10 Things to say to everybody else, but never to a woman.

Gender stereotypes, combined with gender segregation and misogyny seems to have convinced many that some of us (mainly women) are mysterious beings – illogical, unpredictable, and thus difficult to understand.

Wordssetmefree shared this link: 10 Things never to say to a woman

Such articles seem to indicate that basic courtesy, respect, personal space and good manners are special favours – mainly when extended to women.

And that it is not manipulative to monitor, comment upon and control the personal choices of other people (specially women).

Take a look at some of the tips.

Tip number 1:

Tip number 1 seems to assume that men and women are obsessed with how much women weigh and that women’s happiness depends on men’s approval of women’s body-weight.

Who created this definition?

“Your girlfriend is, by definition, as light as a feather and nimble as a ballerina. To so much as whisper a hint of the notion that she might be, you know, otherwise, is to risk paying a price as heavy as you suspect her to be.”

So, according to this tip, women can’t be happy unless they have won men’s approval (and succeeded in pleasing them).

The men deserve sympathy, advice and support, because they bear the burden of assuring women of their success in making them (the men) happy. And this is the biggest challenge for men in relationship with women.

This tip also assumes being ‘light as a ballerina’ is the ideal for women to work for (while the rest of the world can be themselves, or healthy or fit or strong etc).

So men are advised not to ask, “Are you really going to eat all that?”

Please consider, why would we say this to anybody – man or woman?

Unless,

1. Maybe we wanted to eat some of it?

2. Because we are paying for it and can’t afford the quantity?

3. Because we are the person’s personal dietician, paid to monitor their portions?

4. Because we just say things that make no sense even to our own selves?

5. Because we are raised to believe that women are supposed to eat the last and the least?

6. Because we believe a woman’s body is everybody’s business. And she lets everybody down by eating in ways that might not help her fit into their expectations?

Would men find such questions offensive? Why, or why not?

Maybe men are more likely to be asked to eat well and to be stronger than all the other men in their social circle.

Tip number 3: 

“My ex used to … “

‘Anything you say with the words “my ex” in it will be held against you… Of course it’s natural to compare your girlfriends, but keep it to yourself.’

Would you say this is something that should not be said specifically to women?

Are non-women more amenable to being compared to exes?

This stereotype is even more ironical in a culture where jealous, entitled and insecure men are known to honor kill, sexually assault, burn alive, or attack with acid, blade, MMS clips.

Tip number 6:

“Yeah, she’s hot”

Chances are she lured you in with an innocent question, like, “Do you think she’s cute?” … You must lie quickly and reflexively. … In fact, you win extra points for casually finding fault in her the closer you look. Watch your girlfriend light up as you say, “Is it me, or is her nose a bit weird?”

Same as Point 3 above.

Also, Jealousies and one-upmanship are sometimes seen as machismo.

Tip number 7:

“What’s up with your hair?”

“She’s allowed to have a bad hair day, but you’re not allowed to notice. For girls, hair isn’t just hair.”

Sounds like: She is ‘allowed’ to sometimes fail to win your approval. For women hair isn’t just hair, it’s failure to please you!

Tip number 9:

“Is this your time of the month?”

This advice is blatantly sexist.

It amounts to: Women tend to ‘shriek and stamp and then burst into tears for no reason’.  And when this happens it is only because they are ‘deranged by hormones’. (While, when men ‘shriek and stamp’ – they have been provoked into natural manly anger.)

Tip number 10:

“I love you”

This is supposed to be the magic pill, the cure-all, the instant fix. But the thing about the L word is that it sends women into a heightened sense of awareness. As soon as they hear it, they can tell whether or not you mean it.

Again, is this a women-specific trait? How would the rest of the world react to this?

Related Posts:

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This encourages double standards.

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Why We Laugh With Kapil at Things That Are Not Funny at All

“For every woman who is tired of being a sex object, there is a man who must worry about his potency.”

A light hearted take on the way future is dear to the girls and present to the boys?

 

40 thoughts on “10 Things to say to everybody else, but never to a woman.

  1. The most absurd list I have ever read!! The list only shows all women as insecure, approval-seeking, highly critical, hyper-sensitive, self-obsessed beings, where all these traits climb to superlative degrees during “that time of the month”!!!! If all women were truly like that, I don’t think I could live with myself!

