The very irritating things people say

…And way too often:

“You’re lucky; you don’t need makeup.” Look, no one needs makeup. No one. There is not a single reason why any person needs to wear makeup. It’s not necessary for cleansing your face (and only makes you need to clean your face), it’s not medicinal, it’s not a protectant (and sun screen is not makeup). Unless you argue abstractly and want to talk about women getting fired in some field for not wearing it or something similar, no one needs makeup. We all need to collectively start loving the faces we were born with and stop going to great lengths to cover it. Men get to do it; why won’t we?

Constantly remarking on how thin someone is. If you’re a part of civil society, you don’t do it to fat people; what makes anyone think thin people want someone remarking about their bodies non-stop? This is especially true for men, as men are socially expected to be muscular and rather not thin. It may be a more hurtful comment than you realize.

“Of course you pay for brunch, you’re a feminist!” Said by Dude to Feminist Female in a group I went to brunch with a while ago. That kind of remark indicates that the speaker is of the impression that, all along, women have been fighting for our right to completely swap roles with men, rather than be treated equally to men and given the same rights as men. Feminists aren’t interested in “trading places” with or ruling over men; feminists are interested in equality. And who pays for brunch is dependent on a number of things that don’t have much to do with feminism these days. Whoever has money pays for the damn brunch.

“Women should/do rule the world!” This is patronizing. For one, saying that women should rule the world is to acknowledge nonchalantly, rather than critically, the fact that women don’t, and men do, and that, even though you like to talk about it a lot, you’re not terribly interested in women having equal power. You probably also hate when women beat you at board games, even though you voted for Hilary. Attitude also found in sitcoms where Doofy Husbands are present.

“If global warming is real, why is it snowing?” Because:

While the frequency of storms in the middle latitudes has decreased as the climate has warmed, the intensity of those storms has increased. That’s in part because of global warming — hotter air can hold more moisture, so when a storm gathers it can unleash massive amounts of snow. Colder air, by contrast, is drier; if we were in a truly vicious cold snap, like the one that occurred over much of the East Coast during parts of January, we would be unlikely to see heavy snowfall.

Climate models also suggest that while global warming may not make hurricanes more common, it could well intensify the storms that do occur and make them more destructive.

But as far as winter storms go, shouldn’t climate change make it too warm for snow to fall? Eventually that is likely to happen — but probably not for a while. In the meantime, warmer air could be supercharged with moisture and, as long as the temperature remains below 32°F, it will result in blizzards rather than drenching winter rainstorms. And while the mid-Atlantic has borne the brunt of the snowfall so far this winter, areas near lakes may get hit even worse. As global temperatures have risen, the winter ice cover over the Great Lakes has shrunk, which has led to even more moisture in the atmosphere and more snow in the already hard-hit Great Lakes region, according to a 2003 study in the Journal of Climate.

“I don’t have a problem with gay people, as long as they don’t hit on me!” If you really don’t have a problem with gay people, then you would give no more of a flying crap if a person of the same sex hits on you than you would if someone of the opposite sex that you weren’t romantically or sexually attracted to hit on you. Say there’s a het guy. Some women are not attractive to said het guy. All men are not attractive to het guy. The two groups are the same and should be regarded as such. There isn’t a reason to be more bothered by one than the other.

“The left is intolerant!” What this really means is “the left is intolerant of my intolerance and I’m only pretending that ‘intolerance’ is a bad thing right now because I am out of of other arguments and thought maybe I could try to make the words ‘tolerance’ and ‘intolerance’ completely meaningless.” The whole point of “tolerance” is the refusal to support intolerance. “Tolerating intolerance” is oxymoronic. And, while we’re on the subject, NPR wasn’t “intolerant” of Juan Williams. NPR was intolerant of bigoted, harmful, and subjective opinions possibly representing their public- and member-supported news station.

“Oh, you must be on your period.” Usually said in response to a female display of anger or irritability, and usually by a man, but sometimes by a woman, which is very confusing. Here’s the deal: what you mean to say is “Oh, you must be experiencing symptoms of PMS.” (Although, please, just don’t bother saying anything in this situation regarding whether or not the woman is menstruating.) PMS stands for Pre-Menstrual Syndrome. Emphasis on the pre. The presence of blood doesn’t create irritability (unless it the irritability experienced upon discovering you’ve got your period because of blood found somewhere it wasn’t supposed to be, like your new sheets, or underwear). I won’t even get into the sexism present when theorizing about “menstruation” and “woman expressing emotion other than happiness.” Let’s just work on accuracy first.

