The B-Word

by Leandra Medine
May 5, 2014
FACEBOOK
TWITTER
PINTEREST
READ NEXT

How do you feel about the word “bitch”?

bitchpatternother

If you search the word, “bitch,” Google will provide four definitions.

The first is a female dog. The second, underscored by its informal denigration, says “a spiteful or unpleasant woman.” (There are also synonyms provided such as witch, vixen, she-devil and hellcat.) The third and fourth definitions, which are informal, non-pronouns include “a difficult or unpleasant situation or thing” and “a complaint.” Though its first appearance in Germanic discourse dates as far back as 1000 A.D., never has it been as prominently used as in the aughts.

I don’t use the word very frequently (for no reason other than my preferring alternative synonyms) and I think as a result of that, I have a skewed perception of how offensive it can be. Its crudity seems like something I should understand plainly — to call someone a bitch is to frankly offend them, but then again, was it not Joreen who first instituted The Bitch Manifesto in 1968 to call attention to the term and its positive attributes? And now more than ever, girls are using the word as a term of endearment to describe their friends.

The definitions have become muddled, so it’s hard to say when it’s appropriate to get offended by its use and when its not. But maybe, too, therein lies the problem. My friend Roxana is only really affected by the term because she doesn’t like that a woman could be called a name that also means, essentially, pain in the ass.

Another friend, Lara, says that the problem with the term is much more imbued with the person who’s using it, the tone with which they’re communicating and the context. She provided an example, “If you called me a bitch, I’d call you one back. And we’d laugh and have a smoothie. If my boss called me a bitch, I’d sue him.”

Last week, I wrote a story called How to Wear Ballet Flats Without Looking Basic. The story’s pretense was essentially: ballet flats can be boring, let’s try to make them more interesting. What manifested post-publication was a reaction that erred far more closely on the side of pissed than it did on the side of pleased. This is presumably because in the story, I called attention to a new societal phenomenon called “The Basic Bitch” without insulting the implications tethered to the term.

For the uninitiated, “the basic bitch,” which went viral in April because of a College Humor video, is essentially, a concentrated female cliche.

To correct myself and last week’s story, I should say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with looking basic if basic is what you’re going for. If the vibe you want to emanate with your look is one of a persuasion so casual, the look in question doesn’t even actually matter, then do that. Feel good and you will look good. The science here is so simple that I’m not even sure it can be called science. I’m just left wondering whether the concept of being basic is what signaled the response or was it the use of the term bitch?

Do you use it? How? Do you think twice before you say it? Are you offended by it? Why? Or maybe, why not? Are you comfortable using it in some settings but not in others? Does its being used by some people offend you but by others, not as much? Whens the last time you said it and if you had to come up with the closest synonym for it, what would it be? Am I asking too many questions?

Having to answer so many can be a real bitch, huh.

…Too soon?

REPLIES
  • Vicki

    I don’t have a problem with it unless a guy uses it. Kinda like how white people shouldn’t say the N-word.

    • Andjelija

      I partially agree with the above, just because it is subconsciously gut reaction to be insulted by a guy calling you a bitch but not a friend or fellow female, but I also disagree because the term bitch itself is such demising and derogatory word. It shouldn’t be excused if a women calls another women a bitch simply because society then automatically assumes that it is then all right to follow suit. Same goes for the vomit inducing term, slut. It will never be ok for anyone to call me, fellow women or men sluts. Ever!

    • http://www.wirtal.in/ devanshnegi

      exactly- like if a guy says slut that seems such a double standards

  • Sophie

    I don’t have a visceral reaction to the word, which I know some women do. But I understand that on a cerealbowl level I’m “supposed to” be offended by it.

    • http://www.fancyalterego.wordpress.com/ Heather P.

      Cerealbowl is now my new favorite word. :-)

  • http://Mysmallwardrobe.com/ Carelia

    I wasn’t offended at all. I guess because I was more focused on the actual inspiration/thought of wearing flats without looking basic than the words you used to describe it. I’m easy as a Sunday morning, life is too short to take everything too serious.

