Social Question

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

What would be the female and/or gender-neutral equivalents of the term 'ballsy' when applied to, apparently, brave things people do?

Asked by Simone_De_Beauvoir (38868 points ) September 28th, 2009

…in the fluther question about women shaving their heads (which in itself is an interesting look at our society’s views on what’s acceptable for women and what isn’t) many people say that it’s ballsy or ‘ballsy’ (for those who realize it’s a strange term) for a woman to do such a thing…and in general, in our society, all things that are brave (whether done by men or women) are described as ‘that took balls’ or something to that effect…which of course is problematic and sexist…language so often is…anyway, I never quite understood why having balls makes a difference in terms of courage…it’s not like men did anything to deserve balls, they’re just there, they’re hanging out, guess it hurts if you get kicked in that area, but so what?...if you’re going to talk about something that takes strength, wouldn’t you say ‘they’ve got quite the vagina’ or something because of what it takes to, let’s say, push out a baby…now that is actually an accomplishment…and I know it sounds weird but what could be our other options…if, for example, you couldn’t say ‘ballsy’ anymore

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85 Answers

dpworkin's avatar

Ovarian? Genitacular?

lefteh's avatar

Audacious

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@PretentiousArtist i do like that…but I’d still ask why gutsy? what does it have to do with guts, courage, that is?

DominicX's avatar

they’re hanging out

I lol’d. Personally, I think the term “ballsy” or “takes balls” is goofy, but I use it because there aren’t a whole lot of terms for that. I don’t think of it as sexist, mostly because it’s so…irrelevant. You’re right; it doesn’t have anything to do with courage.

I would just say “brave” or “strong” or something because those are the real terms. Coming up with replacement slang isn’t easy.

Facade's avatar

I’ve heard “ballsy” used with all genders.

ragingloli's avatar

labia majorisly?

Darwin's avatar

How about adventurous, audacious, chin-up, chivalrous, confident, courageous, daring, dashing, dauntless, defiant, doughty, fearless, firm, foolhardy, forward, gallant, game, gritty, gutsy, hardy, heroic, imprudent, indomitable, intrepid, lionhearted, militant, nervy, plucky, reckless, resolute, spirited, spunky, stalwart, stout, stouthearted, strong, unabashed, unafraid, unblenching, undauntable, undaunted, undismayed, unfearful, valiant, valorous, or venturesome? Or bold, brash, brazen, disrespectful, forward, impertinent, insolent, insulting, nervy, or saucy? Or assured, bold, brassy, cheeky, cocky, confident, courageous, daring, dashing, dauntless, gallant, game, gritty, gutsy, having nerves of steel, heroic, nervy, plucky, spunky, sure, undaunted, unfearing, unfrightened, unscared, unshakable, or valiant?

Pretty much all of these are gender-neutral.

MissAnthrope's avatar

The ovaries are kinda ball-like..

dpworkin's avatar

Yeah, @Darwin, but so far I’m the only person to provide a strictly feminine answer.

Darwin's avatar

@pdworkin – So I only answered the other half of the question. This is a problem?

dpworkin's avatar

sorry, that was meant to be a joke, because your answer was so complete, and mine consisted of two words, both of which were stupid.

Darwin's avatar

@pdworkin – Read my response to your response out loud with a typical New York Yiddish rising intonation. Versteh?

eponymoushipster's avatar

Ovarylicious!

dpworkin's avatar

you are meant to lie, and deny that I gave a stupid answer. Now I am in tears.

jrpowell's avatar

I use “clitatastic”..

I don’t have many female friends.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Titsy! Teatsy?

Darwin's avatar

@pdworkin – Look, your answer may not be worthy of an entire book, but that doesn’t make you a farschtinker. On the contrary, you are a maven when it comes to female oriented terms. So don’t borrow tsuris. Enough already! Crying will only make your nose hurt!

eponymoushipster's avatar

Fallopiculous?

janbb's avatar

Chutzpadechah!

dpworkin's avatar

I love @Darwin, don’t you?