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    • Even more irritating when such articles are published alongwith a tag of feminism (Unfortunately I’ve seen that way too often). It derails and makes a mockery of the cause when everyone starts equating this with feminism.

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  2. Oh come on, lighten up IHM! Taking these tips to be misogynistic is like men taking those articles in Cosmo which tell you ‘how to turn your man on’ or ‘how to talk to your man about difficult issues’ as man-hating. We know they’re just fun, and some stereotypes even have a pinch of truth to them.

    In fact, let me reverse this. According to you, are there any differences across gender at all, that apply to the majority of a gender? Because it sounds like you believe gender just happens to be an appearance and biological function, with no pattern of emotional or cognitive style accompanying it. That doesn’t fit what empirical science shows. There are differences in the way men and women communicate, differences in aptitudes and working styles…

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    • “That doesn’t fit what empirical science shows. There are differences in the way men and women communicate, differences in aptitudes and working styles…”

      There probably exist some subtle differences in nature. But for the most part, these differences are created by social conditioning. When you watch little girls and boys in kindergarten, you notice very little difference. There are shy kids and assertive kids, direct and indirect communicators in both genders. Already by 3rd grade, kids are hearing things like, “Don’t cry like a girl.” or “Don’t sit like a boy.” Conditioning is so early and deep and ingrained and all-pervasive that it almost looks as if girls and boys are very differently wired.You will see a few exceptions where caregivers to particular children have gone out of their way to not send them these stereotyping messages.

      Why it’s important to warn against these socially induced differences? We face the brunt of them everyday in real life. At work, when a new female recruit in IT is presenting her report, she gets cut off and told, “We don’t want so much detail.” A few minutes later, a male colleague captures very similar details and he is listened to attentively. There is the unsaid assumption that she, as a female, “will tend to talk a lot”, whereas he, as a male, “will only capture important stuff.” Women at work also get interrupted a lot more than men at work. I will not even get going on the “time of the month” jokes at the water cooler, that create an unfriendly and dismissive work environment for women.

      I’m not saying the men are doing this on purpose or even consciously. It’s how they’ve been raised. Girls have been taught to “be cooperative” and boys have been raised to “be assertive”. These differences can really hinder the development of otherwise productive, other half of the workforce.

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      • Kindergarten is not adulthood…. The sexual differences have not cropped up at that point… But as the kids grow up and become adult, biological differences do come into picture and these do modify/alter/affect behavioir of different individuals.

        I have never been part of unfriendly and dismissive work environment for women and neither have I seen or. observed such behaviour at my work place… If it happens in front of me and i realize it, i am sure i will try to help

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        • If you haven’t faced an unfriendly and dismissive work environment, you are lucky – a few companies do actively educate their work force about this. It’s great that you would help, should the situation arise in front of you.

          For the vast majority of women, discrimination at the work place is a daily reality. It comes in all shades – from the most blatant to the most subtle. Here in the US where we have made some great strides (I encounter zero street sexual harassment, zero harassment when travelling alone on business or for pleasure and zero pressure to dress a certain way), we are still sadly lagging in the workplace. Women in companies here are routinely “put into place”, “boxed into certain roles” and you really shouldn’t have to put up with all this when you should be focusing on being productive.

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      • “There probably exist some subtle differences in nature. But for the most part, these differences are created by social conditioning.”

        And the conditioned are unable to see how their words reveal their conditioning.

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        • Or they are aware of conditioning, and they understand that there is no such thing as an unconditioned society. The trick is to minimize the bounds of gender roles and to put bounds on bias. You’re not going to ever have a gender role-less, bias-less society. As I said, there are plenty of examples of trivial stereotyping in Cosmo. Are we going to demand censoring of that? Or is that just non-serious, light-hearted writing?

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      • Dear Wordssetmefree, I enjoyed reading your comment.

        I would never condone the kind of discrimination you speak of. I’ve seen plenty of Indian men ramble on and on, and I itch to tell them to cut to the chase.

        I am an ardent supporter of women’s rights. I see gender as being an important difference: different and equal, as opposed to different and unequal. Same and equal is simplistic.

        It is true that gender roles affect the way individuals are seen. I readily acknowledge that there women who are magnificently succinct, authoritative, assertive etc. etc. Similarly, as you say, there are men who are cooperative and collaborative. And they constantly face pressures to be some other way too.

