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Gendered Insult

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"You play ball like a GIRL!"
Ham Porter, The Sandlot

Whatever the reality of gender, the fact is that it has a lot of baggage tied to it, physical and cultural. It comes with expectations. And this trope is about people who defy stereotypes. Or who live up to them. Or who don't, but the person thinks they did. Or maybe someone just needs an insult and something about gender is handy. Insulting your gender is easily as handy as insulting Your Mom.


This can be expressed in multiple ways (this is not an exhaustive list):

  • Insulting a person for not conforming to their gender (e.g., You like clothes? That's a girl thing)
  • Insulting a person for conforming to their gender (perhaps Stop Being Stereotypical, perhaps just "girls suck at math")
  • Calling a person the wrong gender as an insult (see also "It" Is Dehumanizing)

It's incredibly common for the Heteronormative Crusader and Drill Sergeant Nasty to throw these out as a matter of course. You can also expect to hear them from the He-Man Woman Hater and Straw Misogynist, and for that matter someone who Does Not Like Men.

This is related to Acceptable Feminine Goals and Traits and its non-existent Spear Counterpart. It also finds itself crossing not just gender, but sexuality (accusations of homosexuality), and can be particularly hurtful to Transgender people (purposely misgendering someone). It's been observed that the majority of gendered insults are specifically derogatory to women or femininity (think "bitch", "sissy", "whore", etc.), which probably reflects a societal Double Standard — though on the flip side, characterising a woman as overly masculine is also a common form of insult.


Insult of Endearment and Appropriated Appellation may apply if a same-gender group of friends starts using such an insult for each other; it's not uncommon for a group of female friends to affectionately call each other "bitches", for example, or a coach to rally his team by saying "All right, ladies..."

Supertrope to Country Matters and This Is for Emphasis, Bitch! Contrast Slapstick Knows No Gender.

Note: for Real Life examples, be sure to be cautious.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Stop Hibari Kun: In addition to the most common derogatory word used for Hibari, "pervert" (hentai in Japanese), more specifically gendered insults also turn up. For example, Sayuri calls her an otokoonna (literally "man-woman"), a nowadays somewhat old-fashioned derogatory term for effeminate men.
  • Wandering Son: This backfires in the first episode of the anime when two boys call Nitori and Maho girly. Nitori finds it a compliment because she's a closeted trans girl.

    Comic Books 
  • In Starman 80-page Giant, there's a story featuring "The Little O'Dares (And Patrolman Clarence)" in which young Hope O'Dare tells one of her brothers "You throw more like a girl than I do!"
  • In The Dragon of Bayamón from Puerto Rico Strong, 11-year old Julian's female cousin says that he's "like a girl" for getting scared at roaches.

    Fan Works 
  • Little Fires: Emberpaw gets poked fun at and scolded for not being boyish enough. It's complicated because — unknown to most of the clan — Emberpaw doesn't identify as a tom in the first place.
  • RWBY: Scars:
    • Raven being a jerk is accentuated by her misgendering her niece Ruby. She refuses to refer to Ruby as female.
    • Whitley is a trans boy who has recently begun transitioning. When around his children, Jacques refers to Whitley as Weiss' "sibling", not her brother. Behind their back, he outright refers to Whitley as female.
  • In Warriors Rewrite, Smudge misgenders Rusty a lot.

    Film — Animation 
  • Mulan has the "Make a man out of you" song, which starts with "did they send me daughters when I asked for sons?" Played for irony of course, with the main character being a Sweet Polly Oliver.
  • Wreck-It Ralph: Sergeant Calhoun makes her introduction by curtly deriding the male contingent of super-soldiers under her command as ladies, which is ironic since she herself is a woman and the toughest of the lot.
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame:
    Phoebus: You fight almost as well as a man.
    Esmeralda: Funny, I was going to say the same thing about you.

