June 18, 2024

Bitch, slut, whore: Words that used to make me recoil in shock; now, I don’t even bat an eyelash upon hearing them.
You see, these words have become so normalized in our language, so a part of our culture, that they don’t seem to have nearly the same impact on me that they used to.
But they do still have an impact — albeit, a slightly different impact — particularly because they all fall into the category of derogatory language often directed at women.
Now, before you dismiss this article as the rantings of a man-hating feminist — and some of you might already have done so — just know that I am not that, a man-hater, that is.
I am a feminist, which contrary to some belief, does not mean that I wish to destroy men in the process of reaching equal opportunity. On the other hand, it means that I wish to achieve equality arching over many areas — including language.
And so why is it that the above words — bitch, slut and whore — have come to be associated with women?
Why is it that the word “bitch” is uttered towards both powerful women and also towards men who are acting like “wimps” — or better yet, who are “acting like a girl?” Those are two completely different uses of the same word, and yet, both uses have something in common: they are demeaning toward women.
Likewise, the words “slut” and “whore” are also used to slander women who are seen as promiscuous. And yet, what a friend once pointed out to me is that when a man is seen as being promiscuous, these words just take on the addition of ‘man’ at the beginning to become ‘man-slut’ or ‘man-whore.’
Using this logic, is being a female a prerequisite to be promiscuous enough to be labeled ‘slut’ or ‘whore’?
All of this said, I do not want to place the blame solely on the men in our culture. They are not the only ones who use this type of language to smear the reputation of other women. Women do it a lot. Quite a bit, actually.
In fact, I myself have used them, sometimes without even thinking about the effects.
What’s more, we should really start to think about the consequences of using colloquial phrases that might not be as obviously harmful, like “stop acting like a girl” or “grow a pair,” which both insinuate that in order to be considered a strong human being, one must also be male.
And so, I would like to challenge us to think about what we are saying before we use these words, and maybe little by little, we can change the way we speak to one another.

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