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As a one who grew up in a household of stunningly talented, self-confident women, I was always impressed with the blunt idiocy of the boy-to-boy exhortations “Be a man!” and “Don’t be a girl!” These never corresponded with the way I selected my role models.
Don’t get me wrong: I like glib, razzing smack like “Grow a pair!” and “Have some sack!” as much as the next guy. The misplaced misogyny implied in the slight only adds to the silliness. The problem is that these insults are usually slung with only half the requisite irony. And it’s rarely edifying to inform people who have just cracked a legitimately funny joke that they have failed to understand the root of the humor.
The crude, anatomical, synecdochic insults “Don’t be a pussy!” and “Don’t be a dick!” are, of course, the highest forms of the art. They are also the most telling. The former says to men: don’t behave in ways we find virtuous in women. The latter says: don’t behave like the man you are. Small wonder that the former never sounds smart and the latter always stings.
Do you have something to add on this topic? Don’t be a pussy; leave a comment. Just don’t be a dick about it.