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Is it offensive when men call women 'females'?

Updated on April 11, 2017

Using the term 'females' to refer to women - is it demeaning?

I often hear men referring to women as "females" in regular everyday social conversations, and frankly it bugs me to no end. I find it offensive. It's a simple term, and accurate at that, however the way it is used feels like it places women as inferior.

What do you think of the use of "females" in common conversation?

(Obviously, the use of the term "females" in a discussion of a scientific nature or in a police report is appropriate and not offensive. This is not the use of the term I find fault in.)

What do you think of the term "females"?

Certainly not all men use the term "females" to describe women, and thought I hadn't heard it myself, I can see online women referring to other women as "females". I wonder, is it a distinct subset of society that uses this term - both men and women?

What is your opinion on the use of the term 'females' when used to refer to a group of women?

See results

Do YOU find the term 'females' to be degrading to women?

What is your opinion on the term "females"? Are you okay with it? Does it make you angry, sad? Do you think differently of a person who uses the term "females" to describe women?

Tell us your opinion so we can all learn from each other. (You don't need to be a member to comment.)

Is it offensive when men call women 'females' in a social context?

I believe the term 'females' is offensive.

I believe the term 'females' is offensive.

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    • Pinki Mishra 5 weeks ago

      I am a young girl ,but I have no problem with it. It is like that when we call men male and so also called women female. What wrong with it. It is normal. I am disagree it with that woman feel dis comfortable with called female.But it is also my personal opinion and different person have different opinion.

    • Ian Stuart Robertson 4 months ago from London England

      A woman is perfectly entitled to be shown respect and if what they want is plainly clear then that is how women should be treated. Remember the Sisterhood of today is formidable!

    • Ian Stuart Robertson 4 months ago from London England

      I'd personally never refer to a mature woman as 'girl' with the possible exception of an all female gathering called a 'girl's night out'. The term Ma'am is a contraction Madam which is a title when showing respect to a Lady. Madame is also acceptable as well.

    • 'Ello :) 4 months ago

      Sorry I am commenting even though I do not find it offensive. I am simply stating my opinion and by the way I am a simple person who does not English so please forgive any grammar mistakes made here... As a woman myself I never found being called a female offensive I find it to sound sophisticated. Same with being called a woman. I also understand some people wouldn't know how to refer to a teen. Seeing as she is no longer a girl but not quite a woman... I mean I don't know. Overall I don't... Exactly think this is that big of an issue... I mean I don't feel any need to think about this in such a problematic way but... You do you my peeps :P I mean at least you aren't being called something like... Ma'am or girl! By the way I am curious of everyone's opinion on calling a woman a girl or ma'am... Sorry this was so long and maybe I ended up sounding sarcastic and over the top. Maybe tooo formal but I try to sound intelligent when in these sort of discussions. Keyword there is try. (As you can see the mask of fancy talk has faded) Anyways hope we can find some similar grounds...somewhere and not think about it too much ;3

    • Ian Stuart Robertson 12 months ago from London England

      Women have the right to say whatever goes in our society. If a term is deemed to be sexist then the issue must be addressed.

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      I always want to say "A female what?"

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      No

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      Of course it is wrong. The terms female and male is meant to be used to identify a gender. Men are called men and not males because we are talking about humans specifically. The only reason women are called females is to make them seem less like humans and more like a group that doesn't deserve respect.

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      Males are a waste of skin......

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      Yes.....but men are dumb shits anyway......what can you expect??????

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      I only think it's offensive when someone uses it as a noun... I have no problem with using it as an adjective, but has anyone, anywhere, ever, referred to a group of men as "males"? :/ It sounds just as awkward and clinical.

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      This is specific of american misogynists - and this is coming from a guy who hates feminists.

      It's this kind of crap that gives feminists ammo against ALL men to use. A sad state of affairs.

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      an species can be a female but only humans can be a woman. use of the terms female/male include an element of dehumanizing the person.

