“Yeah, I think I know two chicks who work there,” he casually responded.
The words echoed back at me. Two chicks. In the moment, I didn’t know what to say or how to respond. I couldn’t even fully understand why I was so bothered by his statement. I smiled, and concluded that this language was probably normal—I was just overreacting.
Over the next few days, the conversation continued to replay in my head. I couldn’t stop thinking about his words. I don’t think it was what he said—it was how he said it. He referred to the two women as two chicks.
It’s not like I hadn’t heard the term before. It’s not like it was my first time being in this kind of encounter. It was, however, the first time I was began to realize that this kind of language wasn’t okay. Without even knowing it, the language being used was degrading women. It made me wonder: How much of our everyday language is bringing women down?
1. Recognize the Language
If someone says something that immediately gives you a bad feeling, listen to yourself. It can be phrases we commonly hear such as “he runs like a girl” or a gender-specific term that degrades women. If something someone says makes you uncomfortable, don’t ignore the signals in your brain.
2. Stand Up
When my friend said the phrase “two chicks,” I should have politely responded, “I think you mean to say two women.” I know he wasn’t trying to disrespect women. He probably didn’t even notice his language and how it could be degrading. However, it’s our job to stand up and speak out, no matter what the situation.
3. Bring It into the Conversation
Most of the time, people don’t think about the link between language and women. Some terms and phrases have become so common that people don’t even notice the effect they have. It’s important that we start creating conversation around terms. The “Like A Girl” campaign helped start the conversation last year, but it’s far from over. There’s still so much work to be done, and it’s important that we continue to speak up.
I understand: It’s difficult to correct someone’s language in the midst of a conversation. However, it’s so important that we slowly begin to speak out. Together, we can eliminate phrases and terms that disrespect women.
Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock.