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I've been wondering of late if I should bring up my very, very major issue with people who use the following words: "bitch," "whore," "slut," "skank," "ho," "c--t," and anything like them.

And then I found this link on Jezebel, an op-ed by Angela Morabito, also of Georgetown Law, discussing this week's controversy over her fellow Georgetownian, the Limbaugh gas attack, President Obama's and the college president's defense of her, and Limbaugh's further gassings. Morabito seems to be unaware that any old American is "qualified" to talk to Congress, let alone an American whose body parts are in the general discussion (strange of a law student), but we'll let that go.

Morabito engages in the ages-old pursuit of woman-on-woman bashing, using the terms "media sluttery" and "Welfare Condom Queen." She said Fluke was "star of the bedroom sex tape." She even posits that by standing up for birth control Fluke is standing up for her own birth control. Finally, Morabito wields the traditional "have some self respect and take responsibility for your own choices." Every woman over the age of sixteen know this is code for "you are a slut." (Probably even plenty of them over ten. Among the gifted crowd, over eight.)

This is only one example of the thing I hate most: women slut-bashing other women. Using the words that have ripped women apart for centuries. Trying to gain male approval, or approval from other women in the same club, by casting out anyone who might be a potential ally. This is why women have always been their own worst enemies in the workplace, in the playground, in the church, in the schools. The minute you see a small group of women bunched up with their arms crossed over their chests, their mouths pursed, I will bet you anything you care to name they are trashing another woman. And I'll bet that sooner or later one of those words gets used.

I have quite a few friends who use these words, their rationale--well thought out--being that they are taking back the words, particularly the anatomical ones. There's a book with the c--t word as the title that's written to help women reclaim it, just as Eve Ensler's ground-breaking "The Vagina Monologues" was written and is performed to get women to use those variants without stammering, blushing, or retreating in shame.

But. There are so many more perjorative uses for these words, anatomical words and not, words that are used primarily to depict the woman thus described as dirt. Trash. Worthy of violence, use, and discarding. Deserving of unequal rights. And every time a man hears a woman use that word, he thinks it's okay for him to use it. Every time a woman doesn't call a man on the use of the word, he thinks it's okay. (If he's a mammering sewer-lapping muscus-slurping louse-biter, he'll still think it's okay even after he's been called on it, but at least you won't feel lower than the curb because you let him get away with it.)

Put it this way. If you had a very young kid, and you heard the kid say one of those words, would you let her, or him, go on saying it?

If it's not okay for a kid, how is it okay for an adult?

That is why my ljs are a no bitch-whore-slut-skank-ho-c--t-etc. area. I may be too tired to give the speech sometimes, so I'll let it slide, but make no mistake--I hate bashing other women this way, and I hate the words themselves. We are never going to get it together as a force to be reckoned with if we keep doing this to other women and if we keep letting people think this kind of rhetoric is okay by us.

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Sophia Chang
Mar. 3rd, 2012 08:34 pm (UTC)
C*nt is DEFINITELY a book Limbaugh would not approve of lol. Too bad that's one of the few instances the word is truly reclaimed, as you mention.

I relate to this on so many levels, not just gender but race. It's so sad when my people (Asians) self-censor and refuse to help each other so they can gain individual status in what they perceive as one or two slots in the white upper echelons.

I've found this problem less so in the lesbian community, thank goodness.
deborahblakehps
Mar. 3rd, 2012 08:36 pm (UTC)
I am in such complete agreement with you here. I REALLY don't like those words, especially when applied by women to other women. And any man who calls me a c--t is going to need new body parts. Just sayin'.
spitphyre
Mar. 3rd, 2012 08:40 pm (UTC)
I got as far as her saying how it's ok for religious leaders who aren't women to be talking at the hearing but not a woman with a dissenting view. Seriously, f-that.

But I have to agree with you. The entire thing is disgusting. I hate it when women tear each other apart and slut shame... all of it :/ It's bad enough that Rush is doing it, does another woman, a fellow student need to do it?
spitphyre
Mar. 3rd, 2012 08:49 pm (UTC)
(Did anyone catch that Issa has co-opted a social justice sort of wording and is now claiming that "Americans of Faith" are under attack?)
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paula_of_conte
Mar. 3rd, 2012 08:45 pm (UTC)
distractable
"mammering sewer-lapping muscus-slurping louse-biter" you are the most creative angry person I've ever met and I love it. I also read your books enough I accidentally start using your words. I just finished rereading Mastiff and found my self calling people things like "cracknob" and "looby" :) You insults are so much more effective then your average "four lettered word"
tammypierce
Mar. 3rd, 2012 09:46 pm (UTC)
Re: distractable
I admit, I have access to interesting books. And it's that or say what I normally say around the home, and I'm supposed to be a role model.