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      Recently, I've started hearing people call women females, and it bugs me to no end. I've asked friends why people do this and they just looks at me and say it's the correct way to say it. It doesn't make sense to me why people can't just call men men, women women, and dogs dogs.

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      Female is an adjective, and best used for technical or scientific writing. What bothers me most is that this is military language which has now spilled over to common usage. I noticed 28 years ago the US military referring to men and females. That is wrong with discriminatory overtones. Use men and women as nouns, male and females as adjectives, unless technical like describing suspects or specimens.

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      It definitely depends on context. If you are using female to refer to gender (e.g. "I have a female doctor"), I don't think it's derogatory. When you use female as a synonym for woman/women (e.g. I saw the female having lunch with John) it's offensive.

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      Now to me this is a very complex question, it depends greatly on the context of the conversation, who the person is in reference to me, and the tone in which they say it. I find it more creepy when some say it and find it perfectly fine when others do. I was asked to pick a side so unless its in a conversation similar to when making your first appointment with say... An OBGYN...they ask would you like a female doc or male? Or if someone asks of a person with a unisex name they have not met; for example is Sam male or female.. Then yes from past experience FEMALE has almost always been referenced in an offensive manor.

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      Why is it this type of thing usually involves a reference to women? I don't hear women talking about groups of "males". If they want to call me a female instructor etc. and use the term as an adjective, that is acceptable. If they are referring to me a "female" (noun), I'm fairly certain that's an attempt to downgrade my importance. What's wrong with referring to women as "women", guys? How would you feel if all women started calling men "boys"? No you don't get to choose the term "male" - it's our choice just like men made their choice about all the different terms for women.

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      If a person thinks they are being courteous or accurate by calling me a female in comparison to a "bitch or hoe" then they are mistaken. Unless it is a survey, police report, health form etc, then please refer to me with other respectful terms. I personally don't mind being called a "girl" or "young lady" especially when referred to by elders, but of course I do accept being called a women. Identifying me only, because I have ovaries and a vagina takes away the fact that I am a person. It seems like society wants to get around actually recognizing women as people. For example "bitches and hoes" was once the go to word and still often is, but some people were outraged over the word. Now "female" is another way to demean women, but is hidden by its scientific accuracy which is "supposed" to make it socially acceptable in all settings.

    • kab 4 years ago from Upstate, NY

      @Mike - It is, but not by much.

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      It is degrading when they refer to a man as a man and then a woman as a female in the same conversation.

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      Yes. Save "female" for livestock breeding, ape studies, and police reports. And just a word to men in the workforce: harassment is judged from the victim's perspective, not yours. If you want to be safe, use woman or women...whether you agree or not.

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      hey sexy female,s

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      I'm not sure if "degrades" is the right word, but I do find it off-putting at best and creepy at worst. I think a lot of guys (and girls) who use "females" are trying to be polite, but it rubs me the wrong way; maybe it's the scientific overtones or the fact that many men's rights activists and pick-up artists use it. Some other women have told me they feel the same way, and others have told me they don't really care. Anyway, I'd recommend just not using it in a social context. As for "males," I don't find it as creepy, but it does sound weird. I'd just go with "men" and "women"

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      In social context, people are using the term females when describing someone in a bad way or saying their crazy. Even though I didn't agree with it, I honestly felt more okay with it when guys were the only ones saying it because they have a completely different view than women. But when women are using it to describe other women, they're doing it to be better or to degrade one another b

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      The word, "female" is both a noun and an adjective. It sounds odd to refer to women as "females," in any situation but a scientific discussion; thus, in normal conversation I believe it probably is not meant in a flattering way.

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      "Female" is an adjective. Female supervisors, for example. "Woman" or "women" are both nouns. If you refer to a group of women, you are correct. Calling women "females" is the equivalent of saying we aren't humans. Female refers to any species. And I'm ticked off by the reference.

