Despite our best efforts as women to take back the term ‘bitch’ and take away its power from the men who have thrown it at us for millennia, it is still a powerful word.
We saw proof of this last week when AOC clapped back at Rep. Yoho R-FL for his labeling of her as ‘dangerous,’ ‘out of her mind,’ ‘crazy,’ and then, finally, a ‘fucking bitch.’
And then, in his apology, he claimed that he couldn’t be a misogynist because, you see, he has a wife and a daughter. Those things apparently automatically make a man 0% misogynist.
I wasn’t aware that was a thing, but okay. Perhaps all those men who beat their wives are really just feminists and we’re misinterpreting the whole thing, Rep Yoho?
Lots of shitty men exist. And lots of those shitty men have wives and/or daughters. Neither of those achievements exempts those shitty men from having to be respectful to other human beings.
This is like saying ‘I have that one black friend, so I can’t be a racist.’ Of course you can, Bill. The fact that you just have one black friend is probably the first red flag.
So, to men who think that the simple act of being married is somehow meaningful to women, and somehow should reassure us that you are not a threat, an asshole, a misogynist, or somehow automatically on our side, just know that its actually quite meaningless.
Literally any heterosexual couple can get married with almost nothing to prevent said union and it says absolutely nothing about the character and values of either of those people. Our president is married, yet he advocated for grabbing women ‘by the pussy.’ Bill Cosby was married, yet he is accused of raping potentially dozens of women over his career. And the list goes on.
Men throughout human existence have victimized, oppressed, and systematically targeted women and many, if not most, of those men were also married. Statistically, many also probably had daughters.
Anyway, this post is not about Rep Yoho’s misogyny as much as it is about women and labels. Specifically, how we allow ourselves to react, how we use labels against each other, and how that works against us when men think its still okay in 2020 to call us a ‘fucking bitch.’
What if, in addition to informing Rep Yoho that his wife and daughter were not qualifiers of his character, AOC had also said, ‘And henceforth, women will be updating the definition of the word bitch to describe the sheer power, tenacity, and accomplishment inherent to all women, so that, should you ever feel the need to call someone a bitch again, you’ll understand when we say ‘Thank you!’
How many of us call our friends ‘bitch’ as a term of endearment? Right? Like its a label we are proud to own and bestow on those we respect. But then, we also turn around and use it to refer to ‘that bitch at work.’ Or ‘some bitch’ on the subway. Or whatever.
As women, I can tell we very much want to take away the power that the term holds over us, but we continue to give it that power ourselves when we use it in the same way men do when referring to us pejoratively.
Let’s decide what we want here, okay? I’m fully behind making ‘bitch’ synonymous with a woman who goes after what she wants, loves fiercely, is intensely loyal to those she values, and draws firm fucking boundaries that she does not compromise on.
I’m fully behind ‘bitch’ being synonymous with a woman who doesn’t quit when she gets told ‘no,’ but uses it as a catalyst to grow. ‘Bitch’ might also mean a woman who knows her worth and isn’t going to do your emotional labor for you.
And so on.
Think about your friends that you greet this way. Why do you feel compelled to share this label with them in a positive light? It might be that the values or characteristics in them you respect are what you want to see all women foster and achieve. And by recognizing that ‘bitch’ inside her, you’re showing her respect, in this way.
What if, collectively, all women came to consensus that this is a term of respect? Can you imagine the kind of unity and power created by simply all of us deciding that ‘bitch’ is syn0nymous with someone who is respected, accomplished, amazing, intelligent, assertive, tenacious, and worthy?
Utopian dreams aside, maybe its time to start policing our words more closely, in terms of the context in which we use them and the intent behind them, in order to create a world where our daughters need not worry about a boy calling them a bitch, because its actually quite a compliment.
I’ve known enough shitty people in my life to know that people that think I’m a bitch have 100% overlap with people who are uncomfortable with my strong boundaries and expectations that they be responsible for themselves. So, anyone who has ever called me a bitch, I’m fully okay with that.
And anyone who will one day call me a bitch, I’m also fully in favor of that label. I try hard to earn it. It means I must be doing something right. 😉 And for some triggered white man in FL to call AOC a bitch, she must really fucking intimidate him.