As is often the case, the point I’m going to make in this article can be neatly summed up by a Mean Girls quote:

“You all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it ok for guys to call you sluts and whores.” – Ms. Nordbury, Mean Girls.

Ms Nordbury makes an excellent point; our language choices have real impact. A word is never ‘just a word’. Language is a slippery thing. And some words have committed GMH (grievous mental hate) against women. Even today, a woman’s reputation can be ‘ruined’ by the use of the word slut. The Leader of The Free World, or as we like to call him, He Who Shall Not Be Named, used the word nasty to describe his then opponent, Hillary Clinton. At the time, Clinton was calling Trump out on one of his policies.

Words are weapons. And that’s why, when these words are thrown around without thought, it can feel like assault. It’s important to reclaim words when they’re used against us. It’s an act of protest. Let’s look at five misunderstood words reclaimed by feminism.

Slut

Who, reading this article, has been called, or knows someone who has been personally victimised, by the word ‘slut’? If you look up the Google definition of the word ‘slut’ it is a word solely used to describe women. Even in casual conversation, if it’s being used to ironically describe a man it will come with a preface; ‘man-slut’. Slut describes a woman with many sexual partners.

The idea of a woman only being allowed a select few partners is so ingrained into society, that it’s still common to see this word used in tabloid headlines.

Skirts make you a slut. Your cleavage makes you a slut. Enjoying sex makes you a slut. Owning sex toys makes you a slut.

To me, that sounds like someone who enjoys pleasure. Pleasure is a woman’s right – heck, we’ve got a part of our bodies dedicated to it – and now you’re telling me because I’m doing what i’m biologically programmed to do that I’m somehow wrong? Back to your keyboard troll.

There is no clearer reclamation of a word in feminism than the word slut.

Back in 2011, a Toronto Police Officer suggested women might not be sexually assaulted if they didn’t ‘dress like sluts’. Since then, SlutWalk has become a global phenomenon. Women take to the streets dressed as ‘sluts’ protesting rape culture, with a particular focus towards ending the victim blaming and slut shaming of sexual assault victims.

Feminism 1, name-calling 0.

Bitch

Bitch is a word that gets thrown around a lot. And if you look up its definition, it is once again a word reserved for women.

“Bitch is a slang pejorative for a person, commonly a woman, who is belligerent, unreasonable, malicious, a control freak, rudely intrusive or aggressive.” – Wikipedia

And for men, I hear you ask?

“When applied to a man, bitch is a derogatory term for a subordinate.” – Wikipedia

So, in the woman’s definition power is being asserted – and we’re not okay with that, so it’s a negative. Whereas the man’s definition, shows someone who has lost power. I told you language was slippery.

Thankfully, this word has been reclaimed time and time again by feminism. From the brilliant song ‘Bitch’ by Meredith Brooks to feminist outlet Bitch Media, bitch can now have positive associations.

Plus; It’s Britney, bitch.

Nasty

It seems appropriate here to quote Nina Donovan’s poem from the Women’s March:

“I’m nasty like the battles my grandmothers fought to get me into that voting booth…I’m nasty like the fight for wage equality…So we are not here to be debunked. We are here to be respected. We are here to be nasty.”

And to listen to the whole of Betty Davis’ Nasty Gal –

And to look back on that quote from the beginning of the article – “Nasty woman.” Nasty is good. Nasty is welcome. Nuff said bitches.

Pussy

“Don’t be such a pussy, grow some balls.” Is often bandied around when someone is being weak or cowardly. Usually between straight men – because what could be worse than being name called after the thing you’re perpetually chasing?

My response is below.

“Why do people say “grow some balls”? Balls are weak and sensitive. If you wanna be tough, grow a vagina. Those things can take a pounding.” ― Betty White

Cunt

via GIPHY

You’re telling me the worst thing a person can be is the thing that gives life to all of humanity?

The thing that ballads have been written about?

The thing that has a centre of pleasure built into it?

The thing that makes up half the population?

The thing that gave us beer (women invented it), Maya Angelou’s poetry and Broad City?

Cunt is powerful.

It’s an old English word with bite. Look at all those hard consonants at the end of that word.

C-U-N-T.

It’s divisive, full of attitude and not taking any punches. It’s like a lot of the women I love. I’m reclaiming it right now. Join me.

It’s not my fault you’re like in love with me or something

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