        But this is not only true of gender. It is true of EVERYTHING. If I’m Hindu, I’m judged to be colourful, ready to dance at all times and peace-loving by Christians and Muslims. If I’m older than 65, then people will assume that the project I forgot is due to age, as opposed to one isolated slip. If I’m south Indian, I’m conservative. And so on and on.

        Your complaint that people tend to judge individuals on the basis of statistically average traits of a group is true for every single trait that shows statistical validity across a group. Not just gender traits. If you want to dismantle this fundamental cognitive style of humanity, it is going to be a herculean task.

        It is important to distinguish this type of general cognitive bias against systemic, social discrimination. Workplace discrimination is serious. Magazine stereotyping is trivial. Why aren’t men campaigning against Cosmo stereotypes?

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        • “If you want to dismantle this fundamental cognitive style of humanity, it is going to be a herculean task.”
          No, I don’t intend to dismantle this fundamental behavior of the entire humanity. I want to speak up about how these thoughtless jokes have an impact on my workplace. And by talking about it, I hope to raise a little awareness. There are many people who are not intentionally sexist but thoughtlessly so. If they can realize that this is not so funny and can be damaging to little girls growing up, reading and believing these stereotypes, damaging to women who work hard and should be taken seriously at work, then I will be thankful. Even if I can change one person’s mind, I will be thankful, and this will be worth talking about.

          “Workplace discrimination is serious. Magazine stereotyping is trivial.”
          The latter leads to the former. Most people are influenced by mass media, and very few people question the implications. At one point in time, black jokes and Jewish jokes were in magazines and considered funny and harmless. Now, we find them distasteful. It makes sense to continue to make progress on the awareness ladder.

          “Why aren’t men campaigning against Cosmo stereotypes?”
          I’m sorry, I’m not familiar with Cosmo, but I’m against male stereotyping too. I do not find it funny when men who are caring and compassionate are portrayed as less capable.

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        • Hi wordssetmefree, sorry for seeing this so late. You’re right – if it does achieve the impact you’re talking about, it is worth it.

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  3. If a man well over 20 says any of these or even think this is funny , I advise them to increase their circle and meet some real women.

    And anyone who things Periods are funny , need to wake up once in a month with blood oozing out of their penis with back ache and cramps and they should just treat it as a blessing because they can have kids even if they want it or not.

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    • Honey, if you periods ache, please see your doctor as it is not normal. Yeah, periods are a blessing, for you can use them as a pretext to tell everybody to go and get lost yoohoo !😉 More seriously, pay attention to your moods and dreams during your periods – they are sacred times.

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      • period aches are common for many girls and still they are not an excuse to either hide in shell or ask someone to get lost , specially when u are mostly travelling or attending management meetings like me . Yes pain killers come handy.

        sacred times ..yes that’s why most of the religions ask women to not participate in religious ceremonies ..Irony isn’t it🙂

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  4. Facebook seems to be flooded with such lists. I don’t know which ones nauseate me more – the sentimental ones (women are so sweet and sensitive and strong and awesome) or the ‘funny’ ones (women are hysterical, hormone-laden, illogical, unmathematical, figure-obsessed, mysterious beings). And of course, we are ALL the same.

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  5. I find this post an unnecessary rant against man..

    Tip no 3.. My exe used to…. Neither person in the relation should say this until trying to appreciate their current partner… Its a recipe for disaster from either side

    Tip no 6… ‘yeah she is hot’

    This is a game girls obviously play with guys. I never seen his asking their gf if a guy is not but i have seen the other way around. The whole purposr it ti have a little fun

    Men and women are not obsessed with women weight… But women certainly are more conscious of their weight than man. And yes they want to look good and they are looking for mens approval. They can choose to not care about men approval and not care about their weight , but guess what, attraction of opposite sex is a big parameter of happiness for many people

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  6. I gnash my teeth at all such shares that treat women as a homogeneous unit and not as individuals, and at all the so called ‘modern’ women on Facebook who share such atrocious nonsense and proudly proclaim it to be true, ‘we are indeed like that’. WE? If you are one, say so. Do NOT in anyway include me, or ALL other women in this nonsense.

