Bitch and the Problem with Identity-Insults

This week for Role/Reboot I wrote about the problem with identity-based insults. When you try to denigrate someone, the most powerful thing you can do is to tie your dislike for their behavior to something intrinsic to themselves. It’s the reason that “Jerk” or “Jackass” doesn’t feel very strong; it’s surface deep. “Bitch,” on the other hand, like the N-word or the F-word (Not that F-word, the one idiots use for gay people) carries such power is because it adds an identity tag. “You suck… and you’re a woman!” “I don’t like you… and you’re gay!”

I’m aware of the reclamation projects around most of these words (see The Vagina Monologues’ Cunt” poem), but I would suggest that the use of them as an insult is always based in identity politics not new appreciation for cultural or biological ownership. In other words, whether you’ve reclaimed the word “cunt” for yourself is irrelevant when someone levels it at you. They don’t mean it in that third-wave this-is-my-word-now! way… they are using it to cut you down to size, and they’re using that specific word because you’re female. Not okay.

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Related Post: When I wrote about insults for dudes…

Related Post: How my teenage cousins talk to each other on Facebook…

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Filed under Gender, Republished!

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