    Film — Live Action 
  • One of the girls stuck at the retraining camp in But I'm a Cheerleader eventually blows up in protest; she's not gay, she likes boys! She just happens to also like keeping her hair cut short and playing sports! The entire film is a giant parody and Take That! at the Heteronormative Crusader and approved gender roles.
  • Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle establishes Harold's character early, when he evinces enjoyment of Sixteen Candles, to Kumar's open disgust.
    Harold: Whatever, it's a beautiful story.
    Kumar: Homo.
  • Van Wilder. At one point early in the film, the title character throws a cross-dressing pajama party. This his father walks in on him making out with someone in a closet and sees him wearing lipstick in a teddy.
    Van Sr.: Sweet Jesus, my son's a fairy.
    [girl appears]
    Van Sr.: Oh, thank God.
  • Pete of I Love You, Man faces a lot of subtle and not so subtle scorn and derision for his metrosexual characteristics and lack of guy friends. At the poker game, he faces a storm of abuse from the host for not playing his masculinity right.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Thor: The title character is grudgingly willing to leave Jotunheim without a fight until one of the Frost Giants says "Run back home, little princess."
      Loki: [aware of the impending fight] Damn.
    • Thor: Ragnarok: When Thor and Loki arrive in New York and see that the retirement home where Loki left Odin is being demolished, Loki defends himself saying that he can't see into the future because he isn't a witch.
      Thor: No? Then why do you dress like one?
  • In Aliens, Hudson attempts to insult Vasquez with this. She turns it right back around on him.
    Hudson: Have you ever been mistaken for a man?
    Vasquez: No. Have you?
  • In The Sandlot, Ham and the leader of the local Little League team exchange a variety of childish insults. Ham wins when he says "You play ball like a girl!"
  • In The Shawshank Redemption the head bull casually insults the prisoners by calling them "ladies."
  • Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. Dr. Evil's assassin Random Task tries to kill Austin by throwing his shoe at him. Instead of being killed Austin just gets a bump on the head. He's so disgusted that he tells Random Task "Really, you fight like a woman."
  • Romeo and Juliet (1968): After Romeo is sobbing over being exiled from Verona and then grabs a dagger to kill himself, Friar Lawrence slaps him down, rebuking him for "womanish" tears, saying he needs to act like the man he is.
  • Bridge to Terabithia: In the 2007 film, Jess is called a "girl" a lot by other boys because he likes art, plus only being friends with a girl (Leslie) as well.

  • The Realm of the Elderlings does this deliberately to invoke setting, when it shows up. The first and third trilogies take place in the fairly egalitarian society of the Six Duchies, in which gender roles are more fluid; women can be warriors and no one gives it a second thought. The second and fourth trilogies take place in the far more gendered society of Bingtown; Althea is repeatedly attacked for being masculine in the second trilogy, and Sedric is too feminine in the fourth.
    Sedric: I just like things to be nice!
  • Theon Grayjoy throws some insults at his sister, who he feels is unacceptably mannish, in A Song of Ice and Fire. His unhappiness is increased by the fact that he had been trying to get in her pants without knowing she was his sister, on learning that she is his father's favorite and that his people see him as unacceptably womanish.
  • Discworld
    • Monstrous Regiment. Borogravia is an Expy of a war-torn Eastern European nation with a rigidly backward authoritarian religion that forces women to wear dresses and headscarves and only do women's worknote . The book follows a plucky Sweet Polly Oliver as she sheds these notions and helps usher in a new era for the nation, and explores some notions of gender norms and what exactly is an Abomination?
    • The Fifth Elephant. Ha'ak is a very serious insult in Dwarfish. We aren't told what it means, but it's applied to a (female) dwarf who displays Tertiary Sexual Characteristics, to the point that Cheery nearly breaks down in tears and Detritus proclaims he will shoot the next dwarf to say the word with his Piecemaker.
  • Dua from The Gods Themselves was called Left-em when she was young (a long story involving Bizarre Alien Sexes).
  • A common sight in the Tortall Universe because one of the main themes is sexism and misogyny. Most prevalent in the Protector of the Small quartet, though. The heroine, Kel, is the first known female to try for knighthood in a century (the only other Lady Knight disguised herself as a boy). Among the various insults thrown at Kel: girls are not as strong, girls are too emotional, etc.
  • In R Scott Bakker's The Disciple Of The Dog, Disciple Manning Lampshades and Parodies this trope by implying that only women listen to Kelly Clarkson. A female character snarkily comments, "Let me guess, you hate Kelly Clarkson," to which Disciple responds, "Not at all. I love her. Every time I hear a Kelly Clarkson song, it makes me want to draw a hot bath, light some candles, and shave my vagina."
  • Myron Bolitar Series: Whenever Myron displays loyalty or affection for his current girlfriend, Win calls him a girl as an insult.
  • In his book Mike Nelson's Movie Megacheese, Mike Nelson wrote of his disdain for the archetypal athletic coach who "refers to young men as 'ladies' and constantly shouts disingenuous statements of incredulity like 'I do not BELIEVE what I am SEEING here, ladies!'"
    "See, I think they do believe what they are seeing; it's that dishonesty I can't stand."