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      It definitely smacks of a desire to dehumanize women. The term 'female' connotes a different species and perpetuates the sexist notion that women are non-human, foreign, 'other', and incapable of being understood. It really comes out when men talk about women in a derogatory way. When males (hah, suck on that) complain about women they insist on using the word "female" to no end. Very irritating.

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      Yes, because men who say "females" rather than "women" also follow that with some kind of overgeneralization (often negative) about women. Also, I think we women tend to associate the term "females" with the type of man who has a patronizing personality or a misogynist view of women.

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      If is offensive because it allows people to not give u.s credit for being Women its the equivalent to calling a man a boy....

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      It is quite offensive, in my opinion, to call women and girls "females" while still calling boys and men "guys". It's dehumanizing and horribly objectifying. Calling a girl a "female" identifies her as a collection of distinctive womanly body parts; calling a girl a "woman" acknowledges her human emotions, ideas, opinions, and most importantly, that she deserves respect.

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      I find it to be offensive not being sensitive to the issue at all but its the same as when a man is offended by being called a boy. A female is only a reference to xx chromosomes in any species even a plant if you look it up :/ its dehumanizing. Sorry that Im intelligent enough to know the true meaning of words before I allow them to be used towards me, Whats really sad is that the men that use it just dont get it. Have more respect for yourselves ladies.

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      I think it is a rather degrading term because a "female" may be a dog, cat, or a horse. When you refer to a woman as a "woman" you understand is a human being. My dog is a woman, doesn't make sense, now if you say my dog is a "female" it makes a lot more sense.

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      I really dislike this term. I thought it was limited solely to the african-american community where I encounter it a lot. To know that it's not just "a black thing" is oddly comforting. I find the term to be dehumanizing as well. It could be referring to anything. I don't understand why this usage has become popular.

    • anonymous 5 years ago

      I found it hard to vote on the poll because it's so black-and-white. It's not that the term itself is offensive, it's that it's usually used in a context that dictates some kind of difference and comparison, almost ALWAYS in a negative manner. Also, even though it is an accurate term in certain situations (like the police report example), it is a term that describes physical "sex", as opposed to one's "gender", which does not always match physical parts in some cases. Not all biological "females" identify as women, so if someone wants to make a statement regarding those who live and identify as women, why not just use the term "women"? I find that the word "female(s)" itself is neutral, but generalizing statements using this term are very often offensive and in poor taste.

    • Frischy 5 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      It reduces a human being to her biology. That is demeaning.

    • anonymous 5 years ago

      Dehumanising. Not all "females" are girls or women, after all. Often said by people who would in the same sentence refer to men as, well, men. Even more offensive than constantly referring to women as girls. Implies an "otherness". Based on my experience, people who use the term outside scientific publications show themselves to be sexist in other ways also.

    • anonymous 5 years ago

      I wouldn't say it's as offensive as a full-on slur but it's subtly dehumanising, especially since men using it don't tend to refer to men as 'males' at the same time. It has connotations of a biologist referring to unaware biological organisms in a detached manner, rather than fellow humans. Even if that isn't the explicit reason for using it, the implications are there.

    • Pastor Kay 5 years ago

      I don't care for it.

    • DebMartin 5 years ago

      Yes, I'm tired of it. Mindsets and old patterns have not caught up with the fact that women are now equal. I've tried to nicely educate men when I hear this and honestly, at least 60% or more of them look at me confused. They just don't get it. If anyone has a good, clean, clear, short comeback I can use when I hear "female" used as an unnecessary descriptor, I'd love to have it.

    • religions7 6 years ago

      I don't know why, but it does sound offensive to me when women are called female. I guess I feel it objectifies us - that is: it feels like we're only to be talked about, not part of the conversation. We don't call men males in normal conversation either, do we?

    • Ellen Brundige 6 years ago from California

      It depends very much on context and tone. As you say, in surveys and data-gathering where "M" or "F" are listed right there together, there's no privileging of one over the other. However, I do twitch when I hear "female soldier" or "female politician" or "female athlete" or the like. When people are using "female" followed by a word describing a profession, but do not use "male" followed by that same word, then it is discriminatory, since it implies that the professional must be a male by default UNLESS there is a qualifier "female" attached to it.

