How Sexist Can You Possibly Be Using Just Your Mouth? On Sexist Language


Remember that time you were heading out with your sister to meet some friends and your parents said don’t be late “ya welad”? Later that night, it was rather difficult for you to interrupt the interesting gossip about your “3anes” friends, to say that it’s pretty late and you should head back home. This definitely earned you a “matestargely w tenshafy shwaya” because you were scared to stay out late. Rings any bells? Well, there is not a sentence down that memory lane that doesn’t scream SEXIST. So if your bio says feminist, you might want to reconsider.

  • Sexist phrases we mumble subconsciously

Did you ever stop to think why we say “ya welad” even when we are addressing girls? Why you can’t make a womanish version of “estargel” without sounding like an idiot? Or what’s so perfect about the male sex that they have their own motivational verb? I guess that leaves us with “Enta btedrab zay el banat”. At least that’s team women! But wait, that’s an insult.

  • And even when we curse, we manage to be sexist

It’s a mystery left unsolved why serious curses that get you into fights all somehow include your mom. Why is it always “Ya roh omak” but never “Ya rouh abouk”? And why is it okay to say “Tla2i ommak el gayebhalek” as an insult but a world war three if its “Tla2i abouk el gaybahalak”? And most importantly, someone explain why a guy is always trying to not be called “ebn omo”? Howa mesh ebnaha?

  • Wonder no more about why women are automatically disregarded in certain jobs. These sexist male-oriented job titles serve as women-repellants

If we you don’t know who created the Arabic language, at least you know he’s a man. Think Tayyar, Captain, Zabet, Naggar, Sabbak, etc. So maybe the reason why females never pursue these kinds of careers while in other countries it’s very likely that you see policewomen, captains, etc. is that our brains were fed a language that doesn’t even have a word for that female title. We were raised to understand that this is a no female zone. The English language is just as guilty by the way; think postman, businessman, chairman, freshman, congressman, mailman. Ok, I’ll stop now.

  • Whoever came up with titles for big positions thought women can’t make it all the way up

If we want people to start accepting the concept of women running for presidency, or to even start taking female ministers seriously, we might want to start by creating titles that aren’t all, well, male. Because saying “Al Sayed Al Ra2ees/Wazeer/Modeer Sara Rifaat” isn’t exactly good for my future campaigns.

  • Only when the word “3anes” is out of our dictionary will we be able to claim that marriage doesn’t define us

If marriage weren’t a big deal, there wouldn’t be an Arabic distinction between “Anessa” and “Madam” to indicate if a woman is married or not. Which really just makes it easier for you to call someone “3anes”. What’s actually weird is that this distinction isn’t paralleled by a pair of titles for males, they’re just always called “Ostaz”. This clearly supports the idea that women must make their marital status clear, while men on the other hand aren’t obligated to.

  • Referring to women in terms of their relationship to men. Ouch.

So what’s the name of your maid? Probably Om Mohamed, and who are the people coming over again? “Merat Tarek”, “Okht Ibrahim”, “Bent Galal” and so you get the point. Before you point fingers at men, a lot of women take pride in being named after their sons’ names, but not so much their daughters’. Whose fault is that?

There is no specific sex to blame here. Women are just as involved in this as men are. If anything, this is more of a cultural mess than it is anything else. Our perceptions are blurry, our minds are fast asleep, and our languages are definitely defected. You might not regard your sexist language as one of the world’s most catastrophic problems, but we speak our thoughts. And if these are our thoughts, then we are definitely screwed.

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