Professor J's Place

25 February, 2008

The B Word

Remember Elizabeth Dole's comment about Hillary Clinton when both of their husbands were running for president? "I can't say what she is, but it rhymes with 'witch'."

This question is as old as feminism. Why is it that strong, assertive, and most importantly, successful women are called bitches? Why is it that there is no masculine equivalent to that word? Because a strong, assertive, successful man is just a man!

I think Tina Fey may have been taking part in a time-honored tradition: reclaiming an insulting word. Back in the 1980's, lesbians decided that the word lesbian was not an insult, but a neutral descriptor. And dyke? A Dyke is a strong, assertive, political lesbian. If I take that word, you can't hurt me with it. At least that's the idea.

So, for me, Tina Fey was claiming a word that has been used and used and used against women and saying, yes. Yes, I am a bitch. I am a strong, assertive, political woman.

Me too.

Oh, yeah, and she was being funny, too.

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Blogger Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I'm a bitch too!

February 25, 2008 at 8:08 AM  
Blogger Family Adventure said...

I could write a book on this subject. It infuriates me to no end...

Not so much the word - bitch...but the idea that a strong, assertive woman is a negative. It goes beyond just a single word, doesn't it?


February 25, 2008 at 8:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have a long way to go before we're equal among ourselves, nevermind men. Sigh.

February 25, 2008 at 9:38 AM  
Blogger Peggy Sez.. said...

Doncha think "bitch" is like Aloha? It can get you coming and going...I like it.

Your Bitchy Blogging Buddy,Peggy.

February 25, 2008 at 11:38 AM  
Blogger Julie Pippert said...

Oh baby you know I am called bitch.

Also, it must be said wrt your topic today: GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE!

This topic is all over the Internet, not just your spot and mine. Wowsa, what whipped us all up into a fury over the weekend?

WRT no male equivalent, actually, yes, I think it would be a$$hole. A$$hat. D!ckwad. (Shall I go on?)

Dyke makes me think of Holland and walls that can hold back water. So yeah, I get you taking that word.

But only with wooden shoes. ;)

February 25, 2008 at 11:43 AM  
Blogger Misty said...

i LOVED that clip of the news. I have watched it, and watched it. "Bitches get stuff done!" It was perfect. :)

February 25, 2008 at 12:05 PM  
Blogger Lisa Milton said...

Oh Tina Fey. I love her.

(I don't know how to say how much I resent that double standard...)

February 25, 2008 at 12:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes, she was definitely doing that, but she was also mocking us for our use of the word, and the weight we put on it.

February 25, 2008 at 2:22 PM  
Blogger Cheri said...

Whew! I'm so glad someone said this. What a refreshing, powerful and obvious statement. Wish I'd thought of it. Go Professor J.

February 25, 2008 at 2:45 PM  
Blogger Mrs. G. said...

Bitches unite!

February 25, 2008 at 6:36 PM  
Blogger we_be_toys said...

I'm a proud, card-carrying Bitch - testify sister!

February 25, 2008 at 9:26 PM  
Blogger Claire B. said...

Yeah, what you said, Professsor J.

No, we don't HAVE to be bitches to be successful. We're just perceived that way. And being a bitch sure helps one (ok, me) put up with the crap that has been flung my way over the years.

Yes, I am. A bitch.

February 25, 2008 at 11:15 PM  
Blogger Mark A. said...

Who called you a bitch, Karen? Point'em my way and I'll bust their lip for'em.

Wait, I'm falling into the violent male stereotype, aren't I?


February 26, 2008 at 1:48 PM  
Blogger Professor J said...

Mark, darling, who hasn't called me a bitch at some time?

February 26, 2008 at 3:00 PM  
Blogger Mike Golch said...

tread lightly Mikey,like hell I will.why in the hell do we need any of these anarchic sayings??????
If a "male" is strong he's quoted as haveing "Balls" or "Stones", so I guess the female equal is being a bitch. Needless to say these terms suck.So why in the world do we use these terms any way? is it that men and wemen feel threatened and thus have to attack someone? If a woman is strong then thr dirogitory terms start flying,such as "bitch","lesbo","bull dyke".If a guy comes across as too senistive he's labled as "gay" of a "fag" use of these terms as far as ones sexuality donot come into play,it is just as a way to put someone down.Now Michael is departing his soapbox.

February 26, 2008 at 3:10 PM  
Blogger PunditMom said...

Bitches unite!

February 26, 2008 at 3:46 PM  
Blogger mental mosaic said...

Amen, sister bitch! ;P

And thanks for the Tina Fey video. I don't get to see SNL over here in Italy. She nailed it on a lot of issues. Loved what she said about people being afraid of "co-presidents." Go Tina!

February 26, 2008 at 5:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen, sisters! Bitches unite, indeed.

Too bad, though, that we can't just be strong, assertive, successful women, with nothing attached.

February 26, 2008 at 9:57 PM  
Blogger JCK said...

Tina Fey is the best. It is something that has always bothered me. Why women are threatened by strong women. Makes me nuts. Shouldn't we be supporting each other and cheering each other on!

February 27, 2008 at 1:58 AM  
Blogger Sojourner said...

Exactly jck! But I will be a bitch too if I have to! And Mike- I am female and my own mother has told ME that I have "brass balls". So wtf does that say about me? Only way you can be strong is to be male? I dunno.

February 27, 2008 at 6:30 PM  
Blogger Scout said...

I was having this discussion with my daughter just the other day, talking about how we are conditioned to be put off my assertive women, so that Hillary Clinton comes across as cold and impersonable, but a man with her same character traits and communication skills is considered a leader. You'd think this imbalance would die away at some point.

February 28, 2008 at 9:00 AM  

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