When talking to Hanna, I realized something that I had always missed about the word bitch. I missed looking at the instances in which women wanted to use the label as an identifier.
We all know that bitch was originally used to describe any female who is strong and assertive. The entire idea behind reclaiming it, once we got past the acronyms, was in demonstrating that being opinionated and decisive women is a good thing. And as women have continued to prove themselves in this area, I think the term “bitch” has lost a lot of its power. Not because we’re using the term to define ourselves, simply because there are so many amazingly strong women out there who have our respect. Strength and leadership are no longer a man’s game.
It feels like the women who are still constantly claiming to be bitches, putting the label on bumper stickers and the magnets on the fridge, aren’t really looking to be assertive or share their voice. They’re looking for an excuse to be rude. No, not “improper,” as if you’re failing at etiquette classes. Rude.
The only times I hear adult women proudly proclaim themselves as bitches is when they’re trying to excuse selfish or thoughtless behavior, behavior that would be inappropriate whether a man or a woman did it. The woman who verbally abuses every waiter to ever serve her a glass of water says, “If it makes me a bitch to demand good service, fine!” The one who tries to squeeze in front of people in the line at Starbucks because she’s super busy and says, “Yea, yea, I’m a bitch, but I need a venti skinny vanilla latte.” Â These women aren’t getting evil glares because they’re strong and assertive females. It’s because they’re rude.
The use of the word bitch to silence strong women sucks. But I don’t think that the answer to that problem is to call ourselves bitches. I don’t think it’s to make up new meanings for an old word. I think our best chance in continuing to diminish the power of the word bitch is just to prove it wrong. Show that women with opinions can have the same power and success as men. Encourage young girls to be decisive and trust their voices.
We don’t need to proudly proclaim that strong women are bitches. We just need to show how awesome strong women are.
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