Let’s Stop Trying To Reclaim The Word ‘Bitch’

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.”  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.

Photo via FanPop


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    • porkchop

      I can’t even deal with this word. It’s worse that p***ies and c*** combined.

      One of the few times that word has been leveled at me, I wondered, “Is this what THE N WORD feels like?” I have no idea! But I can’t think of anything else as small as a word that could make me feel so much combined depression and fury.

      • http://www.facebook.com/lindsaychartman Lindsay Cross

        Really? I’ve never had such a big problem with the word. I’m not trying to marginalize your opinion, I’m just surprised. And I wonder why I look at it differently than so many others do.

        Can I ask, would you ever want to try to “claim” the title to give it less power?

      • porkchop

        That’s not for me to do, anyway. People say that I speak my mind, but they also see me as very gentle. I could never reclaim this word unless I changed its definition to mean: someone who usually gets their way, but has an almost unerring sense of when to back down.

        I like the idea of reclaiming words, though! But like you said, it’s already been reclaimed by women who are redundantly pointing out that they’re being obnoxious. Do assertive women want their twice-used word? It’s like 90% backwash at this point, having already been in asshole men’s mouths and mean selfish women’s mouths.

        The women I know who are fantastic leaders don’t do anything even in the same neighborhood as bitchy.

    • Lastango

      Men own the best pejoratives; if Hanna was male, we could call her something more useful than “bitch”.

      BTW, maybe “bitch” isn’t the only term that could use some de-modernizing. Consider “The truth was that my friend just sounded like a bad manager to me.”

      My old Webster’s says “friendly” means: showing kindly interest and goodwill. Not hostile. Inclined to favor. Cheerful, comforting. See ‘amicable’.

      Hanna is a friend only on Facebook.

    • Jessica P. Ogilvie

      I love this article, and I totally agree. It seems really childish — as you point out — to take pride in being an asshole because you think it makes you a strong person. Being a strong person means a combination of a lot of qualities (often qualities that are unique to each individual), but you make the point perfectly — rudeness isn’t one of them.

    • lucygoosey74

      In my experience with the corporate world, the higher up the ladder, the “bitchier” they get, and by bitchy I mean RUDE.
      You can do your job effectively and gain the respect of your employees without being snappy, rude, or demeaning. I once worked for a district manager who would come in and throw her paperwork, computer, etc right on top of whatever paperwork I was doing at our one and only desk.
      That was just the tip of the iceburg when it came to her extreme bitchiness.
      I did my job and gave her respect because she was my boss, but inside, I NEVER really respected her. I thought less of her for not treating people like human beings and using intimidation tactics to try to get “respect”…maybe she just wanted people to fear her.
      Whatever. All I saw was a 50 year old woman acting like the queen bee of the highschool cafeteria. At least I learned something from her..how NOT to be the boss.