3. Calling someone a “bitch”
I was reading an article on The Root, titled “I Was Walking Home When The War On Women Got Personal“, which detailed the author’s personal trauma of being sexually assaulted on a NYC sidewalk. While reading the article, I was hit with an epiphany, which occurred around the time I read her line, “The best response I could muster was to yell that he was “a f–king bitch!” as he ran away.”
As I read, reread, and reread that line, it dawned on me. I considered the fact that the male privilege epidemic is in fact, so widespread that “females” are as likely, to perpetuate the privilege, as are the “males” who are entitled to its benefits.
My “light bulb” moment came from the fact that this article was written by a “woman”, detailing the problems of the state of “women” today, while she also, apparently unknowingly, perpetuated the behaviors that help reinforce the very state of “women” she was writing about.
The fact that this writer successfully highlighted the impending dangers of the looming “war on women” and wasn’t able to correlate that war to the existing male privilege, is telling. The fact that she was able to dissect the complexities of the state of “women” in our society, while simultaneously upholding male privilege with her use of the word “bitch”, specifically to emasculate the young person that violated her, is even more telling.
The most basic and intentional purpose of using the word “bitch” is to do exactly as the author intended when she used it, to emasculate a person. The question that’s never asked, is what purpose does a person accomplish by trying to emasculate another? Moreover, what does that even mean, to emasculate someone?
For instance, people often explain their use of the word “bitch” to explain “feminine” behaviors. The word “feminine” is another story, in and of itself, but the idea here is pretty central, the negative connotation of the word “bitch” is clearly in its connection to woman.
To figuratively emasculate someone, essentially means taking away their “maleness” or “manliness”, inherently making them less masculine and more the opposite, which you guessed correctly, is “feminine”. I often hear people say that the most powerful epithet a person could use to degrade a man is to call him a “bitch”.
“By ignoring the weight of the word, the significance of the privilege tied to the word’s existence or attempting to redefine it, you not only further disempower yourself, but also perpetuate the ignorance that subjugated you in the first place.”
Imagine, for a minute, that your name was Bitch. Or rather, that the word bitch was replaced with your name. How would I feel if everyone started walking around yelling at people who upset them, “You effing Shaquana! You’ll always be a Shaquana, always been a Shaquana and will never be more than a Shaquana!” At first glance, it may seem funny when I write that.
But, really consider what I am saying. If the most disrespectful thing a person could say or call someone is my name, I’m definitely going to feel some type of way. Not with that person, but with myself, as I have to question what could I be doing so poorly or unacceptable to people who their most powerful insult is, to attack someone else, by comparing them to me.
The concept I am presenting here, is one widely shared by proponents of banning the “B” word. Yet, an overwhelming amount of our society still reinforces the widespread use of the word. Women have attempted to reclaim it, making it a term of endearment, similar to the African American community’s revamp of the word “Nigga”.
In short, #EpicFail! The word “bitch”, still has the same meaning, whether you try to make it cool or not. In all, though, I have no goal to present any arguments about the use of the word “bitch” but rather, simply relay my observations.
I do feel that, if people are going to continue to use words with such weight and power to them, like “Nigga” and “Bitch”, they should make sure to be knowledgeable about the impact of the words they use and the truthful context in which it is meant to be used.
By ignoring the weight of the word, the significance of the privilege tied to the word’s existence or attempting to redefine it, you not only further disempower yourself, but also perpetuate the ignorance that subjugated you in the first place. You exhibit far more power and agency when you know what and why you say the things you say, and use that knowledge to truly own every word that comes out of your mouth.