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Ross
02-11-2006, 12:59 PM
So on the bus this morning I accused my four year-old of being a "contentious little broad". I am roundly informed by my feminist buddy that one does not refer to women with that term, because it's offensive.

I'm sure she's right, because she usually is, but I'm still not clear on the origins of the word. I always thought vaguely that it was something to do with playing cards.

Does this term have an offensive origin? How far distant is it now? I mean, was it once offensive but now I can argue my corner as long as I'm among friends? Or is it in fact hideously insulting and I shouldn't even be asking the question?

Yllaria
02-11-2006, 01:01 PM
" . . and she's broad where a broad should be broad." ?

Just a guess.

Johnny L.A.
02-11-2006, 01:06 PM
Is it true that Asian Flu is transmitted by women?
It comes from abroad! :D

kanicbird
02-11-2006, 01:31 PM
I am roundly informed by my feminist buddy that one does not refer to women with that term, because it's offensive.

I'm sure she's right, because she usually is, but I'm still not clear on the origins of the word

Why didn't you ask your feminist buddy?

KRC
02-11-2006, 01:33 PM
I've found this much in Jane and Michael Stern's Encyclopedia of Pop Culture in the article on Frank Sinatra:

Broad: "An affectionate word for 'woman.' Calling a girl a 'broad' is far less coarse than calling her a 'dame.'"

This doesn't say anything about the origin or why some people would be offended by it. Possibly it's one of those words that was okay 50 years ago but became offensive over time.

Left Hand of Dorkness
02-11-2006, 01:54 PM
First, a real answer:

From Word Origins (http://wordorigins.org/wordorb.htm)
By 1912, broad was also being used to refer to a ticket (admission, transport, meal, etc.). Why this is so is uncertain. It could be due to the resemblance between a ticket and a playing card, or there could be another reason.

By 1914, the word was being used to mean a prostitute (perhaps from a pimp's meal ticket), then to women of loose morals, and eventually to women in general. Another explanation for this last shift could be the use of cards in three card monte. The goal of that game is to pick the queen from among three cards, and broad could have transferred from the card, to the queen, to women.
So if the word originally meant "prostitute" before meaning "woman," it'd be about as offensive as "ho." Would you call your daughter a contentious little ho? I hope not.

(Naturally, words change int heir connotations over time; "broad" is nowhere near as offensive as "ho," but that may just be because it's obsolete as a word for "prostitute."

Now for my side story:

Back in 1997, I was temping on UNC-CH's campus as they were looking for a new university president (or provost or something--university leader, anyway). I knew that a woman was among the finalists, but I was still shocked to see The Daily Tarheel banner headline: "BROAD ELECTED AS UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT."

Her name, as I quickly found out, was Molly Broad; but I still think the editor was snickering.

Daniel

Ross
02-11-2006, 02:00 PM
Why didn't you ask your feminist buddy?
Erm. Because I'm a little scared of her?

AskNott
02-11-2006, 02:08 PM
On the "prostitute" side, Frank Sinatra is said to have stuffed money into the cocktail glass of a gossip columnist at a party, telling her, "You're nothing but a two-dollar broad."

On the "woman" side, a character in the B.C. comic strip is known as The Fat Broad. As you know, that cartoonist is rather straight-laced. He probably would not have called her that if he meant "a lady of the evening."

saoirse
02-11-2006, 02:15 PM
So if the word originally meant "prostitute" before meaning "woman," it'd be about as offensive as "ho." Would you call your daughter a contentious little ho? I hope not.

(Naturally, words change int heir connotations over time; "broad" is nowhere near as offensive as "ho," but that may just be because it's obsolete as a word for "prostitute."

The meansings of words do change over time, which is why it is acceptable to call a woman broad, even your 4-year-old daughter, because it no longer means "prostitute." You should not, however, call her a "slut," despite the fact that the word once meant nothing more than "female."

Left Hand of Dorkness
02-11-2006, 02:33 PM
The meansings of words do change over time, which is why it is acceptable to call a woman broad, even your 4-year-old daughter, because it no longer means "prostitute." You should not, however, call her a "slut," despite the fact that the word once meant nothing more than "female."
Whether it's acceptable is not a factual question. The only factual question is why someone might be offended by the word; its history provides such a reason.

If this question were posted in General Etiquette, I'd be inclined to agree with you, though :D.

Daniel

Marley23
02-11-2006, 03:16 PM
The meansings of words do change over time, which is why it is acceptable to call a woman broad, even your 4-year-old daughter, because it no longer means "prostitute."
That sounds too absolute. It seems like the term has become more acceptable, but only when it's said in jest. The fact that Ross was talking about his four-year-old may have made it sound worse.

KlondikeGeoff
02-11-2006, 04:00 PM
As a kid I lived in Brooklyn on and off several times in the 30s, and "broad" was the norm for referring to any female, usually in an affectionate manner. Sometimes, not quite so much, as in, "Geez, looka da built on dat broad!"

