Gendered Insults
October 24, 2018 6:30 PM   Subscribe

Is there a gendered insult for men as ugly as... you know the one.

For me, as an American woman, "cunt" is the worst gendered insult I can think of -- the kind of insult that's SO bad, it says more about the insulter than the insultee, and no amount of bad behavior on the insultee's part could justify it. I was trying to think what the male equivalent of that would be, and I wonder if it's "coward".

Obviously courage is not at all a uniquely masculine trait, is pretty tough to define, and even if it could be defined, its lack would not make a man any less a man. And people who want to say ugly things have the whole panoply of body parts and hateful slurs -- racial, homophobic, ableist and every other kind. But at least where I live and among the people I know, "coward" seems much weightier hurled at a male person than at a female person, and seems to attack the person's cultural maleness specifically in a way no other word I can think of does.

Is there a male equivalent of "cunt" (attacking gender identity and nothing else) where you live and among the people you know? Male and/or non-American perspectives especially welcome!
posted by pH Indicating Socks to Human Relations (33 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
North American Cis-Het male here, In my experience there's not a male equivalent to "Cunt" in the same sense of the insult as directed at a female, by a male. Insofar as an ugly insult directed at males (regardless of orientation) that reveals more about the insulter than insulted, I think that word is "Faggot".
posted by Dr. Twist at 6:42 PM on October 24, 2018 [21 favorites]

I am also an white cis-male, and I was once told by a Latino that if I ever referred to a Latino man as "maricón" (basically Spanish for "faggot") then the person I said it to would drop whatever they were doing to kick my ass.

At a slightly more veiled level, the word "mariposa" (literally, "butterfly") means the same thing.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 6:50 PM on October 24, 2018

Sissy? That may attack orientation moreso than gender, but that kind of subtlety is not the strong suit of the people who hurl this gendered insult at men.
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:51 PM on October 24, 2018

I mean “dick” is an obvious analog so I’m assuming it’s not what you’re after?
posted by Smearcase at 7:24 PM on October 24, 2018

Dick/prick is nowhere near on the same level as the c-word.

I don't think there are any gendered insults directed to men that are on the same level and of the same type as the c-word because so many gendered insults directed at men basically equate them with women are insufficiently manly men. So if you want to really insult a woman you point out her woman-ness and if you want to really insult a man you call him a woman. Those gendered insults about men aren't the same thing at all for that reason. They're not saying "you're such a MAN" in an insulting way the way the C-word says "You're such a WOMAN" in an insulting way.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:30 PM on October 24, 2018 [90 favorites]

I agree with the above. That's why "pussy" is an insult in the first place.
(I do wonder why we use "asshole" mainly for men, considering everyone has one - does it have underlying gay connotations or is it really just about what comes out of said hole?)
posted by LoonyLovegood at 7:38 PM on October 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

No, there's no word like it, presuming you mean in American English. There are gendered insults that you can level against men, but they're all different in some crucial way.

"Dick" is different because it's not nearly as nasty. It's just barely offensive - it's on the same level as calling someone an asshole.

"Faggot" is different because it's not insulting a man for being a man, it's insulting a man for not being man enough. The comment above me puts the difference very well.

"Coward" is different for two reasons. First, because it's not vulgar. And second, because there are some situations where it might be called for. I mean, yes, it probably is used in gendered ways, but that alone doesn't mean it's comparable to the word "cunt". It's more like the word "ugly" than the word "cunt."
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 7:40 PM on October 24, 2018 [5 favorites]

The alt-right are trying to make cuck(old) a gendered and highly offensive sexual term.
posted by Candleman at 7:59 PM on October 24, 2018 [17 favorites]

There really isn't. As mentioned above, gendered insults tend to insult women for being women and men for not being manly enough. (Thanks, patriarchy!) "Pussy" is the closest I can think of, as it's vulgar and can mean both 'coward' and 'vagina' (and 'kitty-cat', and 'filled with pus'...). I also definitely judge people who call other people 'pussies'.

Also, I hardly think of 'cunt' as particularly insulting now, after spending time with Aussies and some Irish guys. Maybe it needs reclaiming in the US.
posted by lovecrafty at 8:03 PM on October 24, 2018 [4 favorites]

Australian here, 'dog' gets used as a variant on snitch-informer (particularly in prisons) but with the connotations of much more general personality deficiencies, cultural maleness in your words, for a man. I've never really heard it used in that way between or about women—it'd be a slur about physical ugliness about/at a woman. If I hear two men shouting at each other on the street and one says 'you fucken dog cunt', you know it's on.

