Is It Sexist to Call a Feud a Catfight?

Catfight Chat

In the United States, when two women engage in public dispute it’s often labeled as a catfight. Is using that term considered sexist? While using that label may suggest only women fight, and may allude to old-school gender stereotypes; using that terminology also trivializes an important disagreement while adding an element of objectification into the discourse.

Catfights have long been seen as a cultural touchstone that portrays women as wild animals capable of aggressive behavior and fighting, popularized in movies, TV shows, and pornography. Simply visiting any website dedicated to catfights will likely result in numerous images and videos featuring bikini-clad women pulling hair, hitting each other with fists, wrestling each other violently or pulling back hair when involved in catfights.

Not so much the specific imagery as much as its message – which implies females as dangerous animals capable of attacking each other – that’s offensive; objectification occurs because many use this phrase on social media and in conversations to insult other women or comment about their appearances.

Answer: No – at least when used to describe an actual physical fight between women. But it’s still important to think carefully about the language we choose in order to avoid offending other people; knowing the history of words like these will assist with this goal.