Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

From hormonal to bossy: the 20 sexist words that women in Britain want banned

sexist language.jpg

He’s confident, she’s an attention-seeker. He’s a man who knows what he wants, she’s a diva. And he’s the boss, while she’s just bossy…

There’s no point denying it; the language we use to describe men and women is deeply sexist.


Read more: "Unladylike" Gigi Hadid and why women are blamed for acts of violence


So it’s unsurprising that, in a survey of more than 2000 British women, sisters everywhere revealed that they wanted to see at least 20 sexist terms banned from our everyday vocabulary.

From ‘hormonal’ to ‘ball breaker’, it was a definite case of terms of belittlement over endearment – with women insisting that the phrases undermined their strength. 

"Hormonal" was the sexist phrase that most women wanted to see banned

"Hormonal" was the sexist phrase that most women wanted to see banned

Keen to redress the balance, 72 per cent of women added that they would like to see more often women described ‘confident’, or ‘resilient’, and ‘courageous’ – just as their male counterparts would be.


Top 20 words women would ban:

1. Hormonal - 68 percent
2. Drama Queen - 56 percent
3. Bitchy - 53 percent
4. High Maintenance - 51 percent
5. Hysterical - 50 percent
6. Ball Breaker - 49 percent
7. Diva - 48 percent
8. Highly Strung - 46 percent
9. Mumsy - 42 percent
10. Princess - 40 percent
11. Attention Seeking - 35 percent
12. Emotional - 31 percent
13. Manipulative - 28 percent
14. Bossy - 27 percent
15. Controlling - 25 percent
16. Difficult - 21 percent
17. Sexy - 20 percent
18. Aggressive - 19 percent
19. Sassy - 16 percent
20. Feisty – 14 percent.


They also revealed the pet names they wanted to see removed from the vocabulary, and it seems as if bird most definitely is not the word; the term made it to the top of the list, with 56% of women polled saying they never wanted to hear it again.

It was followed closely by ‘doll’, ‘chick’, ‘babe’, and 'Queen Bee'.


Read more: The semantics of sexism revealed


The research was conducted as part of Special K’s new Strength Is… campaign, which seeks to redefine strength for women everywhere.

Speaking about the results, former Girls Aloud star Nicola Roberts – who is one of the celebrity ambassadors for the campaign – said: “Female strength is something to be celebrated and encouraged, not diminished by unfair labels to undermine their passion and drive.

“Women are too often called ‘bossy’, ‘feisty’ or ‘attention seeking’, now is the time to change the conversation and rewrite the vocabulary we use to empower women and not let others define us.”

Meanwhile Emily Blunt, who is set to star in The Girl On The Train, has also spoken out against the language we use to describe women.

Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, she explained that her least favourite word in the film industry is ‘likeable’.

“With so many movies, women are held to what a man considers a feminine ideal,” she said.

“You have to be pretty. You have to be ‘likable,’ which is my least favourite bloody word in the industry. Rachel isn’t ‘likable.’

“What does that mean? To be witty and pretty and hold it together and be there for the guy? And he can just be a total drip?”

It is time, quite clearly to redress the engendered language we use on a daily basis.

In a bid to start this conversation, the campaign has asked people to share their own definitions of strength, by tweeting them using the hashtag #StrengthIs.

Louise Thompson Davies, from Special K, explains: “Society still has a way to go in expressing and describing strong women but together we can help advance the cause.

“That’s also why we are giving women their own say. Together, we can hope to inspire each other to embrace our strength and rewrite what it means today.

“We hope to help change the language used to describe female strength and really celebrate what makes women feel strong.”

Related

sexist semantics.jpg

The semantics of sexism: why we need to change the way we talk

rexfeatures_5925869b.jpg

“Unladylike” Gigi and why women always get blamed for acts of violence

city of london.jpg

Women are a ‘distinct minority’ among the top UK earners

More

20 soothing, beautiful songs guaranteed to help you fall asleep

An expert picks the ultimate classical music playlist

by Sarah Biddlecombe
20 Oct 2017

Puppy dog eyes are a thing and your dog makes them just for you

A study says dogs change their facial expressions when humans are looking

by Amy Swales
20 Oct 2017

Here’s how to buy a house or a flat for the princely sum of £1

It's time to enter the real-estate raffle

by Megan Murray
20 Oct 2017

Oxford University under fire for shocking lack of racial diversity

One MP called the revelations an example of “social apartheid”

by Moya Crockett
20 Oct 2017

This prosecco festival is the best way to start feeling Christmassy

Bubbles, bubbles everywhere

by Susan Devaney
20 Oct 2017

Missing your 16-25 railcard? We have good news for you

Rail bosses have taken pity on cash-strapped millennials

20 Oct 2017

This man’s response to his friend’s period while hiking is everything

“I had NOTHING on me and I was wearing shorts”

by Susan Devaney
20 Oct 2017

Why anxiety makes it harder to follow your intuition

It can have a paralysing effect on decision-making

by Anna Brech
19 Oct 2017

“Why all men must work to stamp out sexual harassment and abuse”

In wake of the Weinstein allegations, one writer argues why men need to be counted

19 Oct 2017

Rage, lust, power and warmth: how it feels to experience ‘red emotions

“I grew up being told my body was terrifying and my voice was unimportant”

by The Stylist web team
19 Oct 2017