      When language is used which treats a woman an exception to the rule, it's discriminatory.

    • anonymous 6 years ago

      Calling women "females" defines them solely by their gender, and acknowledges none of their other attributes of humanhood, personhood or adulthood. We have the words "woman" and "girl" in order to acknowledge the states of being a female human in various stages of life. The use of the word "females" when referring to women says, in effect, that your species doesn't matter, that your personhood doesn't matter - all that matters is that you have a vulva and a vagina and a womb.

    • kab 6 years ago from Upstate, NY

      @sidther - Men who use "females" to describe women do not use "males" to describe men. It is because this is the scientific term that it bothers me. It moves women to a level equal to that of dogs and pigs.

    I believe the term 'females' is okay.

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      • Ian Stuart Robertson 12 months ago from London England

        Don't think it bad manners in context of 'Female intuition', 'Female superiority' or the 'Female of the species' is more deadly than the male.

      • Ian Stuart Robertson 15 months ago from London England

        Female what ? Female official / delegate. Okay ! What i find degrading to women is when the London (England) media refer to policewomen as police girls or military personnel as army girls or airline crews as air girls.

      • Smith 23 months ago

        It is so one sided, because its based on the premise that men are not ever referred to as 'males' which is not the case at all. Maybe its in a smaller frequency but it is and it isn't seen as a problem there, even when used in a negative way.

      • liz 2 years ago

        I do find it offensive. Women are to be called women not females, just as men are called men not males. I have never heard anyone refer to a man as a male.

      • anonymous 3 years ago

        I think it's just because men are hearing women being called "females" by police, paramedics and so on. Therefore, they just picked up the habit. Some men also picked it up from having to write it down on a daily basis. Also, some women call men males as opposed to men. Some women even call themselves females

      • anonymous 3 years ago

        Really gir..ladi...other...women? I have no idea what is degrading anymore and I'm a female myself! I don't find it degrading AT ALL. If someone said "Yeah I saw so and so at the mall with a female yesterday." I would giggle. Because that is not normally the common word to use. Just scientific. Why are we so sensitive sometimes?

      • anonymous 3 years ago

        I wouldn't have thought it degrading, however things are always changing and if it was generally deemed offensive I wouldn't use it

      • anonymous 3 years ago

        No. What I find offensive is "girl" or "doll". I am an adult, and not a toy or food item. I prefer the term "woman".

      • anonymous 3 years ago

        I honestly don't understand what's so offensive about it. Sure, some people use it in a context meant to degrade others, but any word can be used that way. Do we consider 'red-head' to be offensive? It is used to describe an individual's hair color, but there are many people who use it in an offensive fashion. Perhaps some of these men were in the military and haven't broken out of that habit of referring to others as either males or females?

      • anonymous 3 years ago

        How the hell does it degrade women. You're either a male or a female. My gawd! wtf!!! The term "chick" I can somewhat understand but I'm a "female" "chick" and I use the term chick. Get over it. If you don't have a penis you're a female. End of story.

      • anonymous 3 years ago

        I think it is absolutely ridiculous that anyone could take offence at a word as benign as female. Female is the most neutral word there is to objectively describe girls/women in general. Some people just seem so sensitive about everything and I just lose faith in humanity because of things like this. Why do some people feel they have the right do degrade everyone else's experience of life by "shaming them" and making them feel bad about themselves for nothing more than using an objective word that is 100% correct. Seriously I will enjoy the apocalypse slightly more knowing that some people who feel offended by the word female will not survive.

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        Females are not males: Get over it! :|

      • Nan 4 years ago from London, UK

        Why should I find it offensive, I *am* a female after all. It's a scientific designation. What I find offensive is being called a girl - something I have not been since I entered adulthood over 2 decades ago.