    Live-Action TV 
  • On 30 Rock, mainly in earlier episodes, Jack would insult Liz by calling her mannish or telling her to shop at a women's clothing store. The show's third episode ("Blind Date") centers around him assuming that she's a lesbian.
  • On Angel, Spike loves to call Angel a Nancy-boy. One example was his mocking narration in "In the Dark" where he refers to Angel's hair gel that way.
  • When Oliver's learning to fight with a blade on the island in Arrow's flashbacks, he's told that he has "no skill. To say you fight like a girl would be a compliment." Later, he's unfavorably compared to a girl scout.
  • The Bazura Project, an Australian series comedically examining "Sinema with an S", had a segment examining this. The white male hosts show a slew of clips from movies with men calling women "bitch", "whore", etc, which they see nothing wrong with, but take exception to the final clip, where a woman calls a man a "jerk". They then talk about racial insults, once again seeing nothing wrong with insults towards minorities, but being offended by "What are you gonna do about it, whitey?"
  • In Blackadder II "Potato", Captain Rum refers to anyone who hasn't got roughed up by the sea as having a woman's [blank]:
    Rum: You have a woman's hand, milord! I'll wager these dainty pinkies never weighed anchor in a storm.

    Rum: You have a woman's purse! I'll wager that purse has never been used as a rowing-boat. I'll wager it's never had sixteen shipwrecked mariners tossing in it.

    Rum: You have a woman's mouth, milord! I'll wager that mouth never had to chew through the side of a ship to escape the dreadful spindly killer fish.

    Rum: You have a woman's legs, my lord! I'll wager those are legs that have never been sliced clean off by a falling sail and swept into the sea before your very eyes.
    Blackadder: Well, neither have yours.
    Rum: That's where you're wrong.

