Infantilizing Women

You’ll never hear me call my underwear panties.

Someone on Facebook recently reminded me of something that has irritated me my whole life. Why are women’s underwear called panties? Do we wear socksies or shoesies? No. You will never hear me call my underwear panties. Ever.

There also used to be an annoying habit of making maternity clothing look like the expectant mother was a child herself, rather than like a professional, capable woman whose body just happens to be being contorted beyond reason. I remember a coworker 30 years ago coming in to work wearing a baby blue maternity shirt with a peter pan collar and candy cane piping. Ugh! Why? That seems to be a thing of the past, though, thank goodness.

And what woman hasn’t heard, “Don’t worry your pretty little head,” at least once in her life? What are we, five? Um… my head isn’t little. In fact, I often can’t find hats that are big enough for me.

And I don’t need to be mansplained. I am perfectly capable of arriving at facts without your help. I don’t need to be coddled or protected or advised or counseled. I get to go out at night, out into the big bad world all alone, simply because I’m the one who makes that decision. I’m probably much more astute about sussing out a dangerous situation than you are, because I’ve lived it.

I’m no more mentally or emotionally fragile than you are. When I get angry, I’m angry, not hysterical. My opinions are as valid as anyone else’s. I should be taken as seriously as you are. The fact that I need to explain this to you is the crux of the problem.

People who infantilize women are projecting their own immaturity upon others. But don’t worry your pretty little head about it. We’ll be just fine whether or not you wake the eff up.

Imagine. An adult who just happens to also be pregnant.

Do you enjoy my random musings? Then you’ll love my book!


Author: The View from a Drawbridge

I have been a bridgetender since 2001, and gives me plenty of time to think and observe the world.

5 thoughts on “Infantilizing Women”

  1. And calling me cute is as insulting as a four letter word. My whole life I’ve been dismissed from the grown up table as too cute to be taken seriously. Had to get angry to finally be heard and then was either cute when angry or being hysterical, both of which dismissed me further. Men have patted me on the head and a female attorney called me little one. (she didn’t remain in my employ.) Thought once I got fat, wrinkled and gray, the cute would rub off. Nope. Still get it from both genders even though this article says genders perceive the word differently.
    Sewed my maternity clothes because I already looked child like and wasn’t about to dress the part. Even so, hugely pregnant with twins, swollen, kicked black and blue inside out, dressed like an adult, yep… still considered cute. Arrrgggghhh! Oh my, have I got my knickers in a twist? 🙃
    Fortunately, we have the power to remove those who treat us as children from our lives if they refuse to be educated. Even actual children deserve the respect of being listened to and have their opinions valued and not be talked down to. If we teach our children well, these types of biases will one day disappear but, in the mean time, treat our children well and model equality in our own daily behaviors. Keep calling out these biases.

    1. Wow Lyn! You couldn’t be more spot on if your life depended on it! Very, very well said. You just reminded me of another pet peeve: women who talk baby talk in hopes of looking cute. Sets the women’s movement back 50 years. And for those of us who struggle to be taken seriously I want to gouge those women’s eyes out. That would certainly get their attention.

  2. Here’s another unfavorite–“bright”. Whatever gender you get stuffed into when young, this term does not smell quite right. Bright means we want a trophy kid to brag about and you better not let us down — It means you’re a couple years ahead in one subject so you can’t possibly have any problems with anything else and if you do it’s your fault — It means nature or or some god or whatever did a good job and is the real taker of credit, not you, you’re just lucky — And most of all it means we want to lull you into trusting us while we do who knows what next. I had it pegged for a pile of crap when I was 10, but couldn’t put this into words.
    Someone who really appreciates your intelligence is observant enough to note some specific strengths–good at spotting phonies, can think in 3d, etc. And they praise you for what you have done, not what just happened randomly, and not what they expect.
    Keep on being acute–what “cute” was originally derived from.

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