Stop Calling People a B*tch
In a lot of ways this is where this feminism conversation started. And not, as you may first assume because someone called me a b*tch. I’ve been called a b*tch before. By friends who use it jokingly, by an acquaintance who learned I’ve done martial arts for 25 years (bad ass b*tch, or something to that effect), or by some complete stranger who mean it aggressively. And when it’s used aggressively, it hurts, absolutely. An incident from years ago still lingers in my memories.
But what got me thinking was kind of in two parts. The first was months ago when my partner was playing video games with his friends and I honestly don’t remember exactly what he said but he used a word negative to women out loud when referencing something that happened in the game, he wasn’t saying it to anyone in particular, he was just upset. But I talked to him about it, and asked him to lose the words in his vocabulary that demeaned women. Because you know what? When you use that language, it hurts me, regardless of the fact that it wasn’t directed at me, or was meant to be aggressive.
The second instance was when I was driving just a few weeks ago, and I got upset at another driver, and I called them a b*tch out loud. Not to their face, they never heard me. Not aggressively or angrily. Just out loud, in my car. And I immediately regretted it.
At this point you’re probably asking yourself why should we stop saying b*tch if we don’t mean it negatively, or there’s no one around to hear us?
The problem is that it is used in a negative, aggressive manner. And it becomes a common word. So some people think it’s okay to use. It’s the idea of mimicry, people will mimic what they view as normal. So you might not use it aggressively, but someone else is going to hear you use that word and think it’s okay to call women, or men, b*tches. Unless you teach people that it’s not okay, they’ll continue to use those words. Words have power. Women don’t just shrug it off when you call them a b*tch.
Other than calling someone out as being a dick (and correct me if I’ve missed something), but all the gender based insults are directed at women. Even the word ‘bastard’ is directly related to women. You’re insulting someone’s mother.
Going back to the acquaintance who called me a bad ass b*tch, there are those who want to use it positively, who want to reclaim that word. But again, correct me if I’m wrong, but that has not been 100% successful in the past. I’ll use the N-word as an example. As a person of any other colour, you would never walk up to someone and call them a bad ass N, without getting some kind of backlash. You’d never insult someone by saying “you’re such a N”, regardless of colour. But people say “you’re such a b*tch”. Even many people within the black community see it as an insult coming from other black people. They have tried to reclaim that word within their community, but it is still used as an insult.
So to think that a word that demeans 50% of the world’s population is okay to say doesn’t make sense.
Rather than reclaim that word, it should be phased out of our language.
So my everyday feminism task is to stop using the word b*tch. And if you’re one of the people I hang out with, I want you to call me out on it if it slips out. And if you want me to call you out on it too, let me know.