If I look as far back as primary school I can remember friends labelling me as 'bossy' and in my late teens and twenties I certainly recall a few occasions where friends, acquaintances and exes would label me a 'bitch'. Now this was never due to me being nasty, having a foul attitude or bad mouthing anyone behind their back, if I look back and think logically it was simply because I had a 'take no shit' personality that I still stand by today.
Now many women today have also become accustomed to being labeled a 'bitch' and feel dejected by the word but if we look closely, the ones usually labelling you as such are probably not as assertive, out spoken or driven as you. Hear me out.
Now by no means am I giving the likes of Donald Trump the green light to throw the word around like rice at a wedding, and no way am I condoning the derogatory use of the word by negative and irrational individuals, but what I am saying is - we need to take a closer look.
The term 'bitch' has been used to refer to a female dog since about 1000 AD, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, and began to be used as a pejorative term for women in around the 15th Century. The 1811 edition of the Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue by Francis Grose said it was "most offensive appellation that can be given to an English woman".
The OED defines its modern meaning as "a malicious or treacherous woman" or "something outstandingly difficult or unpleasant". But other dictionary definitions say its premier use is no longer as a term of abuse.
"It has gone through this whole history of the way words change," says Connie Eble, an English professor at the University of North Carolina who has documented the language of college students for some 40 years. "There are some really interesting things going on in popular culture that are informing its usage."
What it is to be a woman in todays society is extremely difficult and sadly women are very rarely referenced as strong, confident and decisive like their male counterparts or when a woman expresses her displeasure, opinion or openness the word 'bitch' is unfortunately commonly used to associate with this type of woman and demeanor.
Women in the media who have shown such attributes have all been labelled as one. Hilary Clinton who has been thought of as a bitch since she was first lady. Now again, not because she was negative or unpleasant, but because she had big ambitions.
Women in the work place or those who run businesses are now fearful of showing too much power or even competence and are consciously choosing to de-value themselves in fear of being labelled as a bitch. Having to project fake smiles and a character unknown to them in order as to not be seen as a mean spirited individual is where we are at in todays societal standards.
“Just because I have my standards,
they think I'm a bitch.”
With all the negativity surrounding the word, it comes as no surprise that we as women still perceive the word as disrespectful. But some would suggest the opposite. The US feminist magazine BITCH explains it like this on its website: "When it's being used as an insult, bitch is an epithet hurled at women who speak their minds, who have opinions and do not shy away from expressing them and who do not sit by and smile uncomfortably if they are bothered or offended. If being an outspoken woman means being a bitch, we will take that as a compliment, thanks."
The truth is, in the right context, and examined well, sometimes being called one is not as negative as it may seem. It really is down to the individual to decipher the reasons why they are being labelled a bitch and the context that it is actually meant.
Stop being afraid to use your voice and speak your truth and if 'they' label you a bitch, then let them, it might not actually be a bad thing.