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  1. Adenosine Triphosphate
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    Adenosine Triphosphate Old Scratch Contributor

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    Gender Slurs

    Discussion in 'Debate Room' started by Adenosine Triphosphate, Apr 4, 2015.

    My thoughts on sexism have led me to contemplate this. I still haven't arrived at much of a conclusion, so I'm throwing out another prompt.

    Given that all of these words can be used to attack someone's group, is there fundamentally that much of a difference between calling a woman a bitch or a whore and calling a black man a nigger or a gay person a faggot? Are those gender slurs less inherently bigoted than the others, or do people simply not fear them as much?

    Some users might find the mere concept of those comparisons offensive, but bear with me. The relative acceptability of words like bitch is something that my society takes for granted, and I have to examine that permissiveness, whatever my ultimate conclusions.
     
  2. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    One could argue that, unlike the other slurs, "bitch" and "whore" don't refer to all women.

    But they do refer to women who've challenged social conventions, either by being outspoken and independent or by being sexual in an 'unacceptable' way.

    So to some extent the words are less uniformly hateful, but actually more controlling. As long as women follow the rules, they're okay. But if they break the rules, the slurs are ready.

    I don't know if there's a better/worse, more/less bigoted aspect to it, but I think there are some differences.
     
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  3. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Women gossip. I just watched Doc Zone on Canadian TV and while women are considered more gossipy than men, when they documented gossiping via cell phone texts, men met the criteria more often than women. :)
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Personally, I use the bitch appellation to whiny manipulative petty tyrants of either gender. But rarely, because my meaning is not always clear to those who don't know me well.

    I dislike epithets that select one group over another on any basis other than behavior.
     
  5. Lance Schukies
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    Lance Schukies Active Member

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    you as the narrator can call it as you see it. also your characters can use words like that to help their profiles.
     
  6. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    My opinion, slurs like that (slut, whore) are equal to other slurs like nigger or faggot. Many people just don't realize that they are equally as offensive, so they've been accepted in our culture until recently. The words now are being brought to light as offensive and controlling, and I think people are more conscious when using them.

    I often use the word bitch for either gender. lol I may get heat for this, but I don't find the word bitch nearly as offensive as other curse words. Because, to me, the definition of a bitch isn't someone who questions or speaks up for themselves or is opinionated and can't be controlled. To me, a bitch is just a person who is completely rude for absolutely no reason. If I'm trying to have a conversation with you, and all you want to do is yell at me and call me names, I'm going to call you a bitch, whether you're a male or female.

    However, whore and slut are awful. I've always thought that. A woman enjoys sex, so she's called a whore? That just doesn't make an sense to me.

    Another word I find equally offensive that I feel gets very little attention: prude. People have often used that word to describe me. I'm a modest person. I don't wear low cut shirts very often, I don't wear short shorts, and I've never been very sexually adventurous.

    So when I was with a group of females who are opposite me, they often called me a prude. But they didn't mean it in a defining way. They meant it as an insult. They meant it as, I'm a baby, I'm immature, I'm not a woman because I didn't enjoy sex as much as them.

    When I was with men, and they would call me a prude, I feel they meant it in a very different way. Men would call me a prude in an attempt to get me to sleep with them. They would use the word to say, "You want to be normal, right? Well, sex is normal. Being a prude ISNT normal. So sleep with me, and you'll be just like everyone else."

    Fuck that noise. Anyone who called me a prude got kicked straight out of my life. Because I'm not going to let people control my life and my decisions by how they think I should live. I'm not going to let someone guilt trip me into doing something that I don't want to do.

    Prude-shaming is almost WORSE than slut-shaming. Because people who sleep around can stop sleeping around and not feel bad about themselves. But prude people feel dirty and gross after they are guilted into sleeping with someone just to feel "normal" and to "fit in." The sad part? People don't even realize how damaging prude-shaming is unless it's happened to you.

    I've been traumatized by prude-shaming. I've been humiliated by prude-shaming. I've had guys stop dating me because I wouldn't sleep with them when they wanted. I've had guys make up awful lies about me to cover up the fact that we broke up because I wouldn't sleep with them. Because no man wants to admit that a woman would reject him. No, it wasn't me! There must be something wrong with HER!

    I spent an entire weekend with a guy once. He lived in the country, so we had peace and quiet with just the two of us all weekend. He kept telling me not to leave, stay, spend time with him. We had dinner, watched movies, had a dance party to Michael Jackson. The last night of my stay, he wanted to have sex for the first time, and I said no. After I left his house that weekend, he told all his friends that I was crazy because I wouldn't leave his house. Wtf?!

