Letter From the Editor

Why Men Need to Stop Calling Women “B*tches”

WHY I’VE BANNED THE “B” WORD” (AND MAYBE YOU SHOULD TOO)

By Megan Collins | Last Updated: Oct 29 2016

Guys, stop using the word “bitch” to describe women.

Really, I mean it.

Recently I was speaking with a work acquaintance about an extremely successful CEO who recently sold her company for literally hundreds of millions of dollars (250 of ‘em, to be exact).

“Have you met her?” he asked.

“Yes,” I replied. She’d spoken at an event I’d attended and found her to be bright, assertive, and extremely driven. It was no surprise when I’d seen the news in the press and was happy for her in a Beyonce video-empowering kind of way.

“So you know she’s a real…b-i-t-c-h” he said, both insulting her and somehow insulting me by spelling out a curse word as if I was a 5 year old. Or as if spelling it softens the blow of using the term itself.

Newsflash, it really doesn’t. I know you mean bitch because I can spell, and you know you’re wrong to use it if you can’t even bring yourself to say the word.

Because here’s the thing about guys using the word against women: there’s no equivalent moniker for men. Using the word totally throws off the name-calling gender equilibrium.

What about a**hole?

NO. A woman can be an asshole, and calling her one doesn’t take away any of her power. I would always rather be called an asshole than a bitch. I mean, I’d rather not be called either, but if we’re being honest, I probably deserve at least that every now and again.

If you can call a woman an asshole but you can’t call a man a bitch, then fair’s not fair, and we’ve gotta do something about that.

Who’s been called a bitch? Anna Wintour, Martha Stewart, Kelly Ripa. Who hasn’t? Elon Musk, Warren Buffet, Roger Goodell. All folks who present themselves with confidence and openly pursue professional success.

Actually, Goodell may have been on the receiving end of the moniker once or twice, which may be worse. Calling a man a bitch (or probably more often, a “little bitch”) suggests he’s behaving like – gasp – a woman, which apparently is a terrible thing. Or rather, that he’s behaving like a misogynist version of a woman: whiny, bratty, and downright rude.

This is what keeps “bitch” from being an equal opportunity insult, acceptable for cutting down both sexes. For those men feeling intimidated by a strong woman, it’s a shortcut to invalidating a person’s motives (“She’s probably on her period”) and their stature (“She’s just being a bitch; I don’t have to listen to her”).

The reason I’m terrified of being a “bitch” is that as soon as you’re labeled one – by your peers, by your subordinates, by the press – you can’t be NOT a bitch ever again and the people who think of you as one suddenly don’t have to respect you anymore because, guess what, you’re a bitch and they’re not so fuck you.

“But she was really being a bitch, Megan” / “That’s the only word that accurately describes my [next door neighbor, co-worker, BOSS].”

Too bad. I don’t care. Find a different word. Consider this my (extremely polite, non-bitchy) request to make insults a gender-neutral zone. If nothing else, it’s boring. And boorish. And I expect more from Style Girlfriend readers than that. Y’all are supposed to be the one with style; make sure it extends to your vocabulary.

TELL ME:

WHAT’S YOUR STANCE ON INSULTING IN STYLE?

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