Social Question

Ansible1's avatar

As old fashioned as it is, is it offensive to women to be referred to as 'broad' or 'dame'?

Asked by Ansible1 (4831points) September 11th, 2009

Like I said I know it’s old fashioned, I only rarely hear these terms in old movies or tv shows. So today, would women take offense to these terms? I assume it depends on the context, I can see a woman getting offended if it were something like “you’re gonna ditch me for some broad?” But if it were like: “yeah, that dame over there showed me where the bathroom is” is that ok? Does it entirely depend on the context, or are the terms considered insulting entirely?

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42 Answers

jrpowell's avatar

I would only say them to someone I know really well and would recognize it as a joke.

aphilotus's avatar

My female Ren Faire friends blithely call all other women “wenches.”

RareDenver's avatar

They are very American terms, I still call some women “luv” or “petal” no one has ever taken offence so far.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I take offense when I’m referred to as a guy. As in a waitress coming to a table full of women and saying, “Hey guys, how are you all doing today?”

OpryLeigh's avatar

Neither would offend me personally provided they were used respectfully and not to actually offense. However, I can probably imagine why some women may take offense to these, especially “Broad”.

When I think of “dame” I tend to associate it with older ladies though, Dame Judi Dench, Dame Maggie Smith and so on.

DominicX's avatar

I always thought “broad” was always offensive. I never thought of “dame” as being offensive, but “broad” is always “you dumb broad!”.

RareDenver's avatar

@SpatzieLover lol I used to do that the other way around when I was a bartender, a group of guys would come in and approach the bar and I would say “Now then ladies what can I get you?”

Harp's avatar

Even the earliest uses of “broad”, as applied to women, were demeaning. “Dame” has at least some potential for nobility. In French, it simply means “lady”, and is current and polite usage.

JLeslie's avatar

It depends on the context of the sentence and how well I know you. How is that for a nonspecific answer, I use broad myself. Broad, chick and girls. I know a lot of women who hate the term girls. @SpatzieLover I use guys for girls when I am referring to friends of mine. To a table of women I would use ladies.

Facade's avatar

“Dame” might be ok. “Broad” sounds demeaning. I wouldn’t answer to either.

Ansible1's avatar

So is “chick” the modern day equivalent to these terms?

hannahsugs's avatar

@Leanne1986: The Dames you named (Judi Dench, Maggie Smith) are “Dames” because they have been knighted by the British Empire. When a man gets knighted, he’s “Sir,” and his wife is “Lady.” When a woman is knighted on her own merit, she is “Dame”*. I think her husband is still “Sir” though…

To answer the question, I wouldn’t mind being called a Dame in that context! I wonder how it became derogatory here in America, from its noble roots on the other side of the pond? Any linguistic historians around?

*However, you do have to be a British citizen to have “Sir” or “Dame” in front of your name. Otherwise you can append the initials KBE (Knight of the British Empire) or DBE (Dame of the British Empire) to the end of your name.

CMaz's avatar

I prefer honey.

RareDenver's avatar

@hannahsugs a Dame’s husband remains a Mr (unless he has a title of his own) it doesn’t work the other way around. Same as a King’s wife is the Queen but a Queen’s husband is not the King.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@hannahsugs I know I’m British myself

JLeslie's avatar

@ChazMaz I hate honey.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

I wouldn’t like it but I think in the old days those terms were used to describe a rough and tumble hip woman, not necessarily a demeaned one.

JLeslie's avatar

There is nothin’ like a dame…nothin’ in the world. Nothin’ nothin’ you can name, that is anything like a dame. Now you’ll have that song in your head all day.

Sarcasm's avatar

Honey is delicious

CMaz's avatar

How about with a little lemon?

mrentropy's avatar

I only use ‘Dame’ when I’m commenting on some dame’s gams.

dpworkin's avatar

There is nothing like a dame. Nothing in this world. Except maybe some broad.

Zen's avatar

Dame Edna say “Me no offended.”

ubersiren's avatar

I don’t really get bothered by any of the terms mentioned here, as long as it’s clearly not being used as a pejorative. Even if it was a stranger, you can mostly tell. My husband does have one friend who constantly calls women/girls “chick” and knowing his personality, it irks me a little. But, I still wouldn’t be necessarily offended if he referred to me as such.

DarkScribe's avatar

No more offensive that many of the other names from the past. Skirt, frail, tail, etc. It would depend on how it is used and who to. There are many classic songs, jazz, swing etc., that use such descriptors for women. The US military uses some rather offensive names for women, “split tails” etc.

RareDenver's avatar

@DarkScribe the most insulting one I have ever heard which is quite common in rural Yorkshire is “splitarse”

aprilsimnel's avatar

Well if you’re saying DAYme, it’s rather Broadway. You know, “dere’s nuttin’ like a dame” and all that South Pacific sort of hoo-hah. DAHme is different. A Dame is classy.

A “broad”? I think of a broad as a woman who’s been around the block a time or fifty, and not only is she not ashamed, she puts on no airs and she ain’t takin’ no kinda crap from the likes of you, buster, so move it along. She’s a little coarse, but always real, always rolls with the punches, can give it as good as she gets it and is only unkind if you’re being the wiseass first. I’ve know a few (older, of course) women who were self-described broads and proud of it. Tellingly, these women are ONLY from New York City.

But those terms are so old-fashioned, I only use them when referring to a musical or as a joke.

tinyfaery's avatar

I have a name, so that is what I answer to. If you don’t know me, address me as miss, not ma’am. I am not your honey, or girlie. I am not a broad or a little yellow bird. No one addresses men as precious or darling. I think all of these types of terms are sexist and offensive. Thank you very much.

Sarcasm's avatar

Which would offend you more? Me calling you “Darling” or me calling you “bro”?

tinyfaery's avatar

I’m not your darling our your brother.

Sarcasm's avatar

That’s not the question I asked.

tinyfaery's avatar

Refer to my first post.

knitfroggy's avatar

Broad and dame are not offensive to me-I think they are so old fashioned they are funny. I don’t even get offended if someone calls me bitch, because, I don’t know why, I just don’t. The only one that offends me is the dreaded C word.

five99one's avatar

I don’t know how women feel about it, but I sometimes jokingly use both of those terms. I just think they’re silly.

Garebo's avatar

I always think of “broad” as a derogatory term. I use to work with a guy who always referred to any bad driver as a dumb “broad”, no matter what gender the driver was.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@RareDenver The Inbetweeners? I see you have taste

RareDenver's avatar

@Leanne1986 Briefcase wanker!

lol best show ever

moschops's avatar

In my part of the country (left coast) I think both these terms have slid into the realm of only being acceptable in reference to friends you know and know for sure would not be offended – and as others have pointed out that is mostly likely going to be a woman talking about another woman. Another situation would be where it was clear they were being used in a historical context. The only person I know who habitually talks about “broads” comes from New York and never says it to any woman’s face, at least not in these parts.

astaris's avatar

Mae West is one of my hero’s and if she wasn’t a broad or dame I sure have no chance at it. No offence here!!! lol

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