I have a question about English-language words
used to designate women, as commonly used by
English is not my mother tongue, but
I have been living in the United States for over
10 years. As pretty much everyone knows (except
maybe children until they find out) there are
a handful of words commonly used as synonyms
for 'women'. Most of these words are commonly
accepted as offensive (at least by most American
women) although they're still widely used and
tolerated. For example, in one of today's widely-circulated
newspapers published in New York City, a woman
who frequently contributes to this paper refers
to another woman as "that broad".
My question to you is, would you consider this
an expression that's insulting to the woman
in question? I think it is meant to be really
insulting, the verbal equivalent of hitting the
woman discussed as well as indirectly but clearly
implying there is something inferior in all women.
I know this expression hails back to Frank Sinatra
whose current Hollywood 'mirror-image' is George
Clooney who still continues to use this term
to refer to women. What makes it confusing is
that there seems to be no social censure for
this kind of expression. I have never heard anyone
say that it is wrong or hateful to use this sort
of word, although many people readily acknowledge
the wrongness of using racist epithets.
public people or any well known publication
express any kind of bias against ethnic minorities
in the US, there's usually an outcry. Yet anti-woman
words are used daily without anyone raising
an eyebrow (that I know of, or most people for
that matter). Do you think this has to do more
with a cultural/language difference, or with
prevailing attitudes of contempt toward women?
And if the latter, why do not American women
(born and raised here) speak against it? Do they
see it differently than I do?
That's it, that's
my question. I thank you for taking time to
read my email and hope to hear from you.
All the best,