Feminism | Posted by Chelsea B on 06/1/2011

Bitch Is Not Bitchin’

Kobe Bryant: Fined for Using Anti-Gay Slur

Kobe Bryant: Fined for Using Anti-Gay Slur

So yet another sports figurehead is feeling the repercussions of using homophobic slurs during a game. A few weeks ago, LA Lakers star Kobe Bryant was fined $100,000 for hurling an insult towards an NBA referee. Because of TV censorship, I never caught which word was actually used, but my guess is that it began with an “f” and rhymed with “maggot”. Now Joakim Noah, who plays for the Chicago Bulls, is facing similar consequences after following Kobe’s lead.

Homophobic slurs and gay-bashing still present themselves frequently, but the formation of various campaigns to stop such intolerance is slowly eradicating anti-gay sentiments. I’ve done my part to show support, for I believe the degradation of another individual shouldn’t be acceptable anywhere. That’s why I also support the consequences these men are facing.

However, these recent events really got me thinking about the prevalence of other types of inappropriate name-calling. We wholeheartedly reject the notion that gay-bashing is okay and that using the F-word (and I’m not talking about “feminism”) is tolerable, yet society seems to openly embrace other negative terms. The most obvious one being, “bitch”. Okay, maybe society hasn’t quite “embraced” it, but it does accept it’s open usage. “Bitch” has become the new “bro” or “dude” and it’s commonly used to describe things that are great or cool (“Man, that song is bitchin’”). It has a positive connotation as well as a negative one. Bitch is an all around descriptive word that can be used to express various things. We forget how the word “bitch” can be used to degrade an individual – that is, until we hear, “That girl is such a bitch.” And even then it isn’t taken seriously because nowadays even friends call each other “bitch.”

I have a huge problem with this, not only because of the word’s history and the fact that it’s been used as a tool for verbal abuse, but also because its neutrality in today’s society permits and accepts its usage whilst describing or referring to females.

Women have worked so hard to stop people from accepting the term “bitch” as appropriate terminology. It’s sad that our society, in which public figures are punished, if caught, for calling a gay man the F-word or a black man or woman the N-word, has softened the sting that a word like “bitch” used to produce. Shouldn’t using “bitch” be held to the same standard?

Unfortunately, I know a lot of girls who call each other “bitch”, “whore”, and “slut.” They use the argument that if the intentions of the word aren’t bad, it can be used as an endearing nickname. Yeah, I’m pretty sure my gay friends are going to welcome the idea of me calling them F-words. And using that same logic, maybe Kobe and Joakim were just giving their gay friends and fans a shout out.

Seriously?

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  • juliet @ at 11:32 am, June 1st, 2011

    I understand where you’re coming from, but there’s also a different idea of feminism that is no better or worse than what you’re presenting: the reclamation of slurs previously used against women (see: bitch magazine, the slutwalks, etc.) I personally have reclaimed words like “slut”, “whore” and “bitch” to a certain extent, but I also recognize their power in this patriarchal society.

  • Renee @ at 1:42 pm, June 1st, 2011

    I love using the word bitch slut ho and the occasional tramp….to me it doesn’t matte what you say but the way you say it and your relationship with who you say it…if some random person wher to call me bitch I’d shrug it off but if I just don’t like you I would make a HUGE deal out of it just because…to me it seems like some are to sensitive

  • Mariella @ at 2:20 pm, June 1st, 2011

    Good point. But on the other hand, we can’t just push every offensive word off the face of the planet, so maybe it’s better if some of them have more positive connotations?
    However, an undeniable issue is the fact that the majority of all these swear words relate back to being female, homosexual or and ethnic minority. But I don’t believe that to stop using these words altogether wouldn’t destory these disgusting forms of discrimination… On the contrary, maybe if we learnt to control ourselves and get a little less comfortable using certain words, it would make these types of discimination less acceptable. But just maybe. Overall it’s the way people think that needs to change, not the way they talk.

  • Talia bat Pessi @ at 5:18 pm, June 1st, 2011

    I completely agree. I hate swearing in general, and terms like the b word etc. drive me up the wall. Women can try to reclaim these words as much as they want, but people who want to oppress women will still use them as a tool to do so, which is why I never say them and yell at my friends when they do.

  • jana @ at 9:56 pm, June 1st, 2011

    It is problematic in an era when high school girls are killing themselves over social ostracizing that includes these terms, see further linguistic and visual analysis here: http://bit.ly/eYyMRp

  • Peggy @ at 12:43 am, June 2nd, 2011

    Didn’t we just have a post about the importance of SlutWalk? Also, there’s a link on the side entitled “Bitch Ph.D.”. I really wish the FBomb would establish how it feels on certain issues.

  • Talia bat Pessi @ at 3:39 pm, June 3rd, 2011

    The FBomb doesn’t feel anything. It’s a conglomerate of teen feminists discussing things as they see it. I doubt any two posters have the same ideologies. The FBomb is just our forum.

  • Chelsea B @ at 2:47 am, June 6th, 2011

    I was just expressing my own, personal opinion on this issue. Not all feminists think alike, and a site like this is simply a wonderful metropolis that welcomes differing opinions. Now about what I wrote, I don’t particularly like the word “slut”, even if it is used in promoting a positive message such as that of the “Slutwalks”. Some friends and I were just discussing a similar issue, namely, the usage of the “N-word” as an endearing term amongst African Americans. Not being Afro-American myself, but having a half sister who is, I wasn’t too keen on accepting that so-called “positive spin” on such a derogatory word. I just can’t seem to understand how that’s moving anyone forward. Nonetheless, what I was trying to say in this piece was, if Kobe had called the referee a “bitch” instead of the “f-word”, would he have been fined as much money…. would he have even been fined at all?

  • Jared @ at 11:57 am, August 15th, 2011

    I think the argument over bad words, and which word is worse, is very trivial. It’s not about the word itself, it is about use. If I blanketly refer to women as “bitches” that is offensive. For me to say, “your car is bitchin’ bro” that seems perfectly fine. Words are just sounds we make with our mouths, and they cannot hurt you. The only thing that makes words bad is our social agreement to be offended when we hear them. Why do we make words we can’t say? You can see my full blog about it at http://bitchstraps.com/blog/2011/08/09/the-bitch-project-a-pop-culture-retrospective/

  • Victoria L @ at 9:15 pm, March 6th, 2012

    Ugh. Many girls in my year at high school greet each other first thing in the morning with “Sup bitches” or “morning bitch” it disgusts me! If anyone in my group of friends began greeting the rest of us like at I think they might find themselves with significantly less friends. I for one do not want to be insulted in a ‘friendly’ manner or indeed any kind of manner. Get thinking girls and come up with something more original and amusing like “What is up upon this fine morning, my fine companions?”

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