Ditching the Term “Diva”

We stood in line at the toy store, as my daughter jumped and bent over in frustration because I was not going to buy the expensive doll that sat within eyeshot of where we stood. Although she knew I wouldn’t budge, she batted her long eyelashes and attempted to persuade me in a sweet voice to buy the doll. All of her efforts were in vain and I calmly pointed out to her why the desired purchase was not a smart buy. As the conversation rolled on, a young woman jokingly said to me, “You’re raising a little diva there.”

And a chill went up my spine.

I smiled and shook off the comment, but I so badly wanted to share with the woman my thoughts on that word… “Diva.” Because I hate it. To me, the word is right up there with Bitch, the C word, and other derogatory words that we use to describe a woman that doesn’t play nice. Even though we don’t look at the title “Diva” as a swear word, it kind of means the same thing. And while society is straining to enter a new age of equality, using words like Diva, or engaging in “diva” behavior, is not doing anything to push equality along. If anything, it does more harm than good to the equality cause.

When you think of the word “Diva,” what comes to your mind? Here’s what comes to my mind. A spoiled starlet that cares very little for other’s needs. A person that is more concerned with what she wears than what is happening around her.  If a star is late or gives a degrading answer, we say, “Oh, she’s such a diva.” We give the title to stars such as J-Lo, Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, Taylor Swift, and Mariah Carey. I do not know any of these women and I am sure that many of these so called “Divas” give their time, money, and fame to causes around the world.

But I do not want my daughter to be a diva.


In fact, if my daughter grows up and becomes a self-proclaimed “Diva” or is proclaimed so by others, then I will be disappointed in my efforts as a father. My desire for my daughter is that she cares little about her wardrobe and looks, and cares more about others; especially those in need.

Sometimes I feel that I am losing this war. From an early age, toys and media have shoved their idea of the ideal woman in front of my daughter, trying to convince her that all things pink are for girls and that her world should revolve around fashion, puppies, ice cream, and going to the mall. Before I get too carried away and have everyone rolling their eyes, I will say that these things are not totally wrong. There’s nothing wrong with wanting dolls that take puppies for walks and there isn’t anything wrong about wanting to look your best. I love taking my daughter out to get her nails done. But there has to be more to her than that. And I don’t want her to be so wrapped up in herself that she believes the world is here to serve her.

There’s another problem, though.  Words have power, and historically words have been used as a way to deny women equality.  And we perpetuate that problem when we use words like “diva” to delegitimize women and degrade them.  It’s easy to discount and devalue women if you think of them in terms that suggest they are something other than equal persons.  (And isn’t that what the term “Diva” is – a title we bestow on women when we don’t want to remember that they are people).We live in a selfish society. And the desire to be a “diva” only perpetuates this downward slope towards a “it is all about me” mentality.   So let’s ditch the term Diva.  Let’s stop labeling women as such and let’s stop pushing our daughters to be “divas.”  There are amazing women out there for our daughters (and sons) to look up to. My daughter can sing Taylor Swift’s songs, but I would much rather have her be like her mother, Melinda Gates, Sunitha Krishnan, Arundhati Roy, and Malala Yousafazi.  Or better yet, herself.

You might also like:

I am a #HeForShe

The WNBA, My Daughter, and Equality 

Dads and Daughters


  1. Perfect!! I hate that term too, and all that it implies. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only parent raising a daughter who worries about this stuff. I hate that toys and media will try to tell her she has to be attractive above all else, that she has to enjoy set things that are ‘for girls’ and not be who she feels she is. My little one is only 4 months old and already I’m worried for her! I hope we can ditch ‘diva’. It’s a really rather shitty word.

  2. Hi. Hogan introduced me to your chapter in Dads Behaving Dadly. Just like this interesting post, your writing is right to the point. I wanted to invite you to 5 weeks of my blog, Parental Intelligence where I’m hosting
    November is Dads Month. I have an article called Dads and Daughters that might be right up your alley. Come visit and leave info about your blog for so other dads can find it.

    Hope to see you there.

  3. You didn’t ask me but the person who lacked boundaries and felt entitled to make a comment and judge your daughter is way out of line and should be minding their own business and living a Diva free lifestyle instead of “joking” with you. It is a fine line, it is not healthy to teach little girls to “hate” Bratz dolls or to judge Beyonce etc. but on the other hand it is damaging to teach females that batting your eyelashes is the road to empowerment. I am not saying not to ditch diva, I certainly would not want to raise one in terms of someone who is haughty, temperamental or entitled. Like the Ban Bossy deal I can’t get on board with raising a would-be leader to be controlling. I am so against censorship, can we just go back to using it correctly? An opera singer or famous female singer of popular music and leave it at that? The definition at removes the negativity and judgement? Excellent post.

  4. Insightful and well-written post. My take away:

    “Words have power, and historically words have been used as a way to deny women equality. And we perpetuate that problem when we use words like “diva” to delegitimize women and degrade them. It’s easy to discount and devalue women if you think of them in terms that suggest they are something other than equal persons.”

    Well done!

    With thanksgiving,

  5. If you live in America I highly doubt you don’t know who MARIAH CAREY is. if reaaaaaaaaaaaaally you live Under a roch then at least you listned to her in Christmas. just kidding. and yes I agree w/ you. Diva is also used to talk about talent so Mariah is refered to for both meanings 🙂

  6. Jason. When you wrote, “Words have power, and historically words have been used as a way to deny women equality” a chill went up MY spine – but in a good way. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE check out TIA Girl Club ( I’m launching a company for young girls (8 to 12) to teach them a vocabulary of empowerment, to help them realize the inner power they possess and to encourage them to become their authentic, individual beautiful selves. Your daughter will love it (and hopefully you too!)! TIA stands for “Today I Am” and is a community-based retail store that will support and encourage girls. It’s hard being a girl – you need support and love from a like-minded community. TIA is there to provide that to our girls. Anyway – please check it out….and thanks for writing the blog. It obviously touched me.

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