Who you calling a bitch?!


I liked to be called a bitch… by my girlfriends. When they call me bitch, it’s almost a term of endearment. It means either I’m slaying the game, too fierce to handle, or both. But when a male calls me a bitch, I want his skin to turn to dust. I think most girls will agree with me on this. But why?

According to dictionary.com, bitch, used as an insult, originates from the fourteenth century when men used the term to compare women to a dog in heat. Men despised the idea of women being as sexually explorative as them so they brought them down by equating them to a pet. Since women were viewed as inferior, men also started to call other men bitch to equate them to a subordinate.                              

That trend continued into the 90s and found its home in hip hop, where rappers used the term to label a female who is belligerent, stupid, sexually explorative, independent or uncontrollable.  In pop culture, the term is usually combined with an adjective to make it a compliment or an even worse insult. We all know the difference between being called a bad bitch and a basic one.

When it comes down to it, no matter what words you place around bitch, the word still has the same derogatory meaning. Like everything that is thrown at the modern day woman, she turned bitch around for her benefit.

Feminist activist Gloria Steinem’s reply to being called a bitch is something I started to identify with.     

“The best thing I’ve ever thought of to say when somebody calls you a bitch is ‘Thank you.’ I mean, it totally disarms them. They don’t know what to do,” Steinem said in an interview with Cosmopolitan magazine.

Being called bitch is now more than ever a compliment than an insult (when it comes from your girls). Yet situations when a woman would be called a bitch by a man reflect the double standard between genders.

We’re called bitch when we’re being assertive and confident, when we act differently than they expected and when we have a strong unbreakable self esteem. It happens when someone compliments you and instead of shyly looking down and going into a tangent of why you’re not even close to being that, you say ¨I know” self assuredly. Their face usually reflects disgust at your belief in yourself, unless they’re woke of course.

Other times you can be called bitch when you are just a shy girl and they translate that into being stuck up. I have seen the wolves circle and devour a girl’s reputation just because the only people she talked to were her best friends.

I have even caught myself using the word to demean my fellow woman. The world we live in promotes meaningless competition between girls to be the prettiest, sweetest, smartest, etc.When a girl does not fit those standards or surpasses them all too well, the word bitch inevitably comes up. The glorification of being petty promotes this by creating an atmosphere of sly cruelty. We all know that girl who uses the word, and you can’t tell if it’s a joke or not. Bitch, as an insult, is a toxic term.

It is beautiful in its own right, how we as women have fought back against the term bitch.  We’ve come from the Queen Latifah era of yelling “Who you callin’ a bitch?” to the PTAF generation of “I’m a boss ass bitch, bitch, bitch, bitch, bitch, bitch, bitch.” We have challenged the double standards, and I think we’ve won.

But I worry about something. I worry that beyond our feminist claiming of the word bitch, that we have dug ourselves into a deeper hole. Changing bitch for our benefit cannot be compared to how Black people changed the n-word for theirs.

No matter what we add or replace the meaning of bitch with, it still is the same term furiously spewed with the intent to degrade at thousands of suffragettes as they marched. It is still the same term that a husband in the 1400s yelled at his wife for enjoying sex.  It is still the same term many Republicans used to describe the first female presidential candidate. It is still a sexist, derogatory and rude word.

So, I vow now in front of all of you (figuratively) to stop allowing myself to be called bitch by anyone, and to stop calling women “bitch.” I’m already the baddest out here, and I don’t need to hear the word to validate that.