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        Better than bitches

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        If you called me a Male i would have no problem with it.

      • Paladins 4 years ago

        While I agree that the term "females" could deliberately be used to be degrading to women, I have never heard it used that way and I am 61 years old at the moment. Now I HAVE heard guys say "Women!" and mean it in a derogatory manner.

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        I also find it offensive when men and boys are called 'Males' but most feminists don't care about that.

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        @sprongify

        ""females" when referring to women says, in effect, that your species doesn't matter, that your personhood doesn't matter - all that matters is that you have a vulva and a vagina and a womb"

        same argument goes to words woman and girl. These doesn't take "personhood" into consideration either. It takes only age to consideration. Also "spieces doen't matter", what does that enen mean? There is no "spieces" we all are human.

        And if "female" is so wrong, why every woman uses "males"?

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        Look up definition of female and woman. female is broad term that includes women and underage girls. So when speaking about women of all ages and including underage girls term is only one you can use. If this term offends you - it's your personal problem.

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        to suggest that women are above dogs is disgustingly speciesist. women are degrading/demeaning to women. also, why aren't we all using "womyn"? i use words in my daily life such as "ladies" "gURLs" "women" and "females" to refer to groups of "women" (depending on the social context), in order to bring diversity to my speech. i guess im sexist but who the fudge isn't. srry bout it

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        no one complains about calling boys and men "males". That's what they are, male. Female is not age specific. We need to stop handling females with kit gloves. Its not offensive to call a male a male and if he's unreasonable he can be called a dick. Females are females and if she's unreasonable she can be called a cunt.

      • anonymous 5 years ago

        Not all females deserve the title of woman, which confers respect and maturity of the individual. At the same time it's offensive to call some women girls because they are truly more than that. Hence, we use Female to describe groups of women.

      • anonymous 5 years ago

        of course the word 'female' in a certain context be offensive, but so can just about anything. in day to day conversation it's usually assumed that when someone refers to another person as 'female' is just that they are a human born with two x chromosomes. i'm personally female and have absolutely no issue with being called a female, it's simply fact.

      • lynnasafriend 5 years ago

        Am I missing something here? I never thought being called either was offensive, maybe I missed something along the way...

      • Cecil Kenmill 5 years ago from Osaka, Japan

        I had no idea it was offensive. I was in the Army and people used it all the time. I was a medic but I still heard it all the time outside the hospital. I'll be more careful next time.

      • anonymous 5 years ago

        It's okay. Some times you want to refer to the opposite sex as a whole. I don't find it particularly pleasurable to listen to all the female gossip during lunch breaks at work, so I try to avoid eating around females, whether they are little girls or older women... they all irk me when I am trying to relax and they are chattering about silliness. I'd rather eat with the males.

      • anonymous 5 years ago

        I am going to play devils advocate here. Where do we draw the line with words that are offensive. A racial slur I understand but now the word female? Where do we draw the line? Aren't words hurtful only when we give them power? There are plenty of women I know who use the word male or man in a derogatory manner. People need to empower themselves not to give words / people power to hurt them.

      • anonymous 5 years ago

        I am female, in body. Biologically. I have two X chromosomes. But. I am bigendered. Meaning I identify as both a man and a woman. Female is what's between your legs. If you have a vagina, guess what, you're female. If you have a penis, you're male. But. If you identify yourself as a woman, you're a woman, and if you have a vagina, and identify yourself as a woman, you are a female woman.

      • anonymous 5 years ago

        The term "female" is a biological term and is more accurate that is if anything, more accurate than the term "women". It's a word used to describe humans that have a XX sex chromosome configuration.

        If you are really this desperate to play the 'oppressed victim' then at least come up with a decent reason.

      • anonymous 5 years ago

        Its offensive to call females woman...because man is still in the word.

        and it really depends on how you use the term. "Go get me a beer woman." see what im saying? plus the term "women" gets flooded with sterotypes of the stay at home wife who goes along with the false gender role they are suppose to endure. i say "look at all the lovely females." i think it is proper and a compliment be called by the scientific sex. the term girl and women i believe as a male...its sexist and demeaning.