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  7. I am sure EACH word said by a man can be interpretted in some way or the other as being anti women ..

    Sometimes there are things that are to be taken in a joke and not EXACTLY ..

    so what would we say to a woman who says that to a man, I hear the phrase “YOU Going ot eat all that” .. almost every other day from fellow women collegues..

    and About my hair too.. because the helmet screws them all the time ..

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    • Jokes have a way of revealing a lot about our biases. They are also powerful in a damaging way – a joke has a much better chance of reinforcing a stereotype as it gets forwarded endlessly by people who refuse to stop and think.
      My niece (age 11) was playing with her friend when she saw her mom reading something on her computer – it was this list forwarded to her mom (my s-i-l) so she asked her mom, “Why are women so weird?”
      My s-i-l replied, “These are stereotypes about women. They are not true.”
      My niece thought about it some more and responded, “I don’t think I want to be like that.”
      “Like what?” my s-i-l asked.
      “Weird. Worried about weight. Worried about hair. Worried about everything. I’m going to be happy.”
      “You don’t have to be. You can be yourself. Happy.”
      “That’s good.” and she went back to playing with her friend.

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    • To me what is offending is not whether women on an average shop more than men or whether women talk more than men. If that is true on an average then there is nothing wrong in a couple of jokes circulating about how women shop and talk so much and men are left bored when they do so. It is that these attributes are automatically assigned a negative tinge. The undertone is that shopping is such a frivolous thing and naturally women do it more and talking without coming to conclusions is something women do and men talk only to make a point. When a man shops more it is because of his sensible business mind. When a woman shops more it is because she is so addicted to it.

      But when men over-analyse sports which afterall is just an entertainment just like music or dance are, they aren’t teased endlessly about what a pointless obsession it is. It is this a lauded thing to be obsessed with sports. If they like alcohol more than women do then again it is this totally manly thing. So macho, so wonderful and fun and feminine things are weak and pathetic.

      From now on try to seek if there is a certain undertone in a joke. “Masculine is fun(intentionally so), women are funny (unintentionally so)”. It may be a very subtle thing. But it reenforces are very bad sort of misogyny. Women are so stupid that birthdays matter to them, women are so vain that they like makeup, so on and so forth.

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  8. Come on, IHM. That article was obviously meant to be lighthearted and even if you did not find it funny I see nothing malicious or misogynistic about it.

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  9. “Is it that time of the month?”
    For me, yes it makes a difference. When I PMS I have lesser patience, feel withdrawn and lack appetite. If I am in an argument or unpleasant situation during those 2-3 days I react poorly and tend to get upset easily. I think it’s better for my husband and me to know this, and be aware about it. It is not an excuse to behave badly, but provides some rationality to why I have a short-fuse or feel pessimistically. All this of course, in personal relationships.
    At work, I just have better control and prepare mentally when I am in a sensitive phase.
    What’s wrong with this? Based on my personal experience, I think this is a legitimate question. There is no politically correct way of asking while in a professional setting, but technically speaking, it is a hormonal process and what I am undergoing is a hormonal response. So it’s best for someone who is living with me 24/7 to know about this.

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    • I think the problem arises in a professional setting when people joke it’s “her time of the month” when a woman disagrees/is assertive/aggressive/making a strong point/upset/outraged/stressed/a hundred other reactions that a male colleague could easily go through. It sounds belittling and dismissive and that’s exactly how it was meant. There could be people at work with blood pressure, diabetes, bladder problems. You don’t joke, “Maybe he didn’t take his insulin today” – that would be extremely rude, but joking about women’s menstruation is considered “just a joke”, so please chill and don’t be so boring.

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    • Agree 100% @Megha. Hormones are a reality of a woman’s life. Some women are more affected than others but I find it hard to believe that anyone can be completely unaffected by them in all ways physical and emotional all the time.

      Yes, we can choose not to show our reactions but we can’t wish the whole process away. I can’t pretend that everything is fine when I have a tight deadline and my cramps are killing me (and no, periods do hurt for some women and yes, sometimes we make unhealthy choices that make them hurt more). It’s not very feminist to deny biology altogether.

      But of course it’s idiotic to say women are slaves to their hormones any more than men are slaves to theirs.

