Saturday, February 14, 2009

Bitch, Cunt and Other Niceties

I riled up the rad fems by referring to one as a bitch.  There are basically two different ways to look at words like bitch and cunt.  One is to decide that they are sexist terms no matter who utters them and try to socially discipline them out of common usage.  The other is an attempt to reclaim the word and bestow power to those that these words have been used to hurt.

The decision that you make in this regard is a very personal one.  To me for something to be sexist there must be an element of power involved.  If two women are in conversation, it is my belief that power differential no longer exists therefore removing the sexist element to the word bitch. 

I have used the word cunt on occasion.  Most times it has been a direct reference to my genitalia, but I will be honest and say that I have been angered enough to refer to another woman as a cunt mentally.   Cunt is still a word that I am on the fence on.  I find it highly offensive regardless who says it, but at the same time I feel it is important for women to attempt to reclaim power in whatever ways that they can.

Cunt to me is very similar to the word nigger.  I don’t use nigger in a conversational manner at anytime and I simply detest it; however I do understand why certain blacks are attempting to reclaim it.  It is a word that is filled with so much pain that anything that can be done to reduce its sting should be done.  I don’t necessarily agree that reclamation is the way to go simply because the minute a white person says this word the pain begins anew.

In the end it is up to each person in the minority group to decide how to negotiate these words in a way that makes them feel comfortable.  Some of us will make compromises from time to time and others will stand steadfast to the belief that these words need to be eradicated.

Being the complicated person that I am, I have chosen to still use the word bitch, think the word cunt from time to time and never say the word nigger.   I made the decision as to which words to use and what to avoid based on my level of personal comfort.  For some, all of the aforementioned words are detestable, for others any and all of the words are acceptable.

My choices are my choices.  As feminists we are continually trying to validate the agency of women, and I therefore find it ironic that the language police are more than ready to jump on many forms of expression. 

Time and time again when I say the word fuck I get hit with oooh noez you said teh bad words.  Yes, I swear and I do so because I find it to be a part of functional language.  If I say to someone fuck you, there can be no misunderstanding of my intent.  I could probably beat around the bush and throw in a few niceties however, life is short and fuck you gets my message across quite nicely thank you. 

What I have noticed is that the language I choose to use is highly disciplined by those that chose to engage with me on this blog.  Feministing, Shakesville and Feministe regularly use profanity to get their point across and yet my language is intolerable.  What these new age language police do not realize is the racism implied in their responses to me.  Whether people like to admit it or not, many whites still expect blacks to defer to them.  I have never been, or ever will be, the mammy type.  I do not subscribe to the idea that whiteness is entitled to anymore respect than any other group of people on the planet. 

If you step to me with shit, then it is on.  I don’t see how it is possible that someone's racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic language is somehow more acceptable than the word fuck. When I say fuck you, I am not demeaning an individual; whereas, when someone resorts to isms to promote unearned privilege they are being reductive.  With the many various ways in which we have of demeaning another how disgusting is the word fuck really?

I am sure the language police will be right along to to dissect this post and humbly put me in my place.  We certainly cannot allow the balance of power to be disturbed by permitting a WOC to express herself as she sees fit. 

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