Is the word "bitch" sexist?

  • #1
    My friend was being malicious on facebook, I called her out on it, and I end up getting in an argument with her friend who equates the word as a gender slur and as bad as the n-word. Personally, I disagree and don't think the word is sexist as it can be used to describe any person that is callous. I've heard it used to describe men. Such as "Yeah Richard was being a bitch last night and wouldn't stop arguing." Everyone I've talked to said that the word isn't sexist. What do you think?
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  • #2
    Quote from Dio
    My friend was being malicious on facebook, I called her out on it, and I end up getting in an argument with her friend who equates the word as a gender slur and as bad as the n-word. Personally, I disagree and don't think the word is sexist as it can be used to describe any person that is callous. I've heard it used to describe men. Such as "Yeah Richard was being a bitch last night and wouldn't stop arguing." Everyone I've talked to said that the word isn't sexist. What do you think?


    No, in the same way that calling someone a dick isn't sexist.

  • #3
    Bitch is neutral these days since bastard has fell out of common vernacular, especially since the increase in children born out of wedlock has lost it's social stigma but bitch has carried on it's other connotation. The only reason the "n-word" is still considered "bad" is because it has been made out to be far worse than it actually is rather than devolving back into some backhanded comment like bugger or wop. Actually I want it to go that direction so that we as a nation can move on from racism, because quite frankly if white trash isn't up there in the constellation of slurs and *** is used to connote "idiot" anymore then I am for desensitization and moving on with our language. The same with bitch taking it's place along side other desensitized words as well.
    Last edited by Captain_Morgan: 10/15/2011 8:24:47 PM


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  • #4
    Of course it is. It's used to shame people of both genders that don't adhere to strict gender roles. Female bitches are assertive and don't defer to men. And male bitches are unmanly, weak-willed men. It's the perfect storm of heteronormative bigotry.
  • #5
    Quote from Kajillion
    Of course it is. It's used to shame people of both genders that don't adhere to strict gender roles. Female bitches are assertive and don't defer to men. And male bitches are unmanly, weak-willed men. It's the perfect storm of heteronormative bigotry.


    That's like, your opinion, man it's like if I said "prick" is a racist term by giving made up definitions for it that are different for a different ethnicity. Just cause you're made up definition of the word makes it sound sexist doesn't mean it is. Bitch, over here has never been sexist and has always referred to a person being "bitchy", which I will not describe but is the same definition as the OP's.
  • #6
    Quote from Kajillion
    Of course it is. It's used to shame people of both genders that don't adhere to strict gender roles. Female bitches are assertive and don't defer to men. And male bitches are unmanly, weak-willed men. It's the perfect storm of heteronormative bigotry.


    ^ Pretty much. When used against a woman it generally means an obviously rude confrontational person. When applied against a man, it can mean the same thing, but more often means the same thing as "sissy."

    "Quit being a bitch" sometimes means "Man up" which in general could only work if you thought it was possible to not be manly enough, and that being a woman or womanly were wrong.

    Essentially, take care using the word because there's enough connotation in it that someone might think you're sexist. You'll get different millage out of the word in different groups.
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  • #7
    Quote from Dio
    My friend was being malicious on facebook, I called her out on it, and I end up getting in an argument with her friend who equates the word as a gender slur and as bad as the n-word. Personally, I disagree and don't think the word is sexist as it can be used to describe any person that is callous. I've heard it used to describe men. Such as "Yeah Richard was being a bitch last night and wouldn't stop arguing." Everyone I've talked to said that the word isn't sexist. What do you think?

    Not if it's used in rap, apparently. Then it's just "entertainment."
  • #8
    Quote from ljossberir
    Not if it's used in rap, apparently. Then it's just "entertainment."


    'Art" more than likely, ever heard of Piss Christ? College kid basically urinated in a clear bucket and put a crucifix in it. Brilliant? Not really, Du Champ had a few years on that guy...


    Ambition must be made to counteract ambition.

    Individualities may form communities, but it is institutions alone that can create a nation.

    Nothing succeeds like the appearance of success.

    Here is my principle: Taxes shall be levied according to ability to pay. That is the only American principle.


  • #9
    It has a number of sexist connotations. Interestingly it's about over assertiveness in women as well as under assertiveness in men.

    Regardless, it's also one of the worst words you can say and get away with, at least for TV and other forms of media. Considering that pretty much all insults are some kind of pejorative, I don't think the issue is as much about sexism as it is people being nasty to each other.