Many movies made in the 30s and 40s used the term pretty generally, but mostly by lower-class characters. As I was born in dat borough, I can admit that back then most of us were pretty low-class, aspiring to middle class. :D

As I recall, it began to be considered offensive about the time the feminist movement started. Rightly so, probably.

What I regret is the loss of the genuine Brooklyn accent. Last guy I heard use it fully was Buddy Hackket.

Moirai
02-11-2006, 04:31 PM
I always consider "broad" a great term. One of Bette Midler's early albums was titled "A View From A Broad."

I belong to a group of gals who call themselves the Balboa Broads.

To me, broad says proud, maybe a bit loud, not a stranger to the wrong side of town but a good gal all around.

Ross
02-11-2006, 04:39 PM
I remember an old Bloom County cartoon where Milo (?) goes off to find Betty Crocker. He finds her but she's the wrong side of sixty, sat behind a typewriter somewhere far off in the corporate headquarters. Anyway the point is that he'd seen his search as a "Search For Lost America", and figures after a chat with Betty that he's actually found her. Ms Crocker thinks about this for a bit and says "Overly hyped but basically a good broad."

I always thought of it thus, as a positively affectionate term.

PlughPlover
02-12-2006, 02:47 AM
My father tells me that during WWII female US Marines were known as BAMs, for "broad-assed marines."

I never heard of it having a sexual angle. I think of it as an old-fashioned, mildly rude term for a woman, like "tomato." Women of a certain age can use it of themselves, and men whom they know and like can use it of them; but I'd never use it of or around a stranger.

Rayne Man
02-12-2006, 10:12 AM
There is an area of eastern England called "the Broads" which consists of a series of rivers and artificial lakes. This may be a myth, but there was supposed to be a billboard just outside Norwich railway station which read "Welcome To The Norfolk Broads" This supposedly amused American servicemen arriving at the station, and gave entirely the wrong message about Norwich.

yoyodyne
02-12-2006, 02:47 PM
No cites, but I've always been under the impression that it was related to the newspaper broadsheet. As in broadsheet spread, wide spread, spread open, legs spread.

cerberus
02-12-2006, 05:37 PM
Molly Broad (http://northcarolina.edu/content.php/pres/mollybroad/mollybroad.htm) is the President of the University System of North Carolina. She was hired, not elected. The individual UNC campuses have Chancellors.

The best origins so far seem to be with the ticket/cards/prostitute thread.

The anatomical meaning of the word broad (as in female hips/pelvis) version just happens to fit well.

Johanna
02-12-2006, 07:47 PM
Jane Mills described the same explanations and pejorative connotations as already covered in this thread. Then she added a twist:

Against this tide of pejoration A Feminist Dictionary defines broad as "a woman who is liberal, tolerant, unconfined and not limited or narrow in scope." (1985)
óJane Mills, Womanwords: A Dictionary of Words about Women (), p. 55.

Now that's the kind of broad I like to be. Sounds pretty good when you put it like that!

ombre3
02-12-2006, 08:05 PM
"There ain't nothin' like a broad"--

-sounds like a song from somewhere long ago ---or maybe it was a "dame" in that song. (Getting old and forgetful at times.)

In any event, I think broad has always been a somewhat flattering term for a woman.-----at least from a macho man sense.

It is nothing anywhere near as derogatory as------slut or cunt or split ass.

ombre3
02-12-2006, 08:09 PM
"There ain't nothin' like a broad"--

-sounds like a song from somewhere long ago ---or maybe it was a "dame" in that song. (Getting old and forgetful at times.)

In any event, I think broad has always been a somewhat flattering term for a woman.-----at least from a macho man sense.

It is nothing anywhere near as derogatory as------slut or cunt or split ass.

Sorry----I forgot twat and split tail.

May come up with a few more seriously derogatory names for women later on, if I remember them and if you all still care.

ombre3
02-12-2006, 08:22 PM
Sorry----I forgot twat and split tail.

May come up with a few more seriously derogatory names for women later on, if I remember them and if you all still care.

OOPS--

Forgot the ever popular 'ho and "the beaver".

Oh such memories.

Moirai
02-12-2006, 08:24 PM
Knock it off.

ombre3
02-12-2006, 08:27 PM
Knock it off.

OK -

--ran out of old sayings anyway for now.

samclem
02-12-2006, 09:02 PM
OK -

--ran out of old sayings anyway for now.

And I'm running out of patience.

Do any more of this shit and I'll suggest that you sit out the next month. Understand?

This is an official warning.

samclem GQ moderator

ombre3
02-12-2006, 09:15 PM
And I'm running out of patience.

Do any more of this shit and I'll suggest that you sit out the next month. Understand?

This is an official warning.

samclem GQ moderator

Warning taken in good faith.

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