"It's another name for woman," I started, "But it's not an accepted term, some see it as derogative..." now I was stumbling, "Ah...some people don't like that term, they think it's a name that makes women feel...insignificant, waved aside." Or does it? What comes up for me when I hear "broad" is a strong woman, in her late 60's, with a cigarette in one hand and playing cards in the other hand, a woman who raises one eyebrow at you and replies dryly, "Who the hell are you supposed to be?" or "Hold on, it's going to be a bumpy night". The term brings up images of the film noir's femme fatale who has the power to throw the detective off his game, just by walking into the room. "Some people kind of like the term," I continued, "It could be seen as a nickname of sorts, like dame, tomato, chick, Betty."
What is an excepted nickname for a woman? More importantly, why do some, perfectly acceptable terms for "woman", get on our nerves? My big pet peeve is when I'm (very politely) called "Ma'am" by someone serving me in a store. I, like many woman, insist, "Oh, please no, I'm too young to be a ma'am!" but if someone calls me "Honey" or "Sweetie" I soften to them, terms that imply weakness and frailty. I am a ma'am, and after having four children, I am certainly old enough to be called one, but my crazed desire to cling to my youth leads me to instantly like someone who refers to me as a "babe" or "chick", other terms for young offspring.
As I blather on about the political correctness and feminist views on labels I glance up in my rearview mirror and notice my daughter's furrowed brow at my explanation. That is when I suddenly stop and ask, "Uh, what's the sentence?"
She glanced down and read the sentence that spurned on this intellectual dissection of the battle of the sexes, that had me questioning my own beliefs in what is acceptable to call woman, and what created a panic to install the right phrasing for the sake of my daughter's development:
"I have been to England, have you ever been abroad?"