Feminist Alternatives to Common Colloquialisms and Phrases

We all saw that Superbowl ad from Always about “running like a girl,” and it inspired us here at the Tonic to recast some common phrases in a feminist and somewhat tongue-in-cheek light. 

This lovely lady knows what we're talking about.

This lovely lady knows what we’re talking about.


Category 1: THE OBVIOUS

These simple substitutions just make sense.


Instead of saying“Run like a girl.”

Try saying“Run.” 

This one is fairly self-explanatory. If you don’t get it, please watch the aforementioned Superbowl ad.


Instead of saying: Princess” to describe a daughter of any age (ie, “She’s my little princess even though she’s 45 and lives in DC.”) 

Try saying:  The ACTUAL TITLE of the woman you are referring to. Ambassador, President, Prime Minister–almost anything else here will usually do. (Adoring father to another adoring father, “She’s my successful Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.”)

If we’re going to give our children nicknames perhaps we can update our language somewhat?


Instead of saying: “She’s the FIRST WOMAN TO WIN an award for (x)” (“Tina Fey was the first woman to win the Mark Twain Award for American Humor.”)

Try saying: “She WON an award for (x)” (“Tina Fey won the Mark Twain Award for American Humor in 2010 and she should probably win all of the awards.”)

As Tina Fey said when she accepted the Mark Twain Award for American Humor, “I do hope that women are achieving at a rate these days that we can stop counting what number they are things.”


Category 2: the obscure

These next three are a little more out there, but you could try.


Instead of saying: “She-devil”

Try saying: “Succubus” (One man to another, “She drained my soul, not unlike a succubus.”)

Because succubus is just so much more fun to say.


Instead of saying: “Scored.”

Try saying: “Seduced.” 

This one is more than just a simple substituting of words, but you can handle it. Using the word “scored” to describe sex in the romantic and/or sexual arena seems far too simple a term for how a woman practices her art. Enter the art of seduction. Try to frame romantic encounters in this way instead.

Ex: She seduced him into making her a delicious dinner followed by an offering of various sexual favours.


Instead of saying: “Spinster” 

Try saying: “Independent Lady.” Alternately, you could use her NAME.

Miranda once noted that it is ridiculous that single men get fun names like “bachelor,” while women get stuck with “spinster.” Enter Kim Cattrall.


Category 3: the just plain silly

Because it’s Tuesday. Let’s put it all out there.


Instead of saying: “Girlfriend” / “Boyfriend”

Try saying: “Significant Other.” “Person.” “Human being with whom I copulate.” The idea here is that you can actually say WHATEVER YOU WANT. 

Let’s ditch the gender heteronormativity and just embrace some good old-fashioned pair bonding.


Instead of saying: Oh my God”

Try saying: Oh my Goddess/Mother Gaia”. (“Oh my Goddess, she won every track and field award possible because she ran very fast.”)

Let’s change the narrative with the power of our words. As Warner Huntington III has been told, it’s all about the winter o-ves-ter.


Instead of saying: “Brass balls”, “Balls of steel”

Try saying: “Brass ovaries”, “Ovaries of steel” 

Because ovaries are powerful things.


Any other feminist language updates that you can think of? Let us know in the comments section!

xox J

P.S: The photo at the top of the post was taken at the Malibu Hindu Temple. A hidden gem, I’d say.

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