Why does this matter?
Verbal violence can cause emotional trauma, both in the target and any witnesses to it. It can help to further spread prejudices, allow bullying and harassment, humiliation and aggressive attitudes. Even when it is not said directly, it has the power to influence negative and distorted perceptions of a specific woman or females in general.
Gender-based violence in words
In the workplace
Sexism in the workplace can detract from women's abilities and promote discrimination based on gender. Commonly used expressions range from those which suggest jobs are only suitable for men, to degrading a woman who is successful based on the specific characteristics of being female:
- "She’s got balls"
- "That’s a man’s job"
- “She must be on her period”
- "Who did you sleep with to get this job?"
Women as a possession
Expressions of love or flattery can also hide latent sexism, as some of these phrases also exercise psychological violence with the intention to have control over the other person:
- "You are mine and no one else’s"
- "You’re prettier when you don’t speak"
- "I don’t want you to be with anyone else"
Humiliation and degradation is another way in which violence can be conveyed, with the point of destroying the strength and self-esteem necessary to fight back:
- "No one is going to believe you"
- "No one else will put up with you"
- "Nobody cares what you have to say"
- "I'm the only one who is going to take care of you"
Blaming the victim
Words can have a profound effect on placing the responsibility for the violence suffered on the victim, absolving the aggressor of their behaviour:
- "You asked for it"
- "What are you wearing?"
- "Look what you made me do"
- "She wanted it for being dressed like that"