Today we are going to dive into a quote I read in a book recently:

The Bookshop of Second Chances by Jackie Fraser

The Quote:

He groans. “God save me from self-obsessed, high maintenance bitches.”

“I don’t much like her,” I say, but please don’t call her a bitch.” I lean on the counter, not looking at him.”

“Why not?”

“Gendered insults are lazy.” I pause. “High maintenance is also gendered. obviously.”

Jackie Fraser

I completely agree that gendered insults are lazy. They are also judgmental and wrong at least half the time. And this goes to statements made against any sex…


Is high maintenance a gendered statement?

When we use the term, what are we going for? What do we mean when we say high maintenance? Do we mean a Harry Met Sally thing? Are we talking about sandwiches with things on the side? Or is there something more?

But is being high maintenance really a thing that can be applied to women more often than men? I mean, my husband is WAY MORE high maintenance than I am…than my daughter is… I know just as many high main men as I do women…

Is this author just trying to jump on the women great/men suck bandstand? Is the author trying to be clever? Is the author trying to be pro women? Is the author so embarrassed that they are writing chick lit? Is the author trying to elevate their status to literary fiction? The whole book is lightweight trying desperately to be heavyweight…A regular maintenance reader can see that this book is full of itself…

Is high maintenance a gendered term? I don’t think so. Is it stupid to continually attribute things to men or women? Yes- I think that’s wrong.

But the real question here is simple: Am I wrong? Is the term high maintenance a gendered term?


55 thoughts on “Gendered

  1. High maintenance is not a gendered term. It is a term used to describe things beyond personality – as in: orchids are a high maintenance flower to grow. or – my eldest child was a high maintenance child (true) – sex does not matter here, I’ve known several kiddos m&f with same attribute.
    In general, however, I’ll say that ‘labels’ help us to identify and understand something at first then we can take it and fine tune it ***out*** of the realm of that label. If that’s not done, then it remains just another ‘stereotype’ cage.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I thought it was an odd description in the book. Personally I think the author doesn’t like knowing she writes light fiction and is trying to elevate it. That being said I think I have more blogs based on things I read in it, so maybe there’s more to it than I originally thought

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with you – high maintenance is only sexist when viewed through a particular lens. I think it’s a common mistake people make – presuming others share their view of the world.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I don’t think high maintenance is a gendered term at all. I know high maintenance men, women, pets, plants, cars. I think the author didn’t think this through.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I can see how some would define high maintenance as a gendered term, based on how often it’s used in relation to females. Even though we borrow terminology and apply it to other situations or subjects, such as the example of an expensive car being high maintenance, socially we become accustomed to associating terms with very specific, and in the case of this book, sexist remarks.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. That’s the problem with labels, no matter who they are directed towards. The perspectives that labeling someone conjure up start an avalanche of opinions that may or may not be accurate, yet the belief has been planted and we just roll with it.

        Liked by 3 people

  5. High maintenance generally means demanding or needing a lot of attention.(My life experience has shown me that men tend to win in the high maintenance category.) And It is not gender specific. In fact, it doesn’t even have to refer to a human being. A car can be high maintenance, so can nail polish or a hair style. In my opinion, anything that is an inanimate object can’t also be gender specific. So This author is blatantly looking for trouble or trying to cause some. Also, I think the author is clueless about the word bitch. The use or intent of that word is often viewed differently depending on your generation. What is interesting to me is how women over 60 think about that word and how women under 40 use it. Women my age always found it insulting and a negative word because if you were called a bitch it was a cut. However, in today’s world it’s an empowered word.I learned that in the last few years. The young women (30 and under) I have met at my cancer infusion center all have enlightened me on the modern usage. They have turned having ovarian cancer into a bitch club of empowerment. They call themselves The bitches. They wear T shirts and drink coffee out of mugs that read slogans like, “Cancer messed with the wrong bitch!” And in 2016 when Hillary ran for President there were countless women who had signs or were in social media groups that read “Bitches for Hillary”.
    So that particular author isn’t really up to date on the new meaning of bitch. Or anything else apparently . And tried to throw around that he, she, they or whomever, is enlightened and aware when they actually seem to show how clueless and sexist they are.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I’m going to go against the grain and say I do think it’s generally considered to be a gendered term. But… I absolutely agree with you that it has been mis-cast as such. High maintenance comes in many forms and, as such, can be any gender, gender neutral, or – indeed – inanimate when a high performance object. The extract you’ve quoted will surely place the book as having been written in a certain time. I wonder how well it will age as a result?

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I think the term “high maintenance,” needs to be retired, it’s been overused, and abused in my opinion. Using more specific terms to describe the actions of a “high maintenance” character is so much more interesting to read, your example of when Harry Met Sally is spot on. “I like my apples peeled but just the middle section, so the edges don’t get brown, and then sliced but diagonally because in my opinion, it brings out the flavor. Maybe a squeeze of lemon to preserve the color would be nice,” says Adam to Eve.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly. There’s someone who wants their dressing on the side, no tomatoes, only romaine, served n a small blue plate, and then there’s someone who knows what they like/need.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. To me it seems it has always refered to women. Although honestly anyone with issues is essentially high maintenance…took a high maintenance guy to marry a high maintenance girl and even each other out 😁

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I don’t think high maintenance is a gendered term although now that I think about it I don’t remember hearing anyone refer to a man as high maintenance. I definitely know some of those though.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Have to agree with what others are saying, I think it is a gendered term and often think of women when I hear it, BUT… now you make me wonder why? For yes, there are high maintenance men out there, I guess I just think of other terms when thinking of them. LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I dont think high maintenance is gendered. I know some high maintenance men. I mean, I know some high maintenance women too. Interestingly enough, some are actually married to each other. I can’t figure out how that works for either of them 😏
    I always refer back to Harry and Sally when I hear the phrase, but that may be because it was the first time I’d ever hear it.
    Anyway, it’s not a specifically gendered phrase, there are some seriously high management humans in the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I have no idea when we started using this term. I don’t think it’s gendered because I’ve heard it toward men and women, but i think it tends to be used more toward women.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Apparently it was early 80s and was used towards people with a certain medical condition, so it was originally unisex. However. That’s after very little research so I could be totally wrong

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Well, the ex and I used to refer to my sister as high maintenance, mostly because it took her a very long time to make herself “presentable” to leave the house! Fortunately she has moved away from that ridiculous “standard” after being buffeted enough by life and by men to realize she got very little in return for all the time she put in. When I first started dating, I remember hearing somewhere (probably in the pages of Cosmopolitan magazine – the “single woman’s bible” for dating in the 1970s and 1980s) about “the fragile male ego”. That term implies to me a particularly gender-specific application of the general idea of high maintenance when it comes to relationships. Of course I may be biased since it finally hit me after 30 years together that he broke up our marriage because I finally got tired of stroking his! Looks like he has already found somebody else to do that for him while at the same time I’ve realized I may have stuck it out so long because he stroked mine sometimes, especially when my self-confidence hit some very low ebbs. Too bad my requirement for said stroking was so much lower than his!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. To be fair, I don’t think there’s any problem with taking care of oneself. It’s when people make demands of others that it becomes an issue


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