Alas, I am a role model with a terminal case of pottymouth. I just don't use those words. So I make do with the every-so-much-more-colorful medieval and Renaissance vocabulary.
lauren_titmus
Mar. 3rd, 2012 08:46 pm (UTC)
I apologise if this offends anyone, but does that mean I can't call Rush Limbaugh a "twat"?

Cause personally I think he is one.

I can use a British insult if you prefer... :P
tamerterra
Mar. 3rd, 2012 09:15 pm (UTC)
Yes, it does. (As far as strangers on the internet can prevent you from doing anything with any force except peer pressure.)

Twats (and 'c--t's) are awesome body parts that can do amazing things - why would you use their names to say that someone is bad?
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fisher_queen
Mar. 3rd, 2012 08:48 pm (UTC)
You know, when I use the words, I tend to use them to apply equally to all genders, which is a thing I see people in my generation on the internet doing more and more. That doesn't make it okay, but it seems more like a generational thing, which is kind of interesting, and this definitely makes me think about what using these words might lead others to think about their use. Bottom line: I'm going to try eliminating them from my language.

That said, this entire thing just...Ugh. I'm apalled and saddened, but not surprised by this at all, somehow.
tammypierce
Mar. 3rd, 2012 09:49 pm (UTC)
it seems more like a generational thing, which is kind of interesting,

Oh, definitely--that's when I saw the movement to reclaim the words. As your own thinking led you to believe, though, I think it just leads others to think the words are okay.
gehayi
Mar. 3rd, 2012 08:51 pm (UTC)
There's a book with the c--t word as the title that's written to help women reclaim it, just as Eve Ensler's ground-breaking "The Vagina Monologues" was written and is performed to get women to use those variants without stammering, blushing, or retreating in shame.

I don't think that it's possible to reclaim that word. I really don't. You could describe yourself as one and do it with pride, but all anyone is going to hear is that you take pride in describing yourself as an absolutely horrible person. Even if a woman does use the word in a neutral sense, that still sends a confused message. A man would say, "Well, what's wrong with MY using it? I was using the word in a neutral sense! Why are you reacting as if I just insulted you?"

I think that you can convince people not to use words as insults. But I don't think you can have one group using the word and another group not. Group B isn't going to grasp why Group A is allowed to use the word when Group B isn't. Oppressors tend not to understand why they can't use the same vocabulary as the oppressed. Hell, a lot of times oppressors don't even see themselves as oppressors. And "neutral" in an oppressor's mind is rarely the same thing as "neutral" in the mind of the oppressed.

This is only one example of the thing I hate most: women slut-bashing other women. Using the words that have ripped women apart for centuries. Trying to gain male approval, or approval from other women in the same club, by casting out anyone who might be a potential ally. This is why women have always been their own worst enemies in the workplace, in the playground, in the church, in the schools. The minute you see a small group of women bunched up with their arms crossed over their chests, their mouths pursed, I will bet you anything you care to name they are trashing another woman. And I'll bet that sooner or later one of those words gets used.

Oh, I agree. In spades.

I've noticed, too, that when men really, REALLY want to insult one another, they tend to use one of those words.

The implication--which is so ingrained that almost no one even notices its misogyny--is that nothing could be more terrible than to be a woman.
tammypierce
Mar. 3rd, 2012 09:51 pm (UTC)
when men really, REALLY want to insult one another, they tend to use one of those words.

Unless they use the homophobic ones. In a way, it's six of one and half a dozen, sometimes.

nothing could be more terrible than to be a woman.

I assume you know of the Jewish prayer: (paraphrased) I thank you, God, that I was not born a woman. (?)
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Another suggestion for a prayer: - dewline - Mar. 4th, 2012 03:58 am (UTC) - Expand
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browngirl
Mar. 3rd, 2012 08:52 pm (UTC)
*
Well and truly said.
kadharonon
Mar. 3rd, 2012 09:05 pm (UTC)
Wait a moment... wasn't it one of the major points Sandra Fluke wanted to present, that many women use hormonal birth control for reasons OTHER than preventing pregnancy? Like because they have PCOS or other problems that would leave them bleeding to death each period if they WEREN'T on some kind of hormonal birth control?