    Here is a pic of the look I came up with after reading your post. Gracias for the inspiration. I probably didn’t look as fun as you, but I did enjoyed my look.
    Here is the post:

    http://www.mysmallwardrobe.com/2014/05/how-to-wear-ballet-flats-without.html
    Carelia

    Mysmallwardrobe.com

  • http://www.fancyalterego.wordpress.com/ Heather P.

    I have a husband who uses the word bitch interchangeably with chick, girl, and other neutral words for women he doesn’t know. I hate it because I think it’s degrading to call a woman a pain in the ass without actually KNOWING if she is one, so I make a conscious effort to call him out on it when he does. He’s getting better at it, albeit slowly.

    As for whether or not I call other women bitches…now that I think about it, I don’t think I do very often. Not really sure why – maybe it goes along with that whole “golden rule” thing. I don’t call women degrading, chauvinistic names because I don’t like being called them either. That, and I’m a child of the 90s, where women collectively decided that being called a “bitch” was an empowering thing…so I didn’t grow up with it being much of an insult.

    The whole “basic bitch” thing is new to me. I’m still trying to wrap my head around “ratchet.” I think this means I’m getting old? ;-)

  • Taís

    I call my best friends bitches all the time. It’s endearing.

  • Kate Wilson

    I don’t really get too offended by it x

    http://my–socalledlife.blogspot.com.es/

  • Rosay

    I don’t have a problem with it when it’s used in jest but I feel that sometimes when guys use it it comes across as a bit too disrespectful? I’m not sure though, I guess it depends on situation

  • Jamie

    I think Lara is spot-on. My reaction to the word is entirely dependent on context. Basic bitch, however, is a little too specific to enjoy this leniency. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth more consistently than the word “bitch” or “basic” alone because the possible negative connotations of both words combine into some sort of phrasal Captain Planet whose superpower is disenfranchising women for the lame reason that they enjoy some cliché things.

    I don’t think that’s what you intended to do, but I also think that you have historically expressed a distaste for the conventional on this blog. Your readers, I assume, feel the similarly because they are humans with the added bonus of being interested in fashion. However, I’m sure many of us pull out the go-to tee/skinnies/flats combo when agonizing over an ensemble seems too overwhelming and most of us would prefer not to be labeled a basic bitch for it.

    I mean, I wore skinnies and ballet flats on the daily in ’06 and I was one of the baddest bitches I knew. I may not have been as sartorially advanced, but there’s nothing wrong with it. They were classic pieces I felt comfortable in and, like you said, if you feel good, you’ll look good.

    • Lola

      ‘Basic bitch’ isn’t a reference to clothing

      • Jamie

        I get it. The phrase refers to a woman who, because of her tastes, is perceived as ultra-conventional. That includes many material things like Skinny Vanilla Lattes and Ugg boots.

        My point was that I think people may have reacted poorly to Leandra’s post on ballet flats because perhaps they felt she was implying they were basic bitches for wearing ballet flats, skinny jeans and tee shirts. Sorry if I was (or am) unclear.

  • Meline

    i think george carlin said it best…context is what matters because they’re only words

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUvdXxhLPa8

    • Courtney Parker

      I could not agree more It is all about the context the word is being used in!

      • http://www.ipanemaus.com Ipanema Swimwear

        Agreed! By using it among friends, we’ve changed its meaning! Context is everything!

    • rosalinda

      hello!!

  • thebloginista

    I find it offensive when “bitch” is used as a substitute for “woman” or “female”.

  • http://adeliberateimagination.wordpress.com/ CJKEYS2

    “you are literally such a bitch” – mean (and what I said to my mom 45 times a day in high school)
    “you are the baddest bitch” – compliment
    “you’re a bitch” – mean
    “bitchin’ outfit!” – compliment
    “my main bitch” – compliment if coming from a best friend, degrading if coming from a lover
    “ratchet/basic bitch” – if anyone seriously uses that term to be insulting, i feel bad for them, so I would not be offended (I knew you weren’t trying to be offensive in your flats post)
    “your dog is a bitch”- a true statement if female, mean comment if it’s a male.
    “you’re a bitch, and I love it” – why am I a bitch?!?! I don’t take it as a compliment

    Can we talk about the “C word” next? I hate to admit I use it far too frequently. I’m disgusting. :(

    • http://madamecouture.blogspot.com/ Emma Hager

      I must admit that I use the term “butt pulp” a few times a month, unfortunately. Ex: “Forget him, his existence wasn’t even worth butt pulp.”

