On Use of the Word ‘Bitch’

spoiled bitchToday’s question du jour is: When is it okay for a man to use the word ‘bitch’?

Frequently, there comes a time in the power struggle phase of a relationship when the man must put his foot down and stand up for himself. Perhaps a boundary has been crossed and he must communicate to the woman that her behavior is unacceptable. She must cease the behavior in question or the relationship will end. The urgency and earnestness of his position must be communicated clearly.

In times like these, my go-to phrase is, “Stop acting like a bitch.”

Rarely does the use of this phrase result in a productive two way conversation in which we come to a healthy new understanding. It seems most women firmly believe it is never acceptable, under any circumstance, to utter the word, ‘bitch’. Perhaps, like the ‘n-word’, the ‘b-word’ is socially unacceptable for certain groups to use?

Beat around it, but don't say it.

Men can only beat around it.

But what if the woman is, by objective fact, acting like a bitch? Discussing this subject led to the firing my therapist. In our final session, we discussed my first post-divorce entanglement with an entitlement princess–the one I caught neglecting to take her birth control pills (I recently mentioned on Soon2becatlady’s podcast.) My former therapist said that it was “never acceptable” to use the word. Further, we could not find common ground on these finer points:

  1. How is it possible that acting like a bitch, being total bitch, or even a raging bitch on wheels is a lesser sin than calling it what it is? Is calling a spade a spade really that evil?
  2. If I should never utter the word ‘bitch’, even when it is the perfect word to use, what is a better alternative?

re: Question #1: Let’s assume that two wrongs don’t make a right and that the b-word should never, under any circumstance, leave my lips. Once I’ve uttered the vile and disrespecting word, the woman has a legitimate grievance of her own. I get that; I can buy-in to this school of thought. But it seems to be universally accepted that the b-word has properties that extend far beyond elemental morality of ‘two wrongs don’t make a right’. Use of the b-word trumps all other offenses, apparently. Once you utter it, the woman is no longer obligated to discuss your grievance. The b-word is magic like that.

Abracadabra, hocus pocus, alakazay;

It’s not what you do that matters, it’s what I say.

I called you a bitch and now you’re free,

of all annoying accountability. 

re: Question #2: Honestly, in the heat of the moment, what realistic alternatives does a man have to saying, ‘stop acting like a bitch’? My former therapist suggested I close my eyes, take three deep, meditative style breaths and then calmly explain to the woman that her actions are not acceptable.

Really? A woman is having a complete and total hissy fit; complete with insults, hair flipping, and talk to the hand dissing–over a situation not of my doing–I’m just the man who happens to be in the vicinity–and I’m supposed to stop driving the car to find my inner namaste’?

Assume I did stop paying attention to 8 lanes of rush Atlanta rush hour traffic so that I could meditate, and then calmly say, “You are being disrespectful to me, and it is hurting my feelings. You are being unpleasant and spiteful towards me.” Is that really going to be received better?

spadeisspade1Hell No! That wouldn’t have had any better result. In fact, the result would be worse because I would’ve lost respect of the woman who needed to be put in her place, thereby setting false expectations in the power struggle phase of the relationship. According to the dictionary, acting spiteful and unpleasant is the definition of bitch. Whether I use the words, ‘spiteful and unpleasant’ or the word ‘bitch’, the message is the same.

So, fellow bloggers, what’s the answer? Am I off base here? Does the ‘b-word’ contain magical properties that absolve the ‘victim’ of all her sins, regardless of actions? Is it ever appropriate to tell a woman whose having to a histrionic meltdown to stop acting like a bitch? If not, what’s a realistic alternative that can be used?

As for me, I have to think that accuracy of assertions is relevant when considering the b-word’s use. It seems to me there are times when clear, factual, honest communication is warranted. Maybe there would be less spoiled bitches in the world if men would stand up for themselves, and, when the time is right, call a spade a spade, and a bitch a bitch.

19 thoughts on “On Use of the Word ‘Bitch’

  1. Hmm, in these situations I just say she is acting like a jerk and I won’t talk to her until she stops it. But I don’t know what would work for a man.

      • In my opinion, a woman can’t call you sexist if you call her a jerk. Being called a jerk lets a person know that they’ve acted with weak morality, and hopefully make them feel guilt or shame. If they can’t stand feeling guilty, they might get even angrier, but they can’t forget the fact that they were a jerk. And maybe they will rethink things.

