A woman’s charm goes further than tactics of batting eyelashes, uncontrollable giggles and a hiked-up miniskirt.
Case in point: When a man would apply one of his pickup lines and I would respond with a clever and smoother addition, his face would be taken aback. “Girls can be charming too,” I would always say.
Drunken feminist rants aside, why is it that the adjective “charming” is only used to describe men? Countless sociologists and communication experts agree that the adjectives we use to describe women, such as pretty, graceful, dainty and soft-spoken, are different than those we use to describe men, such as strong, handsome, loud and charming.
To describe someone as charming is to describe them as polite, witty, articulate, attractive and intelligent. Charm is a quality that encompasses several attributes with positive connotations and, in my opinion, is one of the highest compliments.
When was the last time you referred to a female as charming? Odds are, you either haven’t or you are one of those argumentative people who would like to prove me wrong and are therefore lying, telling yourself, “I say girls are charming all the time!”
So how do you describe women who are polite, witty, articulate, attractive and intelligent? Most would say she is “cute,” an adjective ironically reserved to describe a woman’s appearance. So are women only judged by their appearance, and do people thus only reserve adjectives that rate appearance to describe them?
Isn’t there a better adjective than “cute” to describe Princess Diana, Christiane Amanpour, Oprah or Martha Stewart, some of the world’s most charming women? “Cute” doesn’t really cut it when describing a princess, an award-winning journalist, a billionaire and especially an ex-con.
It is obvious that “charming” is an adjective only reserved to men in our society, but perhaps a better question to ask would be how it became that way. Perhaps that damn Prince Charming, with his sexy, jet black hair and sparkling white teeth, has taken the adjective and put a patriarchal blue stamp on the word. He, on his majestic white horse, rushing to the castle to save his princess and swoop her off her feet with his good looks and clever one-liners, has ridden away into the sunset, stealing the adjective “charming” with him.
“Snow White,” “Cinderella,” “Rapunzel” and “Sleeping Beauty” are all fairy tales and children’s stories that seem to agree that the woman should be the wooed, not the wooer. Obviously, the Brothers Grimm seem to think that a woman can’t possibly be “Princess Charming,” as women are only suited to eat poisonous apples, attend balls, grow their hair out long and beautiful, and prick their fingers on needles of spinning wheels.
Prick their fingers on needles – so now we can’t even sew? By god, we are even losing the domestic sphere! What next, you are going to take away our aprons?
Perhaps we are not the only society that fails to describe our women as charming, but at least there is a word for charming that is only reserved for females in other cultures. In French, la fille charmante; in Arabic, jazzabah; in Spanish, encantadora; in Hebrew, maksima. Don’t the French, Arab, Spanish and Jewish societies have Cinderella stories?
Now I am not suggesting that the fact that we only reserve the adjective “charming” to males is an example of our patriarchal society. Well, maybe I am…
The point is, although our limited lingua franca might suffice during the Intersorority Volleyball Tournament, in any other situation – especially if you are talking to me – try to enhance your vocabulary by finding more descriptive words than “hot,” “sweet,” “cute” or “nice piece of ass” to describe a charming woman.
Daily Nexus assistant news editor Lulwa Bordcosh secretly wouldn’t mind living happily ever after.