How many times have we all heard this used nonchalantly; as a term of endearment, a denigration, a judgment, or used for its actual denotation, female dog (not often). I cringe every time I hear it, but then accidentally say it when I’m driving and get a bout of road rage. The thing is, that the word and it’s use toward women, is a reprehensible step backwards to the mentality of woman/female as second class citizen.  The term in its general sense and usage, is meant in derogatory fashion to a woman and how acceptable it has become in our society, is unacceptable. Let’s think of the extent to which this term/insult is denigrating; it is aimed toward a man, when the man is subordinate or a “wuss.” WHOA! Have you ever seen how insulted men are when someone calls them a little bitch? Them is fightin’ words!  In the general sense that it is used toward women though, it’s fine? It’s so common it must be, right? Many women call other women, bitches. In other words, the general connotation of the term bitch is toward a woman who is successful, knows what she wants and goes for it, doesn’t take shit from anyone, doesn’t conform to social norms and is self-confident. Usually those women; the tough ones, ambitious and sometimes a little bossy maybe (and so they’ve earned it), or the not so sugary-sweet-type, are labeled as “bitches.” This idea enrages me. I hate to state the cliché here, but this is a total double-standard we see, yet again, as women.

A bitch-slap is meant to humiliate someone. Bitch is used by men (and unfortunately other women), at women to put them in their place. Here are just a few snippets of the many definitions the urban dictionary gives the word, Bitch.

  • An exceedingly whipped guy who does/wears/thinks/says whatever his girlfriend tells him to.
  • A woman that doesn’t give a flying f*ck anymore and that can and will be cruel to men ~ Cruel to men?! And what about when she did give a flying fuck? How would she be different? And why doesn’t she give a flying fuck anymore, maybe because a man deserved the cruelty? Oh but no, he couldn’t have done anything, she is just a bitch regardless!
  • A woman who would say things that if she were a man, she would be confronted or assaulted. (using her position as a woman as a shield) ~ Ha! That’s my favorite, because women cannot either: protect or defend themselves in any way, and/or use our inalienable right to free speech .
  • A women with a bad attitude ~ According to who?

Now of course some women have turned this seeming insult around and embraced it as an empowering thing now. I guess if you can’t stop people from saying it, then use it against them! I just ask that you think before the next time you’re thinking of saying it out loud. We don’t want to unconsciously perpetuate any denigration toward women, especially women to other women insults! Let’s stop making this so culturally acceptable and become more conscious about it.  When it comes down to it, we are negatively affecting others and ingraining the implication of it into our own psyches when we use this term. I was with a man, that at the beginning of our relationship, would call women bitches right in front of me (and of course as an insult)! I was so utterly appalled and infuriated, that I ripped him a new asshole right then and there (and had to several times)!  As soon as I explained to him what he was doing, how degrading and insulting that was and the significance of his repulsive behavior, he stopped saying it.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/kaelin/ Matt

    I very occasionally say “son of a bitch” as an untargeted expression of negative surprise (rather than a label/insult). It’s not something I’m proud of (dammit Jon Stewart), but between that and a long list of TVTropes centering around the word bitch (including “This is for emphasis, bitch!”, which is deemed so overused that it is a discredited trope), the pervasiveness of the word is undeniable. Interestingly, that site presently interchanges “bitch” and “bastard” according to gender for many negative uses, and there are at least a couple discussions centering around taking gender out of the terms.

    A notable omission in the original post is the word “bitch” as a verb, meaning to complain (with a negative connotation — more like “whine” than “to contest”). It is used more against women (I think), but men get hit with it, too. Both uses carry a significant insult, although it certainly does rises nowhere close to “little bitch” as described above.

    Another form is “bitchin'” — as a verb (short for “bitching”), it is the same as above, but as adjective, it is positive, often paired with “new” (like “bitchin’ new ride”).

    Urban Dictionary should be taken with a grain of salt, especially after the first definition (maybe two). As you go down the list, you may find definitions that resonate with a lot of people, but they are often far from the consensus and are generally lacking in technical quality. By the time you get to “A women with a bad attitude”, you only see 25% as many up votes as the top choice. Granted, it has fewer down votes, but it’s still 50% as many as the top choice.

    To the site’s credit, the top choice (not quoted in this post) is reasonably circumspect and even avoids gender entirely. Even many sexists are not afraid to give props to a more elegant gender-neutral definition as long as the word can reasonably apply to any gender.

  • http://feministing.com/members/dark_morgaine_le_fey/ dark_morgaine_le_fey

    I admit I use that word far too often, though I try to use it equally to refer to men as to women, and with the same meaning. For example: “John Boehner and the other Republican bitches in the House don’t care about women’s health.” This isn’t the most eloquent way to voice my distaste for the Speaker of the House’s policies, but there you have it. I think part of my problem is where I am. I’m in college, and people do overuse the term, as per Matt’s reference to the trope “This is for emphasis, bitch!” So much so that I no longer see it as emphasis, or really any expletive anymore, though I do recognize the history behind the word. In fact it wasn’t until I was watching the Indian film Bandit Queen at an Asian Studies event at my school, when the subtitles used the term “sisterfucker” that I really felt jarred, and that’s probably just because as Americans we don’t usually use that term, though “motherfucker” is used almost as often as “bitch” in modern jargon. In regards to the term “bitch,” however, I dislike the thought that the worst thing a man can be called is a woman. (Essentially, isn’t that what you’re saying when you call a man a “little bitch?”)