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

The deadly secret hidden within that creepy Game of Thrones hug

Spoilers are coming…

by Kayleigh Dray
18 Aug 2017

Why it’s totally fine if you don’t have a ‘work wife’

Having friends at work is nice – but it’s not the be all and end all

by Moya Crockett
18 Aug 2017

Meteorologist’s epic response to troll who called her “disgusting”

“Enough is enough.”

by Sarah Biddlecombe
18 Aug 2017

Acts of love, humanity and solidarity following the Barcelona attack

In the darkness, there is light.

by Moya Crockett
18 Aug 2017

How you can help those caught up in the Barcelona attack

The ways you can support the victims, survivors and investigation

by Kayleigh Dray
18 Aug 2017

People are furious about Trump’s response to the Barcelona attack

The world is sick of his double-standard on terrorism

by Kayleigh Dray
18 Aug 2017

Ryan Phillipe on how he tackles depression

“I’m thinking about how to focus and steady myself”

by Susan Devaney
17 Aug 2017

Are black girls being forced to grow up too fast?

A study has shown that black girls as young as five are seen as more adult than their white peers

by Kemi Alemoru
17 Aug 2017

Teen receives sickening messages after asking for career advice

This businessman's response was shocking

by Sarah Biddlecombe
17 Aug 2017

We want everything from this new high-street Disney collaboration

Seriously magical

by Megan Murray
17 Aug 2017