Watching the Olympics in London this past month I recalled a moment when the American women had cleared the finish line in the relay and Carmelita Jeter was the anchor that finished it up for them. In my excitement I referred to Carmelita as a “beast” which basically meant that she was a powerful, unstoppable force. But a woman within earshot of hearing me say it assumed that I was somehow talking down on Carmelita’s looks (as if I’m blind).
It is funny how different this word is when it comes to the sexes. To call a man a beast is the highest of compliments; it hints to strength, power, fighting skill, and the unwillingness to give-up in any situation. For a woman it becomes a brutal insult referring to her looks as being rough, masculine, ugly, hairy, unwanted, and scary. Yet it all becomes the same when it comes to athletics and competition.
The Beast in competition
When it comes to sport, any sex being called a beast is fair game. It denotes respect in that person’s ability. When Michael Phelps is in the water he is a matchless beast in competition. 1988’s Game 6 Bull’s championship game – Michael Jordan was a beast on the basketball court. In the movie Kill Bill, actress Uma Thurman was a beast with a Hattori Hanzo Katana sword.
Same word, different meaning depending on the sex of the person or the venue that they’re in.
When Marshawn Lynch coined the term beast mode to describe his running back skills he was talking about the very same description that I described in the 1st paragraph. He was referring to his ability to go beyond human and run guys over to get the ball into the end-zone.
Beast as an insult
Now there are times when we guys will use beast as a nasty insult amongst ourselves when referring to a woman. The phrase is meant to bring about the image of that ugly, lion-faced creature from Disney’s Beauty and The Beast, or any sub-level hell creature from an H.P. Lovecraft story, or the Kraken from Clash of The Titans.
See it’s an insult to look like a beast, but it’s great praise to fight like one. It’s the highest level of praise actually – to hear the words “dude you are a f-cking beast” when you score the winning goal for your team, or “I would love a beast like you on my squad” when it comes time to be selected.
But nobody wants to hear ”I can’t mess with that chick Tina man, that broad is a beast yo, have you seen her without makeup?” That, unlike the instances described above is an insult of the harshest kind.
So watch your mouth when you’re throwing the word around gentlemen, many women cannot discern the difference in its intent. I am sure that if Carmelita heard me crown her a beast after her spectacular run she would take it as props, but for the average woman in our daily lives the term beast is nothing nice whatsoever.
By the way… Carmelita is far from a beast when she’s off the track… just saying.
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