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Wordslut: A Feminist Guide to Taking Back the English Language

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4.39  ·  Rating details ·  2,000 ratings  ·  355 reviews
A brash, enlightening, and wildly entertaining feminist look at gendered language and the way it shapes us, written with humor and playfulness that challenges words and phrases and how we use them.

“I get so jazzed about the future of feminism knowing that Amanda Montell’s brilliance is rising up and about to explode worldwide.”—Jill Soloway

The word bitch conjures many imag
...more
Audible Audio, Unabridged
Published May 28th 2019 by HarperAudio
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Amanda Montell Laurence narrated the Australian "version" (which is the same book, just published by a different publisher in a different country). Something about c…moreLaurence narrated the Australian "version" (which is the same book, just published by a different publisher in a different country). Something about contracts prevented me from recording the Aussie "version" myself. But I'm glad to hear you enjoyed Laurence's reading! (less)
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Average rating 4.39  · 
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KDV
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I could not put this down! Required reading. Or, at the very least, I thought this passage should be required: "There is a simple way we can be part of the shift toward a less judgmental linguistic future: instead of acting crotchety and pedantic toward new language trends, we can feel curious and fascinated by them. Whenever we get the urge to criticize women or anyone else ... for a certain dialect feature, we can remember to think like a linguist, reminding ourselves that systematic speech pa ...more
Matt
Feb 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Matt by: Jessica
Shelves: audiobook, buddy-read
Linguist Amanda Montell grabs the reader by the shirtfront with this book, slapping them with a title that opens the eyes before inundating the mind with so much on the topic of the way English is used and the divide it creates amongst its users. Montell opens her narrative by exploring the role that certain words have had over time in the English language, particularly those of an offensive nature. She points out that many either depict women in the negative or weaker role, thereby turning them ...more
Maja Lisa
Jun 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
disclaimer: I am an anthropology major who did a focus in linguistics. This book is so up my alley that it isn't really an alley anymore, it's a highway. Or a field? I don't know, you get my metaphor.

OKAY FRIENDS everyone needs to pick this up an give it a whirl. Here are my top reasons why:

1. This book clearly and definitively supports an academic reason for the existence of my "suck my clit" cross stitch. Is it lewd? Yes. It is also a totally legit form of descriptive sociolinguistic shift? He
...more
Laura Noggle
Dec 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Extremely thought provoking, I'd like to read a few more reviews on this one.

A sampling of the chapter titles so you know what you're getting into:

Slutty Skanks and Nasty Dykes: A Comprehensive List of Gendered Insults
Piss Off Bro: Linguists Explain What Locker Room Banter Really Is
How to Embarrass the Shit Out of People Who Try to Correct Your Grammar
Fuck It: An Ode to Cursing While Female
Cyclops, Panty Puppet, Bald Headed Bastard and 100+ Other Things to Call Your Genitalia
Vivian
Etmology and sociology of language bias, and thought provoking discussion points on changing it.

It's hot and my brain's not. 'Let me explain, no let me sum up.'

<<>> "After scanning the database (British National Corpus), Cameron found that when people use female as a noun, as opposed to woman, it's often in explicitly negative contexts."

Re: vocal fry
<<>> "To sum things up, over the first two decades of the twenty-first century, women began speaking with increasingly lower-pitched voices, attem
...more
Andrea
This book and I were destined to fit together since the beginning: linguistics + feminism + ENTERTAINING, funny prose??????? Sign me up.

So, that said: I loved Wordslut and will now proceed to recommend it to everyone until the day I die. Amanda does a great job of making linguistics accessible, so you don't need to know anything at all to read this book, but if you already know something you won't be bored at all. She educates but doesn't patronize the reader, and is so nice and entertaining thi
...more
Mary Thomas
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dope-book-club
PLEASE EVERYONE READ.