  • http://madamecouture.blogspot.com/ Emma Hager

    I use “bitch” on occasion for both genders. Whatever. I no doubt can think it can be degrading, but like anything there is a time and a place.

    People I think in general are just becoming more and more over-sensitive to certain things. This is not to say that there aren’t thoughts and words that are disgustif and shouldn’t be uttered, but in many ways even the most slightly politically incorrect things are magnified by picking that I would assume are looking for something to ridicule.

    Yup, you guessed it, people are different and life is unfair. We should obviously try work to increase equity and embrace differences, but so long as people are people, there is always gonna be something or someone that is going to offend or annoy someone else, even if the statement is so minuscule in its worth.

    • http://alcessa.wordpress.com/ alcessa

      ‘minuscule’ made me think of my oral diploma exam. The professor arrived, he said I should come in first because he had liked my written exam. So I got up from the bench and approached him, standing near him and waiting for him to open the door to his room. Unfortunately, I am 1,75 m and he was 1,55 m … A deep shadow crossed his face while I was standing there, towering over him and that was that. :-(

    • Guest

      Exactly. It’s as if someone can’t give an opinion anymore because, God forbid, it may insult somebody! When did political correctness begin to equal everyone having to agree on the same opinion? It seems to me that the large majority of people were probably so very insulted by the term “basic bitch” because they took it as a personal attack on their clothing of choice. When someone is THAT defensive, you know there is some internal inadequacy and self-consciousness going on. Perhaps those who took offense to the very general and quite inoffensive post should work on a little self-awareness and self-confidence… If you are a “basic bitch” and like conventional things such as Ugg boots and hash-tags, you go for it! Don’t allow other people to make you feel even more inadequate when it is not the intention and only an opinion. Embracing yourself is the only way to escape the hyper-sensitive chains in which you are currently entrapped.

      • http://madamecouture.blogspot.com/ Emma Hager

        As far as I’m concerned humans are just kinda basic bitches. If you look throughout history the tendencies have been very, very similar.

  • http://alcessa.wordpress.com/ alcessa

    ‘Basic’ is one of those concepts I subscribe to by my own free will, without really thinking much about it (and having learnt the modern expression just the other day).
    I also happen to think it is my ‘duty’ as an adult person to feel OK about concepts I have chosen to adhere to and to know other people may not want to play in the same sandpit, plus they may even talk about it. Why not.
    Other such doubtful concepts I think I am partly a fan of are Spießigkeit (difficult to translate: being smug, square (boring, traditional), average) and Introversion. I also dislike theatre, musicals and operas and I find it absolutely logical that there are people who dislike people who dislike theatre, musicals and operas :-)

    Luckily, I am never in a situation where I’d have to think about the Bitch, but if I think about the German or Slovene versions of it: no, thank you. Not even as an endearment – I am simply too old for that. But if you are not and you know how to use it appropriately, it is none of my business, really.

  • Rosaly

    My friends and I have this joke system regarding everyone as being a bitch. There’s the dumb bitch of the group that lacks common sense but is very blunt. There is the annoying bitch that nags everyone and is very demanding at times. Finally, there is the crazy bitch who is…crazy and willing to fight anyone who comes her way. I think every woman has her bitchy moments. It’s just a part of being a girl in a man’s world–nope jk we run the world. BITCHES FOR LIFE.

    PS. When i first saw the title, I thought it was going to be about Beyonce. OOPS!

  • http://instagram.com/funshine_sky bunnygrrrl3000

    When men say “bitch” in any context its not okay. When I saw the basic bitch skit on College Humor, all I thought was “Oh neat, college aged white guys finding another way to make women feel bad about themselves. yahoo.” So yeah, when men use “bitch” and especially in regards to the way a woman dresses, its absolutely rude and not cool.

