Changing the ‘b-word’ from an insult to empowerment

One of the most commonly ignored red flags I’ve noticed is men thinking it’s OK to call women the “b-word.”

This language is never justified.

The word has been used to put down women since the 1400s, when it was originally used to shame women who enjoyed sex or reproduced too much.

In the 1910s and 1920s, it was used to degrade suffragettes.

From the 1960s through the 1990s, it was commonly used as an insult aimed at second- and third-wave feminists.

In modern times, it’s pretty much used for any woman for a wide variety of reasons.

It’s used to shame women for doing things society typically deems unacceptable behaviors.

Outspoken when it comes to social issues you care about? “B-word.”

Ambitious, powerful, female leaders? Just a bunch of “b-words.”

Angry at someone for treating you badly? Clearly, you’re just a whining, hysterical “b-word.”

Additionally, it’s almost exclusively used to degrade women, which makes it misogynistic.

You rarely hear anyone call a man that word. In the rare circumstances you do, it’s “little b-word,” to imply that something is wrong with him for showing emotion or weakness, or “son of a b-word,” implying that his mother is the problem, not him.

When it’s aimed at men, it’s used to shame the women around him or his feminine traits.

Men who call women “the b-word” do not respect women. It doesn’t matter if they only use it for someone they don’t like, their boss, a politician or any other person they believe is justified to refer to as such.

It’s not OK. It’s degrading.

The worst thing is when it’s used against their significant other. Men who call their girlfriends or wives the “b-word” don’t respect them.

If you see someone referring to their partner by this word, you should call them out and explain why it’s wrong. If your partner calls you it, don’t let them get away with it. It’s a massive red flag that they don’t respect you enough to treat you with dignity.

Don’t let them play mental gymnastics trying to justify it or gaslight you into thinking you deserve it.

You don’t.

On the bright side, it’s a positive thing to see women re-claiming the word to empower themselves.

If we use it to mean things like brave, empowered, strong and smart, it will eventually start to become less of an insult.

Men will no longer think they can use it to shame women they’re angry at or don’t like.


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