signed, a wordslut
Ari
Mar 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well this spoke right my nerdy soul. I'm a sucker for any book that's going to tackle any subject (such as language, in this case) with a historical lens, a heavily humorous tone, and a healthy dose of deconstructing social norms. Could there have been more intersectionality in the points made? Of course. And, I was pleased and relieved to see how many voices / experiences that were brought to the forefront (read: this isn't all about straight, cis, white ladies and gents). I had a lot of fun re ...more
Fatma
Jun 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars

montell's writing and audiobook narration are delightful.
Moonkiszt
I'm addicted to words, and have had a life-long fascination with their origins. I've gotten myself in loads of trouble starting with one my very early toddler prayers at the dinner table. Daddy asked if I would like to say the dinner prayer, and I was ready - had been pondering on just what to do if such an occasion should happen. I launched: "Dear Heavenly Father. Fuck, Shit, Hell, Damn. In the Name of . . ." that's as far as that went as my Mother clocked me upside the head. It was a few years ...more
Genevieve Taylor
Fun, shameless, and loaded with facts, Wordslut covers hundreds of years of linguistic history and today's cutting-edge research. It's all told through a feminist lens, with an eye to intersectional feminism and hope for the future. If you love words, feminism, or sociology, Wordslut is a must-read!
Nicole
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I need someone I know to read this so we can discuss!
It's beautifully and honestly written!
Nev
Nov 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, 2020
This was such a fun and interesting read! It shares a lot of information about English words that have evolved over time, language trends, the gendered nature of a lot of insults, and specific ways of speaking that are more harshly criticized when they come from women. I’d definitely recommend checking this one out if it sounds interesting to you. The book is written in a really engaging way that never feels dry or overly academic, even though it is presenting a wealth of information.
Rachel Wiegand
May 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
WOW. WOW. WOW. Every single page I feel smarter and more empowered. I cannot say enough good things about this book!! I have learned so much about the influence and impact language has on our lives, especially as women. Each chapter presents a problem or linguistic phenomena, gives you a very digestible and well-researched overview of it, and then tells you how to be a wordy badass and smash the patriarchy through the language we use and the language around us. Montell has nailed the line betwee ...more
Audra (ouija.doodle.reads)
“Making a language feminist does not start with making the vowels, consonants, or even vocabulary feminist. It starts with transforming the ideologies of its speakers.”

Full review TK.
Bek MoonyReadsByStarlight
This was a really interesting look into sexism and language that is very accessible to most readers. It includes the etymology of quite a number of gendered terms and slurs, why the meaning has changed, and how sexist ideas have been worked into our language (thus, perpetuating itself). Montell also mentions how parts of queer history and queer culture impact (and are impacted by) language. There is also quite a lot of discussion about reclamation and changing language, as well as appropriation. ...more
britt_brooke
Jul 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This is obviously snarky, but also a truly serious look at the English language, specific words, context, slang, evolution, and more. You’ll learn a lot, plus it’s a legit fun read. Montell is hilarious and smart. Level up the humor with the audio version. You won’t regret it. She’s a fab narrator. I’ll be recommending this to a lot of friends for sure!
Amanda
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Open your mind with this amazing journey into language. So many times during this book I uttered the phrases "Oh my god," and "YES" and "dammmmmn." In this delicious and addictive read, Amanda Montell hilariously articulates how language has impacted and can influence our attitudes toward gender and sex. This book gave me the tools to verbalize what I always felt was wrong with the way people spoke to me. In the past, I'd often feel stumped when trying to explain why a comment was "sexist"... Af ...more
Angela
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, 2019
I listened to this book on Audible during a road trip, and it was so good, I bought a print copy when I got home. The connections Montell makes between language and culture are mind-blowing. I never realized how deeply rooted patriarchy and misogyny are in our very language, and I'm going to try to be as consciously aware of my own word choices from now on as I can possibly be.

This book shook my world view in amazing and unexpected ways, and I plan to read the print copy slowly so I can absorb
...more
Jessica
Feb 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
BuddyRead.❤️

This is a book about facts. Nothing more and nothing less.
There is always value in books that make you think. Not just about the way the world works but about how everyone’s words effect it.
I don’t think about the consequences of the words I speak. I just simply speak. Which I think is the case for most people.
This book makes you think how language effects a gender, culture and the world.
It makes you want to pay attention to how you speak and be more careful with your words.
That make
...more
Dom
Jan 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great intersectional look at many of the ways masculinity is the preferred default in language, along with thought provoking discussion points. Highly recommended!
Tanya Gold
An interesting, accessible, fun sociolinguistics book on how gender impacts language and how gendered language impacts society.
Caroline
Nov 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Montell was so thorough, accessible, and fun to read. Each chapter topic was well selected and increasingly enjoyable.