  • Kate

    I am a pretty sweary person but I have a real issue with how bitch has become to be used in such casual contexts. For me, I can’t help but automatically associate it with a sort of hip hop/rap ownership (“my bitch”) and it just leaves a bad taste. I’m a chef and in the kitchen we constantly invent all manner of affectionate swear names for each other with increasing imagination and offensiveness but any time anyone says bitch to me, no matter what the intention, I do an automatic tut in my head and don’t find it funny anymore. If I was having an argument with someone and they called me a bitch that’d be different, it’s the casual use of bitch as a word interchangable with girl/woman/person that I don’t like.

  • http://instagram.com/funshine_sky bunnygrrrl3000

    Bitch has been used for a HOT MINUTE now by men to degrade women that don’t listen to them. It is also used by men to identify who is submissive, whether that be male or female. When women use the word bitch, its a little elbow jab to let men know that its totally COOL to keep on keepin’ on with their verbal denigration of women. So I guess what I am saying is, if you, as a women, like to say “bitch”, DO IT, but you should lay the smack down on any man who spouts that garbage.

  • Johanna

    I wasn’t offended by the term, thinking it was mostly in jest… Though I was surprised at how the flats /basic thing brought out such passion. I kind of enjoy the plain and simple approach to clothes, but love to see your way of combining elements.

  • http://www.onebrokekid.com/ Natalie

    It doesn’t offend me unless it’s being used against me by very specific people (parents, boyfriend, etc.) I do use it quite a bit in the ‘difficult or unpleasant situation’ context.

  • cg

    I find your article very interesting. There is not a right or wrong interpretation to it. Personally, I use it; and like you stated, it has a positive and a negative connotation. It really depends on the situation you are addressing. The word itself is a plain insult, however we have managed, somehow, to give it a positive meaning. This due to the fact that women call their women bosses “bitches”. Yet, I think they describe them as bitches as a substitution to the word boss, which implies a hierarchy. And let’s be honest nobody likes to receive orders; and worse yet, when your boss is your same age or younger. The result of this situation is the positive connotation to the b-word. I see it as a sign of admiration, of wishing to be at her place, or to have “the cool job”she has. To have a better image of what I am trying to describe think of the movie “The Devil wears Prada”, where initially Anne Hathaway as Andrea Sachs was miserable and “hated” Miranda Priesly , her boss, interpreted by Meryl Streep. After a series of situations, Hathaway ends up with her “dreamed job”. To me, it translates as positive stimulation. Nothing worth having comes easy; and I am pretty positive you have to go through though life lessons to learn to appreciate you success.

    Again, this is a movie situation but you can still relate it to your real life. On another note, I have a personal whatsapp group with my best friends under the name: “Main Bitches”. You would think it is some kind of exclusive and mean girls group, because of the two strong, yet ironic, adjectives used. However, it is just a group where we keep each other update about our lives, since we all live in different places. It is a virtual place where we can vent about what’s happening to us, and where we can ask opinions and advice. You question yourself why “main bitches”, do they have the same attitude as the one of Meryl Streep in the movie? Do they have “cool jobs” to brag about them? And the answer is no, to none of them. We are just girls with similar personalities, driven by the same interests and who are not afraid of telling the truth whether is good or bad. We aim high in life and we are not scared of doing whatever it takes to get to our dreams. We do not need validation from somebody to live the life we want to live, that itself, makes us bitches. The one thing that keeps us down to earth is the fact that we all met in a international program therefore we believe in humanity, we think we can make the world a better place by looking the good in people, speaking positively about them.

    When it comes to the use of it, I still think that is really up to the situation and the people who are using it. Yes, sometimes, I think twice about using it, and sometimes I just say it.

    There has been a couple of times where I have used it in a negative connotation. It happened because the girl I referred as being a bitch, was going through “a difficult or unpleasant situation”, which at the moment I tried helping her but, I was the only person she felt comfortable with and so she took it up on me. Of course, what I am now writing, I didn’t understand it at the moment. It took me a while to process.

