In an African society where women still face many pressures and are confronted with tenacious prejudices, it is essential to ensure benevolent and respectful communication with them in daily interactions. This includes paying particular attention to the language we use. Some phrases, although trivialized, can hurt, affect self-confidence and self-esteem, belittle, or even discriminate.

Here are 10 phrases to avoid from your vocabulary or that it would be better to never say to a woman in order to cultivate more positive communication:

  1. “You’re not married yet? But you’re already 30!”

This phrase, often uttered in a reproachful or pitying tone, stigmatizes single women and reinforces the idea that a woman is only accomplished when she is married, ignoring her personal aspirations and achievements. It is important to respect everyone’s life choices, without judgment or pressure.
Yes, a woman has the right to be single no matter what age, if she wants to, and it’s not because she’s already “withering” and no longer getting advances or has a behavioral problem or anything else!

  1. “Why don’t you have children? Don’t you want to have any?”

This indiscreet question puts pressure on women who do not have children, whether they want them or not. This kind of misplaced interrogation imposes a social and biological norm on motherhood, obscuring individual choices and the difficulties that some women may experience in conceiving.
It is important to respect each woman’s decisions regarding motherhood, without commenting on or judging them.

  1. “You’ve gained weight! You should watch what you eat.”

Remarking on someone’s weight, in a negative way, can be hurtful and damaging to their self-esteem. This derogatory comment about one’s physique that is often thrown out disguised as a “bad taste joke” fuels the pressure on women and reinforces the dictates of thinness, harming their self-esteem. It is appropriate to focus on health and well-being in general, rather than on physical appearance.

  1. “You’ve lost weight! Are you sick?”

In the same way as comments about weight gain, remarks about weight loss can be hurtful and a source of worry and self-consciousness. This intrusive remark about weight stigmatizes women who do not conform to aesthetic standards and ignores potential health problems. It is important to refrain from making comments about someone’s physical appearance.

  1. “You’re so strong for a woman!”

This paternalistic phrase minimizes the abilities of women and confines them to a fragile role, comforting society in its vision of the female sex as the “weaker sex”.

  1. “You’re like a boy! That’s not normal for a girl.”

This phrase reinforces gender stereotypes and limits acceptable behaviors for men and women. It is important to encourage self-expression and personal fulfillment, without worrying about restrictive social conventions.

  1. “You cook so well! You were made to stay at home.”

“A woman’s place is in the kitchen!” You have certainly heard this unfortunate phrase that goes through time, at home, on the street or in this tiktok trend. It minimizes a woman’s professional aspirations and skills outside the home and confines her to a domestic role. Instead of reducing women to these stereotypical roles, let’s learn to value women in all areas of their lives, whether professional, personal or family. Let’s be supporters for each woman, not detractors!

  1. “You’re too sensitive! You shouldn’t get upset over so little.”

Minimizing a woman’s emotions invalidates her feelings and can make her feel misunderstood. By no longer expressing her emotions for fear of being judged, the woman can develop depression or burnout and see her social life and mental health take a hit!
It is important to listen to and respect everyone’s feelings, without judging them. Offering solutions would be a better idea in this case.

  1. “All women are the same! You’re like my mother/sister/ex.”

This dangerous generalization ignores the diversity and complexity of female personalities and reduces them to clichés. It is important to treat each individual with respect and not make hasty judgments based on gender or past experiences.

  1. “You should be like her.”

Comparing one woman to another creates unnecessary competition and devalues her own choices and accomplishments. It is important to celebrate individual successes and encourage each woman to follow her own path without feeling inferior or superior to another. It’s about everyone’s mental balance!

By banning these 10 phrases from your daily vocabulary, you can help create a more respectful and caring environment for women, valuing their individuality, choices and aspirations.

Remember that communication is a fundamental pillar of any healthy relationship. By adopting a caring and empathetic approach, you can build more positive and rewarding interactions with the women around you.

Every woman is unique and deserves to be treated with dignity and consideration!

By Pélagie Blewussi

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