'Female' Is an Adjective, Not a Noun

USA, New Jersey, Jersey City, Couple talking on sofa
USA, New Jersey, Jersey City, Couple talking on sofa

Whether on social media, high schools, colleges, man caves, or any place with an abundance of men, you may hear the word "female" being used incorrectly in regards to women.

The word "female" is an adjective, used to describe the following:

  • of or relating to the sex that can produce young or lay eggs

  • characteristic of girls or women
  • having members who are all girls or women
  • However, in contemporary colloquial use, the word "female" is used as a noun to describe women or girls. It has been used so much that many dictionaries actually do include the noun form of the word. But as men, we should stop using the word "female."

    It objectifies women as things instead of beings ("These females are always... or "Dude, stop acting like a female," for examples). It's also commonly used in order to dichotomize sets of women. Our mothers, wives and daughters are "women/girls," while other women (especially strangers, women whose bodies we are seeking or denied access to, or whose ideas we disagree with) are "females."

    While some men may not have have ill-intent by making this mistake, many women are keen to its underlying microaggressive, patriarchal power, regardless of intent.

    As a guy, would you make a comment like "I'm glad to be eating with such a beautiful female" on a date? Would you expect her to say, "Excuse me, I have to go to the female's room"? Have you ever referred to your wife as "my female?" And if you are honest, think about the times in which you have (if you have) referred to any woman with the word. You were probably either mad at her or ridiculing her for something. Its connotation is usually negative.

    So to clear the confusion, here are some examples of how the word "female" can be used correctly:

    • A female deer is called a "doe."

  • Flowers have both male and female parts.
  • Over time, the color pink has become socially constructed as a "female" color.
  • Studies show that men make 23¢ more than their female counterparts. However, this difference is mostly reflective of the wage gap between white women and white men. Though frequently cited, the $0.77 statistic overlooks the difference between women of color and white men, white women, and men of color.
  • My son Joseph won his kindergarten spelling bee by correctly spelling the word "female."
  • It would be weird to hear Chaka Khan sing "I'm Every Female."
  • There is no such thing as "a female."