‘You called your gf what?!’ – How not to speak to women.


You called your gf what?!

A text message conversation between Ben and his younger cousin Jack, about how Jack’s been speaking to his girlfriend...

  • Jack hey cuz, how are you?
  • Ben Hey, what's happening?
  • Jack massive fight with mum, shes a psycho
  • Ben What about?
  • Jack she went off at me because I called maddie a ho, she needs a sense of humour! everybody says it
  • Ben Wait, you called your girlfriend what?!
  • Jack a ho but it's just a joke ffs
  • Ben Calling her ‘a whore’ is a joke? Because that's what your mates call women? Seriously?
  • Jack you're sounding like mum... you gotta relax it's just a word
  • Ben Are there any words you wouldn’t use, y’know..to get a laugh out of your mates?
  • Jack yeah of course,
  • Ben there are some words and ideas that do a lot of damage. Every time you and your mates call someone something like that, you all think it's a bit more acceptable, a bit more true.
  • Jack seriously, even maddie doesn't care about this stuff as much as you
  • Ben Hmm, dunno about that. If she doesn't, she should. And you need to, or you’ll be single pretty quick
  • Jack alright relax, I'll stop saying ho!
  • Ben What do you call guys?
  • Jack what?
  • Ben Think of all the names you use for girls, then for guys. You ever call a guy a bitch?
  • Jack actually yes!
  • Ben Ever call them ‘a girl’ or gay?
  • Jack Yeah, I guess...
  • Ben All these insults you use for guys, it’s like your idea of masculinity is the only version – you’re either a ‘straight, tough guy’ or you’re …less. You are basically saying that women are less, gay guys are less…
  • Jack yeah true, i guess not then
  • Ben Yep, that's sexism. women get disrespected in ways men don't, they get fewer opportunities, less pay, are more likely to be assaulted or killed by a partner or ex. it all comes back to a lack of respect for women and when I hear my cousin's calling his gf a ho...
  • Jack yeah okay, I take your point, I’ll keep it in mind

Whether it’s your own language and attitudes or someone else’s, it’s worth thinking about how the words we use both represent and contribute to our beliefs about gender and affect other people. Calling out sexist language can raise awareness and lead to change in gendered/sexist attitudes and behaviour.

For more information on how to speak up and challenge sexist comments and behaviours visit Doing Nothing Does Harm.

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