What other oxymoronic, ignorant, or ridiculous things do people say regularly that pisses you off?

This entry was posted in Feminism, Gender, Humor, Language, LGBTQ, Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to The very irritating things people say

  1. Danny says:

    Making absolute conclusions about my life based only on my gender: Thinking that sharing gender with people at the top means that I somehow have access to the power and control they wield.

    Thinking size = interest in athletics: I reserve the right to commit violence the next time a random stranger comes up to me starts conversation with, “What team do you play for?” Is there some sort of rule against guys being big and not being into playing sports?

    The belief that men should not be around children alone: Can’t count how many times I’ve heard people comment that men have no business being around children because “its just not right”. Not because they have some type of actual valid evidence that they might do said child harm mind you. To these people being male in and of itself is evidence that they will harm said child. (This sentiment mostly comes from women in my experience.)

  2. Lauren says:

    “He/she has such a weird name!” I think this is really offensive to people (especially those with “weird” names) because given and chosen names are often indicative of culture or personal history. It’s just plain insensitive. It also gives no credit to the uniqueness of the name.

    • Jim says:

      It’s calling it weird that’s obnoxious. Some names are so unusual that they are hard to rememebr, hard to know how to spell, hard to pronounce – all relative ot the person trying to deal with that name. Example – we had a guy join my National Guard linguist unit on the West Coast. He was from Iowa and had a long German surname – which none of my linguists could rememebr correctly! I teased him “This is the West Coast; no one can remember such a long name, Besides, it’s time you got a real American-sounding name, Wang or Lopez or something like that, something short that people can remember.”

      “….because given and chosen names are often indicative of culture or personal history.”

      Well that can be the problem right there. How do you pronunce ‘Nguyen”? It’s a pretty common name around here. Or ‘Zhang” or ‘Yuan”? Yuan – a newscaster around here has that surname, and she pronounces it “Ewen”. Close enough to straddle both languages.

  3. Melissa says:

    The “I’m fine with gay people as long as they don’t hit on me” thing is soooo horrible!

    It’s like…for one thing…what makes you think gay people are likely to hit on you in the first place? You really think you’re just SO incredibly amazing that people will be hitting on you even though they know that you’re not even attracted to their gender??

    And second of all, if a gay person does hit on you, why the hell do you care? Is it really so horrible? Would it be equally horrible if a straight person of the opposite sex you just happen to not be attracted to hit on you? (The answer to this question has, so far, always been “no.”) What assholes.

    And Lauren, seconded on the “weird name” thing. It’s usually just really thinly veiled racism.

    How about this one?

    “Don’t worry, you’ll find him soon.” It’s like…
    A) I’m not “worried,” I’m actually very happy. I resent the implication that my lack of a man must somehow cause me distress, when in the past, the opposite has been true.
    B) I will not “find him” soon, because I’m not looking for “him.” I am not remotely interested in “finding him.”
    C) If I were for some reason to break all my rules and get into a relationship sometime soon, it would be a BAD thing. I have reasons not to date right now. And they are good ones.
    D) Even if your assumptions were correct, and I did want to “find him,” it’s such an empty thing to say. What is that opinion even based on? The wording of “find him” elicits all kinds of images about “the one” and “finding” your “soulmate,” which pretty much leaves it all up to fate or something anyway, so there is no logical or reality-based reason for a person to believe that someone else is going to “find him” in the near future.

    • April says:

      It’s like…for one thing…what makes you think gay people are likely to hit on you in the first place? You really think you’re just SO incredibly amazing that people will be hitting on you even though they know that you’re not even attracted to their gender??

      Seriously! My former neighbor is like this. He is the most homophobic asshole I’ve ever met, though, which is a little different than the people I’m talking about in the post, but he is convinced that he’s a magnet for gay men. I highly bloody doubt that, so much. I think he’s just under the mistaken impression that when a gay man speaks to him, or even looks at him, that that means they want to have sex.

    • Jim says:

      ““Don’t worry, you’ll find him soon.” It’s like…”

      Predatory. Is this person selling man-scent and a man whistle so you call one and then sit up in a blind until he comes along the trail?

  4. David K says:

    Well, It’s always in the last place you look…
    Well of course it is! What fucking moron keeps looking for something AFTER they have found it?
    Answer: Conspiracy Theorists….

    Mitchell & Webb slipped a little deconstruction of the “I don’t have a problem with gay people, as long as they don’t hit on me!” thing into their trashy horror spoof…

  5. Jim says:

    “But it’s a dry heat!”

    Apparently I’m not the only one who is tired of this. I saw a tee-shirt with “But it’s a dry heave!”

    Cheap, formulaic dismissive expressions are obnoxious:

    “Oh, you’re just bitter.” (>”And armed. Watch your mouth.”)
    “Oh, you’re just can’t take a joke.” (>” Pffff…..I can take you with my hands tied behind my back.”)
    “I bet you never get laid.” (> Ask your mother about that.”)
    “That’s offensive!” (> No, you’re offended. Big difference.)

    Et cetera

  6. Lyndsay says:

    “How can you not eat meat? How do you get enough protein/iron/variety in your diet?”

    Um, do you know there are cultures where the diet doesn’t revolve around meat?

    I’ve paid for a boyfriend’s meals before and now the guy I’m dating pays when we eat out because I have no money to spare. If I made a similar amount to someone, I’d insist on taking turns.

    Before people in the UK find out I’m Canadian, they generally think I’m American because of my accent. So many times I’ve either heard, “Oh, I’m so sorry!” because you know, being American is terrible or they continue talk to me like I’m American because of my “American accent” because all of North America is the same of course and Canadians can’t be allowed to have their own identity. Yes, we have our own currency! Isn’t there a middle ground here?

  7. David K says:


    That is: anti-Americanism that is not funny, not witty, not ironic, grindingly predictable, based on wildly inaccurate stereotypes… there is FAR too much of it.

    I have a large, invisible, red-white-and-blue banner that says:

    (anti-Americanism done with humour, wit, insight and sense of irony – that’s still OK 😉

    • Melissa says:

      Meh, I’m fine with anti-Americanism, in the same way that I’d be fine with hearing a geeky/ostracized teenager say “gosh, those popular kids can be such jerks sometimes!” With the obvious exception of calls to violence, anti-Americanism is the least we deserve for being such jerky popular kids to the rest of the world.

    • David K says:

      Well I’m not really offended by anti-Americanism on behalf of Americans you understand, it’s just that it’s so easy, stupid and lazy to do, and people who do it think they are being SO clever, and “speaking truth to power” and are so painfully self-righteous while they do it. It’s not so bad now, but back in the Bush years it was as if it had become a modern ‘Socialism of Fools’ when being left = hating the US.

      People like these SMUG. POSH. DINNER-PARTY. WANKERS…

      (and they do exist, they are numerically small, but culturally powerful… and not Will Self, obviously, he’s the smug posh wanker I agree with…)

  8. “You’re lucky you got that promotion.” – from a few jealous, lazy coworkers.

    No luck involved, thank you very much. I worked my tail off for it. Unlike you, I was on time every time, stayed late when necessary and went above and beyond on the regular. You, on the other hand, were late at least twice a week, were walking to the exit five minutes early and never did more than the bare minimum – and still complained even though you got away with it.

    Yeah, I was just incredibly, wildly lucky. Sacrifice, planning and hard work had nothing to do with it…

  9. The whole point of “tolerance” is…
    to listen to various ideas and not dismiss ones that you don’t agree with as being from “bigots” and “racists” because you don’t have anything substantial to refute it with.

    • April says:

      Do you have an example of a time when that’s happened recently that I might be aware of, like something in the media? When someone who identifies themselves as a liberal or progressive says that a comment made by someone is racist, sexist, or otherwise bigoted, when it wasn’t the case?

      There seems to be this widespread misunderstanding amongst those whose ideologies fall to the right of the political spectrum that the lefties use “bigotry” to respond to any argument they don’t like or opinion they don’t agree with. That’s largely not the case. Someone will call someone out on something bigoted they said or did, and the person being accused is immediately defensive and can think of nothing else to say in response other than a series of ill-conceived defenses (and if you’re Glenn Beck & Co., simply throwing the very same accusation right back at them), when the best and most productive option would be to engage in a civil discussion about why their actions were deemed “bigoted” by the other person, and keep an open mind about it so that actual progress can be made in the dialogue, and people can begin to understand one another.