        On the other hand, some people are not possible to reason with. In that case you can’t be friends anymore. One should not tolerate truly offensive behavior.

      • By the time I’ve gotten to the ‘b-word’ phase, or the ‘get the fuck out’ phase, the relationship is more than likely doomed already. But if using ‘jerk’ instead of ‘bitch’ incrementally improves the probability of amicable solution from .01% to .05%, then I would be wise to use the work ‘jerk’ or similar substitute. So simple, yet it never crossed my mind. Or my counselor’s. Thanks!

      • “But if using ‘jerk’ instead of ‘bitch’ incrementally improves the probability of amicable solution from .01% to .05%, then I would be wise to use the work ‘jerk’ or similar substitute.”

        Why improve a relationship with a jerk though? If things were as bad as you say…

      • Because, with every relationship there is a power-struggle phase. During that phase boundaries will be tested, and it is important to make it known you do have the balls to stick to boundaries. If you do not stand up for yourself in this moment of truth, you will become a doormat. So–why improve the relationship? Because it could be a boundary power struggle test. Once passed, it could be a milestone that lets the relationship grow.

      • Didn’t you say she came across as narcisstic anyway? Staying at all pretty much is being a doormat in that case. Just curious, as I don’t know the whole story.

      • Mixing stories. I am currently dealing with a narcissistic woman. The woman I had in mind above was more run-of-the-mill spoiled princess. Histrionic if anything. Bitch is inflammatory across the board where I live, however.

  2. Bitch is a fine word with a noble pedigree. If you therapist actually said that uttering that word was “never acceptable,” you were quite correct to kick him/her to the curb. He/She/It was likely a feminist and therefore of no help to you.

    But, if for whatever reason the phrase “stop acting like a bitch” is off the table, there really is only one alternative, and it may actually be a more powerful alternative:

    “Stop acting like a child.”

    You can also offer a spanking which might lead to make-up sex, so there’s that, too…

  3. ” A woman is having a complete and total hissy fit; complete with insults, hair flipping, and talk to the hand dissing…”

    You could always tell her to stop acting like a 13 year old cheerleader.

    Re: Using the word bitch
    It’s acceptable. I’ve used it to describe both women and men.* If that’s how they’re acting, call them on it. Some words should never be used…bitch is not one of ’em. However, it’s still important to say “You’re acting like a bitch” over saying “You are a bitch”. With the former you are talking about their current actions, with the latter you could be accused of insulting them as a person.

    *Most would call men “dicks” rather than “bitches” in similar circumstances, but I have a personal policy to not besmirch the genitals of either sex by tying them to insults.

      • Heh, that’s good. You shouldn’t let it, anyway. The terms usually used on me are “freak”, “nerd”, or “weirdo”. They’re all pretty accurate though, so little harm is actually accomplished.

      • I kinda like “freak” but nerd and weirdo are getting awfully close to the C-word: “creepy.” That’s nearly as bad as being called “cute.”

        Actually, I take it as a good sign when a woman calls me an asshole. Especially if it’s accompanied by a fake punch on the arm. Even if she says it in anger, there’s hope. If she angry, she’s still thinking about you.

        Remember: the opposite of love isn’t hate; the opposite of love is indifference…

        (h/t: rollo)

      • I am a nerd/geek ’cause I work at a comic/gaming store, play D&D and Shadowrun, and own every videogame console from 1985-2013. I’m a weirdo because I fit Monty Python and Mel Brooks quotes into everyday conversation. I’m a freak because I’m a 30 year old woman with gender dysphoria, so at best people think I’m a tomboy who “never grew up”.

        Calling someone creepy, and the “creep shaming” that goes along with it are for those who can’t be bothered to even attempt understand how different humanity can be. They live in their own world, where nobody has social anxiety, is on the autism spectrum, or is extremely shy around the opposite sex.

  4. It’s all a matter of ownership. I know women who will use the word “bitch” when talking to their female friends, but are enraged at the thought of a man using that word when referring to a woman. It’s not unlike the “N word”. Some African American are repulsed by the word and refuse to utter it; others use it when referring to other African Americans – but it is generally understood that the “N word” is off-limits to any non-African Americans, lest they want to be branded a racist. Likewise with “bitch”.

    Personally, I am becoming pickier as to whom, where and when I utter the “B word”.

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