I’ve held my tongue about this for a long, long time, but recent exposure to this phenomenon seems to have been the final straw, and I must speak out, because it bugs the ever-livin’ shit out of me. Basically, what it comes down to, is that I passionately hate when people use the terms “female” and “male” to refer to human beings. Because to me, “male” and “female” are adjectives, and only used as nouns when referring to non-humans (dogs, dragonflies, what have you) because we HAVE gendered words for humans. That is how I’ve seen it over the years on TV or read it in books. You’re either a girl or a woman, a boy or a man. You could be dame or a dude, a ma’am or a sir, a lady or a gentleman. Indeed, there are any number of excellent words to describe individual persons of either gender.
If you pull a duck out of a pond and are taking a ducky census, you can say “It’s male” or “It’s a female,” but when I hear someone talking about “You know females, they get all crazy,” Or “You can’t trust males” or some other generalization (because it’s always a generalization, and I think that’s key to its irritation factor), I want to scream.
I hear it more often applied to women, which bugs the hell out of me for reasons I’ll go into almost immediately, but regardless of whether it’s “females” or “males,” it is, to me, totally dehumanizing. Which is the intent, I believe, because that’s what you want to do when you want to make lame generalizations about half the world’s human population, because you might feel bad about saying nasty crap about an actual human being. Invariably, when I hear or read men referring to a “female,” it is with a dismissive attitude. Said “female” is not worthy of respect; indeed, she isn’t worthy of being considered an actual human being. It’s less frequent that I hear women refer to “males,” but the flavor of the usage is exactly the same: you’re not a person; you’re barely an adjective.
I find it creepy in the extreme, because it implies, to me, an attitude of “othering,” and if you can successfully make another person or another group “other,” it’s a short hop and a skip to not caring about them at all, and from there, it’s a short trip indeed to abusing, subjugating, oppressing, and perhaps even killing them. If you make people into things, you have no human responsibility toward them, and no personal responsibility to consider the results of your actions or inaction towards them. That way lies all the evil ever perpetrated by humans on each other. So knock it off.