Bitches: Just not cool

I just finished telling off some fauxgressive dude and I realized something important: I am way, way more interesting when I’m pissed off. So before the white-hot fire of rage burns down inside me, here goes:

Gendered insults: Just stop using them, people. I know it’s hard. Oh, sweet merciful measles, I know. I’ve been wrestling with it for almost a year now and I still fuck up all the goddamn time. Because gendered insults are everywhere, and they’re the ones with real teeth, that are deeply satisfying to throw at someone who’s really pissing you off. And because I swear, um, a lot. A wicked lot.

But every time someone uses a gendered insult, they’re saying that women are inferior, that there is something wrong with being a woman, that womanhood is a status most fervently not to be desired.

Think about it. Think about all the ways you can insult men by feminizing them. Everything from “You throw like a girl,” to “Don’t be such a pussy.” Think, for a minute, about “cocksucker.” What’s the real insult here? Giving sexual pleasure to members of the ruling gender? Or being on the *gasp!**horror!* receiving end of a dick, like some lowly woman? Calling a man “cocksucker” — or “pussy-whipped” or “muff-diver” — carries the double condemnation of behaving like a woman — subservient, doing most of the sexual work — and, much worse, choosing to do so. “But dude!” these words say, “You have so much privilege! Why aren’t you exercising it? There must be something deeply, deeply wrong with you.”

And, sure, there’s an argument to be made that many of these insults aren’t really about calling men women, but about criticizing men for not properly performing their gender roles. (Which is bad enough, obviously, but a different issue.) But that doesn’t explain words like “bastard” and “son of a bitch,” which are more about insulting the integrity of the icky vagina the insultee came out of than the man himself. What’s more, we don’t generally insult women by comparing them to men. Sure, Ann Coulter and Hillary Clinton and Bea Arthur are subject to some of that kind of thing, but it’s neither the most common or the worst insult people direct at women. No, the most common is “bitch” (female dog) and the worst is “cunt” (vagina). And the only thing those words do is call attention to the fact that the insultee is a woman, without even going into whether she’s a feminine woman or an unfeminine woman. After all, who cares what kind of woman she is? Women are weak, dumb, and hysterical, and vaginas are smelly, weird, and gross. Isn’t that enough to condemn a person?

So cut it out already. It’s hard, yes, but look at it this way: Without those gendered insults to toss off without a thought, you’re forced to consider a second and insult someone based on what they’re actually doing to piss you off. Creative, subject-specific swearing is a great way to feel like you’ve scored a big point and conceal the fact that you’ve descended to petty name-calling. Plus, it might keep you from accidentally calling your ancient, Catholic grandparents “bitches” by accident. Which, really, is better for everyone.

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One Response

  1. Bless you indeed!

    I started up a group on the old Facebook called “I don’t find the word cunt offensive, cunts are friendly, in my experience” which was removed for being “offensive”. Crazy times.

    The word I’m finding hard to drop at the moment is ‘bugger’ – it was in my vocabulary long before I had an inkling of what it meant but now that I know that there ain’t nothing wrong with being buggered I guess I’ve got to let it go…

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