      • bechand 6 years ago

        no problem with it

      • Othercatt 6 years ago

        I have a bigger problem with being called a "girl". When I was in construction, all the guys would complain that I was a "girl". It irked me every time one of them assumed I couldn't do something because I didn't have the right genitalia. Of course, I got just as much satisfaction proving them wrong :)

      • anonymous 6 years ago

        Because it is so accurate (it is the scientific term) I have no problem with it. A few years ago there was an uproar about the term "women" because it has 'men' in it... no matter which wording is used someone is bound to be offended so I think that the tendency now is to use the scientific term to avoid as much offense as possible.

      • lilymom24 6 years ago

        I've never given it any thought before but I suppose it would all depend on the tone of voice in which the word is used. But the same goes for just about any word.

      • Tagsforkids 6 years ago

        Never gave it much thought before, but not sure i find it "offensive". It may not be the best term to use, and I certainly use others, but I can think of far worse that some find perfectly fine to use.

      Not sure you've heard this term as sexist?

      Check out the search results for "females" on twitter

      Language and Gender

      Language can have such an important influence on how genders define themselves. The connotation that comes along with words can influence how one gender thinks of the other, and how a gender thinks of itself.

      Language and Sexism
      Language and Sexism

      This book dives into how language influences gender issues in an interesting and approachable way. Verbal sexism and its effects are discussed.

       

      Is this a regional term?

      I have heard some people say that this term is a regional thing, used more in the US than elsewhere, and used more in the south. I am from the northeast, so I'm not sure that's accurate. Where do you live, and have you heard the term "females" used near you?

      Have you heard the term 'females' used to describe women (in a way that was not clinical)?

      See results

      Consider how you use the word 'females'

      Think about your own use of the word 'females' (which is, of itself not an offensive word). Are you using 'females' in the same ways as you are using 'males', or in the same way you are using 'guys'. If you are doing the latter, then ask yourself why you have chosen this word and not women or ladies. Is it a choice of your own making, or one picked up by your peers? If you don't like what you find, correct it.

      Guestbook

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          Ian Stuart Robertson 13 months ago from London England

          The Female of the species is more deadly than the male!

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          Kira 2 years ago

          I've heard people comparing "females" to men in the same sentence. It's heavily implied they mean "bitches" or something like that, but they know it'll get a rise out of people. So I personally don't like hearing it.

        • profile image

          anonymous 4 years ago

          Using the word "female" to refer to a woman is wrong. When used in that context, it is an adjecive... used in the scientific world to distinguish between the male and female species of an ANIMAL. When referring to human beings... the word, lady, woman, or girl is the correct format to use. It is insensitive and demeaning to me. I've heard it mostly used by African American men. Regardless of who uses this word in that way, it's gramatically incorrect.

        • SusanDeppner profile image

          Susan Deppner 4 years ago from Arkansas USA

          I guess I never thought of it and haven't really noticed. I'll have my radar out now. I'm wondering if it's a cultural thing - not sure. Interesting topic for debate, obviously - love the participation!

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          poppy mercer 4 years ago from London

          If it is true that by changing language you can change attitude and behaviour, I can think of some hefty areas where that might be really handy, like torture, animal cruelty, wars, pollution etc etc. Being offended by some twit who may or may not have used his words kindly towards me is not the first area I would choose to concentrate on.

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          Nan 4 years ago from London, UK

          As a female, there are lots of things in this world that I could take offence at. Being called a female is not one of them.

        • kerbev profile image
          Author

          kab 4 years ago from Upstate, NY

          @anonymous: Female and Male are equivalent to each other. Man and woman are equivalent to each other. The problem comes when Man and Female are compared.

        • profile image

          anonymous 4 years ago

          @anonymous: women?