    I don’t mind the use of it by other people. I think I have a clear idea of the meaning of the word, therefore if you call me a bitch it does not affect me.

  • Caro

    oh my goodness, I just used this word to describe a fellow woman the other night and immediately retracted it and said,”My god, that sounded awful, I didn’t mean that”. I felt an instant kickback or something when I said it, immediate regret or guilt. I think I used the word more frequently in the past but eight viewings of Miss Representation will change you…for the better. I think it’s an awful word.

  • Sophie

    I agree with Lara; it’s whoever delivers the word & in what context. If I guy called me it, I’d call him a bastard. But then bastard doesn’t carry the same crude-ness does it?

    Sophie x

    http://www.yourgirlislovely.com

  • Kristin

    I would say when I read the ballet flat post I was totally put off initially. Not because of the word bitch. But as I looked down at my ballet flats, I wondered, am I basic? I was wearing a sweet arm party, a vintage tweed amazepants blazer and unruly hair and being awesome so it was a really fleeting thought, but I think i was offended cause you never say how to wear a white tshirt (or jeans or other classic potentially boring thing) without being a basic bitch.
    I’m not offended by the word bitch. I just listened to something…possibly a TED talk on language and they were talking about how in the 1700′s the founding fathers were arguing about what to call the president. And they thought about king and a bunch of other names and settled on the president because the senate thought that it was the least powerful name ever and they liked that. The guy pointed out that now a lot of countries have presidents and it has evolved to be a powerful title. He said language conforms to our use of it (as opposed to what the senate thought, that the president would not become too powerful if he had a weak name).
    SO, I’m pretty sure bitch will soon be entirely not so bad. And anyways its just a word–nobody can make you feel like a basic bitch unless you let them.

  • La Dolce Caterina

    Bitch: women may use it without offense or insult unless that is the (female) users intent. It really is a gateway insult to C u next Tuesday, again reserved for women only imo. (Men can have “dickless” to themselves. Just tossing it out there, I don’t need it anymore…) I recently asked a friend’s thirteen year old boy how skateboarders do a new trick for the first time. His response “you just don’t be a little bitch and take your jump” which opened a world of possibilities that young males are taking it on, rendering the the word gender less. I’ve since added it to my personal lexicon ie. “this computer is being a little bitch.” It’s fun!

  • http://www.fullbellywornsoles.com/ Michelle Panting

    Thank you for publishing such an honest clarification. I wasn’t offended by the term, and I generally only feel offended when it’s used in a derogatory way.

    http://www.fullbellywornsoles.com

  • http://www.anorexicescapades.com/ BougieHippie

    I use base on the context based on the moment. Words are subjective so…

    http://www.anorexicescapades.com

  • Cattifer

    I think “Bitch” is a generally negative word when a guy uses it; he generally is calling her a mean woman who has likely snubbed him or hurt his feelings.

    Coming from another woman it’s more likely to be a compliment. A bitch is a tough lady who speaks her mind and doesn’t really care what other people think about her.

    A bitch realizes that manners can only get her so far in life and sometimes it’s best to be brutally honest. Sometimes bitches do go a little overboard and receive grumbles from firends or coworkers. A bitch will probably take it in stride because she’s too busy doing something important to worry what her underlings think.

  • Kirsten

    The thing about all curse words is they’re so versatile. I feel, they can all be used in a completely non offensive and even humorous way but they can also be extremely offensive depending on the context, tone, situation etc. I don’t get offended by curse words at all unless they are said with the intent to offend or discriminate.

    Sometimes it bothers me that so many of them are gender specific to females (bitch, slut, c*nt etc) as opposed to males (dick.. any others?) but I feel as though I can use female and male based words interchangeably when describing a male or female’s offensive behaviour or whatever.

    All in all I love curse words and they’re versatility. I fee like you guys actually wrote an article on this? Might have been in the best of the internet section? A summary of a brain pickings piece maybe?

  • Deborah

    I say the word bitch once in a while. It depends on who I’m with, where I’m at and what the situation is. I say it in conversation to a friend to refer to someone who I’m mad at. Behind their back or under my breath, of course. I’ve said it to describe a rough day or experience I had. I think I would be offended if I was called a bitch for no apparent reason by anyone. I won’t say it around young children, in a professional setting, people I’m meeting for the first time or in a religious place of worship regardless of my beliefs.

  • http://www.eaudeonline.com/ Parfyme

    #basic

  • Laurel Sears

    Well Leandra, you hit the nail on the head. I was bit… Unsettled? Pissed? Sore? I immediately identified as a basic bitch and then was offended. But it’s not “bitch” as a word. I’m waaaay to old to pissed at that. It’s the whole term. “I AM BASIC? WTH? You don’t know my lyfe…”. And so there you have it (and you’ve redeemed yourself), I fear being basic. My lyfe is so incredibly opposite The Man Repeller. But I own that. And you asked…. So I’ve answered!
    Xoxo
    Laurel

  • http://sayyestobadthings.blogspot.com Lauren Connelly

    I think it’s a word that can mean different things in different contexts – which makes for confused reactions to the word, and now you’re going to make me do a double take every time I go to say it!

    sayyestobadthings.blogspot.com

  • Ruth

    My sons call each other bitches, such as in “You’re such a bitch Ray”, or “stop being a bitch, Chuck”. It is definitely a derogatory term when used by them, and in this example, used one male against another. I remember hearing the “tough” girls call their friends “bitch”–as in “hey bitch, how you doin’?”–back in the late 70′s. It never seemed to (widely) catch on due to, I believe, the negative connotations…(then again, who knows?). “Bitch”, trending again as a non-pejorative term among friends, is another example of current usage trumping historical context (or not). Personally, I think cunt is far more offensive.

  • Aisha S

    I don’t use it, but I don’t get offended when a female friend calls me that. As long as it’s not a stranger or a guy.

  • http://fancylauren.blogspot.com/ Lauren Ashley

    I agree with your friend Lara – the offensiveness level (for me at least) really depends on who’s using the word and how. It can be said in a way that is really really hurtful, or you can say it in a silly way (“don’t be such a batch”) and no one goes home crying.

  • Catherine Bohner

    “Basic bitch” confused me. I didn’t see why basic was bad or really what “basic” meant in this context, because in my opinion several of the images in the slideshow were pretty basic/simple looking and awesome. I figured it was shorthand for something, but it was just jarring/awkward and a little offensive (I like cardigans and flats and I’m neither “basic” in a derogatory sense nor a bitch, thank you very much)

  • Catherine Bohner

    “Bitch”–I hate it when in reference to a person.

    I just don’t understand embracing offensive words as endearing. I swear like a sailor, but “hey bitch, pass the salt” doesn’t fly in my book. Bitch can be a compliment in a Sheryl Sandbergy bossy girls are mini CEOs sense I suppose, like people who are called bitchy are really just opinionated and confident. But there are better words. Ditch bitch.

    “Reading War and Peace is a bitch,” however, is a 100% acceptable sentence. If we only used “bitch” for inanimate objects, life would be better.

  • tonikali

    I feel like it’s up to us to give weight to words such as “bitch”. I am neutral towards it.

  • Nikki Lowe

    In the words of Ms.Norbury from Mean Girls (happy 10th, bitches) “but you all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it ok for guys to call you sluts and whores…”
    OK fine those words are slightly more harsh than the word “bitch” but you get where I am going with this.
    Also, I was not offended at all by your basic bitch story. I actually totally got where you were coming from and have felt the same way about ballet flats for years. BUT I have been partial to telling off my boyf at times for saying it, even as a joke, just so he understands the severity of the word. I don’t think it hurts to just keep people in check every now and then. Its definitely something worth being conscious about, if anything.

  • disqus_ut1kAlAlc8

    A pretty lady should contain pretty face, right portion of body shape and bitching attitude .

    • Layla

      You know.. I read that article last week about the basic bitch . Honestly, I have to say that I …kind of did hear a bit of ‘nose wrinkling’ at the idea of looking basic. The whole high five moment that so and so got the job because she’d rather look bad than look “basic” .. I guess I don’t need to recap your article for you. You know what you said.

      The reason why I am commenting is not to yell at you for what you said then. If that’s your opinion, rock it hard. But I guess I found it a little nose wrinkly that it feels like you’re backpedaling cuz a few basic bitches didn’t like being called out on it.

  • Tracy

    I almost never use it, not because of what it signifies but it’s just nut a part of my vocabulary.

    http://fashion-soup.com/

  • reilly dunn

    Just to add another dimension to the bitch discussion, there’s also the ever-loved college-girl alternative of the word, betch, best described by: http://www.betcheslovethis.com/

  • Lle Schreiber

    I don’t use it often but am generally not offended by it (though, of course, context is what really determines whether something is offensive).

    xoxo,

    Sabrina @ Living, Learning, Eating

    http://living-learning-eating.blogspot.com/

  • nat

    Is ‘basic bitch’ just a 2014 version of the term ‘mainstream’? Pretty sure ‘mainstream’ got really uncool once hipsters realised the point of being a hipster is to pretend you’re completely unaware of your hipster state thus making any reference to something mainstream taboo.

  • Katia

    I think it’s a shame that ‘bitch’ is used so frequently to describe only women. I tend to use derogatory terms for both genders if/when I use them at all. I’m just as happy to call a man a slut or bitch and a woman a dick etc. We shouldn’t let a potentially offensive word become just another way to refer to a specific gender.
    Also, I’m not really a fan of when my friends call other friends ‘bitches’. To call them out on it, I tend to respond in the most sickly-sweet way possible, for example, ‘my sugar-plum angel pie’. This usually gets the message across that neither extreme is particularly desirable!

  • TheRanta

    I agree with your friend Lara — it’s all about context. I sometimes walk into a room and say, “Hello, Bitches!” and sometimes, very, very infrequently, when I’ve been pushed beyond my ability to be the empathic feminist I make every effort to be, I will say that someone is “a bitch” or “is being a bitch” in confidence to a trusted friend, and it usually refers to a woman. But I immediately feel guilty, because I really do think that the term has come to be owned by bros and overall douchey, misogynistic guys with entitlement complexes. Bottom line: context and intention are everything.

  • Alesia

    I don’t know, I think more women should be aware of the fact that the “disrespectful slurs” men and women use are majorly feminine or female things based with an insulting connotation. A man can call his friend a pussy, a woman can call another woman a cunt, and these all seem to be quite intrinsically offensive. Call someone a dick and no one gives a shit. Does no one else find it insulting that one of the worst thing you can call someone, in this modern day, is a woman?

  • Stef

    Gendered, sexualized and racialized terms have been redefined in our society as words describing negativity. Even ‘retard’ has gained popular use for some. Going further back in history, dumb, stupid and idiot used to refer to intellectually disabled individuals, yet today they are used colloquially to signify healthy people behaving in an unintelligent way. When thinking about terms like bitch, we’ll probably only be offended when harm is meant. It’s important to look more broadly at words connoting sex, ethnicity, race, and level of ability, because the issue is much broader than the word bitch. These types of words should not be used to offend, yet are regularly used in our society.

  • Apple

    Maybe because I’m an older woman, but when someone labels me bitch these days, I’m likely to take it I’m doing the right thing. Couple weeks ago, a guy freaked out and called me a cunt. Although I had to call security because of other behavior he inflicted on my customers, I’m wearing cunt with pride. It’s not just every woman who stands tall that well. ;) I guess what I’m saying is folks can call me whatever they want, but it might say a whole lot more about them than me. And then too, the fastest way to deflate an intended insult is to repurpose it with pride.

  • Gina Coll

    Well, I don’t know who wrote this book, but you all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it okay for guys to call you sluts and whores.
    Wise words from a wise movie

  • http://www.livingzbeautifulmix.com Zuma Ayriyan

    You made me think that… I have only been called “nice”, never been called the B-word… I can’t even spell it out… Agh!

  • hola

    I think the fact that the word bitch presumes an insult that connotes a woman that is a spiteful, angry, jealous, unhappy.. etc.”pain in the ass” for a woman (or maybe a female dog in heat!) and denotes an even larger insult for a man in that he must be behaving like a “woman” (1st insult) that is either of those (2nd insult) things places the issue in an even larger social context that should probably be addressed. In terms of normalizing gender stereotypes and such I just really think that this word is kind’ve problematic and really just ugly phonetically as well so idk… its just really a degrading word and i don’t like it. Although to be fair, i am guilty of using it in informal settles or when i am just exaggerating situations.

  • Clare

    “you all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it ok for guys to call you sluts and whores.” Ms Norbury

  • steph

    CONTEXT IS KEY. If a guy calls a girl that, he’s a motherfucker. But girls often use it in a sense of camaraderie, myself included. My most frequently used alternatives include, but are not limited to: bish, betch, b****tch (texting) etc.

  • Catherine

    Whenever I’m called a bitch, I respond with a bubbly, over-animated, “Thank you so much, I know!” Bitch to me means honest to a fault, headstrong, and frankly, a woman that gets shit done no matter what. Some people don’t like those qualities in women, and those people are called sons-of-bitches (which in itself is insulting to women – men themselves can’t be bad, it’s the women in their life which we can insult. Really?). There are a plethora of words that need to be returned to their proper, neutral roles as description words. Bitch should mean female dog, and that’s it. In Latin class the other day, the word uxior came up in our passage. Uxior means wife in Latin. Ever heard the word uxorious? Me neither until Monday morning at 8:15 in the morning. Well, it should mean wifely, or the state of being a wife, right? As with most words (even pretentiously obscure ones such as uxorious), society weaseled it’s way into the meaning and made it offensive to a group of people. Uxorious is most often used to mean docile, subservient, or in peasant terms, “whipped.” The term isn’t used very often, but I thought it was the offensive-inverse of bitch and another example of controversial words. There are plenty of words with different connotations imposed by society, and it’s normal and natural. But is it natural to take a word on and change the meaning? Can society do that? Has it done that in the past?

  • alex

    Mostly “basics” use the word b****

    • alexandra

      but I do think “basic bitches” is a gender neutral term

  • lorrwill

    Never okay because since I remember, it was always a slam on women. Even to say something bad or difficult is a b—- still circles back to a a degrading term for women. That women actually refer to themselves this way does not diffuse it anymore than calling yourself a honky, n— or fag—. Sorry, no, don’t buy it and it makes you sound less intelligent.

    Call me a b and I will hurt you.

  • Yasu

    The problem I had with your post last week was the condescension, not the words used.

    “…nothing wrong with looking basic if basic is what you’re going for”

    NO, I (a working, 20something, middle-class woman) am looking for comfort and practicality. I want to buy stuff I can wear in a regular rotation. Heels are not exactly the best footwear for running around the office and the field so I go for ballet flats. They go with almost everything in my closet. That’s it. I don’t wake up and say shit like “hmm, I soo wanna look basic today.”

  • LexoRexo

    I think curse words should be reserved for when they are needed – call a girl a bitch if she is actually being one, right alongside c%^&. I just hate when it gets thrown around in innocent phrases: “I’ll call these bitches to see what they are up to”, etc. Same goes for girls using “slut” or “ho” (Oh, hey you slut! haven’t seen you in ages!). These are not terms of endearment! Use them when you are mad, use them to make a point, but throwing them around like that is just bad manners and unnecessarily aggressive.

  • Greer
  • aline

    Hello. I take it as a compliment and am proud of being one.

  • seekingserenitynow.wordpress

    Gray area. I agree with Vicki, it’s a lot like the N word, depending on who says it and why, it can either be offensive or appropriate. Either way, I don’t understand the reaction to “basic bitch” though…

  • Lil Brown Bat

    It’s a sexist and misogynistic term, and it’s never used harmlessly.

SHOW MORE COMMENTS