Please, Call Me a "Bitch"

The first time I ever remember saying a “bad word,” I said the word “bitch.” I remember I wanted to seem cool in front of my guy friends, but at the time, I didn’t even realize the connotations behind it--I just knew the guys would respect it.

That was almost ten years ago, and it still makes me cringe every time I think about it. Not because it’s embarrassing--trust me, I’ve done way worse--but because I called another girl a “bitch” just to seem cool to some 5th grade guys. Every time I think back on this moment, I just want to go back in time and kick myself.

Why, you might ask? Let me tell you why. For starters, men have been using the word “bitch” for decades as a condescending way to insult women--usually when things don’t go their way.

In turn, society has conditioned women to stay quiet and respectable, so that they don’t come across as being a “bitch.”

The word "bitch" literally refers to a female dog, and centuries ago, it was the worst insult you could call an English female. Now, Merriam-Webster defines it as “a malicious, spiteful, or overbearing woman.” Because the word bitch is specifically defined for women, it gives men the ability to use the term to put themselves in a place of power.

The word "bitch" is used in many different contexts, all with the same insulting manner. During the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, a successful woman in power, was frequently referred to as a "bitch." And when she couldn’t be called a “bitch” outright, people (I’m looking at you, Donald) used the term “nasty woman”--a term that was coined because Trump couldn’t say “bitch” on television.

Men also tend to call women bitches when it comes to relationships. If she argues with him, won’t hook up with him, breaks up with him, or basically disagrees with him in any way, the girl is often immediately labeled a bitch. If you ever hear a guy tell his friends that his ex is a “psycho bitch,” just block him. Trust me.

Last year my best friend was cheated on by her boyfriend, and yet, for some reason, something kept her from completely losing it on him. When I asked her about it, she said, “We’re about to break up, I don’t want him to remember me as a bitch, or to tell his friends that I’m a bitch.” As much as I wanted her to scream at him, and as unfortunate as it was, I completely understood what she meant.

At the end of the day, she was afraid to be defined as a bitch. She was scared that yelling at him at the end of their relationship would overpower all of her good qualities, and he would only remember her as one thing. That fear alone made my strong, independent best friend afraid to yell at a boy who deserved everything she had to say.

Even though “bitch” has been used as an insult for centuries, recently, women have begun to reclaim the term. Girls post pictures on their Instagrams and Snapchats with captions such as “my bitches” or “this bitch,” as an endearing way to refer to their friends. Girls are even willing to call themselves a bitch, as long as they’re the ones doing it.

So why is it so different when a girl calls herself a bitch than when a guy calls her a bitch? The difference is the centuries that the term “bitch” has been used by men in power to belittle women and keep them subdued. Men have owned the term for years to scare women and keep them "in their place.”

But a woman’s place is not a silent one. A woman’s place is to empower herself and others; to be intelligent and clever; and, above all else, to stand up for herself--even if a boy is going to call her a bitch later. A woman’s place is where she says it is--and it isn’t always going to be under a man. And if that means being a bitch, then by all means: call me a bitch.

(Photo credit 1,2)