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Don't say "bitch", say "asshole"!

Don't say "bitch", say "asshole"!

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Ganked from i_chaos_bringer

This is a reposting of a very worthy meme of particle-man6

Don't say "bitch", say "asshole"!

(I both grant permission and greatly encourage this idea to be spread around, but would appreciate it if you would attach my username to it somewhere).

I teach philosophy and have noticed that my female students are often reluctant to speak up (particularly if they are immigrants from Asia or Africa or South America).

I came up with the not too original theory that the reason this was so is that women have been socialized not to speak up. When they do speak up, they are seen as (and called) "bitches". In fact, "bitch" is the default term for "woman doing something I don't like".

I have a problem with that word. It is not the negativity. I can accept that we need some negative words to call each others, even if they are harsh. It is the gender-politics at play. Think about the differences between a woman being called a bitch "too aggressive, mean, etc." and a man being called a bitch "passive, weak, etc." (think of prison-bitch for another example of passivity, particularly in males - and didn't "prison-bitch" used to mean "someone treated as the woman"?). But on closer examination, maybe the two connotations are not that far apart. If women are socialized to be passive, shut away in a glass cabinet to occasionally be taken out for show, but not to speak up, then what "bitch" is saying is "You are being too assertive/aggressive, you need to get back in that glass cabinet and be a passive doll again". Thus "bitch" is a dehumanizing word - it is an attempt to change someone from a subject to a mere object.

Thus I want to start a campaign. We already have changed our gendered language in some ways. "Chairman" became "Chair", "Policeman" became "Police Officer", etc. I think that we should try to change our swear words too. Thus I want to get people, when they hear the word "bitch", to respond "Don't say 'bitch', say 'asshole'!"

"Asshole" carries negative connotations, but it doesn't have the same gender-oppression associated with it. I take "asshole" to be able to mean a variety of things, including "selfish person" or "stupid person", and think that "asshole" can be stretched to cover the useful connotations of "bitch" without carrying over those that are gender-oppressing.

So I would like to see if this meme can catch on: "Don't say 'bitch', say 'asshole'".

Consider it my small contribution to equality.

p.s. Needless to say, "asshole" could substitute for other gender-oppressing words, including "cunt", for similar reasons. While I think that "cunt" is (in my opinion) more harmful than "bitch", it is also less commonly used, so I have focused on "bitch" as the word to watch out for.
p.p.s. I believe that "asshole" could also act as a substitute for various dehumanizing racial epiphets. In fact, "Don't say 'X', say 'asshole'" may be a useful generic expression to try to replace prejudicial swear words.
  • The use of the term 'policeman' is perfectly acceptable when talking about a male police officer, as is 'policewoman' when talking about a female officer. There is only a problem when 'policeman' is used in a generic form, such as "Go and tell a policeman about it," because it implies that all police officers are male.

    As for 'bitch', I believe the male equivalent of this word 'bastard'. As personal insults, both words are used to describe someone who is malicious, unpleasant, and/or selfish. I, for example, can be a real bastard at times. The word 'bitch' does not refer to all women who speak up, only to those who do so in an overly malicious and unpleasant manner. This fact is verified by all of the major dictionaries I have checked. The former philosophy teacher appears to have a little too much time on her hands and seems to be looking for things to get offended about.

    I will continue to use the words 'bitch' and 'bastard' to describe unpleasant women and men, respectively. If anyone finds that offensive, it's their problem, not mine.
    • I'm against bastard because I had a bastard friend growing up. Bastard just means illigitimate child, so adopted children and children of unmarried people are bastards.

      I just call men bitches too actually.

      I reposted because I thought it was an interesting point.
      • That's a good point; when I express my contempt towards an unpleasant and malicious man by calling him a bastard I don't mean to suggest that illegitimate children are deserving of contempt, yet that is what I am logically implying by using the word that way. I never even noticed that until you pointed it out. Congratulations, you just convinced me to phase that particular word out of my insult vocabulary :)

        Now I'm suddenly feeling the urge to research the particular traits of female dogs that inspired the use of the word 'bitch' as an insult. I've heard some older people say "Stop barking at me!" in response to being spoken to in a loud and unpleasant tone, so perhaps that has something to do with the origins of the insult.
  • It just occurred to me that, for some reason, calling a woman an asshole just doesn't feel right to me. I don't know exactly why it doesn't feel right, since the anatomy is common to both genders. Yet, in situations where I would call a man an asshole or a bastard, I always end up calling the woman a bitch.

    Here's the strange thing: if someone does something nasty to me but I have no idea who did it, I have no problem calling the unknown person an asshole. As a generic insult it feels fine, but when using it against someone who I know to be female it suddenly feels wrong. It's hard to describe the feeling, but it's similar to the feeling I had many years ago when I put on what I thought was my underwear but turned out to be a pair of my sister's panties that got mixed in with my laundry.
    • language is fascinating thanks G!

      so, perhaps, without realizing it your speach is influenced by gender...now how do you feel? ;)

      Personally I think this was interesting in terms of the whole calling a chick a bitch is saying shut up, calling a dick a bitch is calling them a pussy.

      I like reclaiming words instead of banning them. I LOVE MY CUNT!! It sounds like a fruit...if you take the energy PEOPLE have put into it you are left with...well, in my mind...a melon. That's not such a scary word...I think it may even sound better than vagina. What is that anyway, vagina vagina granted it's not as bad as "penis". PEE should not be part of a word describing such a tool.

    • I thought I made it clear that do realize how my speech is influenced by gender. I know that 'asshole' ought to work on both genders, yet it just feels very odd to use it against a woman. Maybe it's because the other general insults I use all have separate female and male forms, like 'bitch'/'bastard' and 'cunt'/'dick' (the latter pair only used in extreme situations), and somehow I just subconsciously consider 'asshole' to be a masculine insult.

      I've always preferred insults that specify the behavior of the target, and those tend to be very gender-neutral. This includes words such as 'two-faced', 'sleaze', and ' nutjob'. However, there will always be a need for insults to describe people who are just generally unpleasant, and unfortunately the ones that come most naturally are gender-specific. I still stand by my point that these gender-specific insult pairs are meant to be equally critical of both genders, as reflected in the definitions found in modern dictionaries.

      I definitely prefer people trying to reclaim words rather than ban them. Anyone who tries to censor me or censor something that I want to watch or listen to automatically becomes my enemy, and I have a very Machiavellian way of dealing with my enemies.
    • Re: language is fascinating thanks G!

      I don't like Cunt because my mom used to say it in such a derogatory voice. Very hicks-ville gross. Vagina is ok, pissy is kinda lame. Maybe yoni is the best because it's not popular here.

      Come to think of it, it might be healing to reclaim cunt. I feel very seperated from my feminine side because I fight with it.

      I hate my vagina, my period, the bloating, etc. I haven't had many positive female role models, so for most of my life I have seen weakness and flaw in the women around me. It wasn't until highschool that I saw examples of strong women.
      • Re: language is fascinating thanks G!

        you GROW girl!! REclaim what is yours!! I read once about writing every word pos. and neg. you had ever heard or could think of to discribe the "area" then write pos or neg after it, how it makes you feel, then work from there on what you want to use, throw out, reclaim etc. I was very put off by cunt the first few times I heard it said in a loving way...but then it wasn't so shocking. I like yoni... :)
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