Here’s Why This English Guide Just Banned The Word Mistress

Komal Basith

Plus more misogynistic words we’d like to see gone forever.

The AP Stylebook, the English grammar style and usage guide followed by most American journalists, recently announced a new set of changes to its guidebook for 2016. The change we’re most interested in is the eradication of the word mistress, since there isn’t an appropriate male counterpart to the word.

This got us thinking; while there’s no doubt that the English language is moving ever closer to gender neutrality (which is why we no longer have words like comedienne, manageress and, god forbid, doctress), there are still plenty of words we’d like to see disappear forever, both in writing and in speech. Here are a few.  


Why we want it gone: When was the last time you heard a man referred to as bossy? That’s right – it’s a term that’s usually applied to women, sometimes even by other women, to connote an almost undeserved sense of ambition, power or drive. Off with its head.

Replace with: Boss. As in, “I’m not bossy, I’m the boss.” Thanks for that, Beyonce.

See also: #girlboss


Why we want it gone: We don’t love the image this word brings to mind, or the fact that it further emphasizes the pressure society puts on women to find a man ‘before it’s too late’. We're also not huge fans of its implications that being single well into middle age will make us both bitter and unattractive. There are plenty of other things that might do that, sure, but being single? Not necessarily one of them. Besides, what’s the male equivalent to this term? Oh right, there is none. 

Replace with: A better society.

See also: cat lady, cougar.


Why we want it gone: Sure, women have been trying to take the word ‘slut’ back for years now and turn it into a positive thing, but we’d be far happier to see the it disappear forever along with all lingering connotations that women who enjoy sex are to be shamed while men who do so are to be lauded.

Replace with: Evolved notions of gender norms. As in, “Natasha’s been on four dates in the last five days, but that doesn’t bother me because I have evolveds notions of gender norms!”

See also: man whore


Why we want it gone: Fill in the blank. A man whose wife cheats on him is a cuckold, but a woman whose husband cheats on her is a ______. Did you have to think about that? That’s exactly why we’d be happy to see it gone – being cheated on sucks regardless of who you are, but the idea that it’s somehow more shameful to be cheated on if you’re a man because it means that you can't somehow ‘control your woman’, so much so that it deserves its own word? Thanks, bye!


Why we want it gone: Because it’s time we stopped defining children by how much or little they adhere to traditional gender roles.

Replace with: Nothing. As in, “I've noticed your daughter dresses like a boy and speaks her mind a whole lot – what do you think of that?” “Nothing.”

See also: sissy


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