    It's also a monosyllabic insult for superior ease of use along with being just plain nasty sounding, which I feel is it's biggest "pro". It's overused as far as insults go and doesn't carry a lot of meaning. If I feel the need to insult someone, I prefer to illustrate their flaws accurately rather than defer to simple slurs about parentage and personality types. Saying that someone is white trash doesn't mean a whole lot. Telling them that their home is the peeling dumpster of the effluence of Billy Mays commanded by an ill educated, uninterested, overweight, Cops watching family who spend their days intellectually perverting scripture? Now, that is an insult.
    Last edited by Jimbo: 10/21/2011 9:30:31 PM
  • #10
    Quote from Kajillion
    Of course it is. It's used to shame people of both genders that don't adhere to strict gender roles. Female bitches are assertive and don't defer to men. And male bitches are unmanly, weak-willed men. It's the perfect storm of heteronormative bigotry.


    I swear, when are people going to realize that saying "heteronormative" a lot doesn't lend credibility to your argument or make you sound smart. I wish I could go without ever reading that word in an argument again.

    Bitch just means a whiny, annoying, or sissy person. Yes, it is ok to accuse someone of not being manly enough. If I say someone is being a sissy, a wimp, or a bitch, I'm not saying "ZOMG ADHERE TO MY GENDER ROLE", I'm simply telling them to quit being a bitch. You know, grow a pair. Man up. Or stop whining. Just like if I am saying don't be a dick I'm not saying "you must adhere to normal male gender roles!" I'm saying stop being a jerk. I'm sorry, am I being a bigot right now? Have I offended your politically correct sensibilities where we aren't allowed to comment on any characteristic unless it's congratulating someone on how different they are?

    Get over yourself and this strange idea of bigotry you have.
    Last edited by LogicX: 10/22/2011 12:36:16 AM

  • #11
    Quote from LogicX
    Yes, it is ok to accuse someone of not being manly enough. If I say someone is being a sissy, a wimp, or a bitch, I'm not saying "ZOMG ADHERE TO MY GENDER ROLE", I'm simply telling them to quit being a bitch.


    So, when you call a woman a bitch, you're saying she's not being manly enough?
  • #12
    Quote from Synalon Etuul
    So, when you call a woman a bitch, you're saying she's not being manly enough?


    Well, I don't think I've ever called a women a bitch to her face, but if I did it would be to say "stop being annoying."

  • #13
    Oh okay, right. What was that about manliness though?
  • #14
    Quote from Synalon Etuul
    Oh okay, right. What was that about manliness though?


    If I call my male friend a bitch, it may be because he is being a wimp.

    For instance, "quit being a bitch, ride this rollercoaster with me" is just saying "stop being a wimp and do it", not "you must adhere to normal male gender roles and ride this roller coaster."

    Is it never ok to criticize someone for being wimpy? I'm supposed to be just fine with any display of cowardice because we are just supposed to accept any characteristic from anyone? I don't think so.

  • #15
    So just to clarify, would you criticise a girl for being wimpy by calling her a bitch?
  • #16
    Quote from Synalon Etuul
    So just to clarify, would you criticise a girl for being wimpy by calling her a bitch?


    Probably not. A whiny or annoying girl is a bitch. A wimpy or annoying guy is a bitch.

    I don't see the issue with criticizing a particular undesirable attribute that someone is displaying.

    I'm not saying it to force a guy into a gender role. I'm saying it because I want to ride the ****ing roller coaster and he is being a wimp.
    Last edited by LogicX: 10/22/2011 3:48:31 PM

  • #17
    At the most shallow level of analysis, then, someone who believes that the word 'bitch' is used in a sexist way could say that the fact you use the word to describe people differently based on what gender they are is sexist. With the examples you gave, a hypothetical observer who objects to the word could interpret your use of it in a number of ways - for example, you could believe that it is less acceptable for men to behave in a 'wimpy' manner, or that it is to be expected that women are 'wimps'.

    Of course, it's usually best not to assume someone with which you disagree believes a certain thing, and though you probably don't actually agree with any of the examples I gave, the point is that you are very likely asserting something because in general I'd say we don't apply theoretically gender-neutral words to people based on their sex completely arbitrarily.

