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raising a glass Why I will be toasting the 'nasty women' of the world on international Women’s Day


Mural of Greta Thunberg in Dublin city centre which was defaced

Mural of Greta Thunberg in Dublin city centre which was defaced

Mural of Greta Thunberg in Dublin city centre which was defaced

Bitch, ball-buster, bigmouth - and that’s just what my close friends call me.

Tomorrow marks the 110th official International Women’s Day, and if you happen to be one, and speak any louder than Emily Blunt in A Quiet Place, chances are you’ve been called a ‘b’ word like bossy or bolshy too.

The global awareness day dates right back to 1908 when women workers pounded the pavements of New York demanding shorter hours, better pay and the right to vote.

And if you still think we don’t need one, take it up with the person who scrawled the word ‘slut’ on a mural of environmental activist Greta Thunberg less than 24 hours after it appeared in Dublin during the week.

Filed somewhere between ‘feisty’ and ‘stroppy’, it’s just one of the words used exclusively to shame women who put it about (their opinion, that is) when it might better suit, say, Love Island Australia sad case Matthew Zukowski who admitted to keeping a record of the 106 women he’s slept with on his phone on Wednesday night’s episode of the reality show.

Still, I suppose the teenager needn’t worry until her face is sprayed with ‘hag’, ‘crone’ or any of the other double whammies reserved for older women who speak out.

In a world of the gender pay gap, sexual harassment, period poverty, female genital mutilation and under-representation in politics, adjective-sexism – as it’s also known – may seem like a particularly First World problem for women and girls.

But that’s precisely why it’s the molehill I’m willing to die on while embracing the theme #ChoosetoChallenge this IWD.

Italian dictionary Treccani was this week urged to knuckle-drag its definition of ‘woman’ into the 21st century after it was pointed out that while the synonyms offered for ‘man’ – such as ‘businessman’- are broadly positive, the 30 alternative descriptors for a female – including ‘puttana’ (whore) and ‘cagna’ (bitch) – are somewhat less flattering.

It comes after the Oxford English Dictionary removed ‘bint’ and ‘bird’ as other ways of saying ‘woman’ last year.

“Language shapes reality and influences the way women are perceived and treated,” activist Maria Beatrice Giovanardi wrote in a lobbying letter signed by around 100 high-profile figures and published in the daily La Repubblica newspaper on Friday.

“Such expressions are not only offensive but … reinforce negative and misogynist stereotypes that objectify women and present them as inferior beings.”

Here in Ireland, at least we are equal opportunity knockers.

Anyone can be a cute hoor or even a stupid see-you-next-Tuesday – in fact, there were quite a few of them out attacking Gardai, sitting on dead horses and shopping for bottles of their own whiskey without wearing a mask this week.

It’s the sneakily sexist language from ‘catty’ to ‘high-maintenance’ and ‘shrill’ thrown around everywhere from the workplace to our very own girls’ WhatsApp groups that we need to start calling out.

And so tomorrow I raise my glass to ‘airheads’, ‘Bridezillas’ and ‘nasty women’ everywhere.

No need to get ‘hysterical’, guys - when International Men’s Day rolls around on 19 November, I promise to toast ‘buckos’ and ‘beefcakes’ too.

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