
I know homosexuals who absolutely love the word queer. Originally used as an insult, no gay pride march is complete without a “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it’ sign. And that’s the way it should be.
In the same way, there is no shame in being black, white, Kiwi or Catholic. It’s who you are and you have every right to be proud of it.
If we arc up about being called women, it just doesn’t feel right to me.
I’m not suggesting the British Leader of the Opposition didn’t mean his insult in a sexist and demeaning way, I know he did, I just refuse to accept the word woman is disparaging.
I am woman. Hear me roar.