January 6th: For Posterity
Your blog just became a viral sensation. What’s the one post you’d like new readers to see and remember you by? Write that post.
Let’s stop using the B word. You know what word I mean. I’m not asking you censor people, or pass judgment on those who use it. I’m not trying to be a prescriptive in any sense. I know how language works (well, as much as anyone can know how language works), so I know we can’t control the evolution of language. But I can ask you to choose to not say that word.
The word means nothing more than “women are inferior.” If you say “that person is a B-” you’re saying “that person has the quality of an inferior type of person.” It’s the N- word for women. It’s the S-word for what comes out of a person’s back side.
And there’s no male equivalent. There is no word that means “men are inferior.” At least, not in English, not that I am aware of. There are very few contexts where calling someone a “man” is an insult. Very few contexts where a man wishes people would stop treating him like a man.
The word continues to insult women, even when used ironically. We see this in the media all the time. A strong get-things-done woman will say “Yeah, I’m a real B- and proud of it.” The statement has force only because if the irony involved— and the irony requires that the operative word be denigrating. Same as if a person said “Yep, I’m the kind of asshole that gets things done.”
Even if you come from some belief systems that requires men and women be treated differently, just remember this: no two people are alike, no matter what their gender is. Two woman have nothing more in common than a single strand of chromosome. After that, there’s no way you can say one’s actions, beliefs, or comportments accurately describe the other one. Using gender to identify people is about as predictive as astrology.
Which means that if your experience with one woman is negative, it’s because of who she is an individual, not because of what women are in general. Pick some random quality in yourself— like your height. Now go up to someone and spit on them. “That’s what 5-11s do!”
I’m asking you to choose, for yourself, to not say this word anymore. I’m asking you to ask others.I am NOT asking you to force anyone. This word will lose all of it’s power and meaning if we choose to forget about it. If you were told your new boss is a real Mrs. Grundy, would you get a picture in your mind of what she must be like— or would you instead start to wonder about the person who used the word in the first place? And would you pass it on?
I’m thinking no. Let’s stop using the B word.