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Random weird thought (yah, I know I never post but I'm trying to get back into by warming myself up over on Facebook):

Am I the only one who hates the phrase "screamed like a little girl?"  I know in some ways it is referring to a male shrieking and it being so high pitched that it sounds feminine.  But still...to me it wraps in connotations of someone being weak/a scaredy cat/etc...and links it with the concept of "girl."  I find it just as offensive as "pitches like a girl."  And I make sure I don't say it to my kids.

Pete said it today and I discussed it with him tonight.  He hadn't thought of it in that way.  I'm curious if I'm the only one who thinks of it in that way.


Jun. 1st, 2009 05:53 am (UTC)
I think it depends on the user of the phrase. Little boys can scream just as loud as little girls, but little girls have that certain pitch that can vacate entire neighborhoods in minutes. Tori and I were walking around in Andersonville the other day when we heard a similar scream from a little girl in a stroller. She was not in pain, not scared; she just felt like screaming. And I felt like stuffing a sock in her mouth.

IMHO, the simile "screamed like a little girl" is not sexist because when I hear a man (or any adult, for that matter) scream like a little girl, the odds are pretty good that the scream itself does sonically resemble that of a little girl's, whether scared, in pain, or happy. (Heck, one could consider that a little girl's scream is a show of *strength*, because it is impossible to ignore and demands a response.) And when I use the saying, I don't think of the little girl in the simile as in any condition or emotional state: I consider the sound itself.

I do consider "throws like a girl" sexist, because it implies that a boy can naturally throw better than a girl, and thus girls are automatically inferior in that department. However, I believe a little girl's scream is of a unique nature, not in comparison to a little boy's, or an adult women's or an adult man's. Maybe some folks see the little girl in the simile as weak or scared, but as someone who has heard quite a few little girls' screams in my retail career, I think of the sound itself, not the condition of the screamer.

But that's just my opinion.
Jun. 1st, 2009 12:26 pm (UTC)
How is the way a little girl screams different from a little boy? Does "screams like a little boy" sound like it could be used in exactly the same way?
Jun. 1st, 2009 01:32 pm (UTC)
I believe I made the comparison clear. In my opinion, a little girl's scream is distinct from a little boy's. "Screams like a little boy" would not work because as loud as a little boy's scream is, it generally cannot top a little girl's scream in terms of pitch. And I noted that *I* do not consider the gender in the simile when I use it, just the sound. That does not mean others do not consider the gender of the simile when using it, only I don't. And I'm not saying this as if I'm some sensitive-type male; I've just always thought it's the sound of the scream itself that invites the comparison. And a little girl's scream is, in my opinion, distinct from a little boy's. Thus, in my opinion, the simile as I use it is not sexist.
Jun. 1st, 2009 02:08 pm (UTC)
However, research shows that there is no significant difference in vocal range or pitch between boys and girls pre-puberty.
(Apfelstadt, 1983, 1984; Cooper, 1992; Rutkowski, 1989; Smale, 1987; Tatem, 1990; Wassum, 1979)Source

Therefore, it is my opinion that your opinion and the use of the phrase in question are colored by unconscious sexism.
Jun. 1st, 2009 10:11 pm (UTC)
I can guarantee you that G's scream is just as high pitched as any girl I've heard.


Your little gremlin

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