    To be clear, though: I'm not saying that you need to change your language or, even less, that you are in fact sexist; my point is that someone who does view the word bitch as sexist could make a compelling case that your usage in this instance could be considered such, and that I would probably technically agree with them.
  • #18
    Quote from Synalon Etuul
    At the most shallow level of analysis, then, someone who believes that the word 'bitch' is used in a sexist way could say that the fact you use the word to describe people differently based on what gender they are is sexist. With the examples you gave, a hypothetical observer who objects to the word could interpret your use of it in a number of ways - for example, you could believe that it is less acceptable for men to behave in a 'wimpy' manner, or that it is to be expected that women are 'wimps'.

    Of course, it's usually best not to assume someone with which you disagree believes a certain thing, and though you probably don't actually agree with any of the examples I gave, the point is that you are very likely asserting something because in general I'd say we don't apply theoretically gender-neutral words to people based on their sex completely arbitrarily.

    To be clear, though: I'm not saying that you need to change your language or, even less, that you are in fact sexist; my point is that someone who does view the word bitch as sexist could make a compelling case that your usage in this instance could be considered such, and that I would probably technically agree with them.


    Yes I knew this is what you were getting at. Still, it doesn't mean it is sexist to simply have a word that means "whiny women" or "wimpy man." They are useful descriptions that would just be replaced by other words if the word bitch did not exist.

    Sure I guess you could argue that ANY word that is gender specific is sexist, but this is an unrealistic view that misses the point of words. I could just as easily refer to a women as an ***hole (typically an insult reserved for males) as I could say she is a bitch. But our vernacular leads most of us to use the gender specific word if it is applicable.

    I mean, if s father refers to his daughter as "princess" is he being sexist? Is the word princess sexist merely because it is gender specific? That is kind of what I gleaned from your post.

  • #19
    Quote from LogicX

    I'm not saying it to force a guy into a gender role. I'm saying it because I want to ride the ****ing roller coaster and he is being a wimp.


    Conversely, you could tell your friend you are going to ride the roller coaster whether or not he is going to be a bitch about it. Just because he doesn't want to doesn't mean you can't. Unless you want him there for moral support or something...?

    I agree though on the overall consensus that it is in fact not a sexist term. My most common use of it is while playing a vidya game of one sort or another and something negative happens to affect my play experience, I blurt out "Bitch!" as sort of a "No dammit, that's not what I wanted to happen" statement. Not "this game is being a woman!" type thing. THAT would be sexist.

    But in reference to "bitches and hoes" I can see where it would be taken as sexist.

    Its all about context really.
  • #20
    Quote from iPot
    Conversely, you could tell your friend you are going to ride the roller coaster whether or not he is going to be a bitch about it. Just because he doesn't want to doesn't mean you can't. Unless you want him there for moral support or something...?


    I think you are missing the point. It's just a random example of when I could use the term "bitch" to call someone a wimp. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Its all about context really.


    Indeed.

  • #21
    I agree that it all depends on context, but I don't think calling someone a bitch is really as bad as using the n-word. Then again, I don't think using the n-word is that bad. Words only have as much power as you let them have. The definition of a word is not defined, different people will have different ideas on the same word, and it will be defined as different meanings. While we try to have a sort of unified definition with words (with things like a dictionary), I personally think that these lines are blurred from time to time, and the meaning of a word becomes obscured, especially when it comes to using words in a slang term. For instance...

    It's the perfect storm of heteronormative bigotry.


    I have absolutely no idea what this person is trying to say. I have looked up the word "heteronormative" before, and I can't find it in any of my dictionary sources. Breaking apart the word by the commonly used definitions...

    Hetero - different
    normative - of pertaining to a norm

    So it's different normal?

    Conversely, you could tell your friend you are going to ride the roller coaster whether or not he is going to be a bitch about it. Just because he doesn't want to doesn't mean you can't. Unless you want him there for moral support or something...?


    I don't know if this is kind of a tangent or something, but I think it's probably a good thing to be able to tell people to man up. There are times in life where you can sit around and think about things but there are somethings where you just have to swallow your fear and do it. So telling someone to quit being a bitch (as a wuss) probably has a place in life.
  • #22
    The word bitch isn't sexist in as much as the word ****** isn't racist and the word ****** isn't disparaging to homosexuals.

    The dictionary definition of the word specifically applies it as a slang term used against women in particular. Its connotation is sexist by definition. If you think otherwise, you are wrong/do not understand the meaning of sexism.
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  • #23
    Quote from LogicX
    Yes I knew this is what you were getting at. Still, it doesn't mean it is sexist to simply have a word that means "whiny women" or "wimpy man." They are useful descriptions that would just be replaced by other words if the word bitch did not exist.

