30 comments for “Question

  1. Em
    May 21, 2007 at 10:20 pm

    Positive or negative connotation? I thought of a few, realized they sounded negative, then realized that machismo itself has a negative connotation to me.

  2. zuzu
    May 21, 2007 at 10:23 pm

    Positive, if ironic. This is something that’s come up when I want to play with the big weights, and “macho” just doesn’t really capture my own glee about putting the big plates on.

  3. Reg
    May 21, 2007 at 10:26 pm

    How about CHICO
    or is that stupid

  4. May 21, 2007 at 10:31 pm

    Machisma? And are you sure you don’t want to give more details about your stomping around the gym, slinging 45s around like they’re frisbees?

  5. May 21, 2007 at 10:42 pm

    Check out this wikipedia entry:

    I learned this term in a History of The Americas class in university.

  6. May 21, 2007 at 10:44 pm


  7. zuzu
    May 21, 2007 at 10:51 pm

    The ideas within marianismo are that of feminine passivity and sexual purity

    Mmm. Perhaps not. We left both those behind long ago.

    Jeff, I’m not all that far from moving up to the 35-pound plates on my deadlift; the hardest part is actually training my grip. Progress on my bench press is a little slower because of a tetchy rotator cuff.

  8. adam
    May 21, 2007 at 10:57 pm

    how about “smart”

  9. Edie
    May 21, 2007 at 11:07 pm

    Beats the hell out of me. I’m still searching for a word that equates with “cunt” for men. “Prick” and dick” just don’t have the same viciousness, the same visceral nastiness.

  10. May 21, 2007 at 11:30 pm

    Virago? I’m probably wrong so never mind. How about Amazonisma?

  11. May 22, 2007 at 12:49 am

    Well, a 115 deadlift is still pretty damned good, considering you’ve only been doing this for a few months. You probably know about the different grip training devices (you might also want to try some rows). And, yeah, you definitely don’t want to push that rotator cuff (I forget, but benching with dumbbells might be an alternative that’s easier on your shoulders).

  12. Devon
    May 22, 2007 at 5:15 am

    Edie’s comment reminds me of that one-time my brother and I went for a walk and spent a half hour trying to figure out a male-insulting equivalent of “bitch.” There isn’t one. The closest we got was just dehumanizing them, saying things like “guppie” or “stinkbeetle” (Ironically, most dehumanizing insults that we could think of, “cow”, “horse (faced),” “cat (fight),” “hen (party),” “bull-dyke,” and of course “bitch,” have already been reserved for females. Females don’t get human status in our language. They’re an entire species below people, huh?)

    I think Jessica Valenti has it right. In America, the worst way to insult a female is to bring up the cultural negative connotations of their gender, and the worst way to insult a male is to call them female. This is an old topic, but not something that anything’s been done about. American language alone perpetuates a gender-biased dominance hierarchy. Like NewSpeak in Orwell’s 1984, American language is influenced by, and reproduces parameters of thought by which those in power would like us to live.

    There is no equivalent for bitch or cunt. The worst kind of person you could possibly be is a bad female. To bring a male down, all you have to do is call them a fairy or fag or girly man, to call them effeminate, to call them female, is supposed to be insulting.

    I guess we have to change the language and make up our own words. There certainly hasn’t been any room made in the English language over the last few centuries. Any attempt those who care have made to adjust the English language to express a feminist concept have come out stilted and awkward – “objectification” is a word that most people who haven’t taken a women’s studies course either don’t understand, or dismiss as some small, obscure, phenomenon.

    The English language is not going to give us any elbow room here. “Machismo” itself had to be borrowed from Latin America – because we’re all so good at denying the problems in front of their eyes.

    Idea formation is dependent on, and inextricably linked to, the language we use. The eventual result of a naturally sexist language, one that has so few words for concepts of oppression and sexism itself, and is so limited in even the creation of a “lingo” (a language extension), is the elimination of the ability to conceive of sexism, or a world without it.

    If we use only the traditional parts of the English language, we let the medium become the message. Because, as English speaking society goes, we are handling relatively modern concepts in our communication. Trying to talk feminism to people not involved in the field, is like trying to cook pizza without the bread, they just don’t have the components to envision gender-equality, or to understand the lack of it, because those components aren’t in their language.

    We can sort of make new language out of cognates. “Amazonisma” plays off English and thus provides a hint at its meaning, So I’d say it works. But sooner or later we’re just going to need to come up with some new words. Right now we keep on having to elongate or join together existing ones to express gender issues, it’s like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole – AmericanSpeak just doesn’t want to go in there, and it’s awkward or difficult whenever we try. I wish someone with latin roots and at least some media influence would make some new words specifically for this subject.

  13. Em
    May 22, 2007 at 6:30 am

    Congrats on that!

    As for a word, well, why not feminista? Or righteous babe? (Is that too Bill and Ted?)

    Also, http://www.exrx.net, go to the weight training section. They have a variety of deadlifts if you need to mix up your grip.

  14. Artemis
    May 22, 2007 at 7:01 am

    In a positive light, you already have the word that expresses a female counterpart to machismo: “feministe”. Self confident, assertive women, perhaps just a bit cocky (if I can repurpose that word) – who are Feministe.

  15. Arianna
    May 22, 2007 at 7:43 am

    Jeff, I’m not all that far from moving up to the 35-pound plates on my deadlift; the hardest part is actually training my grip. Progress on my bench press is a little slower because of a tetchy rotator cuff.

