Feminist Vocabulary

A little while ago, I was in the lunch room at work talking to one of my coworkers while we heated our meals. Doesn’t matter what we were talking about, but in the course of the conversation, he remarked on a certain famous person’s wife:

“Oh I don’t like her. She’s a bitch.”

I immediately said “Please don’t use that word. I would really appreciate it.” He replied, “well, she is!” I stood firm and responded, “she may be a jerk, but I would appreciate if you would not use that word to convey that.” He seemed a bit put off, but he shut up after that. We finished out what we were talking about on a smiling note and each of us returned to our desks with our food.

For a while now, I have taken to putting certain words out of my vocabulary. Bitch is the main one, but there are others. Female words, for lack of a better way to put it, that are also used as an insult. I am done using those words or tolerating them being used around me.

I am not naive. I know how many men talk in groups, when women aren’t around. I know that they call each other “little bitch” or “pussy” to express cowardly or weak behavior. I know they call women “bitches” and “whores” and other words even more vile – words I used to repeat myself without a thought. I also know there is nothing I can do to make them stop, today, right now, only me and my little voice piping up in protest.

But I think the world is changing. I think in a couple or few generations, these things won’t be accepted as acceptable anymore. And the older I get and the more feminist I become and the more I understand why these words are unacceptable in the first place, the more value I place on my little voice playing a part. It’s a drop in the bucket right now, but it contributes to what will eventually be worldwide change. And it matters.

I know I am preaching to the feminist choir here. I’m on tumblr, where much of my feminist education began and continues. But I wanted to put it out there: today I spoke up – and you should, too. Every little voice matters.

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