Just like I asked in the subject line, I'm pretty lost in this, as I wouldn't know how to say a sentence like the following, speaking with a fem

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    By "girl" do you mean a grown-up woman? Jul 12, 2019 at 18:43
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    I don’t see a following sentence. I thought you accidentally posted before you were done writing...
    – Jim
    Jul 12, 2019 at 19:05
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    Also “referring to” and “talking with” are completely different things.
    – Jim
    Jul 12, 2019 at 19:07
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    “A fem” doesn’t mean what you seem to think it means. It’s also quite offensive. Jul 12, 2019 at 20:05
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    @JanusBahsJacquet, we may have to assume "cut off mid word" in this case. Never attribute to malice what can be easily explained by technical fault!
    – Pam
    Jul 12, 2019 at 20:32

1 Answer 1


Native speakers don't talk with fems. :)

There are certainly speech communities where various sorts of hailnames are used by men to address women with when for whatever reason they don’t want to call them by their given names or using the standard personal pronoun you.

Because virtually all of these risk insult, you should probably avoid trying to use any of them even if you are a native speaker.

And if you are not a native speaker, then you would do well to heed this advice about hailnames:

There are oodles of these, but most of them occur only between men, often young men, in casual situations. Many are strictly regional. Some say something about the age, sex, race, education, or social class of the speaker or the person addressed. Others carry a tone of irony, aggression, or condescension. They impose a faux intimacy if used on someone you don’t know, something many take offence at.

Whenever you address someone by something other than their name or the pronoun you, you risk offending them. Name-calling is risky business indeed.

It is impossible for the non-native to judge the appropriate connotation of these for any given situation. Even for native speakers they risk coming off as artificial or insincere; for non-native speakers, they are a mine field of assured self-destruction that may well get you sneered at or even punched in the face.

Since so many of them are regional or from one particular subculture, whenever someone with an accent other than the region they come from uses one of these, it sounds fake. Fake is bad.

You have been warned. Just don’t do it.

  • I would say that real men don’t call them fems, because that’s a pretty derogatory term to use, but do talk to them, because there’s no reason not to that would fall under the category of bigotry that would automatically preclude them from being ‘real men’. Jul 12, 2019 at 20:07
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    It is in actual usage, though not of a very nice kind (“No fats, no fems, no Asians” is probably the most well-known example of its usage). Clearly the asker thought it meant ‘women’, but I thought it prudent to let them know that it means something quite different! Jul 12, 2019 at 20:13
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    @Cascabel Almost – you find more or less veiled versions of it on a disconcertingly high number of profiles on Grindr and all its siblings. Gay men can be terribly exclusionist pricks sometimes. Jul 12, 2019 at 20:37
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    @Cascabel Many people use it only for hookups; others use it for finding dates, relationships, or even friendships. Even for just hookups, though, it’s not a nice thing to say. Jul 12, 2019 at 20:43
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    @Cascabel Well, that’s a new one to me, but it sounds like it might be – it’s simply a abbreviation of ‘feminine’ and refers to guys (and also girls, especially lesbians) who act in a stereotypically feminine way. For girls, it’s the opposite of butch; for guys, it’s the opposite of masc (which is another epithet frequently touted in profile texts, often in the equally elitist form “masc for masc”, i.e., “I act in such a way that people rarely peg me as gay unless I tell them, and I’m only looking for guys who are the same”). Jul 12, 2019 at 20:49

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