I’m not apologizing and I’m not a b*tch

Rant, with a few strong words. Because I can.

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I am not going to apologize and I will never apologise for being me, for being who and how I am, for being a woman and for being a woman who loves women.

I will not apologize for questioning ignorance and prejudice and hypocrisy and hate in any form they manifest, including when it’s “radical queer wimmin’s” hatred (at worst) and intolerance (at best) of non-biological women, aka transgendered M2Fs. I might wonder why it is that those who so disparage religious fundamentalism become fundamentalist in a religiously fervent way themselves when they are arguing on their side of the fence, a fence so high that it leaves no room to view anything else.

Speaking of other side of the fence, I’m also not going to apologize for wanting to know why some trans people are so attached to rigid gender/sex roles. It’s clear that there’s a spectrum of gender and sexuality (hormones and genitalia aside) and that much, but not all, of what we think of as male and female is socially constructed and agreed to within the culture.

Case in point: A washroom is a washroom is a washroom. A toilet does not care who uses it. Take the gender signs down and the room’s function remains intact. Are gender specific bathrooms necessary? In Toronto, a number of restaurants are doing away with signs that indicate which gender can use what washroom. By way of history, the book Queering the Bathroom talks about the first recorded use of gender-specific washrooms. It was one night at a Ball in 17th century France
to amuse partygoers. Took a while to catch on, though. (For an article on this book, go here.)

To reiterate my point, I’m not apologizing for wondering about the silly and unhelpful things that people — even my people — do. Hard to believe but lesbians are not perfect, regardless of how they define themselves. Lesbians are not alone in the-not perfect world: also not perfect are gay men and transsexual and transgendered people and those who are intersex, queer, questioning, two-spirited and allies. Under all the labels and identities are human beings with human needs and achingly human foibles including, interestingly, the foible of not thinking about what words they use.

What is it with the word bitch?

Why is it okay for women to casually refer to girls and women as bitches or hot bitches or happy bitches, or cool bitches just because the word is the cool, hip-hop, rappin’ poppin’ happenin’ fun and funny term of the moment, a term that at its core, is designed to demean, dehumanize and objectify women, a term so popular in all sorts of (boring, boring yawn, yawn) song lyrics.

Bitch, in its modern usage specific to women means “a malicious or treacherous woman“. So what that there’s a magazine called Bitch. So it’s a take-back-the-name thing and take away its negative connotations and give us its power. Um, no.

What it is, basically, is aping bad male behaviour and proving once and for all that in some ways, equality is happening. Maybe not exactly in the way that our bra burning and suffragette ancestors had in mind, but we have equality: the dark side. We have girl gang-bangers and we have girls carrying guns and knives to school, we have girls killing girls. And we have girls casually calling each other bitch because bitch is more what, tough? Street? Not to press a point, but we now have women saying ya, I’m a bitch and proud of it. Hold me back! She’s the one I want, oh, never.

What happens on the street doesn’t stay there. It’s influence on fashion and language is legendary, particularly with the various Englishes around the world. It is true that English is an ever-changing and fluid language. We use and reuse words and make up new ones. Sometimes words take on opposite meanings from the meaning they have traditionally had, like the word murder. Didjya know it’s a good thing to murder a song? A dance? A reading? Murder as in someone did a thing perfectly implying that murdering a thing is the way to perfection? Murdering a thing is the way to make it your own? Excuse me? Draw me the map to that conclusion please?

Every generation has its wacky words to exclude the earlier generations. I get that. I do it too, but I have a line about calling people names at the best of times and calling another woman a bitch is something I just do not get, unless she truly is the embodiment, the very definition in that evil, sad, wicked witch who sent out the flying monkeys and hurt little dogs too.

Bitch: a term popularized by men who don’t much like women.

It’s a good thing that our culture is becoming more accepting of the huge spectrum of human experience, expression and loving. I am not convinced it’s a good thing that along with an acceptance of difference, that there is an equal but more seditious wave to press-gang all demographics into a level of conformity in dress, music, and language, mortgages, taxes, books, art. But maybe this is the price of mainstreaming. Once upon a time we were outsiders and didn’t have to fit in, didn’t have to adopt cultural norms.

But this casual calling women bitches is beyond me. Not a nice norm. Sure we get cranky at PMS time and perimenopause is not fun and post menopause is another level of hell for women and those hormones do weird stuff to us. But that’s not what this is about. Using bitch as an expression of woman’s innate strength to take away the power of the word? Not happening. Redefining a bitch as a strong assertive woman, who says what she wants and what she needs? The kind of woman who gets (goddess forgive me this) bitch-slapped? Tell me how those two terms and concepts coexist peacefully?

Maybe it’s me. After all, I don’t think Beyoncé’s video about women ruling the world is true or good, either, just as I’m not buying that BITCH stands for Babe In Total Control of Her life, or that it’s a take-back-the-term to empower women. Sounds like an afterthought, a justification of something after the fact.

So I’m not apologizing for asking questions but I wonder if it’s just me. Am I being too semantically sensitive? Should I be celebrating that women are bitches and men are assholes and should I be celebrating how we in the LGBTTQQ2SA world adopt and make it part of our world, which is increasingly looking like the straight world? Are we conforming and mainstreaming to a lower common denominator?

Goddess, I hope not.

