The language we use in our daily lives has countless effects on our health and our relationships. Words matter whether we want to admit it or not. If you don’t believe me, try out this experiment: go 30 days of repeating negative affirmations to yourself and reflect on how you feel afterwards. Then try to go 30 days of saying positive affirmations to yourself and then reflect on how you feel. Then compare the two. Which practice did you prefer?
I often hear these five phrases I’ve listed below more than I would like to. While a man writes this piece and calls for men to be more mindful of their language, I believe the phrase replacements can be applied to all people of all genders.
1) Instead of saying “I’d hit that” say, “She’s/he’s stunning.”
How many times have you heard someone say this phrase? How many times have you said it yourself? But think about what it really means: the person that is the topic of conversation is not a person but a thing. If you do want to compliment someone’s attractiveness, why not do just that instead of narrowing him or her down to someone who would satisfy your sexual desires?
2) Instead of saying, “I want a good girl” say, “I want someone to bring value to my life.”
I have heard way too many men use this phrase. When I was younger I would use it myself. The problem with this phrase is that it singles out a woman’s sexual history and makes that encompass her entire moral fiber. Not only that, but it enforces the double standard that a woman’s sexual history matters while yours does not. Rather than being hung-up on a woman’s sexual history, focus on seeking out a partner who brings value to your life and you bring value to theirs.
3) Instead of saying, “You’re acting like a woman on her period” ask, “Why are you so upset?”
This is an obvious insult and doesn’t get you anywhere when there is an actual conflict. If you want to resolve a conflict, find out why their upset and don’t antagonize the individual. Not only is it antagonistic, it reinforces the idea that being a woman is less than being a man. It also plays into the stereotype that a woman can only be upset if she’s on her period, and doesn’t validate her actual frustration.
4) Instead of calling someone a “ b*tch,” don’t say anything that demeans someone’s dignity.
Personally, I think we should all refrain from using any type of language that debases someone’s humanity by equivocating them to an animal. When speaking of or to someone you are mad at always remember this rule given to us by Bernard Meltzer; “Before you speak ask yourself if what you are going to say is true, is kind, is necessary, is helpful. If the answer is no, maybe what you are about to say should be left unsaid.”
5) Instead of suggesting that a woman “should smile” don’t suggest anything!
As a man, I was only aware of how much this bothers women by hearing about it from my partner and then asking my female colleagues about it. Women are not put in your life to make your day better by smiling at you. They will smile if they want to, and they don’t owe you anything.
Photo Credits: Jamie Street
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