The Parthenon

If you call yourself a feminist, watch the gendered insults

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Terms like “mansplaining,” “manterrupting” and “brocreate” offend me on the same level as saying someone does something “like a girl.” These words become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Feminists have spent ample time challenging the phrase “like a girl” with social media campaigns and even commercials, yet they have willingly embraced similar expressions aimed toward men.

For those unaware of these emerging cultural terms, “mansplaining” combines “man” and “explaining” to form a word that refers to the act of a man telling a woman how something is done or how it works with the assumption that he is an authority on the subject and she is ignorant.

“Manterrupting” is a similar concoction, which combines “man” and “interrupting” meaning when a woman is talking and a man (seeming not to hear her or notice her existence at all) begins to talk over her and with more volume.

Last but not least, “brocreate” is a little more creative. Stemming from “procreate,” it refers to the phenomenon that occurs when a woman expresses an idea, which everyone immediately dismisses, then just a little later a man expresses that same idea only to have it received with praise and acceptance.

While I do not doubt these things happen and on a daily basis, it is hard to fight for an end to this type of gendered language toward women and girls when we are perpetrating it toward men.

The problem with these terms is that they are just as stereotypical and ridiculous as “like a girl” because for every man who does interrupt women like they don’t even exist, there is another man listening intently to what women have to say.

If we keep perpetrating stereotypes against each other feminism doesn’t stand a chance. Feminism isn’t about putting men down for their privilege. Yes, it would be nice if all men acknowledged it, but wouldn’t it be better to calmly explain that you were still speaking than retaliate with yet another gendered insult.

If we are going to call ourselves feminists, then we can’t go around dragging men down like we have been continually dragged down. Words like “brocreate” are insulting to men, and they should be insulting to women too because we know what it is like to be on the receiving end of gendered insults.

So, the next time you think about using one of these gendered insults or some other creative variation, remember what it feels like to be told “women can’t drive” and “you throw like a girl.” It hurts and men (even privileged ones) still have feelings.

Jocelyn Gibson can be contacted at [email protected]

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