Sunday, March 9, 2008

About This Term "Bitch"

[x-posted on Corner of the Sky]

I am totally fed up with the gender bias in this country. Though many feel that women exaggerate when they complain about gender bias, our common language says otherwise. The current election is once again bringing this ugly bias to the forefront.

I am taking exception with this word, "bitch."

Recently on Saturday Night Live, Tina Fey made a brilliant pass at trying to put a positive spin on a hateful term. In her endorsement of Hillary Clinton, she coined the phrases "bitches get stuff done" and "bitch is the new black." She was referring to the criticism that Hillary is a bitch.

Folks, if you don't think calling a presidential candidate a "bitch" is a nasty little piece of gender bias, you need to wake up and smell the doggy doo. We have become a culture where it is acceptable to call a strong, assertive, definitive woman who knows what she wants and how to get it done a term that is synonymous with a female dog. A dog! For those that want to argue that in some contexts, "bitch" is not an insult, please answer some of the following questions. When have you ever told your female pastor that you really admire what a bitch she is? What about the last time you thanked your mother for raising you so well by being such an admirable bitch? No? Why not?

The truth is that when a man is strong, assertive, and definitive we call him powerful. We call him confident. We call him "Sir" and "Senator." When a woman is the same, we call her by her first name, we call her "Mrs." and we label her a bitch. Language is powerful. It conveys hidden attitudes and agendas that might not otherwise be revealed. This is true whether one is talking about hidden gender bias, racial bias, or a plethora of other things. Language is one of the most important communicators of attitude in the world.

In a world where we accept that racial slurs are not socially acceptable, we still relegate women to a role in which gender slurs are regularly condoned.

Powerful men are accused of corporate scandals and breaking the law. They get a slap on the wrist. Martha Stewart is accused of breaking the law, and she's a bitch. She goes to jail.

Let's call it like it is. Hillary Clinton is intelligent, articulate, assertive, confident, and capable. As much as I like dogs, this woman is no bitch.

--Sky Girl