Darwin's avatar

I love me, too, most of the time. Sometimes I don’t like me much, though.

I’m so confused.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

I think Ballsy works just fine regardless.

Cartman's avatar

Pussy? Oh no… that doesn’t work.

Cartman's avatar

Plucky… or maybe valiant.

fireinthepriory's avatar

So you were wondering about the link between balls and courage. I was under the impression that some guys (mainly the fraternity jockular douchey type) actually think that having big balls is correlated with having good sexual prowess and being manly and other things like that. I guess this could be how “ballsy” originated. We usually use it to refer to women, so I thought it originally meant that these women were showing classically “male” characteristics, like bravery etc.

Anyway, “ballsy” isn’t a word I would normally use, whether or not I’m thinking of its roots in gender-normitive grossness… Just not in my lexicon of words I generally use I guess. In terms of talking about the head-shaving thread, I’d use the word brave, since it sounds like she’s going against societal norms about how a woman’s hair should be, which is great if it’s what she’s always wanted to do!

Sarcasm's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir i do like that…but I’d still ask why gutsy? what does it have to do with guts, courage, that is? Nothing, but it’s no more illogical than “Ballsy” and a lot more gender-neural. One step in the right direction!

We could always change the definition of Hysterical, like Randall brings back Porch monkey.

janbb's avatar

@Cartman “Plucky” makes me think of Nancy Drew, girl sleuth.

dpworkin's avatar

Odd. “Plucky” reminds me of Shaved Heads on Women.

ragingloli's avatar

@pdworkin
but they don’t even have penises!

aprilsimnel's avatar

I thought “ballsy” meant that since the male jewels are extremely vulnerable, putting them out there was a risky move, hence the man who does that, even metaphorically, was a bad mutha… Shut yo’ mouth!

Hence my “titsy.” Then we can dig it.

kevbo's avatar

I think “moxie” is plenty descriptive.

rooeytoo's avatar

I say guts but if someone says something took balls to do and it is a woman doing the doing, then I will correct and say nope took ovaries to do.

janbb's avatar

I like “moxie.”

dpworkin's avatar

Simon Rodia used a lot of Moxie bottles when he built the Watts Towers

cyndyh's avatar

We used to say “she has the ovaries for it” or “that takes ovaries”. Sometimes we referred to being careful or else she’d “go momma on you” as in get protective of her cubs like a momma lion.

evegrimm's avatar

You can just avoid the term altogether: “big brass ones”. :D

It’s sort of ambiguous what the “ones” are.

lloydbird's avatar

@aprilsimnel Has got it right in my opinion. And also seems a good personification of the word.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Darwin cocky? really? gender neutral? lol

Capt_Bloth's avatar

“That took some tits”.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Capt_Bloth I know but ‘tits’ is offensive to many, myself included

Capt_Bloth's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I could also see problems with tits. You couldn’t say a spunky coworker “Had real tits”.
no offense intended

rooeytoo's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir – I agree, tits is offensive and boobs even more so!

eponymoushipster's avatar

“That takes a lot of minge”.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

why is tits considered offensive and balls isn’t?

tinyfaery's avatar

Cocky is in reference to cocks, as in roosters. And if you’ve ever observed a rooster, the word cocky is perfect.

I would never use the word ballsy. If we have to have a female equivalent, I like
it takes ta tas.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@ABoyNamedBoobs03 im never offended by tits.

speaking of, where’s TitsMcGhee?

