This is a first in a series of feminist editorials that I am writing called: “Breaking the Stereotype: How Women and Men define their own, and each other’s, Gender Roles in Society.” My goal is to shatter preconceived notions of what gender roles are, how language is used as a barrier to equality, and how people perpetuate negative stereotypes, whether they are male or female. What does it mean to be a feminist? How do gender roles play out in culture and society at large? Do women really have equal choices and options? How do we achieve equal rights for everyone regardless of race, gender, or sexual preference? These are just a few of the topics I will cover in this series, and I hope that it will enlighten those who read it. Be forewarned that there will be language and subject matter from time to time that will be offensive to some. I cannot be responsible for that; I just intend to be upfront and informational. Take it as you will.
“What’s up bitches?” “Look at those bitches!” “If people think I’m a bitch now, just wait until they see this!” “Yeah, I’m a bitch. So fucking what?” Do any of these phrases, or ones similar in nature, sound familiar? They should. In this day of instant access to countless people via mass media and the internet, these sentences comprise common language. I see and hear these words more times a day than I can count, more often than not, and all of them have something in common; the term bitch.
There are songs, bands, so-called feminist websites, and various other things that are devoted to the word. I’ve seen it used as a noun (She’s a bitch), a verb (No need to bitch about it), and an adjective (I stubbed my toe on that bitch dresser). I’ve seen and heard plenty of quotes that use, in some form, the word bitch. “Shit’s only as real as the bitches who told you,” et al.
The online Merriam-Webster dictionary defines bitch as:
“1: the female of the dog or some other carnivorous mammals
2 a: a lewd or immoral woman
b: a malicious, spiteful, or overbearing woman —sometimes used as a generalized term of abuse
3: something that is extremely difficult, objectionable, or unpleasant
Other dictionaries define bitch in pretty much the same manner, so as we can see, bitch is used a derogatory term. I don’t imagine, or pretend, that that fact is new to anyone, including myself. I have used the term myself to refer to a boss, a girl I knew, or any other woman who was generally being unpleasant. I would say that many people have used it in exactly the same way. That’s not the problem as far as I’m concerned. The problem I do have with using the word bitch is when it’s used as a positive term, or a self-definition. A word that I use strictly as an insult is not one that I would use to describe myself or my friends.
I know there’s a new type of feminism (although I beg to differ on using feminism as a label for this type of mind-set but I will save that topic for another editorial) that seeks to ‘take back’ words and terms that are pejorative or derogatory. Bitch is one of those words, as is cunt, whore, and a score of others. I hate this type of thinking. If I ‘took back’ the “N” word…do you think it would be appropriate? I can’t even type that word let alone take it back without being considered racist, yet I can use the “B” word to define myself? I cringe at the self-loathing that this word, and other words of this nature, connote and refuse to accept this as neither normal nor acceptable.
Bitch is a negative word that has no place in feminist vernacular. No one should be proud to be a bitch. You are not a bitch because you have opinions, you just have straightforward opinions. You are not a bitch because you demand equality; you see humanity on a level playing field. You are not a bitch because you have PMS; your hormones are fucking with your brain chemistry. You’re not a bitch because you’re a man who dates a strong woman. You’re not a bitch because you’re a man who’s not into sports. Stop referring to yourself as bitches or letting people refer to you as bitches; you’re just normal people with normal lives and normal thoughts. If you’re a man who refers to women as bitches, as a general term, you’re being misogynistic; and if you’re a man who refers to other men as bitches, shut up. You just sound like childish morons. Bitch is not a word that needs to be “reclaimed”.
If one is really, truly interested in gender equality than why don’t they stand up to gender injustice? Why don’t they advocate the equality of humans and fight for everyone’s rights to be treated thusly? Why don’t they rally a battle cry against discriminations of sexual preference, gender, or race? These are the things that really need to be reclaimed, not words like bitch.
To truly be treated as an equal, one must first act like an equal. I’m not a bitch, are you?
-H.A. Larson, 10/2012
My black soul is a raging river, emptying its contents into the sea,
My heart swells like clouds in the sky, and beats faster than a raven
This sadness overtakes me and covers me like a cloak of velvet.
Tears fall from my eyes and onto the ground in my own personal
I am powerless to stop this entity inside me from taking form,
I cannot breathe in this air of acrid hate and animosity.
