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“Miss!”: the word you have to erase from your vocabulary so that you are not taken for sexist

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– Miss, please charge me!

This phrase, and the charge behind it, can be heard constantly in restaurants, stores, offices… or in any customer service point where a woman works. AND, Even if it is used “unintentionally”, it is gender discrimination.

Many experts warn that these micromachismos installed in language and in our society are the most widespread form of violence against women and no less important. These are situations that are included in society’s way of speaking and acting and that people activate over and over again without being aware of the damage they cause. Or if?

On January 23, the Andalusian Women’s Institute launched a guide for the equal use of language in schools in which she warns of the misuse of the term “miss” and the sexism behind these eight letters.

“Señorita” was a very important treatment formula until just a few decades ago, as it was used to refer to the single woman and differentiate her from the married womanwhich was a lady”, says the guide ‘Do you think how you speak?’.

And he warns that “teachers, shop assistants, nurses… were called young ladies.” because they were single (since, normally, when they got married they stopped working). That’s why we still use that word in some contexts, even though society has changed and Nowadays all women are ladiesjust as all men are gentlemen.”


The Royal Academy of Language has already included in its New Grammar of the year 2009 that the opposition madam and miss It was considered totally discriminatory when applied in reference to the marital status of women since it introduces a social distinction that, evidently, does not occur among men.

However, the RAE still retains in the correct use of this concept a reservation that also implies an inequality regarding the man and that is when “miss” is used to distinguish only the age difference.

Because to a young boy We would never call him “senor” but rather “gentleman” or “young man.”so those same terms, “lady” or “young man,” could also be used when referring to a younger woman.

For Araceli López Serenaprofessor of Spanish Language at the University of Seville, “to those who want certain linguistic changes to accelerate, among them those that affect uses that contain sexist connotations like this one, They would like the RAE to withdraw this meaning or to imposecalling it incorrect, its elimination”.

However, López Serena warns that “the language does not work due to academic impositions” and that “if we want it to disappear from the dictionary, we would have to stop using it by the speakers themselves.”

Therefore, the solution would be to stop saying it now: “The more of us speakers who address all womenregardless of your age or marital status, with the form of address ‘ma’am’, instead of ‘miss’, the sooner these outdated meanings will disappear from the dictionary,” he assures.


Of course the changes in the RAE they are always slow and painful for inclusive language. In fact, the Academy has not yet introduced the term micromachismo into its dictionary although it has been used since psychologist Luis Bonino defined it in 1990 to make it clear that “there is a lot of invisible and naturalized violence.”

We have to go to Fundéu to see what we mean by micromachismo: “The term used to refer to the set of behaviors, practices and daily strategies with which the power of male dominance is exercised and that attack to varying degrees against the autonomy of women,” reads the meaning. What’s more, it was one of the words of the year for this entity in 2018.

The problem with “miss” is not only the term itself but all the burden of education and submission that this ancient concept carries. From there arise phrases that can still be heard in the education of girls such as “Sit like a lady”, “That’s not how a lady speaks”, “Those gestures are not typical of a lady”…

Are there girl or boy words? Feminine or masculine ways of sitting? Female or male grimaces? Or does it refer to the submissive and servile education that women used to be given in the past? Well, we shouldn’t use a word that marks all those differences and those connotations.

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