Some people, out of habit, spew out remarks without thinking its meaning through. Some might say “Hey, I was only joking”, but there are some serious issues we don’t joke about. You can be funny without offending and degrading anyone.
Here are 10 common remarks and gestures that people think are harmless but are actually sexist.
1. Using the word ‘gay’ as an insult.
When scrolling through your Facebook feed, you’ll sometimes see a status by a known straight male friend that says “I’m gay.” More often than not, those are pranks made by his friends. Many people still think that gay is a funny and derogatory term. It’s not. There’s really nothing wrong about being gay.
2. “You’re the type of girl that boys wouldn’t dare hurt.”
At first glance, people would think it’s sweet. But when you dig deeper, you’ll realize they’re implying that there are other girls who are worth hurting. No person, no matter their gender, race, religion or appearance, deserves to be beaten up and treated like shit.
3. “You drive like a girl.” / “You’re a girl, you should be the one to cook.” / “Boys shouldn’t do art, it’s girly.”
These remarks are problematic because they assign stereotypical gender roles. These put people in a box where girls can only do “girly” things, and boys can only do “masculine” activities. Some girls can drive, while some can’t cook. Some boys love to dance, while others love sports. We shouldn’t assume people’s skills and preferences based on their sex alone.
4. “You’re a boy, so you shouldn’t cry.”
Some people still believe that being a man means not showing emotions. Boys have feelings too and openly expressing them is not something to be ashamed of. Bottling up your feelings not just feels terrible, but it could also take a toll on your mental health.
5. “If you hit a girl, you’re gay.”
If someone physically abuses another person, they’re called abusers, not gay. The definition of gay is being attracted to the same sex. That’s it. Nowhere in the dictionary says that being gay means physically hurting girls. Associating one’s abusive behaviors with their sexuality is illogical and downright ridiculous.
6. “Why do you like putting makeup? Boys don’t like makeup on girls.”
Newsflash: not everything girls do is to attract boys. Some girls put makeup on because it makes them feel confident. It’s their faces, so as long as it’s not harmful to themselves or to anyone else, they can put on as much makeup as they want.
7. “Women who don’t want children are selfish.”
Some women choose not to have children because of various personal reasons. Besides, they are not obligated to have children. Giving birth isn’t the sole purpose of women in the world. They can enjoy their womanhood and contribute to the betterment of society even without giving birth or raising a family.
8. “Who’s the girl and who’s the boy in your relationship?”
This is one of the questions homosexual couples usually get. Asking this question implies that sexual orientation and gender expression are the same. Sexual orientation refers to who you’re attracted to, while gender expression is the way a person expresses themselves through appearance, behavior, etc. Yes, it’s possible for two femme lesbians or two masculine gays to be in a relationship.
Many of us have said at least one of the remarks above, without realizing that they are offensive. Intentional or not, what we say can hurt our friends and loved ones. What’s important is that we become more careful with the words we say.