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(20 Posts)
Fembot Thu 16-May-13 12:20:19

Can anyone please help me explain to my colleague why it's offensive to use the term "bird" to describe women. I haven't really challenged him yet but I want to be armed if/when I do. I did roll my eyes and he said "but it's ok to say bloke?"

I believe it's derogatory and refers specifically to young women and is not suitable language for the workplace. Why is there a word that differentiates a woman's age anyway?

bulletwithbutterflywings Thu 16-May-13 12:27:37

Bird definitely doesn't just refer to young women. Chick does though.
It is derogatory though I think.

zippey Thu 16-May-13 12:48:13

Are these derogatory as well:

Or are they only offensive if used by a man. Are they offensive if said by a woman? Thanks.

slug Thu 16-May-13 12:50:02

A bird is a feathered creature with very little brain capacity. (that's not to say that all birds are dim, ravens are very bright). The term 'bird' when applied to women infers decorative and dim. It also removes the humanity from the woman.

'bloke' on the other hand, is merely another name for a human male. It's not diminutive, derogatory and retains the humanity of the person it's referring to.

What the hell is wrong with referring to women as women? Is he so afraid of adult females that he has to reduce them to animals?

Fembot Thu 16-May-13 12:58:08

If my boss called me "doll" or "chicken", male or female, I'd be a bit WTF? wouldn't you? But "birds" is different. It's said solely by men about women. Not to them as in "hello bird" more like "there was this bird on the bus...etc"

Lottapianos Thu 16-May-13 13:05:06

I use 'bird' to refer to good friends sometimes as in 'you're a clever bird' or 'you're a foxy bird'. I also occasionally call close female friends 'doll'. Would never use it to/about someone I didn't know extremely well and who I knew would not be offended by it.

I agree totally with your point OP. Bloke is just another word for man, like guy or fella. Bird actually means something else - a small, fragile little animal who chirps and sings. It's not an equivalent comparison at all.

AutumnMadness Thu 16-May-13 13:05:19

I think it depends on who uses the word. My husband can call me his "little cabbage" or whatever, but if my boss did that, that would be more than strange. Terms of endearment directed at women by either strangers or in professional situations smack of "calm down, dear." They serve to belittle women and put them in child-like positions. And I am not counting the guy who sells cakes on our farmers' market and calls everyone "luv."

Branleuse Thu 16-May-13 13:16:46

totally depends on context

JemimaPuddle Thu 16-May-13 13:25:58

Round here it's something that women call other women. Men use it too but not so much.
I quite often say something like "alright bird!" To a friend.

Wishiwasanheiress Thu 16-May-13 13:29:16

Context & location can make a massive difference. For example, in Liverpool tart can be a term of endearment. In London you wouldn't use tart but bird can be. It also frankly depends on the bloke saying it. Some are funny, charming or just non offensive. Others make you want to pick their eyes out with a stick.

Is it him you can't stand or his choice of word?

Fembot Thu 16-May-13 13:35:02

No I actually quite like him, but he's the type of person that is happy with everyday laddish sexism, thinks it's a bit of a laugh and talks about his wife in a very patronising way. OK that all sounds pretty awful but I work in a male dominated environment and that sort of thing is very commonplace. I have to see past it mostly or I wouldn't get on with anyone.

Fembot Thu 16-May-13 13:37:27

Having said that, I am starting to challenge sexism at work, but it's a very tricky business.

Lottapianos Thu 16-May-13 14:14:30

Good for you Fembot. It certainly is a tricky one but we do need to try to challenge it. One thing that drives me mad at work (where 99.9% of staff are women) is when people talk about organising staff to 'man' the front desk or 'man' the phones. It's just a little thing but it gets right up my nose. I've started stage-whispering 'cover the front desk' with a grin on my face whenever anyone says it, and it usually gets received quite well. No-one has called me a miserable old boot so far not to my face anyway.

littlethings1 Fri 17-May-13 04:42:44

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MrRected Fri 17-May-13 05:02:16

I am usually quite moderate when it comes to Feminist issues (near enough disinterested actually).

Calling a woman "a bird" turns me into the most raging of raging feminists. It's my most hated phrase. You can tell your colleague that a good reason not to use is, that I, MrRected will hunt him down and beat the phrase out of him if he ever uses it again smile. If that helps.

littlethings1 Fri 17-May-13 05:04:54

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MrRected Fri 17-May-13 05:06:13

If you are looking at the feathery type that chirps Littlethings then knock yourself out.

littlethings1 Fri 17-May-13 05:07:09

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MrRected Fri 17-May-13 05:11:26

Well that's your perogative.

Makes note not to tell littlethings that he/she is being a total twat.

Just saying.

ladyjadie Fri 17-May-13 05:18:09

Littlethings is clearly a sad man with not much life, if he is trolling a mum's parenting forum from 2:30 until now, going by some of his other posts on the fem. threads tonight.

I'd also guess his age at around 10-14 years old too, but that's a moot point.

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