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Can we, as a society, agree to stop referring to women as “females” in casual conversation? No matter where I see that terminology — outside of biology — it always feels dehumanizing, uncomfortable and overwhelmingly sexist. It is time to let the word “female” be reserved for biology class or join the ever-growing dictionary of archaic terminology.

Right out of the gate, “female” as a scientific adjective has been used in medical spaces, which have a history of pathologizing people for who they are. For example, the mental disorder of hysteria was considered an exclusively female disease to justify the notion that women are crazy, while men are not. Even though it is common knowledge now that there is no such thing as female hysteria, when “female” is used as a synonym for women, a loaded history is being alluded to. This is not much different than the reason why we do not refer to gay people as “homosexuals.” 

A modern example of this use of the word “female” is in this meme of a man calling “females” crazy for having a guy best friend when in a romantic relationship. Here, “female” directly alludes to women’s behavior being incomprehensible to “logical” men which harkens back to that history of hysteria.

At the very least, the clinical terms of “female” and “homosexual,” when used in everyday conversation, give an impression that women and gay people are a different species from “normal” cisgender and heterosexual men and therefore less human. The one “deviant” characteristic is highlighted to be the only quality that matters, and all the other human qualities like having a family, dreams, emotions and hobbies disappear. When we use terms that make people seem less human, it is easier to harm them and invent more differences to justify their otherness.

by Kenneth Moody

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He created them male and female, and blessed them and called them Mankind in the day they were created. Genesis 5:2

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