It's like people hear "woman" and "birth control" and jump right to "this woman is having a lot of sex and I don't want to subsidize that". Except in cruder language.
vengence_on_ice
Mar. 3rd, 2012 09:15 pm (UTC)
Yes, exactly! One of my best friends can't even get pregnant without using some form of the pill. And if I weren't on it, I would be bedridden two weeks out of a month with migranes and debilitating cramps to the point that I can't even walk. Tell me how that's being a productive member of society.
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vengence_on_ice
Mar. 3rd, 2012 09:10 pm (UTC)
Yet another instance of an old white man telling women, of any race but especially women of color, what they can or cannot, should or should not, be doing with thier bodies. And I've always thought Rush Limbaugh was a giant twunt, if you'll excuse the epithet.

Does it not occur to these people that providing afforable birth control, especially to the lower classes, will eventually lead to lowering of the taxpayers' burden of paying for unwanted welfare babies and foster children? Isn't this the kind of thing they're always whinging about? That poor people, especially poor women, are irresponsible and don't think before they procreate?

Nevermind that many of them can't afford to buy birth-control and that a huge swathe of men refuse to wear condoms, thus: babies, ta-da!

And I'd like to see them suggest that absinance is the solution. Uh-huh, right. So you're not going to sleep with your wife for the next however-long-it-is until you want to make babies? Not at all? Never? Not even if it's years? I'd like to see that much self-control. And remember, you can't sleep with anyone else either during that time. Not even hookers, or men. That would be committing adultry, and not committing adultry is one of the basic tenents set forth by the religion you all ascribe too, is it not?

Edited at 2012-03-03 09:10 pm (UTC)
catnip13
Mar. 3rd, 2012 09:18 pm (UTC)
I'm 38 years old, married, with a seven year-old daughter. After giving birth, I started BCPs, and my milk supply dropped drastically, so I stopped them, and got an IUD. I am SO glad I did that, because the $35/month co-pay for pills that my insurance requires is not something I could afford right now. $35 is 2 servings of fruit a day for one month for my little girl. Or a pair of shoes. Or a cheap winter coat. I can't fathom why people equate BC with premarital sex? Because, despite all ribald jokes to the contrary, married women have sex too.
tammypierce
Mar. 3rd, 2012 09:57 pm (UTC)
married women have sex too.

We do? ;-)

And just think how much that $35 will go up for the women who need the Pill if the nay-sayers get what they want. But hey--they aren't dealing with real people struggling with real issues. They're crusading for Morality. Theirs.
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pingback_bot
Mar. 3rd, 2012 09:45 pm (UTC)
The Republican war on women
User rainbow_goddess referenced to your post from The Republican war on women saying: [...] slut-shaming and women bashing women. Nothing so unattractive as a woman slut-bashing another woman [...]
nicoli_dominn
Mar. 3rd, 2012 09:50 pm (UTC)
Arguments like yours are exactly the same ones I was making in response to the SlutWalk movement, or to other similar situations where groups of people take back words that were formerly used to insult them. You can take back and reclaim an insulting word all you want, but if there are innocent and/or ignorant people hearing you use it who turn around and use it in ignorance, the terminology will continue to be used in the same derogatory way.

fishness
Mar. 5th, 2012 05:38 pm (UTC)
A good example of where taking back a word actually did work is with "queer." Queer went from an insult to a pretty widely-accepted word to describe one's identity. It's also used a lot in academia, often in place of LGBTQ.

The difference between queer being reclaimed and this movement to try to reclaim "slut," though, is that queer fell out of usage as an insult before it was taken back... Slut is still too commonly used as an insult for it to be at all productive to try to take it back. Maybe in 20 years, but not right now.
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lostrack621
Mar. 3rd, 2012 10:20 pm (UTC)
I absolutely agree, but I will admit that I use such words on occasion -- in order to explain very precisely the situation you've written about here. And I will say that I've been called those words at one point or another because the people saying them to me thought that it would make me feel horrible. It didn't - partly because I have a pretty thick skin, partly because in college, people used those words to try to make others feel small or insignificant because they were threatened, but mostly because it gave me the opportunity to give them the tongue-lashing they so rightfully deserved and also to educate them into truly understanding the implications of the word usage. I have a pretty extensive vocabulary and those words - among others such as "fag", "homo", "retard" are absolutely not in my verbal dictionary for all the reasons you discussed above.

