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Use of typically misogynistic words to describe women on MN

(122 Posts)
minewouldbeyoug Tue 30-Jun-15 19:46:41

I'm talking about threads where an OP has discovered infidelity and the OW is referred to by posters as having 'no morals', being a whore, a slut, a cock - sucker etc.

There was a long - running thread (over several threads as they all filled up) here a little while ago where the OW had been described by the DH she was having an affair with as a really derogatory term which then was adopted as her 'title' rather than OW.

I in no way wanted to derail those threads where the OP needed a great deal of support. Which is why I've left it a little while before talking about my discomfort.

The threads were vicious about the DH as well but he was a bastard, a twat etc because there just aren't words like whore or slut that are applied to men.

The OP didn't use such degrading terms to describe the OW but many, many posters did.

I'm guessing (and hoping!) that most of those posters wouldn't normally use such terms to describe women but somehow, OW are fair game?.

I feel this is an extension of the idea that men can kind of do what they want sexually but women are held to different standards and there is a plethora of abusive terms to describe women's sexual activity but not for men.

I just felt extremely uncomfortable that women were using such terms - terms that have historically been used as unfair and abusive judgements by men to comment on women's sexuality.

Destinysdaughter Tue 30-Jun-15 19:50:52

I agree with you OP and I've called this out on a thread before when people were gleefully using very misogynist terms to describe an OW. Seems like they are fair game on MN though, probably due to the amount of women who have been cheated on and relish the opportunity.

TrojanWhore Tue 30-Jun-15 19:52:36

An OW has done nothing admirable whatsoever.

And hell yes, women are allowed to get angry. Women are allowed to use epithets to describe people who have behaved abominably.

Women's anger shouldn't be silenced.

YonicScrewdriver Tue 30-Jun-15 19:56:05

Trojan, but the words themselves are sexist. If someone's DH had a black or Asian or Jewish OW then it wouldn't be ok to use racist or anti Semitic words to criticise the OW.

YonicScrewdriver Tue 30-Jun-15 19:57:24

If the anger was being expressed as "the ow is an evil skid mark with no morals" then OP wouldn't have posted. It's not the anger, it's the epithets chosen.

NashvilleQueen Tue 30-Jun-15 20:00:16

I agree with this. Sometimes the fury can be heard through the words in the post and I fully understand why that is. However I struggle with a lot of the language. Slut is allowed to stand on OW threads when people would be objecting to it on other subject threads.

JeanneDeMontbaston Tue 30-Jun-15 20:22:50

I notice this too. It's hard, because I do agree with trojan that women shouldn't have to be all calm and sweet and forgiving about things, and I think one of the really brilliant things about MN is that it does not push that common 'aw, just forgive him' line. Which an awful lot of people in RL do use. I really love that MN has posters ready to say, no, actually, divorce is not the worst thing in the world and you can leave a bad relationship.

But I do think, too, it's very common for people to target the OW not the cheating husband. And while the OW is doing something immoral, she isn't the one who made vows to the OP.

The one that really pisses me off is when people start talking as if the OW 'tempted' or 'caught' the husband - as if he can't decide for himself.

minewouldbeyoug Tue 30-Jun-15 20:37:52

Exactly - it's not the anger I object to at all but the terms used.

If a cheated husband posted that his DP was a slut we'd be objecting to that - quite rightly. It's the acceptance of women using such terms that makes me really uncomfortable.

There are literally no similar words used about men.

sausageeggbacon11 Tue 30-Jun-15 23:00:50

When commenting on the guys it is nearly always LTB, wait and gather intel from bank statements etc ensure that you have money even to emptying the account, get proof but we just leave them as Bs' .

I often think that we only know half a story and yet we can label a woman we have never met with all these terms. You do wonder if women are more misogynistic then men. The label produce by celeb magazines and fashion ones that tell us we are the wrong shape, the wrong weight, too old, too young. Some of the most hateful and misogynistic language comes from other women.

When I split with XH the worst attacks were from women I thought were friends but I was labelled by some I had known for years. It hurts, it is spiteful and no guy did more than ignore the hate all came from female ex friends.

InnocentWhenYouDream Tue 30-Jun-15 23:29:27

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

InnocentWhenYouDream Tue 30-Jun-15 23:36:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

YonicScrewdriver Wed 01-Jul-15 00:10:41

SEB, I wonder if it's partly due to many women being self critical - to turn that eye on other women is a shorter step...

messyisthenewtidy Wed 01-Jul-15 07:08:10

I agree OP. And it is one of those things that is hard to challenge because the person is in need of support.
I also agree with Yonic. It is so easy to criticise other women and their choices because there is so much to criticise. By that I mean we have been trained to notice so many things about ourselves that need improvement or justification.