    Sure I guess you could argue that ANY word that is gender specific is sexist, but this is an unrealistic view that misses the point of words. I could just as easily refer to a women as an ***hole (typically an insult reserved for males) as I could say she is a bitch. But our vernacular leads most of us to use the gender specific word if it is applicable.

    I mean, if s father refers to his daughter as "princess" is he being sexist? Is the word princess sexist merely because it is gender specific? That is kind of what I gleaned from your post.


    'Princess' is a word that refers to gender in its definition. If we're being literal, when we refer to someone as a princess we are conveying the information that they are the female child of a monarch. There is a train of thought that says gender-specific words like prince/princess, waiter/waitress are sexist but urrg I don't want to think about that and I don't think it's really the issue.

    The issue is that, in contrast to 'princess', the word 'bitch' doesn't categorically refer to someone's sex whenever it's used. It's a general-purpose pejorative term that - evinced by your own usage - tends to be applied to women and is meant and interpreted differently if it's applied to a man. This raises potentially unfortunate implications about gender roles etc. etc. and is what someone could be referring to if they were describing the word as being sexist.

    Quote from Scarap
    I have absolutely no idea what this person is trying to say. I have looked up the word "heteronormative" before, and I can't find it in any of my dictionary sources. Breaking apart the word by the commonly used definitions...

    Hetero - different
    normative - of pertaining to a norm

    So it's different normal?


    The prefix 'hetero' is not taken straight from the Latin; it's taken from the 'hetero' in 'heterosexual'. The word generally refers to world-views looking through the lens of heterosexuality - and gender conformity - as the norm, or even heterosexuality and gender conformity as preferable or superior in some way.

    Quote from Scarap
    I don't know if this is kind of a tangent or something, but I think it's probably a good thing to be able to tell people to man up. There are times in life where you can sit around and think about things but there are somethings where you just have to swallow your fear and do it. So telling someone to quit being a bitch (as a wuss) probably has a place in life.


    This is a fine demonstration of how the word 'bitch' is used in a sexist way. You're explicitly contrasting it with manliness; someone is told to "man up", appearing to betray the belief that a move towards the masculine is a positive and away from it a negative.

    Quote from Kijin
    The word bitch isn't sexist in as much as the word ****** isn't racist and the word ****** isn't disparaging to homosexuals.

    The dictionary definition of the word specifically applies it as a slang term used against women in particular. Its connotation is sexist by definition. If you think otherwise, you are wrong/do not understand the meaning of sexism.


    I'm not so sure about this. Specifically, I'm not so sure that 'bitch' is comparable to the other two words you gave, because they have definitions which categorically exclude non-blacks and non-gays respectively. When you insult a black person or homosexual in this way, you are saying that being black, or gay, is bad. When you call someone a bitch, you aren't saying "you are a woman and that is a bad thing".
  • #24
    Quote from Synalon Etuul
    I'm not so sure about this. Specifically, I'm not so sure that 'bitch' is comparable to the other two words you gave, because they have definitions which categorically exclude non-blacks and non-gays respectively. When you insult a black person or homosexual in this way, you are saying that being black, or gay, is bad. When you call someone a bitch, you aren't saying "you are a woman and that is a bad thing".

    Yes, you are. Learn what words mean:
    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bitch

    The word's use as slang or an insult is derogatory towards women. When you call a man a "bitch," you're comparing him to an unsavory woman. The implication here is that a man would not want to be an unsavory, spiteful, or malicious woman. That implies that being a woman is not something you want to be, which is why it is considered insulting. Because there is a gendered connotation to the word bitch, it is sexist by definition.

    You can call a non-homosexual a ****** and the implication is that they're a sissy or over-feminine and/or homosexual man. This implies being a feminine man is bad. When you call someone a ******, you imply that they are any number of racial stereotypes related to blacks, and that their implied blackness is a bad thing. While bitch doesn't carry the same overbearing history and weight the latter two slang insults do, they specifically imply inferiority of a specific segment of people.
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  • #25
    This is a fine demonstration of how the word 'bitch' is used in a sexist way. You're explicitly contrasting it with manliness; someone is told to "man up", appearing to betray the belief that a move towards the masculine is a positive and away from it a negative.


    It's a figure of speech. If we take everything as literals, than Heteronormative pretty much doesn't mean anything. I used the phrase "man up" here because that's what the original poster (who's situation I was basing my point on) had used, to make it more consistent.
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