(W/r/t 'cunt' in Australian English, I commented earlier)
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 8:23 PM on October 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

The closest I could think of is “bootlicker”, and even that is only gendered in the implication. I think all the insults that hit particularly hard at men imply them being servile in some way? But technically the words could be used for both.
posted by corb at 9:12 PM on October 24, 2018

There is no equivalent, and can't be in our current system of gender roles, because that's not how patriarchy works. The worst gendered insults for women work by reminding the target that she is merely a woman; the worst gendered insults for men work by telling the target he has failed at masculinity. It's not equal-and-opposite.
posted by waffleriot at 9:15 PM on October 24, 2018 [52 favorites]

While it's certainly true that there is no direct equivalent due to the structural imbalance under patriarchy, the most common seeming attempts at making a male gendered insult of deep disgust are "motherfucker" from one man to another and when delivered in a strong tone, "prick" from women to men. Dick is the weaker word, often used to suggest stupid frivolity as in "dicking around" or a more general sense of male stupidity in the moment.

"Prick" seems to be used in a more defining way, saying that "prickness" is the central quality of the person in a way not entirely unlike "cunt'. Happily, "cocksucker" seems to have faded in use, but that was once an insult of added significance saved for moments of heightened anger. It, like "faggot" is obviously a slur impugning het norms of masculinity at the expense of gay men, but in its usage often carried a stronger implication of hate than even "faggot" did, which seemed to be used more to provoke than out of anger. That's all just judging from the many fights I've heard so it's only an anecdotal understanding of use at its best.
posted by gusottertrout at 12:15 AM on October 25, 2018 [3 favorites]

Chiming in on something of a tangent to say that in Australia you can definitely call a man a cunt and while it’s not a parallel to calling a woman a cunt, because you are still using the vagina as an insult rather than picking a male organ to make your point, it is pretty bad. See “ya dog cunt” above. I’d read this not as calling a man a dog’s vagina (bad enough I guess depending on how you feel about dogs) but calling him a dog (snitch, scum) who *is* a vagina. Which is obviously the worst thing you can be under the patriarchal sun. Not just a woman’s (feared, unclean, loathed, abominated... desired) sexual organ, but a betrayer of your fellow men.

Twist. A subset of Australian men will call each other cunt affectionately e.g. ‘Cm’ere gis a hug I fucken love ya ya fucken cunt’. This is an advanced move. Not recommended for young/sober players.

Double twist! There exists such a thing as a Cunt List. (Think L7 Shit List but so much more hate and rage-filled) and anyone can be on yours regardless of gender.
posted by t0astie at 12:53 AM on October 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

Oh, one interesting newish development in women insulting men is the growing use of some form of "creep" as a go to term for summary despising. Sometimes it's used on its own and others as a modifier, but it suggests different accounting of what the worst trait of a man might be.

(I live in a college town across the street from a nightclub so I hear fights all the time.)
posted by gusottertrout at 1:07 AM on October 25, 2018 [4 favorites]

'anal wart'?
posted by parmanparman at 1:11 AM on October 25, 2018

There isn't one. None of the suggestions in this thread are anywhere near as offensive. There just isn't a gendered insult that carries the same weight against men.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 1:37 AM on October 25, 2018 [5 favorites]

I think something like the one that rhymes with clockplucker probably has a similar impact.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:14 AM on October 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

Pussy, because under this kind of cisheteropatiarchy the worst thing you can say about a man is that he is like a woman.
posted by bile and syntax at 5:48 AM on October 25, 2018 [4 favorites]

While neither able to be universally used nor gendered per se, the use of "fat" as an insult or modifier to one occupies much the same space in use as "cunt" serving to deny the person worth based on their physical characteristics.

Direct reference to sexuality as in gay based slurs seems, from my observations, to have become a more class based "tell" in how they're used, with those of lower social class still using them with far greater frequency than college students, with age also possibly playing a factor. But "fat" is used regardless of class status when the person being insulted is deemed suitably vulnerable to the insult and its usually delivered with a level of scorn and implicit societal condemnation in its certainty of judgement that the hatred can seem almost visceral.

Fat fuck or fat ass are the most common uses aimed at men while aimed at women it often accompanies some additional slur on their desirability like modifying "cow" or even "cunt", making it doubly loaded with hate as if saying not only are you reducible to your genitalia, but you aren't even worth noting for your sex.

It's a slur that goes both ways, men say it to both men and women, and women say it to both women and men, but with special emphasis used when the recipient of the slur is seen as being of the same gender, removing the accuser from sharing the same conceptual space as the accused. Fat, along with creep and pig is an insult used by women to "unman" men they hate in a way that attempts to deny the men reference to "real" masculinity and can therefore sort of appeal to the patriarchy social structure for added weight of shaming.
posted by gusottertrout at 7:12 AM on October 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

The word would be wimp.
posted by noelpratt2nd at 7:27 AM on October 25, 2018

In fact, "cunt" is being directed also at men these days, has been for a while. I was surprised when I first heard it used against a male by another male ("what a cunt"); thought I was reading something wrong and he must mean a woman. But no. May be a case of digging down for what is the ugliest word.
posted by noelpratt2nd at 7:54 AM on October 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

I'm Australian. Cunt is kind of unisex over here and would actually be used against guys more than women, at least in my social circles. Also strangely it can be a term of affection and is often used among friends. It tends to have things like "ugly", "big" and "hairy" added to it. But again is used more often to describe men than women. While it's not an expression you might use in say an office environment, you'd use it at the pub or hanging out with mates. It's actual meaning is incredibly contextual and can mean everything from. "Hello there fellow man friend I feel close to but do not want to risk showing actual affection for so I will insult you" to "You are such a complete & total asshole I am going to use the worst word I can think of to describe you and then we're going to fight."