    Rum: [to the queen] You have a woman's bottom, my Lady! I'll wager that sweet round pair of peaches has never been forced 'twixt two splintered planks, to plug a leak and save a ship!
    Queen: Certainly hasn't, and I'm quite pleased about it!
  • Bones:
    • The title character occasionally gets attacked for not being "a girl", meaning when she doesn't act like a gentle, supportive, June Cleaver type.
    • One episode sees an agent very upset to learn that a case he'd been working for thirty years had gotten a plea deal behind his back, and was called a little girl for complaining about it. 9 years for the death of a cop, thirty years of work, and he gets called a little girl for being unhappy.
  • Cobra Kai: Johnny Lawrence has no problem deliberately addressing guys with terminology that refers to the opposite sex, to the point that "pussy" is basically his students' catchphrase. His students themselves also use said insults to antagonize their detractors.
    • Johnny unleashes a tirade of these during his first training session with Miguel, when teaching him about the philosophy Cobra Kai subscribes to.
      "Striking first is about being aggressive. Right? If you're not aggressive, then you're being a pussy. You don't want to be a pussy; you want to have balls."
    • Johnny mockingly addresses Daniel as "Danielle" while test driving a Dodge Challenger.
    • Hawk calls Chris, who is in the middle of a shift at Golf 'n Stuff, a "good girl" when he demands a bobblehead from the prize counter.
      "Why don't you be a good girl and grab us one of those bobbleheads?"
  • The Commish: When Tony takes over coaching his son's basketball team, he calls them girls in order to motivate them. Eventually, he gets called on his overly complex plays and pushing the kids by Wilt Chamberlain, and just lets them play and enjoy themselves.
  • Control Z: Isabela is called a guy by most people after it's revealed she's transgender. Gerry's called gay since he watched some gay porn. Both are incensed.
  • Cookie in Empire called Jamal's boyfriend 'Dora' and accused Lucius of "growing a vagina."
  • On Everybody Loves Raymond, Frank will call his son Raymond "Nancy" when criticizing him for doing or handling something in what he thinks is an unmanly fashion.
  • Friends:
    • One early episode focused on how everyone thought Chandler was gay when they met him, and it became a running gag. He was metrosexual before it was really a thing, complimented the women's clothes, and preferred to watch the parade rather than the game on Thanksgiving.
      Rachel: Seriously, ESPN, just have it on in the background sometimes.
    • Ross, on the other hand, wore soft clothing (tweeds, sweaters) in pastel colors (actor David Schwimmer's preference), though he tried to dissemble by calling a shirt "salmon" rather than "pink". A number of jokes revolved around his lack of manliness.
      Ross: She doesn't think I'm man enough to play this? I could play this!
      Joey: Ross, you're not even man enough to order the channel.
  • How I Met Your Mother loves to insult Ted and Marshall for not being manly enough. On multiple occasions, they're derided by the group and called women (even by the women) for being sensitive or caring about their appearance.
    Ted: You know what I need?
    Lily: A vagina?
  • In the Lizzie McGuire episode "One of the Guys," Kate makes fun of Lizzie for being called a "dude" by Ethan. Never mind that Ethan clearly did not mean it as an insult.
  • On Mystery Science Theater 3000, the host and the bots frequently call each other "femme", implying an activity is unmanly. This happens more frequently in the episodes in which Mike is the host, and it comes off as rather childish (Mike and the bots tend to be very immature).
  • The Mythbusters tested the "throws like a girl" insult. Result: it's all training, nothing to do with in-born differences.
  • Psych:
    • An early episode takes a brief detour into Shawn insulting his father's lifestyle choices, accusing him of being metrosexual for fake tanning, taking a bubble bath, and cooking a roast. It quickly devolves into a fight about "real men".
    • In a second season episode, Shawn learns that Lassiter has a thing for horses.
    Shawn: ... when he was little, Lassie wanted nothing more than a pony.
    Lassiter: [beat] Well, who didn't?
    Gus: Anyone who wasn't an eight-year-old girl.
    • Later in the same episode:
    Shawn: When I left my dad's...
    Gus: You mean stormed out like a little girl?
  • JD on Scrubs was a victim of this, beginning with the first episode and lasting until he left the show. His mentor, Cox, almost never called him by his name, but by a different girl's name every episode.
  • Star Trek: Picard: Elnor is derided by the locals as a "sisterboy" because he was brought up by the Qowat Milat nuns. It's basically the Romulan equivalent of calling a man a "sissy," and it reflects their society's Double Standard on gender roles.
  • On That '70s Show, Jackie would often make fun of Donna for her mannish clothes, comparing her to a lumberjack.
  • The West Wing:
    • When Sam one-ups Lionel Tribbey in an argument about Gilbert and Sullivan by asking if Tribbey was the recording secretary of his university's G&S society, Tribbey's response is "No, but then again I'm not a woman."
    • When Sam is out-debated by Ainsley Hayes on a Sunday morning show, the other senior staffers are particularly entertained that he was "beaten by a girl."
    • One female government staffer isn't pleased with Sam criticizing a piece of language by saying "it sounds like a high school girl wrote it" and wants to know why he thinks a girl's writing would be any more amateurish than a high school boy's. He gets defensive and then reiterates that "it sounds like a girl to me" when the meeting is over.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • TCW heel "Golden Boy" Greg Anthony is often greeted with a Crowd Chant of "Golden Girl! Golden Girl!"

  • Insulting men by calling them bitches (female dogs) goes back to at least the sixteenth century, showing up in various plays, including the works of Shakespeare.
  • The Ancient Greece playwright Aristophanes heaped abuse on a notorious homosexual in several of his comedies. Roasting prominent audience members was considered par for the course, though, so it's not quite as awful as it might seem. YMMV, though, as he was quite conservative, making him somewhat the Glenn Beck of his day...
  • Romeo and Juliet: When Romeo is weeping after he's sentenced to exile and then says he'll kill himself over it, Friar Lawrence rebukes him, saying "Art thou a man? Thy form declares thou art-thy tears are womanish!"

    Video Games 
  • Unsurprisingly, the Joker is quite the misogynist in Batman: Arkham Asylum.
    Joker: If you weren't hiding in the shadows - like a little girl! - this would be over so much faster.
  • In Team Fortress 2, many lines directed at the Pyro are this:
    Soldier: Ha! You fight like a girl.
    Demoman: Go home, lassie. Men are fightin' here.
    Engineer: Sorry, ma'am.
    Sniper: You know what you and Jane Austen have in common? You're both dead women.
    Spy: Good lord! You fight like a woman!

    Web Animation 
  • The Weebl & Bob song "Amazing Horse" includes the line "Shut up, woman, get on my horse!". The site writes the following comment to the song: "A song about how women's rights have improved as the use of horses for transport has declined."