Morning comes and washes me in its fiery glow,
Awakening outside and inside a person I do not know,
I rise from the bed I have made for myself.
From far away across the plains a dark looming cloud takes
I run as fast as I can to meet it for it is my fate,
It swallows me up in an embrace that I cannot escape from.
My life ebbs and flows like the tides of the ocean reaching the shore,
I wander and stumble like a child lost forevermore,
My black soul is a raging river, emptying its contents into the sea.
H.A. Larson - 2012
I most certainly do.
I am a firm believer that anyone who starts an extreme exercise program should do so privately. Why? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people post on social forums how they are starting P90X, Insanity, or any other extreme exercise program. That in itself wouldn’t be anything to talk about, but I noticed a trend. People who let the world know they are going on the extreme journey only post a few times about it, they might even post a link to a blog that ‘chronicles their journey’ and then….nothing. I really don’t know anyone, come to think of it, who’s actually done more than just start one of these programs. Oh, a few might get a few extra posts in about it, but then it fades away like it never happened. We all know you failed the extreme exercise challenge, and we don’t blame you. Next time someone starts one of these programs, they should keep it under wraps for awhile…until they know they’re going to finish.
There is a War in this country. It’s a war waged by right-wing, conservative groups & people against women and the poor. Every time I turn around, there’s a new story about someone, usually a man but not limited to just men (see Ann Coulter, et al), who has some outlandish opinion about how a woman’s body works & what like-minded individuals, such as themselves, can do to regulate said body. Who in this country didn’t hear Senator Todd Akin’s cringe-worthy words about how “legitimate” rape rarely leads to pregnancy because a woman’s body has a way of “shutting that stuff down”? Really Mr. Akin? How does that work exactly, and what the hell is a “legitimate rape”? What constitutes an “illegitimate rape”? I personally do not see any legitimacy in rape. None.
Back in March of this year, Georgia Senator Terry England compared women to cows & pigs, and helped push a bill that would require women to carry still-born babies to term. What?! Yes. Here: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/03/09/georgia-lawmaker-compares-women-to-cows-and-pigs/ This event, and other similar ones, led the women senators of that state to walk out in protest against the War on Women. They actually staged a demonstration against the male Republican majority.
Then there’s Ann Coulter, and I quote: “I think all real females are right-wingers and I can tell you that based on experience — and my bodyguard will back me up on this — all pretty girls are right-wingers. Some of my male fans have hair to their derriere and tattoos up and down their arms; some of my antagonists seem like perfectly attractive, preppy young men. Girls — a pretty girl walking toward your table, you know she is a fan. … The reason unattractive — I suppose — the reason liberal women are liberal is because they have to date liberal men and as we’ve seen from Bill Clinton and Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Anthony Weiner, we’ve seen how liberal men treat women. I’d be angry too. … I’ll take 69 cents on the dollar [referring to the wage gap between men and women] or whatever current feminist myth is about how much we make, just to have to never have to pay for dinner. That seems like a fair deal to me.” Really Ann? Is that why the majority of men you date are Democrats? Or how about the fact that some of your favorite bands include The Grateful Dead and The Dave Matthews Band? They’re about as liberal as you get as far as bands go. Is she aware of this fact, or that they’re big into smoking weed? I guess she can set her personal beliefs aside when it’s convenient for her.
As a feminist, Ann Coulter really gets under my skin. How can a supposedly intelligent, sophisticated woman believe the garbage she spouts about other women? I do have doubts as to her intelligence, as evidenced by juvenile comments she has made. A few years back, on live television, she stated that Jews needed to be ‘perfected’ by becoming Christians. A few years after that she stated that moderate Democrats believe that they shouldn’t teach children ‘fisting’ in school until they are at least 12, maybe 11. If you don’t know what fisting is, look it up. At any rate, that last comment was directed at same-sex marriage. If you equate fisting with same-sex marriage you obviously haven’t watched enough porn. Maybe I’m wrong in my assumption that Ann Coulter isn’t as smart as she seems…she might just be carefully crafting her empire with these idiotic comments. But what that empire is is just as mysterious to me as Ancient Aliens.
The War on the Poor is also alive and well in this country. How many comments have I seen by people about how poor people are just lazy, need to get jobs, and quit doing drugs. Those are all prejudicial statements that assume if you are poor, you are a horrible person. These kinds of comments not only demean the economically-challenged in this country, but also wrap this socio-economic group into false stereotypes. It’s like saying that all black people eat fried chicken and watermelon. It’s just as offensive and untrue.
