FUCK—I bloody love swearing. Forget sarcasm; a perfectly-timed swear word is the highest form of wit. I love using them; I love hearing them; I loved Cass Geller’s Femsplain article ‘I Am Woman, Hear Me Curse’. I love the mild ones; I love the really bloody offensive ones; I love the totally made up ones that no one’s even fucking heard of before. I’m never going to apologise for it: I cuss like a sailor. But what I’m not always sure of is how to swear like a feminist.
Some words are fine and dandy: “fuck wank
bugger* shitting arse head in hole”, for example, is totally up for grabs. But it’s when you move on to the gendered insults that it all gets a little problematic.
In particular, it’s not considered very feminist to hurl words for female genitalia at each other as an insult. And I totally get that. But I also happen to think the c-word is kind of brilliant. Damn, do I have to take off my feminist hat every time I want to use it? I’m gonna say…. nah.
The thing is, although the c-word (this is your last warning; I’m spelling it out next time) has a gendered meaning, it doesn’t have a gendered usage. From what I’ve heard, this is more true in the UK than the US—but in England, at least, anyone can be a cunt. (I warned you!) It’s gender-free, and it doesn’t even have to be an insult. (Do something brilliant? Have a round on me, ya beautiful cunt.)
And you know what else we call people all the time? Dicks.
So we’re not using female genitalia as an insult because it’s female, we’re using it because it’s genitalia. We’re all children really, and we think it’s hilarious to use rude words for naughty topics like sex, pooing, and bottoms.
So as far as this feminist is concerned, as long as we’re throwing words like “twat” and “cock” around with equal gender opportunities, then I’m not bothered. Especially as there’s a much more dangerous word I want to focus on…
Bitch. It’s gendered AF—and not because it means a female dog. It’s the way we use it that I have an issue with.
If you call a woman a bitch, it’s because you think she’s unpleasant. If you call a man a bitch, it’s because you think he’s weak. Because apparently men’s value is tied up in their strength and masculinity, and women’s is tied up in their likeability. Yikes. And that’s before I’ve even got started on the way “bitch” is used against people of a non-binary gender.
Gender stereotyping is something I’ve long lost any patience with—and so using a word to mock someone’s failure to live up to their gender expectations is not something I’d like to perpetuate. Of course, none of us are consciously using it that way, but think a little harder next time you’re about to use it, and I bet you’ll notice gender stamped all over it.
Well damn, if I want to swear like a feminist, I need to cut “bitch” right out of my vocabulary—fast.
Of course, there’s one more meaning for “bitch” that I haven’t yet mentioned: if you use it to refer to yourself, it means you’re a badass. (This bitch unstoppable = I’m really good at shit.) That one can stay.
What do you think? Can you still swear like a feminist if you use gendered words?
*Eek, “bugger”. Well, it’s not not homophobic… Though going by my above argument, as long as fuck and wank and bugger carry equal weight, is it OK?
If you liked this post, please consider voting for me in the UK Blog Awards! All you have to do is enter your email address here.