  • Parodied by Oglaf in the episode "Amazon Linguistics", where one Amazon is trying to insult another by suggesting that she's not a man, and things like that, and the second Amazon keeps ignoring the insults to comment on the usage.
  • Inverted in Manly Guys Doing Manly Things: Ganondorf tells Little Mac that he fights like a woman...except since Ganondorf comes from a matriarchal warrior society, he considers that a compliment. The Commander points out that Mac might take it as an insult.
    Ganondorf: I hold women in very high esteem! Just to clear that up! In case you were wondering!
    Little Mac: Uh...okay, dude.

    Western Animation 
  • Futurama's Zap Brannigan certainly isn't intended to be sympathetic.
    Zap: Kif, I was just thinking... Oh, I'm sorry. You're crying. Like a woman.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy
    • In one episode, Double D using a sewing machine to repair a ripped seam in a curtain, to which Eddy remarks, "Gee, Double D, I never knew you were into girl stuff", which Double D exclaims, "Household tasks are not just for girls, Eddy!"
    • Also throughout the series, Double D is seen having loofah sponges in his possession; again, in one episode, Eddy remarks, "You actually use one of those things?"
    • In "Quick Shot Ed", the Eds act like nature photographers while taking pictures of other cul-de-sac kids for a calendar; while observing Jimmy playing with dolls with Sarah, Double D offers this explanation: "Sometimes animals get confused, and adapt to another animal's habits."
  • In an episode of Rocket Power, when Lars insults the main foursome after his team beats them in a street hockey game, Otto retorts, "You guys play like girls!", which, of course, promptly offends Reggie.
  • When SpongeBob SquarePants is training Gary for a race, he calls him a girl, saying that it's a motivational tactic that coaches use. Meanwhile, miles away, Sandy gets the sudden urge to kick SpongeBob's butt tomorrow.
  • The Simpsons: The Nuclear Power Plant goes to a baseball game as a group outing. Mr. Burns weakly throws out the first pitch. Bart & Lisa have fun heckling him.
    Bart: You throw like my sister, man!
    Lisa: Yeah, you throw like me!
  • Archer: Bad Boss Malory Archer occasionally refers to the gay and somewhat effeminate field agent Ray Gillette with female pronouns to insult him.
  • In the Batman Beyond episode "Out Of The Past", Batman is held prisoner by Ra's al Ghul who's currently in his daughter Talia's body. Batman taunts Ra's into slapping him, before adding "and you hit like a girl."

    Real Life 
  • Anne Hutchison caused quite a stir in 17th-century Boston when she started a schism in the church, preaching her own brand of Puritan doctrine. She and her family were eventually exiled, and one of the charges she was found guilty of was stepping out of her place as a woman and "making of thyself an Husband".
  • Homosexuality
    • It wasn't quite as common in ancient Greece as the plays might lead you to believe; it was more an affectation of the upper class. However, there were two ways to practice, and only one was acceptable. Being on the receiving end was unmanly and known bottoms were ridiculed in public for it.
    • Ancient Rome treated homosexuality much the same way. It was okay to be a top; it made you even more manly. Being a bottom made you a woman and that was bad.
    • In the modern US, boys call each other "gay" or "fag" regularly to insult each other. This can also apply to a thing (i.e. "that's so gay") not just a person too. Being compared with a girl is also used as an insult. This can go the other direction too, though not as much (it's more accepted for girls to do "boy" things now than vice versa). It may be changing somewhat, though these insults remain. Naturally, this pretty hard if a child really is gay, trans or otherwise LGBT, and some have been bullied horribly for it based on not "living up" to what people feel their gender (as perceived) requires of them.
  • Sports: take any group of boys playing a sport...someone will get told they hit/kick/whatever like a girl. Given the rise of young girls in sports like soccer, this can be true, even if they are a girl. It's still insulting.
  • In Norse society, receiving an insult like this was legal ground to challenge the one who gave it to you to a duel to the death. That is unless the insult was true, which means you were probably an object of public mockery and may even be kicked out of the tribe soon.
  • Aicha said to her son Muhammad XII, the last Sultan of Grenada that:
    "Now you weep like a woman over what you could not defend as a man."
  • North Korea's Kim Jong-il judged one of his sons, Kim Jong-chul, to be "no good because he is like a little girl." As such, he was passed over in favor of his younger brother, Kim Jong-un.


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