    I had a guy put cat shit in my movie cases that I left over at his house after I turned him down for sex. Literal... cat shit. We had been dating for a couple weeks. He wanted to have sex for the first time. I told him I just wasn't ready for that next step. Went home thinking everything was fine. He called me the next day to break up with me, saying that he "didn't want to deal with my baggage." I went to his house a couple days later pick up my movies that I left at his house, opened up the cases to check that the discs were there, and what did I see? Cat shit in two cases, human piss in two others. I stormed back in his house and threw the movies back at him. Him and all his friends still refer to me as "doo-doo cases." Seven years later.

    Shit's damaging to a person's sense of self, man.


    Rant over. My apologies.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2015
  7. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not sure if using the word "bitch" for both genders actually makes it okay. I mean, I understand the usage, but the origins of the word are still there, right?

    And I think too often the word is still used as a control on women. There's the "whiny, manipulative petty tyrants" meaning of bitch, but there's also the "she said no when I wanted her to say yes" or "she just wouldn't agree with me" meaning, and I think the second one is used exclusively for women.

    I'm surprised it didn't come up in Lea Brooks' story of problems, really. I've definitely gotten that treatment - at the bar, talking to a guy, everything seems lovely, he suggests taking it further and I decide against it, he tries to persuade, I say no, not going to happen, at least not that night, and Bam. His whole demeanour changes, he throws a "bitch" at me and stalks away.

    It happens in less sexual ways, too, of course, and women use it as well. I use it sometimes, mostly in the same was as Cogito, but I'm trying to stop. There are other words that don't have the baggage attached.

    There's the issue of reclamation, of course. If members of the group want to use the word, it's maybe okay? I think that applies to the racial and gay slurs mentioned in the first post, but it's a bit trickier with bitch b/c of the combination of gender and behaviour in the word. I mean, if Dan Savage wants to call his column "Hey, Faggot" I think that's fair b/c he's mostly referring to himself; when the book blog "Smart Bitches, Trashy Books" uses the word that way, I'm fine with it. But if a woman calls another woman a bitch b/c they're in a fight? I think it's cheap and ugly.

    I don't know. Words are complicated, man.
     
  8. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think I was ever really called a bitch. Or if I was, I don't remember it because the word holds no weight over me. I don't see 'bitch' as a specific gender, even though it's definition may say otherwise. I classify bitch along with other insults like idiot, jerk, asshole. Though I suppose I do call woman a bitch more than men, and I call men a prick more than woman...

    Who knows? I think slurs in general just don't offend me as much as most of the population. Prude was the only word that truly offended me. Because I knew I wasn't a slut. And if sticking up for myself means that I'm a bitch, I'm okay with being called one.

    Man, words are complicated.... lol
     
  9. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    Wanker, bastard, cockpiss bollockhead, these are all examples of rather puerile insults generally aimed at men, and I can't say I have ever considered any of them to be gender slurs.
     
  10. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    "Bitch," "whore," and "slut," are nouns used to describe a man or woman based on their actions. This is very different from racial slurs, which attack people based on how they were born. Someone is born hispanic, white, or black, etc, but someone is not born promiscuous.
     
  11. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    In my mother-tongue we use 'bitch' as well (it's also used to mean a female dog), and it's almost always aimed at an annoying, aggressive, irrationally difficult or otherwise insufferable female. So it's strongly gendered but in no way as offensive as 'nigger' (and I don't think it even needs to be. All you need is a black skin and that's enough for some to call you a nigger/negro while you have to "earn" being called a bitch).

    Interestingly enough, in the TV show Supernatural, they use 'bitch' as an insult towards both men and women, so it's less gendered, while they call only men 'dicks'. Should 'dick/bitch' also be culturally stigmatized like 'nigger'? Does it have similar baggage? (slavery, stringent segregation, heavy prejudice). I think not, but my opinion is based on how I've seen these gendered or "gendered" insults, bitch, dick, bellend etc. being used, but I don't spend time around people who use them as most of my acquaintances are either Finnish-speaking or non-Finnish EFL speakers.

    So what I've gathered is that these gendered slurs have less baggage than 'nigger' or even 'faggot', this way making them less offensive. They're also more tied to the actions of the target, rather than what they are (black, homosexual), again making them less offensive.

    So yeah, I think they're fundamentally different.
     
  12. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yep, and I think that when it's used for a man, part of the insult is to imply that the man is like a woman. So femaleness is seen as inherently bad--implying that someone is feminine is seen as an insult. Using it for a man is, in that way, more offensive to women than using it for a woman.
     
  13. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Women = weak. "Quit being a bitch" = "Quit being weak."
    I've heard similar arguments about 'sissy' (sounds like or is used as a girl's name). Weakness and cowardice are seen as female attributes.