Australian mining heiress Gina Rinehart was recently quoted as saying this: "If you’re jealous of those with more money, don’t just sit there and complain," she said in a magazine piece . “Do something to make more money yourself — spend less time drinking or smoking and socializing, and more time working.” (L.A. Times, David Lazarus, 8/30/12) Keep in mind that this woman was born wealthy and has never ever known what it’s like to be poor. How can she possibly have any idea what it’s like to be poor? Maybe she should spend some time in Africa, where the majority of people are poor….and NOT lazy. Here: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/24/world/africa/24zambia.html?_r=0&pagewanted=all
There’s also the conservative mindset concerning healthcare and the poor. If you are poor, why should those who aren’t poor pay for your healthcare? The idea is that poor people should get jobs or buy some cheap insurance policy? What about those people who have jobs but do not have employer provided insurance? Poor people are poor because they don’t make a lot of money. How are they supposed to pay for insurance when they can barely pay for necessities. It doesn’t make sense, especially when it appears that wealthier citizens have no concern for the poor or what happens to them. In essence, those with aforementioned prejudices, believe that poor people are not only less-than-human and inferior, but also deserve to die. Have they really thought about who is going to serve their McDonald’s food, wash their dishes at a fancy restaurant, pave their worn-out roads, haul away their garbage, and the like? Are they going to do it themselves? Are their not-poor friends going to do these less-than-desirable societal jobs?
A hot-button subject right now is poor women and healthcare, which encompasses both Wars. If you are poor and do not want children, or need feminine cares you are screwed. Likewise if you aren’t necessarily poor but want birth control coverage through your insurance, or other feminine cares, you are also screwed. Conservative, right-wing folks want to force these people to have babies that are either unwanted, unable to be afforded, or both. However, if you have these babies and can’t afford them and state assistance to help care for them, you are poor, lazy, crack whores who just sit around popping out babies so they can live off government largesse. It’s a lose-lose situation. If you want to get birth control through your insurance at work, if you are lucky enough to have it, it is assumed that you are just a nasty whore who needs to pay for that out of pocket. That is a terrible mind-set to have against another person because you are shoving your beliefs and ideals down another’s throat. You can’t just pick and choose what kind of coverage to give to others. Why? Because it’s prejudicial, unequal, and who’s to say down the road that other coverage will also be deemed immoral (or whatever excuse is given) and done away with. I cannot imagine any parent who has a child with cancer having to try to come up with radiation therapy out-of-pocket because their employer might be a Jehovah’s Witness (for example) and believes in divine intervention. Let that sink in for a minute.
Look at what Sandra Fluke went through for this speech: http://www.buzzfeed.com/boxofficebuz/transcript-of-testimony-by-sandra-fluke-48z2
Her statements about birth control were centered on a friend of hers who needed birth control to prevent cysts from growing on her ovaries. It was assumed that said friend was lying about why she needed the birth control in the first place and was denied. She had to have her ovary removed later because she couldn’t get the prescription she needed and now faces early-onset menopause. It seems grossly inappropriate, among other things, to deny coverage to anyone for any kind of medicine simply based on a moral objection to it. Her medical condition (which she provided proof for) could have been easily alleviated under normal circumstances.
So yes folks. There is a War on the Poor, a War on Women, and most assuredly, a War on Poor Women. Why do other people want to regulate women’s bodies and hate poor people? I don’t know. I don’t think it’s jealously. I do think it has a lot to do with prejudice and poor judgment. This country was set up for its citizens to have free will but it sure seems like we’re moving backwards as of late. It seems ridiculous in this day and age of civilized, privileged people that we still have such a large group of populace whose beliefs seem so uncivilized. Isn’t it the duty of any country, especially one such as ours, to protect and help the poor and disenfranchised? After all, this country was built on the backs of these exact same people. Unless you live in a country whose only citizens are wealthy, which is unrealistic, that’s the way it should be. As citizens of a freewill nation that was hard fought and won for by our foremother and fathers, we need to fight back against these kinds of injustices before our rights become extinct.
-I posted this on my other blog which you can find here: http://noordinarywoman1.blogspot.com/