I would also suggest faggot might work as a gendered insult, though it attacks sexuality not gender it is usually only used to describe men, but anyone that uses it sure says a lot about themselves.

I also have to say even as a woman that uses the word Fuck as punctuation I found this all very weird to type out.
posted by wwax at 7:54 AM on October 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

i am a cis het american female in the midwest (with a decade+ on the east coast behind me) and a) still don't feel cunt is any worse than pussy or bitch tho i know most people do, and b) think it has become a unisex term.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 8:15 AM on October 25, 2018 [3 favorites]

I would say that there's no equivalent word toward a female as "wimp" is for a male. "Bitch," certainly not. What word takes away their essential femaleness like wimp does for men? That's why you should never call a man a wimp. Call him a coward if you must.
posted by noelpratt2nd at 8:32 AM on October 25, 2018

Uk English

Nonce = paedophile
Gaylord = effeminate
Nancy = effeminate
Doris = effeminate
Nelly = effeminate
Nice boy = effeminate


Bludclaat / bumbaclaat = sanitary towel
posted by Middlemarch at 9:45 AM on October 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

Bastardized asshole. heh... something that came out of my own mouth one day.
posted by noelpratt2nd at 10:13 AM on October 25, 2018

Dunno about American English...if we were talking English English, where cunt is not as serious an insult and is applied equally to all genders, I think dickhead would be an equivalent. It means stupid and it implies only a man could be quite so typically stupid in such a typically masculine way. It's used freely by both women and men to refer to men. If I heard of a woman being called a dickhead (which I haven't) I'd assume she was dive bombing off cliffs, lighting her farts, trying to fight with strangers while crying and throwing up, that sort of thing. Or obtusely refusing to understand very obvious things to other people's great inconvenience.

I just now had a side conversation with my daughter about how European swearing always goes to the sexual, she says Arabic swearing doesn't much and can be rather beautiful in terms of elaborate language. Yoruba swearing doesn't go sexual because those words and phrases aren't particularly obscene.
posted by glasseyes at 12:49 PM on October 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

posted by parmanparman at 11:09 AM on October 26, 2018

"paedo" is usually gendered more against men and a pretty lethal slander as well as insult.
posted by lalochezia at 11:52 AM on October 27, 2018

I feel like this is a severe oversight. I'd just as soon do away with gendered insults altogether, but until such time as misogynistic and homophobic slurs disappear forever, I think the universe could stand a bit of balance. Towards that end, I submit the following for your approval (sure, they aren't in common usage, yet, but they would resolve the question):

1) Penile. As in, "He's such a penile." Indicates a man with no redeeming social qualities. Thinks being a man is all it takes to make him special, but he's too dull to even raise to the level of a dick. Might have been a real asshole, but lacks the ambition.
2) Scrote. I've heard this one before, but I don't think the qualities are sufficiently defined or slanderous, so I propose that a scrote is an over-salted, shriveled meat sack. Useless on his own, but desperately protects the future of the patriarchy to his last rattling breath. "Chuck Grassley is such a scrote!"
3) Maleadroit. A boorish, overcompensating fool.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:27 PM on October 29, 2018

UK English: I'd suggest that 'Wanker' comes close as a male equivalent, depending on the amount of venom and vitriol it's delivered with, i.e. 'he's such a fucking WANKER!', though it's still not deemed to be quite as offensive as the C-word in general.

Despite masturbation being a pretty universal phenomenon, there's still for me a sense in which only a Bloke can really be a Wanker, just because it seems to reference a specific and especially revolting combination of stupidity and spite that seems particularly male to me.

Disclaimer: I can be a bit of a wanker at times, though I'm not proud of the fact.
posted by Chairboy at 6:54 PM on October 30, 2018

A few days ago, referring to a man who had avoided a difficult social situation instead of straightforwardly owning up to something regrettable, I heard the barbers in my barbershop say that he "should have been a man about it" and saying that instead he had been a "chihuahua". Like the dog.

But I agree with other previous commenters that basically no slur on a man's masculinity carries as much weight as the c-word that attacks women.
posted by brainwane at 10:00 PM on October 31, 2018

« Older What should I do about this broken iPhone?   |   Can you tell me what this growth is? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.