    Women are generally physically weaker than men, so maybe it at least partly stems from that. But more cowardly? Nah.

    ETA: I don't know if when you say "quit bitching", there's the unrealized implication that complaining is also a female treat. But these type of gender stereotypes-meet-slurs go both ways, e.g. stupidity and being a jerk is associated with the penis (dick, prick, bellend, bollockhead, knob, knobhead, dickhead...).
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2015
  14. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, what about Breaking Bad? Jesse Pinkman calls everyone bitch. lol But I think he typically said it in more of an "I own you" kind of way.
     
  15. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I've not seen Breaking Bad, but if using the word "bitch" is used in an "I own you" kind of way, then that's very gendered to me.

    Traditionally, when a man and a woman marry, the woman takes the man's name. She belongs to the man and belongs to his family. She is, in many ways historically, the man's property. In Slavic languages, a woman's surname ends in -ova (or sometimes only -a), and -ova means "belonging to". So my surname, if I had gone for the Czech female version, would be Bakalarova - belonging to the Bakalars.

    This very thing was used as a device to highlight oppression against women in the dystopian feminist novel Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, where Offred is the narrator and MC and she's called Offred because her master was Fred, and she was Of Fred - Belonging to Fred.

    So to me, the word "bitch" used on a man is still implying that being female is a bad thing. The concept of owning anybody's pretty demeaning for any gender, but for the man it's doubly insulting because that's not traditionally acceptable.
     
  16. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    What do you call annoying, aggressive, irrationally difficult or otherwise insufferable males?

    I have no idea how it works in Finnish, but in English I wouldn't say this is true. Women get called "bitch" pretty often, without having done anything to earn it except for displeasing someone else.That's not "earning" a epithet any more than being black is earning one.
     
  17. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    There's a difference between slurs directed up or across the power chain to slurs directed downward, so they're not directly comparable.

    If nothing else, in most cases 'wanker' isn't so much an insult as a statement of fact.

    I wonder if that kind of power chain might have something to do with why historically gender-based slurs ('historically' since 'bitch' seems to be losing a lot of the gender connotations now - I don't know anyone who doesn't deploy it for both genders) are more acceptable than race-based ones. While it'd be dumb to claim there's no discrimination against women any more, I'd guess white women currently have an easier time of it than black men.

    That's the impression I get from the internet, anyhow. I'm not either.
     
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  18. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Women are not usually called aholes.
     
  19. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    Knob-fingers, Jimmy fuck-nuts, The Fresh Prince of Bell End... There are many, many of these awful insults aimed at men, I can think of hundreds just off the top of my head, but I am not going to lower myself to mentioning them.
     
  20. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    So do you think racial slurs aimed at white people are the equivalent of racial slurs aimed at black people or any other minority?
     
  21. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    The mildest is 'urpo'. It's a male name and would never be used of a woman in that context (it can also be used like you'd use 'retard'). Another is 'kusipää' (=pisshead), which is stronger, and 'mulkku' (=bellend/knob), which is maybe the most offensive one.

    Afaik, in Finnish there are more men-only insults while most female-only insults are sexual in nature, equivalent to your 'slut' and 'whore.'


    Do women get called bitches (in the offensive sense, not in the "what up bitches" -sense) just for being women? Like just for existing? Just for breathing the same air? That's how Finns use 'nigger'(except it's super super offensive to say it), but that's not how we use 'bitch'. You have to "earn" the latter with obnoxious behavior. Though I could see some guy who thought he'd get tail but gets turned down use it too. Just haven't heard it.
     
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  22. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    In America? No.
     
  23. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I suspect that this is incorrect, but I haven't seen it in person, as opposed to television. I'm curious to see others' responses.

    Edited to add: Two of the definitions in the online slang dictionary (http://onlineslangdictionary.com/meaning-definition-of/bitch) are

    'one's female significant other; "girlfriend"'
    and
    'a general (if derogatory) term to refer to females'.
     
  24. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not sure how this relates to the clearly horrendous insults I have posted here, and I am surprised there is not greater shock that these are regularly used. Imagine for a moment having the insult- The Fresh Prince of Bell End- thrown at you, that momentary elation that you might be considered to share Will Smith's charisma, only to have it instantly dashed. Horrible, just horrible.

    But as for your question, I would say that the US experience of racism seems to be very, very different to the UK experience. It would depend upon the circumstances.
     
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  25. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I would honestly have no idea what you're talking about if you called me 'The Fresh Prince of Bell End'. I would think you were referring to an actual place called 'Bell End'. :p
     
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