I've been called a bitch more times than I can remember. Let me put it this way, if I were given a dime every time someone called me a bitch, I'd be on a private island riding out this pandemic in luxury.
I used to try and hide from being called a bitch. It's actually something I internally struggled with—constantly beating myself up over it. If I were writing this five years ago, I would have never openly admitted the fact that I've frequently been called a bitch. Society had taught me, has taught all of us, that it is a shameful character flaw. I now know that it says a lot more about the person using the world than the person it's been placed on.
We're reclaiming ownership of the word bitch; its rightful owners are changing the game.
I can remember one of the first times I was called a bitch in the workplace—at least to my face. I had been given a seat at the table for the first time at this organization. I was overly prepared to present a pitch for a budget increase for my department. I knew the importance and impact this budget could mean for my team. At the end of my presentation, which was received positively, I was on a high. However, as we left the meeting, a coworker (who was unaware that I was standing right behind him) said that my presentation would have been better if I, "wasn't such a bitch."
I left that meeting on such a high and even received the budget increase later that afternoon, but I spent the entire night picking apart my presentation and myself to figure out what was bitchy about it or me? I can imagine that it's been said behind my back hundreds of times before and since then. It has also been said to my face since then as well. What I've come to learn is that the use of the word is associated with a reaction to my power. It shows me that the person who labels me is a bitch is uncomfortable about the power I possess. So by being a bitch, it shows that he felt that I was in possession of power over my convictions.
Where there is power, there is a bitch. Where there is a bitch, there is power.
To dig even deeper, in the last year, I've realized that the word bitch has been simply been inappropriately defined, and I have the ability to reclaim the power associated with the term. This is why I've made it my mission to enlighten others by dissecting the use of the word "bitch" and exposing its correlation with female power. Part of this reclamation of power means women can decide how the term should be used in a variety of contexts.
Typically, when someone uses the word bitch in a derogatory sense it's because a woman is being loud, nagging, or shrill. All words that have consistently been coded against women, when in reality we're being confident, passionate, and strong-willed. Those attributes more commonly align with power than any other negative attribute.
Whenever we women are called a "bitch" I find it to happen because she is asserting power. Typically when someone doesn't like what you have to say, particularly if you have put yourself in a position of power means of your convictions, you're a bitch. So you're telling me that for decades, we as women, have been victims of misappropriation for the word bitch in replacement of power? Spoiler alert, we have.
Whenever we women are called a "bitch" I find it to happens because she is asserting power.
The word bitch has been wrongfully defined. At the root of it, the derogatory usage of this word displays how people, men in particular, have been misinformed about what power looks like across genders. Or better yet, men have simply decided that women's power was something to devalue—another grave mistake in history.
I understand that there is a large percentage of women who would just like the world to stop calling powerful women bitches. I just happen to be one of the people who want to empower and reclaim the use of this word instead of closeting it. Where there is power, there is a bitch. Where there is a bitch, there is power.
How do we reclaim it? By redefining it and then by actually using it. We should not be afraid to say the word bitch in public, because of its past incorrect definition. In fact, the less we use it the more power we give to the incorrect definition. Once we redefine, bitch as a position of power, it becomes less taboo and more authentic. If you're only referring to women as bitches when you don't enjoy their flex of power, we have the right to redefine.
Bitch /biCH/ noun: A powerful woman who stands firm in her position despite adversity and opposition.Bitch /biCH/ verb: to express power or strength in one's position.
Let's try to relate it to another well-known phrase in power culture: I just recently rewatched Donnie Brasco and one scene stuck with me. One of the FBI agents asked Donnie (or Joe) what "forget about it" means in the wise guy's lifestyle. Donnie proceeds to explain: "'Forget about it' is, like, if you agree with someone, you know, like 'Raquel Welch is one great piece of ass. Forget about it!' But then, if you disagree, like 'A Lincoln is better than a Cadillac? Forget about it!' You know? But then, it's also like if something's the greatest thing in the world, like, 'Minghia! Those peppers! Forget about it!' But it's also like saying 'Go to hell!' too."'
Bitch, to me, has become my "forget about it." First and foremost it now means power in my book. It even means power from those who use it in a derogatory sense, because people who do that are fearful of my power and my position on a particular issue.
Am I powerful? Then yes, I think I'm being a bitch. It also means power in the sense of "yes, bitch!" as in "yes, powerful one." when your boss asks you "Would you like to take on this insanely complex but rewarding project for your career?" The answer is "Yes, Bitch!" (Maybe keep that one to yourself until we've mainstreaming this connotation!) Or even in the reverse, "No, bitch" or better yet, "Bitch, I quit!" all use cases to let a person of power know you won't comply. The common denominator of all references for the term bitch is that they apply to women in power.
I understand that there is a large percentage of women who would just like the world to stop calling powerful women bitches. I just happen to be one of the people who want to empower and reclaim the use of this word instead of closeting it.
Every use case of the word bitch derives from a position of power to one degree or another, and it's time we stop associating women's powerful energy with negativity. The time has come to reclaim our power in so many aspects of society, and I personally believe that redefining the use of the word bitch can and will be monumental.
Let's own our power and share that power with the young women in the future—teaching them and those around them that defining a woman's position as powerful is never derogatory and positioning the word bitch in that light simply won't work anymore. We're reclaiming ownership of the word bitch; its rightful owners are changing the game. Moving forward, if you think I should feel shame or disrespect by the use of the word bitch, in the wise words of Donnie Brasco, forget about it!
WRITTEN BYJennifer Fitta