There’s lots of stuff out there about bitch and maybe someone can ‘splain it to me better. In the meantime, here are some images are for your viewing pleasure. Unfortunately, I can’t correct the spelling errors.

About FS

Toronto, Canada. Writing about slices of life, the moments and minor details of which come into awareness or out of imagination and the spaces inbetween. On hiatus from writing anywhere else but here ... at least for now.
This entry was posted in being a lesbian, lesbian, lesbian life and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to I’m not apologizing and I’m not a b*tch

  1. I absolutely agree. If words had no power then where would the beauty be in poetry, prose, and thought out and intriguing blogs like your’s?

    • fs says:

      Dear TSH: Awww, thank you … it’s true isn’t it, about words? Words to say nice things, words to say loving things, and words to do less considerate and even mean things. Let’s aim for the good stuff. 🙂

      • Tell me something. If you could, in one beautiful WORD, where does your inspiration come from for all that you write?

      • fs says:

        Dear TSH: You ask a challenging question because I have a difficult relationship with this notion of inspiration. Writing is only partly about inspiration. The rest is all the stinky sweaty stuff that polite people call perspiration. I can’t not practice writing. However, I’ll try my best to answer it: Tonight I would say it is not a word, but a combination of sound and feeling and that is: listening there is a heartbeat. It has a sound and a feeling. A heartbeat of the world, of the water, of the moon, of the universe, of love, of heartbreak, or laughter and tears, of all the cheeky and scary things out there, including everything about women. That heartbeat. And sometimes the only way I can translate that feeling of it is to put it into words.

        Another day, I might have a different answer.🙂. Thank you… I adore questions. I heard somewhere that it’s question that makes us human.

      • No, thank you. I probably adore answers as much as you adore questions. And I completely understand about having a different answer for a different day. I mean, we are as ever changing as the wind and as unpredictable as the sea. Listening, I think it’s a beautiful answer. If we didn’t listen what would there be to write about? Can’t wait to read another of your blogs as they are truly inspiring to me.

      • fs says:

        Dear TSH: WIth luck, any really good answer will give rise to another question 😉. Can make for great conversations or exchanges of listening. It’s all good. And of course you are right: we have this notion of our self as a fixed, permanent entity, but I’m not sure that’s how humans operate. Thank you for popping ’round.

  2. Terrisita says:

    Loved every bitchin’ minute of this tirade. Seriously, you are spot on. I have had it up to my re-sected anterior communicating artery with the appropriation and reinvention of language to degrade, dehumanize, defame…debase. (Remember when a bitch referred to a female dog?) Back then, it was one of the most insulting things you could call a woman…comparing her to a dog?? (Poor puppies). Another seriously sad reflection (I am guessing in the het world, I don’t have any verification to indicate otherwise), is the Food Network CANADA’S show,”Bitchin’ Kitchen”. Okay I get the play on words, but I’ve got to say Nadia Giosia’s Nonna is probably not the happiest member of the CWL. And I don’t find the glam, bling, trash, glitz particularly credible or appropriate with food preparation. THAT all being said…I had an ugly throw-down recently with a gay man who used the “C” WORD to refer to himself (describing his own “bitchy” behaviours)…as in “I am such a c***, sometimes!”. Needless to say, but say it I will….I went off on him with a maniacal vengeance, only to be countered with “you’re far to sensitive”, and the inference that he has an “entitlement” to use the word because he is gay. Maybe it’s me, my generation, my sheltered sensibilities…but when someone appropriates and abuses a word that has received considerable consideration and whose use is fraught with all kinds of connotations, I take serious offense. Particularly when that word is used in a negative, disrespectful, derogatory way. My dear. There is something very endearing about someone who takes language seriously, and it’s uses to heart. You can’t be too “semantically sensitive”. If we all were, all words would lose their power, their luster, their impact.
    ……………And conversations would be much more yada ,yada, yada,, blah, blah, blah.

    (great article!!)

    • fs says:

      T: Oh my gosh yes: the C word, and all the guys using it. Sorry…I don’t get it either. And why is being sensitive to how we use words and what they mean a bad thing? Why is it used in a derogatory manner? It’s so..dismissive. Does that mean it’s okay to be ignorant and insensitive and unaware, and not give a crap (concern oneself) about the impact of one’s words, actions or inaction? Might we just be a bit of an incredibly narcissistic culture?

      Maybe we should take back the word sensitive? Darling T: Thank you for going off on him: boundaries need to be set, and honoured, not in an insane unreasonable way, but in an ethical, moral, considerate of others way. Rare words these days, I know.

      I am thinking of some responses to “you’re too sensitive….”

      That Chinese philosopher noted some 5,000 years ago that actions follow words and the meaning of words are important. And thank you — always, thank you. And wonderful comment, T.

  3. bookish butch says:

    I hear yah, that word makes me angry and on the verge of irrational, a little bit like those women who say they aren’t feminists, because they don’t hate men!! and everyone knows wanting equality is about hating men right?? But, an even bigger peeve, is women who claim they are feminists and hasten to add that they aren’t lesbians, because, after all that would be a fate worse than death-right? I apologise for the rant:-) Basicaly I wanted to say, I agree.

    • fs says:

      BB — or should say, La BB?: Right up there with women who say I want the lesbian experience, but don’t think me a lesbian.

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