I would actually like to thank @rainbowspeckles, who doesn’t follow me (I have returned the favour), for inspiring this post.
A word of warning before I continue: If you’re a sensible, polite, well-mannered person who doesn’t like to see what would be labelled ‘cuss words’ and ‘swearwords’ in print, look away now, and read something else.
It all began when I whinged on Twitter about my crazy and idiotic reaction to a massive spider. Said @rainbowspeckles told me to ‘#manup’, and that gave me a lot to think about.
You see, the Asian languages I know don’t use ‘man up!’ as an expression which means ‘come on, be brave, don’t be scared, don’t be a coward!’. Come to think of it, they lack other interesting and colourful expressions like ‘ballsy’, ‘grow a pair!’ (ie grow a pair of testicles), ‘stop crying like a girl/woman!’, ‘stop being (such) a girl/woman!’, ‘so-and-so has got balls’ (ie testicles), ‘girly’, ‘booby prize’, ‘booby’ (ie women’s breasts), ‘be a man!’ and ‘you’re such a girl!’.
It’s as if there’s all this talk about feminism, fighting for women’s rights, and equality between women and men, and yet paradoxically, many everyday English expressions are openly hostile towards women and girls and female reproductive organs.
If you have an aversion to seeing certain words in print, I now strongly urge you to look elsewhere, because in order to explain my point, I am obliged to mention these words.
This is your last chance to look away. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
But this proves my point.
The worse English swear word EVER, ‘cunt’, which is so evil and taboo that my friends in England have advised me to label it ‘the C-word’, refers to the vagina. Do not even call your enemy by this word, unless you are abroad (ie outside Britain) and you can be sure that your enemy doesn't know what you’re saying.
The same goes for ‘twat’, which is the equivalent of ‘cunt’ in the US. Although it also means ‘vagina’ in England, it is far more acceptable and widely-used because it is used to describe someone as an absolutely stupid and moronic idiot.
Then there’s ‘booby’, which refers to ‘a woman’s breast’ but also to something which is of inferior quality, eg ‘a booby prize’ for ‘a consolation prize’. The same can be said for ‘girly’.
There is much praise for being a man (NOT a boy; this is very important) and much admiration/yearning for testicles. ‘Ballsy’ means ‘brave’, and ‘having balls’ means ‘being very brave’. To ‘grow a pair’ doesn’t refer to getting a pair of big, jiggly-juggly breasts, but a pair of testicles, and it means ‘be brave; go out and face the world!’.
And penises? Yes, I’ve heard ‘you’re such a dick’, ‘you’re a knob(head)!’, ‘you knob(head)!’ and ‘you’re a dickhead!’ thrown about as a substitute to ‘you fool!’ or ‘you idiot!’, but when compared to ‘cunt’ and ‘twat’, these insults are mild.
‘Cunt’ and ‘twat’ are always used in anger and with malice. ‘Dick’ and ‘knob’ can be affectionate, especially when the speaker is very drunk. ‘Dick’ gets away with being a surname (Dick and Dickens, anyone?), a boy’s name and the name of a dessert in England. And in England, when someone calls you ‘cock’, they’re not insulting you; they’re calling you ‘darling’, ‘dear’, ‘friend’.
It freaks me out to realise that if I had only been around the English language all my life, I would have been unconsciously programmed to think of my being female as a state of being inferior, constantly. What a way to live.
I never really thought about this until @rainbowspeckles, another laydee, told me ‘man up’. Darling, I can’t; it is biologically impossible for me to do so unless I undergo a sex-change, and even though I can, I wouldn’t want to physically ‘man up’ because I am happy with being a woman. And ‘man up’ MUST NOT equate to ‘be brave!’. If you were my real sister, or daughter, I would tell you that if you want to encourage someone to be brave, use another expression. Always remind yourself that you are a woman, and you are ‘It’.
Although I hate political correctness in general (that’s another post), I do think it is vital, in this instance, that political correctness prevails. Everyone has emotions, and they should be permitted to show them. The chains of ‘femininity = inferiority = showing emotions’ and ‘masculinity = superiority = suppressing/hiding emotions’ must be broken, and the tool to break these chains is language because if a conscious, habitual effort is made to change the way one expresses oneself everyday, then thought patterns can be changed, too. I think it is only once that is done that everyone of every gender and none in an English-speaking society can truly be equal.