Thursday, January 13, 2011

fouling out

I admit that my vocabulary tends to run towards the slightly profane.  Or very profane, if you factor in that I spend most of my time with two young, impressionable children.  My kids are well versed in the world of trucker talk.  The two year old has been known to throw down a toy with frustration and yell out 'damnit!'  He once, to my profound embarrassment, announced his departure from a game with his sister by saying, 'fuck it.' 
The six year old positively revels in learning a new obscenity with which to impress her friends.  So much so, that last week as some overgrown SUV tried to t-bone our little Dodge Neon at an intersection on the icy roads, I apparently let loose with a word that not even my little pitcher had heard before and she was more excited to hear the new cuss word than worried about becoming a grease stain on the crossroads.  I won't tell you what the word was, but I will say it started with a C and rhymes with punt.

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Even so, with my deep midnight blue streak, there is one obscenity that I have avoided strenuously throughout my adult life.  The word was so heinous to me, so riddled with patriarchal oppression that I would never, ever consider even thinking the word in reference to another human being and have been known to come down particularly harsh on those around me who did.

I hate the word bitch.

At least I used to.

I can't remember who exactly it was that I read, but in a book of classic second wave feminist essays, the argument that the word 'bitch' is the word men use to keep women in their subordinate place.  The logic goes that when a woman is angry or being aggressive, calling her a bitch neutralizes her anger or aggression and makes her feel bad about her unfeminine behavior.  She then backs down, nobody wants to be a bitch, and retreats ashamed and passive.

Don't be such a bitch.  Why'd ya gotta go be a bitch?  Oh, her, she's a bitch.

Bitch is a bad word.  Is is used to invalidate women's voices.  It is used against men to unfavorably compare them to women.  Do not use this word.  It is forbidden.

Okay, yeah.  But now, well, there's this derby thing.

In derby, there is this whole culture of bitchery.  Bitch is a term of affection.  Sort of.  The opposing team is definitely full of bitches.  And the other jammer is like a super bitch.  You are a bitch.  And I'm a bitch. And everyone is a bitchy bitch.  Hell, I even skate with a Bitch.  She used to be Prez.

At some point, not too long after my introduction to derby, I wore down a little and the word started creeping into my vocabulary.  I remember the very first time my husband heard me use the B-word - The Forbidden Word! - because he stopped focusing on what I was saying and started skipping like a record and acting like a fourteen year old who has just been handed the keys to the liquor cabinet:

"Did you just say the Forbidden Word?"
"Um, yeah.  It's a derby thing.  It's okay in derby."

"You just said the B-word!"

"Yes.  Okay, now, listen.  I am going to-"

"You said 'bitch'!"

"Whatever.  I'm gonna-"

"Does that mean I can say 'bitch' now too?"

"No.  Let's move on-"

"Wow, you said bitch!"

I did, initially, make some lame ass reappropriation argument, where I am reclaiming and redefining the word 'bitch' to mean a strong, independent woman who needs to be knocked down not because she is a woman who needs to know her place but because she is in my jammer's way and deserves it, the bitch, but even to my ears it sounded hollow.

The truth is, at this point in my life, I am far more concerned about what women oppressing me on the track than any man.  Dude on the street can call me a bitch, well, so fucking what?  The Man can call me a bitch, but, seriously, I know my place and it's not underneath his heels.  And if he does, he'd better have his running shoes on because now not only has he a bitch to worry about, she is also very angry.
'Bitch', as an instrument of oppression really doesn't have that meaning anymore.  At least for me.  At this time. 

Unless I'm using it.  In that case, the bitch should feel very oppressed.    

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5 comments:

  1. See, bitch I'm okay with. I It's the c u next tuesday I dislike. Still shocks me when people say it lol.

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  2. Love it... Keep them coming!! You awesome Bitch!!

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  3. Cakes, my favorite bitch quote:

    "Let's go up to Edmonton, knock around some OCDG bitches, and hit Bonanza on the way home."

    Thanx <3

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  4. I actually never had a problem with bitch. I think because I grew up in an affectionately insulting home. We call each other dork, jerk, geek, bitch, butthead. They all mean love. However. I am with Carly. I hate the C-word. That on has all the connotations that you have ascribed to bitch for me. I still won't allow it.
    Don't feel bad about the cussing kids. Mine at 15 months spilled juice at her grandmother's house and muttered "damnit". It was like her third word.

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  5. I love this post! I use to have a trucker mouth when I was in the military, but once my daughter came around, I cleaned it up. Also, because my in-laws don't typically use strong language and I wanted them to like me (which they do and probably still would even if I swore). Now I reserve my potty mouth for when I am really pissed off or upset.

    Anyway, I love the post. I think it is so cool to "know" someone who does roller derby. Makes me want to look into it a little more. After all, I did skate competitively when I was a kid... Might as well make it worth something :)

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