One thing that also really really angers me is the combined use of epithets such as "man-whore" ... like the slander "whore" isn't enough, one has to characterize it using "man" as a prefix. Um, EXCUSE me?! By using that term, one is intentionally not only slamming women, but then rubbing salt in the wound by needing to characterize...that just...makes my blood boil.

Now, I have been so thoroughly disgusted with this situation that I haven't followed the news as closely as I probably should (then again, I am working on my thesis, too). However, I want to say that like some of the other above comments, I agree completely that people don't just use the pill for contraception....I was put on the pill when I was 14 because, like others have said here, I nearly ended up in the hospital several times during the course of different periods. The pill saved my life - I could actually function during my period, I didn't have to worry about the possible effects of substantial scarring in my uterus caused by extreme cramping (which doctors said would prevent me from having children), and my hormones were controlled so I didn't become a raging teenager once a month. It wasn't until later that I started relying on the pill for contraceptive help -- but always as a secondary source.

Because, you know, (as of 5 years or so ago), condoms were tested to be only 84% effective in preventing pregnancy and STI transmission. And that's when they are used PROPERLY. ...take a minute to think: exactly how many people probably use them properly? (in 10 seconds I can say that I probably haven't used them properly 100% of the time.)

Needless to say, I have certain pointed views about my right to control what happens with my body (inside, outside, whatever!). As it is, I have to pay ridiculous amounts of money to get my BCP - from Canada! - because my insurance doesn't have prescription coverage and the cost of the name brand is excessive in the US (I'm allergic to the generic brands of BCP -- believe me, that experience was less than pleasant). Right now, though, I'm thankful to be able to get the meds, even without insurance coverage. BUT, one of the things that concerns me most is the way this "morality lesson" is headed and how it's not about health AT ALL. Pregnancy should not be (and in my opinion, is not) a moral dilemma - pregnancy should be a HEALTH dilemma because pregnancy can be dangerous. It changes you as a person and in some cases, brings to light underlying health problems that you might not find out about otherwise. It directly affects you as a person - and when it comes to my personal health, I should have complete control.
pica_scribit
Mar. 3rd, 2012 10:33 pm (UTC)
Lady, this is why you are one of my heroes. Never stop speaking the truth.

*many hugs*
(Deleted comment)
gehayi
Mar. 4th, 2012 01:00 am (UTC)
There seems to be very little point. I went over there and found that for every woman saying something sensible and citing facts, ten more were dogpiling her, screaming about how their religious rights were being violated and they didn't have to listen to that. They aren't listening, and every attempt to get them to listen provokes more and more hate-filled rage.

I did find a link to what Sandra Fluke had to say, however:

http://abcnews.go.com/images/Politics/statement-Congress-letterhead-2nd%20hearing.pdf
catwithclaws
Mar. 4th, 2012 01:36 am (UTC)
I agree, although I make an exception for 'bitch' since I use it but also call myself that. And Denali (my very opinionated mare) on occasion :) but I don't make it a sexual thing, but rather a pissed off righteous thing.

Edited at 2012-03-04 01:36 am (UTC)
roselet
Mar. 4th, 2012 02:55 am (UTC)
I thought about this post today since I overheard a teenage boy tell his 3 year old sister she was an ugly bitch as they were walking to the park. AUGH. It makes me want to either cry or kick him in the face.
minmorton
Mar. 5th, 2012 10:57 am (UTC)
Would it not be more appropriate to kick whoever raised him to think that was OK in the face? Or at least to kick them as well? : )
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paksenarrion2
Mar. 4th, 2012 03:40 am (UTC)
Thank you for this. Many people have finally learned (or are learning) it is not okay to use the N word or the R word. Yet is still seems to be acceptable to use words denigrating to women.

And the comments on that post? Just turned my stomach.
flyingwild
Mar. 4th, 2012 03:54 am (UTC)
Basically every time you post I love you even more. In other words, I completely and totally agree with this post, and I've made an effort over the past few months to train those words out of my vocabulary (I'll only use bitch - and only referring to myself in a reclamatory (I probably just invented that word) way - I do not use it against others and I don't stand for people using it towards me).

