I will never forget that moment.
The moment in which I sat in my bedroom, phone cord stretched through the kitchen, across the hallway and into my bedroom. Stretching just far enough to allow me to close my door, and sit just inside the sanctity of my room in order to scheme with my friend in private. The exact plans are moot today, but I am willing to bet the farm on the fact that they included alcohol, boys, and post-curfew plans of sneaking out through my bedroom window. As we plotted and solidified our teenage debauchery, the knock came and I heard the words that no teenager wants to hear on a Saturday night.
You have to stay home.
I remember flinging that door open so fast that the phone shot across the kitchen like a bullet from a gun.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN I HAVE TO STAY HOME? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? WE HAVE PLANS! I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS!!!!!
She wouldn’t budge. There would be no gallivanting for me on that delightful evening and I was beside myself with a weeks worth of pent-up teenage angst.
Didn’t she realize how difficult it was to secure an evenings worth of alcohol when you are sixteen? Didn’t she know how tedious it was to plan out an all night drink-a-thon complete with a post-curfew pick-up schedule? She was ruining my life.
I mourned the loss of our illegal evening with my partner in crime, trying to hide in the corner of the room so that my mother couldn’t hear what I was saying about her. There was no way I was going to show her how much she had fucked up my evening. I was going to play it cool.
She taunted me: If you have something you want to say to me, just say it.
I bit my tongue and continued to whisper into the handset.
Why don’t you just say something? Tell me how you feel?
It came out of my mouth before I could stop it: YOU. ARE BEING. A BITCH!
At that very moment time stood still. I had just called my mother a bitch. To her face. I saw my life flash before my eyes.
I had absent mindedly dropped an f-bomb in front of her before, but I had never said such vile things about her where she could hear me. Sure I had said it behind her back, hello…..teenager. Never to her face. NEVER.
I think of the fear I felt. Not only for my quickly diminishing social life, but for what I had just done to our amazing relationship. I had crossed that line and the disappointment I felt in myself for calling the woman who gave me life such an incredibly disrespectful name sickens me to my core even after all these years.
If you use a dictionary, you will find that a bitch is defined as a malicious, unpleasant, selfish person, especially a woman. If you prefer to use Urban Dictionary, you will find that a bitch is defined as a modern-day servant; A person who performs tasks for another, usually degrading in status.
Sure I am unpleasant at times, I am always a woman, and at times I am selfish. I suppose if you put that all together, there are days in which the term bitch would define me perfectly. A few days each month, I wouldn’t even argue with you if you placed the term ‘raging’ in front of it. We all have our moments in which we are being an actual bitch. Days that we are deserving of the term, it fits us to a T.
Degrading in status, that is the part that gets me.
Why do we, as women, feel the need to continue to use this word as a term of endearment? Not just the term bitch, but words like hooker, hoe, slut, and whore. Do we not think enough of ourselves and the company that we keep?
Some will argue that those words are slang and the definition has changed. That those words, when used in the proper context, are meant to show other women that we enjoy spending time with them. That they are our friends.
Maybe in my old age I have lost a bit of my sense of humor and I need to relax a bit. Maybe I need to grow with the times and get hip with the slang. Maybe…..no.
I have never enjoyed being called a bitch, and I’ve been called one (and acted like one) many times. For me it is a reminder to take a look in the mirror and examine my behavior. That I am acting in a way that is not becoming and that there is a good chance that I have hurt someone in a way that I should be embarrassed about. That I am in no way, shape or form acting like a friend.
As women, it is up to us to lift each other up. To encourage and support, to demonstrate to our children how to treat each other. Not to knock each other down and demean each other with derogatory names, no matter how entertaining we think we are being. Just like text-speak and poor grammar, the use of words like bitch, hooker, and whore become acceptable terms of endearment only if we let them. I may be old-school, but I refuse to bend.
Like a tree in the Kansas wind, when we bend our core weakens and before we know it we are broken beyond repair.
I think about that night. The look of disappointment and the hurt in my mother’s eyes. Knowing that my use of that one word had cut into her heart like a knife.
Her ability to forgive me only proved that she wasn’t the one being a bitch. I was.
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