a bird and a bottle

On Language & Gender
December 10, 2006, 12:04 am
Filed under: feminism/s & gender, frivolity

[Sorry for the sporadic posting this week. I will keep posting as much as possible through exams, and will be back to my daily postings by Christmas. Stay tuned!]

Tonight, while at a study group meeting, the two other women in the group and I got to talking about language and gender. The conversation started when I referred to a few friends and to several of my college friends as women (as opposed to girls). Instead of discussing criminal procedure, we began to talk about how accomplished, adult women are often referred to as “girls,” and about when it’s ok to use “girl” instead of “woman”.

It was at this point in the conversation that D. pointed out that words often associated with positive qualities – strength, bravery, even over-assertiveness – take on male gendered synonyms (dick, ballsy, etc.), while words that are associated with weakness and failure (like pussy) are distinctly feminine. So D. proposed a new synonym for brave or brash. From now on, when someone stands up to a condescending supervisor or goes bungee jumping, they can be tough and feminine at the same time. They can be clitty.

That’s right, folks. Clitty. I know it doesn’t quite roll off the tongue like “ballsy” does, but that’s exactly the point. Ballsy seems natural because it’s become so ingrained a part of our slang. There’s no reason why “clitty” can’t do the same. Sure, it will be awkward the first time you say it and people look at you askance. And you have to explain to this startled person that assertiveness does not have be gendered male only, and that this slang is not any more explicit than many other words that person probably says on a daily basis.

So give it a shot. Say clitty. Be clitty.

(And if you don’t want to say it, at least now you’ll be aware of what you’re really saying when you call someone ballsy. Isn’t feminism fun?)

(image source)


1 Comment so far
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I shall champion this new vocabulary word. Soon it shall be part of the “vernack”…

Comment by Clittie Marie

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