    Grats! I just started seriously weight training a couple of months ago so I’m not up to the cool-looking plates yet. My gym only has those huge 50ish lb bars so I have these teensy little plates on it, which look utterly hilarious on those huge bars. Do you have a trainer? I’m trying to train myself so I’m being extra careful, and I get shit scared every time I move up in weight, even when I know my muscles can handle it, because I’m worried about connective tissue damage.

    I’m also having problems with bench press and weirdly lat pulldowns because of rsi in my mouse arm. Stupid desk jobs.

  16. May 22, 2007 at 9:10 am

    I like feminisma, though I’d also add ovarios as a feminine for cojones.

  17. Cesa
    May 22, 2007 at 9:33 am

    Hi, first time posting. I saw the discussion on weights, so I have to participate; I’m obsessed with weightlifting. Zuzu, what weightlifting program are you currently doing, exercises, sets and reps wise? I’m always curious to know what others are doing.

    I’m assuming you would want to increase. For the grip issue, try a reverse grip (the weakest hand should be reversed). To strengthen the grip: forearms exercises, farmer’s walks (just walk with heavy dumbbells as long as possible, but not too long either) and “pinches” (take two small plates, put them together, flat sides out, “pinch and hold” them using just your thumb and index fingers).

    I have been able to considerably increase my deadlift, from 95lbs or so, to 155-160lbs in a few months. My squat has always been pretty strong (175lbs), but my bench suffers (105lbs). But mind you, I’m a 5’0, 130lbs, itty-bity thing. The men at my gym fear me; it’s a good feeling :)

  18. Peanutcat
    May 22, 2007 at 9:34 am


  19. sylvie
    May 22, 2007 at 11:39 am

    I’ve wanted a word like this for a long time. To be able to describe something that I did which was ballsy, without having to imply that doing cool challenging stuff requires balls, physically or metaphorically.

    Bad-ass is a decent gender neutral term, not ideal but something to work with in the meantime. I like Peanutcat’s Thatchers, too.

  20. syfr
    May 22, 2007 at 12:34 pm

    I go with huevos as a synomym for balls. Because I’ve heard it used to refer to cojones, but the women are the ones with the eggs!

  21. May 22, 2007 at 4:41 pm


  22. Medicine Man
    May 22, 2007 at 7:43 pm

    I think Machisma is a good candidate. It meets the requirements: it’s a short term (as most slang is), feminine, and has a logical, easy-to-discern meaning that will require little explaination. If you want a new bit of slang to catch on, think short and snappy.

    A male version of the insult “cunt” would be “anus”. Short, vulger, and dirty — exactly what the people using the term “cunt” are thinking.

  23. May 22, 2007 at 8:58 pm

    Except it couldn’t be “anus”, Medicine Man, because that’s the technical term for it. “Cunt” isn’t the technical term for anything.

  24. Medicine Man
    May 23, 2007 at 4:08 am

    I’ll have to think on it. This may be my one chance to contribute something of enduring value to society. :)

  25. crys t
    May 23, 2007 at 6:51 am

    “Machismo” is the Spanish word to describe that male sense of superiority and also hyper-masculine behaviour (and BTW the Spanish word for sexist is “machista”). The root word is “macho” though, which just means male, not masculine (which is “masculino”).

    The option of “machisma” would suck because it implies that maleness is a prerequisite for a woman to be admirable. And BTW, when did feminists decide that using the expression “balls” to describe anything courageous was okay? I’m really getting tired of that one, especially as English already has the expression “guts” which serves the exact same purpose. I guess it doesn’t make you sound like one of the Cool Kids, though–don’t want them thinking that all feminists are wimps, do we?

    Also, “machisma” doesn’t work grammatically because any sort of -ism always ends in “-ismo.” Just putting an “a” on the end of a word when you want to use it to refer to females has zero to do with how Spanish works, and if you’re going to appropriate Spanish for your own use, at least have the respect to do it properly.

    The word for female is “hembra,” so the proper corollary to “machismo” would be “hembrismo,” not “feminismo,” which is feminism. And “feminista” is already the word for feminist (female or male–just like a sexist is always a “machista” regardless of gender).

    The problem is that “hembrismo” already has a connotation of exaggeratedly-feminine behaviour.

  26. Thomas
    May 23, 2007 at 9:07 am

    Crys, I have found that “backbone” and “spine” also work well as non-sexist substitutes for some of the concepts that people so frequently express with “balls.”

  27. May 23, 2007 at 10:20 am


  28. Medicine Man
    May 23, 2007 at 1:33 pm

    Crys —

    That’s pretty interesting. I didn’t have any idea where the term macho came from originally, although I probably would have guessed latin america somewhere.

    I don’t think slang terms need to follow good grammar rules though. Communicating the idea quickly and with style is more important.

  29. JR
    May 24, 2007 at 3:41 am

    I never understood why “balls” has to be a gendered term. I mean, aren’t ovaries mostly spherical as well?

    Then again, I suppose assigning some sort of magical chutzpa power to anyone’s sexual organs is weird.

  30. Peter
    May 24, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    I vote for machisma.

    So what if it is ungrammatical in Spanish? We’ve co-opted a lot of Spanish words and given them new or altered English usages.

    The question is whether, in English, it communicates the point. Doesn’t work to casually toss off a comment about your coolness, then have to explain the history of the word you use.

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