“Bitches and Dudes,” a.k.a. “Women and Men” on College Campuses

Researchers looking at the most commonly used words to describe women and men on college campuses made some interesting findings.

Labels for college men: guy, dude, boy (as in “one of my boys”), stud/homey

Labels for college women: babe, chick, slut, bitch

See a difference?

The words describing men are fairly neutral. The most negative term may be “boy,” implying immaturity, not manhood. But the phrase “one of my boys” is endearing and inclusive. “Homey” prompts thoughts of ghetto life – low class. But it also suggests streetwise toughness – a positive for men.

Stud is very positive, and was likely used a bit more ten years ago when this study was done. Player and pimp might be more common now, but they all create similar imagery: a sexually active man who is potent and adept at attracting women, getting women to submit sexually — and in so doing conquering them. Powerful imagery.

And words for women? They are all sexualized. “Babe” and “chick” indicate sexual attractiveness, alerting us to how important beauty is for women.

“Babe” infantilizes, but also suggests endearment. The term can also describe men whom women are close to. “Chick” may have come from the word chic, meaning fashionable. But thoughts of a baby bird do suggest immaturity, with the added hint of animal status.

“Slut” is the counterpart to stud, but without the celebratory salute – quite the opposite, in fact. “Bitch” can have a similar meaning as in, “A bitch sleeps with everyone but me.” Of course, “extremely unpleasant personality” can be an alternate meaning.

When men seem so interested in getting sex it seems odd to use words that shame women’s sexuality and contribute to sexual dysfunction. Perhaps it all makes conquest, and the ensuing rise in self-regard, that much sweeter.

On the whole, terms describing women are much more negative than those labeling men.

Language affects our minds, it guides how we see the world and ourselves. For more on this, see my post on how language shapes us.

When words describe women as sexual, secondary, and degraded, both women and men come to see them that way, at least unconsciously. We see the effects when less evolved men easily throw these sticks and stones at women, or when too many women swallow the terms, and without much of a whimper.

Originally posted on February 4, 2011 by

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on December 26, 2011, in feminism, gender, psychology, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. wow, this was interesting to read and is sadly true. I hear it all the time from guys “oh that chick” or ” I was talking to my bitch” guys always use such words to refer to females. I really liked how on this post it said that the way we refer to women is how we are seen. So we are seen as bitches, sluts, and chicks because that’s what we have allowed. There should be no reason to be labeled that way and seen as “secodary” we aren’t any less then men. We don’t go around calling men such negative words.so we should be treated with respect, but a lot of women are at fault for this not just the men because for starters the women alow it. They are okay with being called a “chick” or a “bitch”. What has our society come to? Is it really that cool to allow someone to call you chick? I don’t think so. Language does affect our minds and because it’s seen all around us on how women are labeled our children will grow up to think that women are less than men. Nothing makes a man better or a women better than a man, we are equal and should be treated that way. Lets face it without us women their would be no life,and without men their wouldn’t be life either therefore we should see each other as special and respect one another.

  2. For men the words referring to them show a sense of respect and are not as harsh, but for women the words referring to them are used in an inappropriate and discouraging way. Women are worthy but these small words can be degrading. Using labels is injustice and we shouldn’t be categorized as something we are not and aren’t we all just equally the same? Women hold a lot of respect in the real world, without women there would be no world. I think its necessary for a man to know who she is before categorizing just any woman. Its just not right to judge right off the bat.

  3. Whenever I am out and about, whether at the store, school, or somewhere else I hear both women and men talking to each other like this. You hear girls call their girl friends sluts, bitches, and hoes, while guys just call each other dude, homey, etc. One can see that women’s terms are much more degrading, and calling each other sluts and hoes just shows men that they are allowed to call women those names too. Its quite sad really that this is how we talk to each other. Back in the old days you would never hear these words in every day language, but now it is a standard thing.

  4. “We see the effects when less evolved men easily throw these sticks and stones at women, or when too many women swallow the terms, and without much of a whimper.” It’s been my experience that women often throw the same sticks and stones at other women– using “bitch” and “slut,” as well as others such as “ho,” as both terms of endearment and as an attack. This creates ambiguity about the definition and therefore permits its use by men and makes these degrading terms socially acceptable. Furthermore, using the masculine words such as “dude” or “guy” does nothing but identify someone by their gender. Words such as “slut” and “babe” define a woman by her sexuality, thus perpetuating the notion that women are sexual objects, not human beings.

  5. First of all, I am sad to see these words occur on college campuses. There are some reasons for this to happen. First of all, I think it’s because men’s desires of having sex is much stronger than women. So usually when men see very sexy women, a lot of men want to have sex with them. On the other hand, when women see handsome men, not many of them want to sleep with them. So men call women these imaginable words. Another reason is the history, from a very long time ago, men have been stronger and more powerful than women in this society, so usually many men see women as sex objects. These views can be found in the society, on TV and many other places. People have seen and being taught in this way since they were born, it’s hard to make them think this is not the right to see people. So I think it’s way more important to make children have correct views when they are little, and it’s the fundamental solution for us to make change.

    • I’m assuming by men’s power leading to seeing women as sex objects you mean their power to define the world (historically men have been the writers, publishers, artists… who present women in a highly sexualized way).

      Thank you.

  6. This article concern is a great example of a double standard in today’s society. All the terms related to men are viewed in a much more positive light than those referring to women. I still haven’t the slightest idea why this is true, but I have a feeling that most of it revolves around the idea of power. Thinking about it somewhat reminds me of a corporate setting. Since we live in a primarily male dominated world, most of the CEOs and Presidents just happen to be men. Which means that the secretaries and assistants are women, automatically giving these males power, control and authority over them. The same thing goes for the term “pimp.” They are the ones who are calling the shots in relationships while the women is there as an object in which he feels he could do whatever he wants with them. Because men have such control over women, that apparently makes them “sluts,” but sometimes there is no easy way out of situations like that. It could either be dangerous, or their last hope. Based on the corporate world example, the female could desperately need the job in order to pay for her bills and what not leaving her to suffer under the commands of a possibly intimidating boss. Unfortunately, there is no way to officially eliminate these terms; they are just another unjust view from society that may never be fixed.

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