“Who you callin’ a bitch?”

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As I walk down Tremont Street, returning from class, I often hear a random man calling me a name – “Bitch!” This is a common occurrence that many women experience. If we are not immune to this name yet, it is very easy to get hurt by it. 

When people become distressed, their natural reaction is to lash out and hurt others in retaliation. It is important to recognize and acknowledge when someone is striving to hurt us. Ultimately, we cannot allow them. We must try and prevent the pain by contemplating their motivation behind their insults. 

These words – whore, slut and bitch – possess a deep-rooted and cynical meaning. In the world we live in, these words are used to exterminate the self-esteem of women. To them, “bitch” translates to “No one respects you.” “Whore” means “ No one trusts you.”, “Slut” turns to “No one will care for you.” We have to rehabilitate these words – make them our “bitch.”, 

Hearing these words make us appear angry, damaged and unsettled. That appearance provides the name-caller with a sense of superiority; they feel as if they can regulate your emotions. This proves true if you give those words power, allowing them to disturb you. You are the only one who should be able to determine how words affect you.

What makes these words harmful? Is it that someone negatively used them; or is it because you’ve only ever seen them used negatively? Resentment arises when you allow them to upset you. If we can change the connotation of these words to something positive, we can take them back. If we do this, the torture they inflict in our hearts evaporates. Take the words and reclaim them as our own.

The words are used every day to make women feel less than human. Name-calling should feel instinctively wrong because of the emotional pain that it causes people. We feel pain in our minds like we feel pain in our bodies, but can we change that mental pain that we feel? 

It is not the words that hurt us, but our perception of those words. If you tell me you admire how I look, it makes me feel positive about myself. I perceive you’re thinking positively about me. Deep down inside, I need to believe I am beautiful. I validate that by the words that others say. If I know that “hurting people hurt people,” why would I give someone that much control? 

“How’d you know I was a bitch?” Once we take those words back, we take that power back. I am no longer outraged when these words are hurled at me. When I took back that word, no one could use it against me ever again. Never allow someone to take control over you. Language and the way we use it affect everything. This is why we have to do what we can and take the power from as many hurtful words as we can. We can finally be free from the people who are attempting to make others hurt.

We all say, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” We all know that’s not true. We’re hardwired to feel emotional pain as well as physical pain and any way we can combat that, we must. Some people use these words for good and others use them for evil, but you can always receive them as good.