German Word of the Week: Stutenbissigkeit

Bildergebnis für horse biting

Stutenbissigkeit comes from Stute (mare) and bissig (bitey). So, it’s a word for female horses biting each other, a form of female intrasexual conflict, a behavior we English-speakers associate with cats. In fact, if you type in the word ‘catfight’ into Google image search, you get nothing but pictures — sexy, sexy pictures — of women threatening or attacking each other. This is my favorite:

Sweden v. The Netherlands

Apparently, there’s also an Internet subculture of computer-generated girl-on-girl fight porn, which I didn’t know until just now.

The German Wikipedia entry for Stutenbissigkeit shows severe damage from repeated raids by sociologists and gender-studies grad students. We are informed in the very first sentence that this word is a “medieval sex-role stereotype”, and the authors point out, po-faced, that there’s no biological basis for it, since all horses bite, not just mares.

It only goes downhill from there (g, my translation):

The term ‘Stutenbissigkeit’ has become more and more prevalent since the mid-1990s. Borrowing from the conflict behavior of mares, the concept is meant to disparage competitive behavior or rivalry between women, by tacitly assuming the the conflict behavior of men as the standard of measure — that is, the behavior of men is seen as the social norm. This disparagement is accompanied by a subconscious association with socially undesirable, non-manly behaviors including jealousy or envy…. The background to animal metaphors is the continuing social taboos against and delegitimization of girls and women as actors who take part in open conflict an competition, and the resulting disparagement of their competitive behavior.


I hope you were taking notes, because this will be on the mid-term.

The article reluctantly mentions that there’s another related term: Zickenkrieg.

Which means ‘Bitch-War’.

And is not only a website but also, improbably enough, a conflict within the Soviet labor camp system!

One thought on “German Word of the Week: Stutenbissigkeit

  1. Hahnenkampf is the corresponding “medieval gender-stereotype” for men. I don’t follow the claim in the wikipedia article that “Stutenbissigkeit” is about the taboo of women behaving aggressively and how this all part of the patriarchy. The sources given don’t support this either.
    Check out Rabenmutter ( That’s a similar term but the article is good.

    What I learned from following random links in wikipedia:
    “Helikopter-Eltern” is called “curlingforældre” (curling parents) in Danish.
    That’s because they are like curling players sweeping the ice to make sure the rock goes on unimpeded.


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