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I don’t know what it is about the word “female”, but it sets my teeth on edge. Perhaps it’s because it’s typically delivered alongside some sort of contemptuous statement: “I can’t stand females who don’t know how to cook” or “It’s too many females out here trying to get chose when they not even all of that.” It sounds animal-like and hateful. And you never hear women or men say “males”. What’s the deal?

Marcus, a 28 year old account exec, agrees: “That’s not a word I’d use to describe a woman. It sounds low-class, like something the brothers who hang on the corner all day would say. I just was raised to respect ladies a bit more than that.” He says that he never used the word, even when he was younger, but “I know a few guys who do. The same guys that don’t usually have that many dates,” he laughs.

Tanya, who is also 28 and works in banking, feels a bit differently. “I don’t see a big problem with it. I guess I say the word myself from time to time. It’s better than ‘Itchbay’ or ‘hoe’!” Steven, a 24 year old painter, echoes her sentiments. “I feel like women are just too damn sensitive these days. It’s not like being called out your name. You’re not a male, you’re a female. Some of you just take the feminist thing way too far and seem to be looking for something to be offended about.”

“Totally disrespectful and I don’t get it!” exclaims Marissa, a 26 year old PR rep. “Why is it too hard to just say ‘women’ or even ‘ladies’? I feel like ‘females’ is a descriptor for animals, not people. It’s one thing for a scientific study, but its not cool for the women you meet at a party or work with. As far as the ‘feminism going too far’ remark, I just wish it wasn’t such a big deal to take sisters’ feelings into consideration at least once in a while.”

One of my favorite passages from the Very Smart Brothas’ book Your Degrees Won’t Keep You Warm At Night goes as follows:

While the word female is appropriate under certain contexts, beware of the cat who uses it as the universal descriptor of all women. Honestly, I have absolutely no idea why this is such a strong indicator of ain’t Shyteness. But ever guy I’ve known who regularly incorporates female in their daily lexicon in lieu of other appropriate substitutes (woman, earth, chick, concubine, etc) has been an ain’t-Shyte dude, so go figure.

Amen.

How do you ladies and gents feel? Is “female” disrespectful to you? Or is it no big deal? Sound off!

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