I learned new words and curses! Holy clit! Dicksnatcher!
And I love learning how language functions,communicates, and evolves. Linguistics! I’m a ho for words and using degrading terms for women subversively!

This book is basically an exclamation point of times I was angered, shocked, and thrilled by the way we talk. It is so important to use words thoughtfully and speak with un
...more
Amy Barnett
Jul 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thank you Amanda Montell! This book inspired me and changed my perspective on so many of the conversations I have every day. I have never recommend a book to so many people and I can’t wait for everyone I know to read it. I’ve told my friends, parents, coworkers, and anyone else who will listen! It’s truly difficult to write this review without sounding trite, but meh - I talk how I talk.
Tanya French
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book blew my mind, putting language and feminism together in a way I never expected. honest to goodness made me laugh out loud and say 'what the hell?!?' Within a few paragraphs. The author does a wonderful job on the audiobook, engaging listen.
Matt Conger
My day job is literally focused on the English language. And a lot of my recreational reading in the last few months has been about one of the most famous and thoughtful users of the English language. And I consider myself reasonably progressive. And yet this book reveals that I’m guilty of a lot of the reinforcing behaviors. So any book that knocks me off a pedestal is worthy of 5 stars!

So while this might be spoilery, here’s what made a strong impact on me:
- Society uses female terms for thing
...more
Katy Noyes
Nov 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Audacious, mind-expanding linguistic exploration of feminist vocabulary, past and present.

Linguist Montell pulls back the layers and the centuries of gender-controlled language and makes us take a long hard look at the words we use, how and why. From the first, I felt illumination. I adore social history, books about language and irreverent humour, so this was a perfect bringing-together of elements I relish.

Montell narrates her own work, doing it with humour and charm, including anecdotes from
...more
Heather *Undercover Goth Queen*
Really interesting book full of excellent info, much of which you can easily impart to anyone willing to listen to you. I do wish there had been a bibliography, since the author cites outside works on almost every page.

One thing that seemed odd to me was the paragraph where the author offers a "brief linguistic critique" on what's wrong with teaching "no means no." It's because saying "no" outright doesn't adhere to the "precise formula English speakers follow to decline things in a socially acc
...more
Julie Fenske
Aug 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An intellectual and genuinely fun analysis of how language is used, created, and perpetuated from a feminist lens, wordslut is my new go-to source for words (calling my vagina a cauldron 🤔) and provides me with the means to debunk a multitude of patriarchal mainstays that, let’s face it, should be eradicated.
This book reminded me of the many reasons I treasure conversing with communities of women who make me feel seen, heard, and loved!
Katharine Eger
Aug 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book last month and am still constantly referencing it in daily conversation. Ironically, it's dramatically improved my ability to tolerate white men as well, now that I know that they are just bad conversationalists.
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Amanda Montell is a 28-year-old writer and linguist from Baltimore. She is the author of the critically acclaimed book Wordslut: A Feminist Guide to Taking Back the English Language (Harper Wave, 2019), which has earned praise from the New York Times, TIME, BUST, Harper's Bazaar, Kirkus Reviews, Publisher's Weekly, and others. Amanda is currently developing Wordslut for television with FX, serving ...more

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“We're also living in a time when we find respected media outlets and public figures circulating criticism of women's voices--like that they speak with too much vocal fry, overuse the words like and literally, and apologize in excess. They brand judgments like these as pseudofeminist advice aimed at helping women talk with 'more authority' so they can be 'taken more seriously.' What they don't seem to realize is that they're actually keeping women in a constant state of self-questioning--keeping them quiet--for no objectively logical reason other than that they don't sound like middle-aged white men.” 4 likes
“Some compelling proof that women are indeed not born any more capable of empathy or connection than men comes from psychologist Niobe Way. In 2013 Way published a book called Deep Secrets: Boys’ Friendships and the Crisis of Connection, which explores the friendships of young straight men. Way followed a group of boys from childhood through adolescence and found that when they were little, boys’ friendships with other boys were just as intimate and emotional as friendships between girls; it wasn’t until the norms of masculinity sank in that the boys ceased to confide in or express vulnerable feelings for one another. By the age of eighteen, society’s “no homo” creed had become so entrenched that they felt like the only people they could look to for emotional support were women, further perpetuating the notion that women are obligated by design to carry humanity’s emotional cargo.” 3 likes
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