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      • I don’t think feminists are trying to deny biology. Rather the opposite. I’ve always told my kids that menstruation is a natural biological process necessary for life. I’ve never pretended “I’m fine” during my period. I tell my son I can’t join him for a run if I’m having my period. I tell him exactly how I feel – “I have cramps. Because I’m having my period. I can’t go running.” Outside of the family/personal sphere, I just think it’s really no one’s business judging someone else’s reaction or performance by making assumptions about their hormonal activity. And the greater damage here I think is – this gets extended to a woman’s overall personality – women are emotional, capricious, indecisive beings with little control over their actions and very little capacity for logical thinking.

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  10. Well, it would be funny to ask a guy if it’s “that time of the month” no?🙂

    I just have a stock of jokes on men which a promptly forward back once I see something like this and and ask “truce?” That usually works perfectly. Either that or when I look at one of those head and shoulders type ads I say “I didn’t know testosterone could be washed away by shampoo! Must be so horrible to be so sensitive…”

    IMO most people don’t even think about what they’re forwarding. No one likes to be left out so they play along. I agree that these jokes aren’t really funny but we can’t keep dissecting each one that comes our way. At that rate we’ll go nuts!

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  11. I just wanted to clarify one thing. These ‘time of the month’ jokes and their extension of women as impulsive, illogical creatures seems to me a Western form of misogyny. These jokes are typical ‘Western male’ jokes. I have not seen these type of jokes being made in an Indian professional setting. Indian patriarchy doesn’t see women as being more illogical and men as more rational. This is a Western concept. Indian misogyny is more about hierarchy and male child preference. Women are seen as ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Good = submissive, willingly playing assigned role. Bad = questioning the norms, taking on unconventional roles, speaking up.

    It is interesting that in the US, I feel zero gender discrimination in the public sphere (on the street, at the bank, at the movies, restaurants, among friends, on walks/runs, grocery store, with complete strangers, with dressing) and I start thinking women here are really equals. Until I get to work. And all kids of subtle discrimination begins. They can’t do or say anything blatant – that would get them in trouble with HR – thank goodness at least the laws are good – but the sexism is there – it’s subtle and just under the surface. It surfaces more and more during middle to upper management as women collide with old boys networks. It’s one of the reasons why we still have so few women in upper management.

    Working at the Indian branch of our company, I’ve experienced just the opposite. In the company, people are nice and professional. Instead, the misogyny is practiced on the streets and in their homes (by relatives, neighbors, in-laws, spouses, etc.) I don’t feel safe travelling anywhere alone in India. I don’t feel comfortable taking a cab alone. But in the office, I feel completely fine – it’s a very positive work environment.

    This is just what I’ve observed. I don’t know why this is so and if others who’ve lived abroad have also experienced this.

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    • I agree with your analysis of western workplace and I also got the impression there is less gender discrimination in the worplace/political sphere in India from what I heard and read having no direct experience of this.

      I think there is also a difference with the choice of studies ; although in India from what I understand it is perfectly normal for a girl to chose IT, science or engineering studies, in my country girls don’t chose these studies because they think it’s not for them…

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    • Yes, I definitely agree with this. The idea that women are less intelligent and rational than men has been a hallmark of Western misogyny since Aristotle, but I don’t think that this idea is central to Indian misogyny; the latter is more centered around the idea that women are the repositories of familial honor. I definitely have the impression that if an Indian woman is lucky enough to be born into a middle-class family that values education, she has an easier time undertaking a demanding career (especially in the STEM fields) than a comparable Western woman.

      Another particularly Western manifestation of misogyny is the objectification and hypersexualization of women (including barely pubescent girls). One main fear that I have is that India won’t adopt the ways in which the West is egalitarian; instead, it will copy the ways in which the West is sexist. I think that beauty standards in India are already becoming more demanding (just look at India’s current film industry to see evidence).

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      • I wonder if anyone will see your comment. Yes, indeed “hypersexualisation” is a big problem in the West, but it is something you see mainly in commercials, magazines, music clips, movies… That is why a parent should make sure daughters are aware about this issue… Porno-chic is not chic at all it is only cheap and ugly.

        See the post about the American dad who wore jeans to make his daughter aware of that, most commenters didn’t understand him at all…

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  12. Pingback: We need to teach our daughters to know the difference between… | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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