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