        • profile image

          anonymous 4 years ago

          Come on, this is BS. Only insecure feminists operating under the assumption that everything men do to women is demeaning would perpetuate this. Female and male are equivalent to man-woman and boy-girl. But notice also that I, like many people, put the male terms first. Please relax feminists--that is purely habit and absolutely meaningless.

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          When I hear a man refer to a woman as a "female", it's like fingenails on a blackboard. It makes me think he has so many issues with women that he can't even bring himself to say the word.

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          lynnasafriend 5 years ago

          Wow, I didn't know there was a problem, I must have missed something.... Good thing I don't watch TV.

        • profile image

          anonymous 5 years ago

          What word am I supposed to use then to refer to the 51% of the population I actively try to avoid?

        • profile image

          anonymous 5 years ago

          While I do not female is a derogatory term I do like this lens and the discussion it opens up. As a society we need to openly discuss things like this.

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          DebMartin 5 years ago

          Right! Think about how you talk about someone, anyone, before the words leave your mouth. I also hear the word "girl" used for a young woman. When I ask the person who has used the word "girl" why, they often tell me that she is so young that to them she is a "girl." I usually hear it about young women who work in the service industry (waiting tables, bank teller, sales associate, etc.) I ask the person what they would call the same service industry worker she were a he. Would they call him a boy? Usually I hear that they would call him what he does like waiter, teller or salesman. Sometimes I get "young man." Never do I get "boy." Thanks for letting me take this a little off topic and add my opinion about "girl" as well as "female."

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          Indigo Janson 5 years ago from UK

          Although I've rarely heard women being called 'females', it does sound like a deliberately disrespectful way to talk about women. Language hasn't really evolved well to match evolving attitudes about gender and sexism, and the limited choices we have to describe our gender are none of them perfect. I just don't like the "female of the species" implications (as in useful only for reproduction and rearing of young) of 'females' when used in a social context. Seems to be a term I connect with wildlife documentaries, but there are some other points of view here that I've found interesting.

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          LadyLovelace LM 5 years ago

          I would add that I find the use of females to mean women problematic in that women are a gender, and females a sex. One is social and the other biological, and by using the word 'female' when you mean 'woman', you exclude women who aren't biologically female.

          Also, I'd like to be thought of in the way I present myself socially rather than referred to by the function of my reproductive system, which isn't something I can (easily) control. It's just plain old polite to refer to people by their preferred title/gender.

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          anonymous 5 years ago

          @lilymom24: I agree with you. I am also an immigrant and did not know it was offensive until an American colleague corrected me in an angry tone

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          Ellen Brundige 6 years ago from California

          That Twitter Search is really illuminating. I think everyone should check it as a way to get an idea how the word is used, then do a twitter search for "women" and see if there's any difference.

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          Obscure_Treasures 6 years ago

          I am a female and I use the word at times. I don't find it offensive!

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          Jimmie Lanley 6 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

          As a female, I use the word to refer to the female gender. I can't imagine how it is possibly offensive.

        • lilymom24 profile image

          lilymom24 6 years ago

          Maybe I don't get out enough because I never knew anyone had a problem with the word.

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          RuthCoffee 6 years ago

          To me the word female is one of the least derogatory words to be used. Like any word however, it probably depends on tone of voice, intent, etc. But then to me words like obese aren't derogatory either, it's a medical classification. Doesn't mean it can't hurt feelings I suppose.

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          Tagsforkids 6 years ago

          Although not a term I would normally use anyway in casual conversation, I never thought of it being demeaning to women in any way. Seems like there are far more that would be higher on the list, and are used in the south as well as elsewhere.

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          MargoPArrowsmith 6 years ago

          I think it depends on the context, it can be good, bad or neutral

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          anonymous 6 years ago

          I have never heard that the word female is derogatory. Now the word bitch that is derogatory and is all over the place. It is time someone told the TV and Movie people to knock it off.

          Perhaps you should add that to your lens.