Trigger warning/content note for discussion of misogynist language, sexual assault, heteronormativity and swearwords.
Following on from my post about casual sexism in our language, I want to talk more about sexist and outright misogynist expressions in english.
The idea of someone who “wears the pants” in a relationship.
This is heteronormative as fuck. And gender essentialist as fuck.
Re gender essentialism, first. It’s underscored by the idea that the person who wears the pants is a man (even though women wear pants. Indeed, I’m wearing pants right now). And that this pants-wearing man is the one who wields the power and authority in a relationship. It’s premised on the idea that it’s not fathomable that two people in a relationship, irrespective of their gender, could simply be equal. And that there may actually not be either particular person calling the shots. To think that someone has to be “the one in charge” is just really…weird and paternalistic.
Moving on to the heternormativity of this. Just…wow. If the saying is based on the idea that one person in a relationship must either be or resemble a man, then what of a relationship where there are no men, more than one party is a man, neither party is a cis-gendered man?
It also assumes that everyone is in a monogamous relationship between two people. What I mean is that the saying is based on the conception that one person is ‘in control’ and the other is obeying.
The thing about this saying is that it’s usually aimed at relationships which don’t, or appear not to conform to narrow conceptions of how gender roles should be. Lesbian relationships are frequently targeted by absolutely hilar observers with these sorts of sayings. But even heterosexual relationships, where the female party might be noticeably forward or self-assured. Observers will wryly note, “well she really wears the pants in that relationship”.
“that sucks dick”/”go suck a dick”.
This saying seems to be underpinned by the conception that fellatio is fundamentally degrading/debasing. Like “sucking a dick” is a really crappy thing to do and should only be reserved for crappy people. Which confuses me because receiving fellatio is like proof that someone’s A Real Man, or just generally awesome. So…it’s a shit thing to do, but if you get it you’re awesome?
Cum dumpster (and the like).
Ok, I’m sorry that I have even heard this gross phrase. So for someone to be a “cum dumpster”, they have to be the following things: (a) appear to be a woman (trans or cis) and (b) appear to enjoy sex. Therefore they must be denigrated and punished. (edited to add: I neglected to note that this saying is also really heteronormative when referring to a woman. And that this saying could refer to a guy as well)
So a pussy is a slang term for female genitals, right? Yeah it’s also a way of saying that you, unsurprisingly, lack “balls”. Therefore you’re a pussy if you aren’t brave/courageous. I’d venture to say that in the wisdom of this saying, these are “typically” masculine traits. So female genitalia are an insult to anyone who doesn’t exhibit “typically” male traits. It presupposes that anyone with a vagina must lack these characteristics, because not being brave/courageous is feminine and therefore not good. It’s also usually levelled at men.
I’m going to keep writing about this until rape stops being funny to people. But first, let’s go back to a definition of rape, shall we? So (my non-dictionary) definition of rape is non consensual sexual activity with someone. But it’s more than that. It’s an expression of power over someone, enacted by sexual means.
Rape isn’t just having sex with someone when they weren’t really into it. It goes far deeper than that. So, again, that really difficult exam? That long day at work? That nauseating hangover? That person hacking into your facebook and changing your status? Not rape. Next time you think about using ‘rape’ to describe any of those things, (or basically anything that isn’t non-consensual sexual activity with someone) think about all those sexual assault survivors whose experiences you’re dismissing.