I've become very fond of "douche" as an insult, and I've seen the argument made that it's one of the most feminist insults one can use as it's something that's harmful to women and should be avoided at all costs. Plus it just is fun to say and you can append all sorts of things on the end if you want to get more creative :D
fishness
Mar. 5th, 2012 05:40 pm (UTC)
"douche canoe" is my personal favorite
carrieironhorse
Mar. 4th, 2012 05:11 am (UTC)
I have mixed feelings about some of the words with regards to reclamation, but one thing I firmly believe is that you don't get to "reclaim" words that never belonged to you. That means men don't get to reclaim words used to hurt women; white people don't get to reclaim words used to hurt people of color; etc. etc. etc. And it's not reclamation when they're used, even by part of the targeted group, in a negative sense. That's why I feel it's okay that I'm in a group in which members commonly call each other, affectionately, "hoar" (positive version of whore, connotatively extremely different) yet lecture my dad every time he uses the word "bitch" to mean complain. Because it's not his word to use.
miri_me
Mar. 4th, 2012 06:58 am (UTC)
Very shortly after the word "bitch" first came to my attention as an insult, I was introduced to the sing-song response "a bitch is a dog; dogs are nature; nature is beautiful - thanks for the compliment" which... Might not quite work grammatically but shut up the people saying it quite effectively and made me feel a lot better about it! But I think I was only called a bitch a handful of times, and I was intensively bullied for three years straight around that time - I guess the people I knew were at least slightly more original..!
artemis575
Mar. 4th, 2012 04:34 pm (UTC)
Desired use of the words make all the difference!
I completely agree with this! I can never say it enough- intention makes all the difference with language. A group of my friends and I use most of these words day to day but we NEVER direct them at each other or other women in a hurtful manner.
we say things like wow that essay was such a bitch! or even joking amongst my friends we will say whore, slut, prude-- its become a joke because most of my friends are sexually liberated and I am not, so they joke that one day I will become hot for guys and be a 'slut' just like them. And I respond that I'm sure I will, but for now I enjoy my 'prudish' ways.
In that group of friends there is no judging, just joking, and making fun of the rude, senseless generalizations that society puts on women.
Then I have another acquaintance who over uses these words and directs them at women in a 'joking' manner. but they are cruel She uses them to falsely empower herself and tear down people around her. She uses them because she dislikes things she has done and her decisions so she diverts attention from herself by slandering others, when she herself is no different.
I'll never understand how women do this to each other. A women's decision with her body, sexual partners, etc are just that, hers. I will never look down on or judge a women because of that. If I did, how could I ever say I am a woman?
tammypierce
Mar. 5th, 2012 09:20 pm (UTC)
Re: Desired use of the words make all the difference!
A group of my friends and I use most of these words day to day but we NEVER direct them at each other or other women in a hurtful manner.

As I said above, my issue with this is that there will be people who hear women use these words and think it's okay to use them, even when they don't mean them in this fashion. And when called on it, they can say, "I know these other women who use them all the time." My opinion remains that eradication is the only way that will work.
blackbirdsings
Mar. 4th, 2012 11:26 pm (UTC)
And it never ceases to amaze me that so many people think "feminist" is a dirtier word than any of those you listed.

There's a little vein in my temple that's been threatening to explode with rage ever since Limbaugh's dittoheads started dittoing him about this. The ignorance combined with the misogyny combined with the absolute certainty that they are right about something so wrong... I knew it was still bad out there, but I never expected to see so many people defending such vileness.
tammypierce
Mar. 5th, 2012 09:22 pm (UTC)
so many people think "feminist" is a dirtier word than any of those you listed.

It's because they've been brainwashed into thinking that a movement that empowers is bad for the people it empowers. That would be--everybody. Except, of course, for those who stand to gain from keeping a large amount of the population, and that includes men, from breaking out of the way things used to be.
sadie_sabot
Mar. 5th, 2012 04:54 am (UTC)
I adore you.
sadie_sabot
Mar. 5th, 2012 04:56 am (UTC)
ew, that sounds creepy let me rephrase:

thanks so much for saying this so clearly and completely, and it makes me very happy to give your books to my daughter. woman on woman violence (of all kinds, physical and not) makes me so sad/angry; and I am mom to a girl kid who is approaching the age where this kind of stuff starts, so it is very much on my mind these days and it's infuriating to see how adults are still playing these same games.
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