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the fair(er) sex
Females. The term has come to be considered inappropriate due to its emphasis on the physical appearance of women and girls. Did he just say, "members of the fairer sex"? I feel like I'm in a Victorian novel. Senator, if you think it is up to legislators to shield the fair sex, as you say, from shocking or troubling matters, then I'm afraid you're living in the wrong century.
See also: sex
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
Girls or women, as in Many women would object to being called the fair sex nowadays. This euphemism uses fair in the sense of "physically beautiful" and is probably dying out. [Mid-1600s]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
fair sex, the
Females in general. This cliché, which is rapidly dying out, is a direct translation of the French le beau sexe, a phrase popularized by the English journalists Joseph Addison and Richard Steele (“That sex which is therefore called fair,” The Spectator, 1712). It was already a cliché by the time Arthur Conan Doyle (The Second Stain, 1905) put it in Sherlock Holmes’s mouth: “Now Watson, the fair sex is your department.”
See also: fair
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer