I began to really identify as a feminist, freshman year of college. It’s a complicated identity, whereas I don’t feel that my core morals changed, I definitely feel more support and connection from women, I pay more attention to sexism and my eyes are a little more open. Learning about Feminism through school, through my friends, through growing up has allowed me to process a lot, and I’ve gotten lucky enough to talk about it, which I am really thankful for. But it isn’t that easy! There are moments when I feel that I am being a bad feminist, when I feel like I am doing behaviors that are only a result of my socialization, and they make me question my beliefs. I shave my legs and wonder who I’m doing that for, and if it’s possible to really say I’m ever really doing it for myself -__-. There are moments when I feel helpless against patriarchy, because I can’t defeat it myself.
I can’t save the world, and I know that. So sometimes I have to do what’s best for myself, and that’s saying. Fuck it. I don’t care, this time. If I cared all the time, I will be too sensitive, I will be too saddened, and I will feel too helpless. I can’t use all my energy for critical thinking and feminism — I need time to nap, lose things and drink.. kidding! (Not kidding.) But, you get what I mean. There are things that I let go, things that I don’t bother to investigate and/or resist – it’s too hard not to. And honestly, I don’t think it’s fair to expect that from me.
That’s where I get to the reclaiming words discussion. There are activists all around me, that are trying to redefine the derogatory words used against them, in hopes to empower themselves. Three that have gotten a lot of attention within Feminism are slut, cunt and bitch. Reclaiming Slut and Cunt, aims to take the shame out of these words and own your own sexuality and parts. I think of the ‘I love my cunt!’ shirts that people wear to make a statement. With bitch, the idea is to use bitch to describe powerful women, who aren’t afraid to speak their minds.
This sounds great right? And for all the women, and men that aim to do so I wish them the best of luck. However for me, it’s not where I’ll be putting my energy anytime soon. I change the way I speak when around different groups of people, for example, I don’t swear in front of my parents and it’s never been difficult despite swearing frequently around my friends. It’s the same with jokes, there are crowds where I’m not afraid to say things that are offensive, that are cruel because I know they’ll know that it’s just a joke. We don’t always know the sentiment behind people’s words and that makes things really tricky.
Personally, the word bitch is too good for me to give up. I know that there is no word that can hurt men the way bitch can hurt women, and I don’t think there should be, and I know that I have different reactions when I hear different people using it. There are college guys that throw it around to describe ex-girlfriends and all girls and that’s gross and hurtful to me. I also know that there is no word that better describes the girl that started that hurtful rumor about my friend only to feel better about herself, or the woman that was just plain rude at the DMV. I’m going to continue to use this word, and I’m using it in the derogatory sense. I’m also using it in jokes, I’m using it endearingly ‘those are my bitches forever’, and I’m using ‘bad bitch’ to describe a hot woman who has attitude and confidence that a frumpy girl like me can only daydream about. Finally, I’ll use it to describe myself, if I was being a bitch, I’ll use it as a verb that prefaces a whiney rant, ‘let me just bitch to you..’
There are times that I just want to listen to that song, and ignore that it’s dropping ‘bitch’ every other line, because it just sounds so good bumping in your friends car #passengerseatforever. That’s a whole other conversation though. -_-.
And when used for men, it’s completely different; your male friend that is being a bitch is, well we really mean acting like a little girl. He’s being weak, or scared of something. And this is hugely problematic. Feminine and weak should not be interchangeable. But I’m not going to deny that I also think it’s really funny to me sometimes to call a guy that, so that’s where I am right now, riding a fine line between completely immature and sometimes appropriate. I also, recognize that this could be hurtful to a guy who’s fighting his way through the hyper-masculine world and it shouldn’t be a masculine crime to feel emotional, because I believe that really hurts a lot of men.
Finally, here’s where I get really hypocritical. I don’t use the word slut or cunt. In jokes amongst small groups of friends I may use them occasionally but I know that I would be a lot more hurt if I had someone call me either of those words. Shame in sexuality is a very real thing, something I have experienced, and witnessed and I know that it affects girls all the time, and it happens largely because of the way that heterosexual males and females talk about their interactions. When it doesn’t work out, she’s a slut, if she didn’t put out she’s a prude. If you had something great, and it ended, she becomes just a girl you fucked, a slut etc. There are girls that are agreeing and saying the same things about other girls all the time. (Sorry for the graphic language, but we’ve all heard it.) I’m outraged and exhausted with girls feeling sorry for their sexuality, I’m tired of girls being given a reputation for choices they made, whether they are proud or them or feel regret. I’m saddened by so many girls that feel more shame with regard to their sexuality than joy. Sex is one of the most beautiful human experiences we can have with each other and for us to put each other down, as women, as men having sex with women or whatever, THAT’S THE SHIT I DON’T LIKE. Call her a glutton if you want to, (jk) but I refuse the word slut. And to women who want to identify as either, go for it – I think language is here for us to play with anyway.
In conclusion, there is no manual for feminism and I’m thankful that there aren’t any rules for me to follow #commitmentproblems. But in all seriousness, seriously.. I just hope that people will think before they speak. It’s not up to anyone to outlaw words, but it’s natural and perfectly fine for people to have personal reactions with words they find offensive because of their social standing. What’s important is that we’re allowing conversation; we’re allowing ourselves to listen to each other and maybe change the way we speak, maybe not. I know that there are Feminists that will be angry that I seem more pro-bitch than not, what I’m also aware of is that I know, is that any feminist that I’ve met is aware that I deserve the right for my opinion to be heard and listened to. It’s not my fault that I’m often desensitized to the word bitch, (shout out to Patriarchy for making me feel okay about using a word that objectifies and demeans women lol, kinda not really), but I also won’t and don’t have to feel guilty for being angry if a man calls me a bitch, because he has no right, and I’m not a bitch for getting mad about it. I also have the right to not be offended by my male friends that throw it around because I know how they feel about women. The word can be funny, cruel and anywhere in between. What I’m asking is that we try to be better with our words, try to treat each other well, recognize that the girl I once called a bitch may have much deeper reasons for having an attitude with me, and recognize the power of an apology because people do have the ability to change. Let’s create more words that celebrate women for all that we do – outside of the bedroom and the kitchen…. fuck it let’s celebrate it all! Let’s aim to use words that describe where women are going instead of trying to keep them down. And let’s not punish ourselves too harshly when we realize that there are moments when we are going to be women who are contributing to sexist culture and we’re going to dance to that Tyga song, sing along to lyrics that demean us (knowing and hoping everyone knows how messed up this is and it’s really just because the beat goes that everyone sings along..??!? #steadywishing) I want women to be respected, I want consent, I want conversation and change…. for all my bitches! (Too soon?) But really, what do you guys think?
Here’s what KanYe thinks – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/04/kanye-west-introspective-word-bitch_n_1853966.html