Be the Bitch (Dealing with derogatory and sexist terms)
“You’re a bitch.”
Ouch. We take offense to derogatory terms for women. But why? Why does this word have meaning and why do we have to feel bad about it? Is the fight against them useless? Absolutely not, but it may also be time to readjust our position on some.
Female-Only Derogatory Terms
Most women don’t like to be called a bitch. First, I can’t think of a male equivalent and when there isn’t a male equivalent, I pretty much hate the word.
What’s a male equivalent for ball-buster? For bitch? For feisty?
Yep. That’s what I thought. If you tried to say dick, douche, bastard…sorry. I don’t accept those as none of them are nearly as insulting and male-targeted as those terms are for women.
This is only the tip of the iceberg for sexist terms for women. What other sexist labels are used to only describe women? Frigid, hysterical, bossy, frumpy, ditsy, feisty, damaged goods, emotional, shrill, abrasive, hormonal. Ever heard a man called feisty or shrill? Do we ask men if it’s their time of the month when they are in a foul mood? Nope.
If you’d like a complete dictionary of derogatory terms for women complete with an awesome definition head over to Telegraph. It’s quite shocking when you see just how many terms are women-only.
Bitch v Douche: Derogatory terms for women only
A strong, opinionated woman is called a bitch. A woman in a short skirt is a slut. Dating more than one man makes you a whore. Refusing a man makes you a tease or also, a bitch. That powerful woman who doesn’t take shit is a cunt. A woman with ambition is bossy. You’re feisty if you don’t take other’s shit.
Those are strong terms. And I don’t think calling a man a bastard is the same as calling a woman a cunt. You can’t even say cunt on most major TV networks because it is so offensive. Dick, douche, those can all be said in a playful manner and relay nothing to the way the man is dressed.
Why there is no equivalent is the same reason why they exist in the first place. Men controlling women’s actions and stating how they should behave. When they don’t, they get a name like those I’ve mentioned. But men hardly EVER behave out of our expectations, so no terms. Yep, a woman not dressing how she should? Slut. A woman “mouthing off” is a bitch.
All these terms serve is to invalidate a woman’s argument or opinion. It reduces us to our sex and our sex alone. Having a conflict with another woman? You may hear “cat fight” or the dreaded “rare” noise. Which you’d NEVER hear of two men bickering.
A female president, many feel would be too “emotional.” They are broadly brushing over all women and assigning an irrational mentality to us. Never mind our history of presidents acting hastily and measuring their dicks.
When it comes to men, they have a few terms that only refer to their sex. But let’s look at a few and see if there really is equality. Despite the fact that the terms listed above have no male-counterpart (ie slut), the terms that are meant for men are seen in a completely different light.
For example, a man who ages is seen as a fine wine. Look at men in the entertainment industry. More roles than ever. For women, they are constantly belittled to their appearance alone in magazines and entertainment commentary. “She looks great for her age”, “Look who’s aging with grace.” “So-and-so’s trick to looking 20.” They are harped on about looking good, then attacked for using methods like Botox. But men, they are allowed to age naturally.
Shall we compare terms with, theoretically, similar meanings?
Slut/Tart/Tease/Whore –> Player/Stud
Spinster/Old Maid –> Bachelor
Yeah that’s all I can think of. But these people apparently bear similar traits but are labeled completely differently. The terms themselves aren’t degrading, aren’t insulting. Quite the opposite in fact. They are seen as admirable traits and complimentary terms.
What the fuck?
Positive Terms Suck Too
Even when women are doing a good job at something, they are given terms that are anything but complimentary and still identify us with our sex.
Being bossy, ambitious, a ball-buster, battleaxe. We aren’t expected to be ambitious, hard-working women. Even in 2017, these traits are apparently unfeminine and the exception to the rule.
Lean Into It
While many of these terms we should fight tooth and nail to obliterate, some we should try to change our opinion of. It’s clear the term bitch isn’t going anywhere. So instead of trying to fight some, lean into them ladies. That’s right. I’m not saying be a cunt. Okay I am. Because the first bitch and first cunt were women who dared to go against the grain, who made men furious with her attitude and opinions, and who didn’t back down. Men had no choice but to call her names. Be the woman men have to call names because you aren’t the perfect mail-order-woman. You’re strong, you’ve got a voice, and you’re not going anywhere.
Be the bitch. The bitch gets respect, the bitch gets results, and the bitch is happy. Assign new meanings to these hateful and sexist terms. When someone calls you a bitch, they’re calling you an uncontrollable woman with an opinion they don’t agree with. They’re calling you powerful and un-submissive. A bitch was a female dog first. You’ve got the characteristics of a wild and willful dog. Hold your head high as you’re actively breaking the expectations of what a woman is expected to be. You’re fierce.
My name is Shelby. (And though no one has called me a bitch to my face, I’m sure someone has thought it or said it about me to someone else.) And I’m proud to be a bitch.
Words to Continue to Fight
Yes, lean into the ones that attack us for being strong women. Change the meaning. Don’t show offense. Or else those words will never disappear.
However, this only goes for a small percentage of derogatory terms for women. There are plenty of terms we need to actively fight. Terms that infantalise us like baby, doll, girl, and sweetie. These aren’t just used at home. Heard the phrase “good girl” when you performed well at work or elsewhere? Yeah, your male counterpart I can guarantee has never been praised with “good boy.”
Let’s not forget the sexist terms relating to our sexual activities, like slut, whore, and tease. We need to make it known that saying “no,” doesn’t make us a tease. Saying “yes” doesn’t make us a slut. This starts with us as well. Don’t use these terms against your fellow women. You’re part of the problem if you do. Realize what you’re doing and stop it.
This is a huge problem to tackle and we are at the forefront of the fight. Don’t use the terms yourself, call people out when they use them because they genuinely might not realize they’re being sexist, and lean into the rest. Change the definition of bitch. There’s nothing offensive with being a bad-ass, strong woman. If that’s what a bitch is, so be it.
Let’s break those cages!
Tell me, what was the latest derogatory term used against you? How did it make you feel? What others have you noticed?