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

Comments

More

US school girl campaigned against her school's tank top ban and won

She arrived at school with the words #IAmNotADistraction on her arm.

by Hayley Spencer
21 Apr 2017

Science has revealed why your Tinder first date is always rubbish

Getting past swiping right can be hard enough

by Jasmine Andersson
21 Apr 2017

This campaign is changing the way images of women are used in media

And it's already had a huge impact.

by Hayley Spencer
21 Apr 2017

Rashida Jones "lifts the veil" on porn industry in new Netflix series

Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On is out today

by Sarah Biddlecombe
21 Apr 2017

Giraffes to be listed as endangered in bid to prevent “silent extinct”

Environmentalists say we are at risk of the “silent extinction” of the world’s tallest land animal

by Hayley Spencer
21 Apr 2017

Why introverts are more likely to excel in their chosen career path

All hail the quietly powerful

by Kayleigh Dray
21 Apr 2017

This mother and daughter’s cancer battle is inspiring women everywhere

Their story has touched the hearts of social media users

by Kayleigh Dray
20 Apr 2017

Why everyone is talking about Netflix's 13 Reasons Why

From alternate endings to that potential second series

by Jasmine Andersson
20 Apr 2017

This is why your cat won’t stop lying on your things

Nope, they’re not just being irritating on purpose.

by Hayley Spencer
20 Apr 2017

New video for Repeal the 8th campaign makes its point beautifully

The battle for reproductive rights in Ireland will reach fever pitch this weekend

by Elle Griffiths
20 Apr 2017