Boys will be boys. Almost every girl has heard the expression. It’s pretty much always used to justify boys’ immature and childish behavior, which would be fine if girls were given the same leeway. However, that’s not the case and it almost never has been, which is where the misogynistic values of this patriarchal society come in, both in the use of language and how children are raised.
There’s a different vocabulary used for men and women; women are more likely to be described using derogatory terms in the workplace, at school, and in other scenarios. When a woman is assertive and focused on her tasks, she is said to be bossy and uptight. When a man behaves the same way, he is simply a good leader and on task. Similarly, the words pushy and loud would be used for an outgoing woman, but friendly is the term used for men. Men, in general, are put on a higher pedestal than women, so if they speak their opinion, they are applauded, but women are often put down because of it.
Additionally, the word “pussy” refers to weakness and cowardice, while the word “balls” refers to strength and courage. The fact that female genitalia represents meekness and frailness and male genitalia represents toughness and bravery, teaches young women that they are exactly this and nothing else, while young men are taught that they have to be tough in order to be considered adequate. The dialogue of the English language harms the psyche of girls and boys, which is why toxic masculinity and internalized misogyny start to appear. Without the expectation of girls having to be submissive and weak and boys having to be strong and bold, people could be taught to respect each other regardless of gender.
However, the only issue isn’t just with the misrepresentation of the genitalia, but also how society approaches sex itself. There are countless words for a woman who has interactions with men, especially ones of a sexual nature; slut, whore, prostitute, hoe, etc. These words all have negative connotations and shame them for their sexuality. “Slut” isn’t just a petty insult, it teaches girls that virginity is a huge deal for them and they are an object without it. This causes girls’ perception of themselves to be different because they think that if they have sex, they will be a “used” object that is no longer good for anything else. However, when a man has many sexual interactions with a woman, he is called a player, which not only does not have a negative connotation but also congratulates him on his conquest. If sex and virginity are such huge deals, why aren’t men and women both condemned or congratulated on it, why is it such a double standard?