In a more general sense, when women criticise each other I often feel it's a subtle way of distancing oneself from the negative images of women that abound: "I'm not like that", "I would never act in that way, dress like that, walk down the street at that time, etc etc".

YonicScrewdriver Wed 01-Jul-15 08:05:34

I think it is also becauSe, say, 75% of women in the public eye are there through appearance whereas that's true of, say, 10% of men.

Berlusconi has a bad dye job and Cameron has a shiny forehead; but whilst these are occasionally remarked on, they are famous for their status and actions so these get more attention.

scallopsrgreat Wed 01-Jul-15 09:19:07

In agreement with Yonic and messy. I also think that there is an element of women having learnt to support men, minimise their actions, give them the benefit of the doubt in "he can't help it" kind of way.

And of course patriarchy really pits woman against woman, especially when it comes to relationships. Men just have to sit back and let it happen, by not taking responsibility for their actions. You see it all the time. Women taking responsibility for men's actions (or an expectation thereof).

scallopsrgreat Wed 01-Jul-15 09:20:27

Oh and I don't think women are more misogynistic than men. Individuals maybe, but on a class level, no. When women are raping and killing other women at the same rate as men then maybe you have a point.

MrNoseybonk Wed 01-Jul-15 13:20:29

I think, in general, the worst insults aimed at women focus on their fidelity or promiscuity.
The worst insults for men focus on their 'manliness'.
I'm not sure why, but I think it's wider than MN.

NoTechnologicalBreakdown Wed 01-Jul-15 13:56:46

Yy to MrNoseybonk (love that name!).

I'm not aware of any insult for men which references promiscuity - traditionally male promiscuity has been encouraged, in a closet fashion,, whereas for women sexuality has been closely controlled. These are the insults that we have available to use in our language. We could do with some new ones I think!

JAPAB Wed 01-Jul-15 16:02:02

"Trojan, but the words themselves are sexist. If someone's DH had a black or Asian or Jewish OW then it wouldn't be ok to use racist or anti Semitic words to criticise the OW."

Is that quite the same thing? That would be insulting the people for being black or Jewish, rather than using terms intended to denounce their behaviour.

True there are some terms that have traditionally only been used to denounce specific behaviour when it is carried out by a woman, but not sure that makes their use intrinsically sexist. Though the person using them may well be, if they would not equally censure the same behaviour when carried out by a man.

InnocentWhenYouDream Wed 01-Jul-15 16:32:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

YonicScrewdriver Wed 01-Jul-15 16:47:49

Thanks, Innocent. That was my point!

Where women are famous for what they do (eg Angela merkel) - yes, there is some comment on looks or clothes but the majority of comment is on actions.

YonicScrewdriver Wed 01-Jul-15 16:53:05

Besides, JAPAB - a whore is a colloquial word for prostitute whilst a slut is a colloquial word for sexually promiscuous woman.

The OW is unlikely to be the first and quite likely not to be the second (if, for example, they are only sleeping with the H in question or possibly him and their own DP)

The words are used because words that refer to women having sex are insults.

BreakingDad77 Wed 01-Jul-15 16:57:28

Its the age old slut vs stud, and many men and women cant get beyond that.

Sex still seems culturally for women seems to have so many hangups, its only recently that having a vibrator seems ok though still many people I think its sordid. Guys masturbate from the get go, yet for women its still complex.

There was an article in New Scientist of a study, yes I know there is bias etc but was concluding that women were downplaying there sexuality.

JAPAB Wed 01-Jul-15 17:46:01

"a whore is a colloquial word for prostitute whilst a slut is a colloquial word for sexually promiscuous woman."

Not necessarily. In the context I very much doubt that the people using the terms are intending to suggest that the OW sells her body for money or is promiscuous as such. I suspect they'd probably use the same words even if they knew she was monogamous with the cheating husband.

In the context they probably simply mean that she is behaving badly, sexually, and wish to denigrate her for it.

laurierf Wed 01-Jul-15 17:50:59

I do honestly hear 'slut', 'slapper' and 'whore' being used about men more these days (not more than women, just a lot more than you used to) and not in a positive way (i.e. not to mean 'stud').

Overly flirty men are referred to as 'sex pests' (never applied to women), 'dirty bastards/bitches' fairly evenly applied to promiscuity… this is in mixed groups (i.e. males and females, straight and gay, present in the conversation). So yes, still different gendered-terms prevalent, but - in the circles in which I mix - I don't think it's as clear-cut as 'the age old slut vs stud'. I of course totally get the fact that this is not the case across the board.

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