    • David K says:

      Someone will call someone out on something bigoted they said or did, and the person being accused is immediately defensive and can think of nothing else to say in response other than a series of ill-conceived defenses (and if you’re Glenn Beck & Co., simply throwing the very same accusation right back at them)

      Have you ever been “called out” April? I think a bit, and I search around, and I wonder if it has EVER happened that anyone was called out on something and it produced a civilised and productive discussion in which both sides were prepared to give and take criticism and real progress came out of it?
      Not to be harsh or anything, I’m perfectly happy to see an example, but I’m rather afraid there isn’t one 😦

    • April says:

      I have, indeed. Such is life in the feminist blogosphere. My reactions have become less defensive as time went on. I see it (the lessening of knee-jerk defensiveness) a lot in others, as well. For me, the key for me not being defensive is the way in which I’m called out. If I’m called a bigot or the all-encompassing “privileged,” especially in such a way that suggests that I am being intentionally malicious or mean, I’m less likely to listen to the reasoning behind the accusation. Since I’m usually arguing in good faith, it’s insulting to be accused of just being another bigoted troll, or something similar.

      Speaking generally, I see the automatic defensiveness and refusal to listen to opposing argument with an open mind far more often in people who consider themselves to be more conservative. Not that the political left is all that good at it, but their ideologies tend to allow for being called out a little more than the right.

    • David K says:

      Personally since I generally read more than I comment in the feminist blogosphere I’ve only really been “called out” once, in a rather obscure and bizarre set of circumstances – suffice to say: one woman accused me of being a misogynist and another said (on the basis of the same comment thread) that I was one of the most thoughtful and genuinely feminist seeming men she’d come across :-\

      I think the idea of “calling people out” is very often reduced to saying to people “you only think that because you’re a privileged man/white/straight ect.” and with no qualification that their reading might be wrong – people arguing not with what you think/say but with who you are.
      Personally I think I’m going to try and stop using any “ist” terms if I write any “calling out” comments in the near future, and simply try to explain what I think is wrong with a particular statement. I’m not saying EVERYONE should do this, but I think it may be a useful experiment.

      Plus, and this is a more tentative point, because I’m only just researching it – but isn’t
      “just a theory?”

  10. Flutterby says:

    After telling a racist/sexist/homophobic/etc. joke, and me calling them out on it, some variation of: “I’m not racist/sexist/homophobic/etc.! That wasn’t even my joke! I just found it on the internet!”

    Listen, dudes and ladies, when I see a bigoted bit of humor, I don’t think “Gee, that’s funny even if it is ridiculously offensive! I should share that with people! But I’m not a homophobe even though I think humor based in homophobia is funny!” I, like a rational person, think “Gee, that’s ridiculously offensive!” and go on with my life.

  11. Lincoln says:

    “But (insert identity of group of color here) are racist against white people!” Um, no, they’re just (rightfully) tired of our bulls*^&t. Finally getting mad at one white person who’s said the millionth and 2nd dumba$$ thing a person of color has heard that day is not being racist. It’s hitting a final straw.

    “You only transitioned to male because you couldn’t handle the stress and oppression of being a lesbian. Plus you betrayed all lesbians by doing it.” Oh, absolutely. That’s totally why I did it. My transition had nothing to do with making my own life better. Please, let’s make my life all about you. Plus, it’s TOTALLY far less stressful to be transgender in America.

    “I hear you.” Good. Thought I was talking to myself there for a second.

    “You don’t look disabled. How come you need/get all these special services? Can’t you just do your job/go to school like the rest of us?” Well, looks can be deceiving sometimes. You didn’t look like an ignorant a$$hat. But then you started talking.

    “But, lesbians just hate men!” No, lesbians don’t sleep with men. Thusly, there is near zero reason to hate them. Next topic?

    “Excuse me, could you move a little faster? Some of us have places to be.” Right, I forgot. Cause I walk with a cane, I don’t have anything to contribute to this culture. BTW, now that we’re in this doorway that’s only wide enough for one of us, I’m going to bend down to tie my shoes. For a real long time. 🙂

    Wow, I didn’t realize I had so much stuff to unload on this topic! Thanks for giving me some space. 🙂

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