Our favorite Jewish actress and “The Big Bang Theory” star Mayim Bialik is pretty impressive. Besides doing the whole Hollywood thing, she’s also a neuroscientist, mom, founder of her site Grok Nation, and an outspoken feminist. I especially love the feminist part–because we need more public figures standing up for all the ways women are treated unfairly in society.
Recently, Mayim was interviewed during the BlogHer conference–and not surprisingly, she put her feminist hat on. She was asked what was the one thing she wished men would stop saying to women–to which she said the word “bitch” was her biggest annoyance:
“[T]he word ‘bitch’ still bothers me. I know there’s been a certain sense of empowerment and taking that word back, and that some women do engage in [as well as] men. For the most part, when I hear it, it usually means: ‘A woman has just said something I don’t agree with, and I’d like her to shut her face.’ That’s usually when I hear that word, and I don’t like it one bit.”
The word “bitch” may not seem like such a terrible thing to say (considering it’s thrown around in songs, movies, and articles all the time like it’s NBD), but it really is sexist. While there are plenty of neutral insults, “bitch” is obviously very gendered–which completely changes the connotation and use behind it.
For instance, it’s typically used when a woman is being aggressive (even if it’s in a way men often are). Conversely, when men are called that, it’s because they are “weak” and “submissive,” implying that women inherently carry those traits–and that they are very negative. On a basic level, it also implies certain traits are masculine and feminine–and that the masculine traits are always superior than the feminine ones. Gross.
While I’m all for people owning slurs as a way to empower themselves, I also think it’s always important to think about why you use certain words–and why you want to reclaim them. As parents especially, educating your kids about slurs is crucial as they get older, so they can understand the meanings behind them–and when to stand up for themselves and others. Way to go, Mayim.
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