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

@eponymoushipster well… me neither really.

someone mentioned above though how tits was considered offensive…

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@ABoyNamedBoobs03 it’s just a feeling, can’t explain it, tits, to me, feels a very spiteful term

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@tinyfaery oh , i didn’t know the background of the word…thank you

eponymoushipster's avatar

i know plenty of girls who say tits about their own, well, ...tits.

is it because it sounds like teets, which, to many has a barnyard connotation?

i mean, personally, i prefer the term chesticles or sweater puppets. but to each his own.

cyndyh's avatar

@tinyfaery: Roosters aren’t gender neutral. They’re male. So cocky is also gender specific.

tinyfaery's avatar

Roosters don’t have a gender they have a sex.

cyndyh's avatar

@eponymoushipster : I call them my “Lady pecs”. :^>

MissAusten's avatar

I am so going to use chesticles and sweater puppets in a conversation tomorrow.

cyndyh's avatar

@tinyfaery: Ok, so it’s sex specific. Still not a neutral term.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@MissAusten @Simone_De_Beauvoir glad i could enlighten you all. :)

tinyfaery's avatar

It’s not about cock as in dick, it’s about the way a rooster acts—cocky. It’s an adjective and applicable to anything; a cocky painting. I don’t see cocky as a gendered term at all.

From my Mac dictionary:

cocky |ˈkäkē|
adjective ( cockier , cockiest )
conceited or arrogant, esp. in a bold or impudent way.

Darwin's avatar

Quite so.

cyndyh's avatar

Then the same could be said for ‘ballsy’. It’s just an adjective applicable to anything. How is that different?

Sarcasm's avatar

@tinyfaery Roosters don’t have a gender they have a sex.
What’s the difference? Do only humans have genders?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Sarcasm yep, I believe this. it’s a social construct placed on certain biological categories

tinyfaery's avatar

Gender has no physical quality. It is a social construct.

tinyfaery's avatar

Well, let’s look up the origin of ballsey. It might actually be about balls, like bouncy balls.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Interesting that it’s of relatively recent vintage!

Sampson's avatar

Cheese burgers.

Like, “Man, that chick sure had some cheese burgers to come up here and degrade my masculinity as such!”

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

perhaps “Lollybangers?”

as in “Damn, that takes some Lollybangers…”

YARNLADY's avatar

Awesome

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

My wife’s female boss has been known to tell the women who work for her to Put on their big girl panties and get over it.

So I guess we could say, “Wow, she had big girl panties on when she did that (really brave) thing.”

Capt_Bloth's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra I wear big girl panties for comfort, does that give me moxie?

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@Capt_Bloth sure, life is about choices, your results may vary.

lloydbird's avatar

No, no, “Titsy” has it by far. Female specific. Harder edged than “Boobsy” (Too cute). A part of the anatomy proudly displayed, stuck out and covering the heart (The seat of courage). I can see guys having respect for a ‘Titsy’ woman/girl if the word comes to connote bravery. Can we envisage a ‘titsy’ soldier or police officer or youth-worker and such like?
She was titsy to the core and took no shit.
She proved herself to have immense titsyness in facing down the board and pushing through her agenda.
He won’t mess with that titsy chick again as he slope off with his bloodied nose.

You get the picture?

Cat13's avatar

I think the point is moot – why try to find a “female” word for ballsy? Using language that refers to body parts is playing into the male gaze paradigm (read: objectification of women). That’s my take on it anyway… I would prefer “that was brave”, plain and simple.

aprilsimnel's avatar

While I suspect many of us are goofing around (I know I am), I believe, @Cat13, that you and @Darwin and @kevbo are more on the mark, language-wise. Lurve.

Cat13's avatar

Thanks!

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@lloydbird according to George Carlin, the word tits sounds like a snack. Cheese Tits, etc. Also, calling someone Titsy might be misunderstood as what a hairlipped person calls a staggering drunk.

Capt_Bloth's avatar

I could sure go for some cheese tits right about now.

cyndyh's avatar

I prefer Tater Tits for Nabisco.

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

The reason why there is no female equivalent for the term “ballsy” is because stereotypically, courage and bravado are regarded as male attributes——men are the ones who traditionally hunted for food, defended their families from danger, and took on roles in battle, policing, and athletics. This mindset still exists, and since only men have balls, the term ballsy is associated with them. No similar slang terms exist to describe women (though ballsy is sometimes used), so perhaps something like “feisty” is the most appropriate to describe a woman’s courage.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Well you could say he/she has ice water running in their veins.

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