Slut, Bitch, Whore

Three words often used so fleetingly with no regards to the negative connotations associated with them.

The most tragic thing of all is that in today’s pop culture, not only are they thrown around liberally, but now, similar language is used in the positive.

The argument is often made that it is all about context. If Nicki Minaj refers to herself as a “bad bitch,” then it is a good thing. It is a way of women taking a word that has often been used to tear them down and reclaiming it for good. I strongly disagree.

Taking a word and making it a catchy hook in a song does not negate its history and equating a woman to an animal does not empower her in any way.

The use of the words themselves do not bother me as much as the spirit with which they are used. Men use them to demean women to the level of possessions, as something to be controlled, branded or infantilized.

On the other hand, women have been raised to view each other as competitors. When one of us manages to shatter the glass ceiling, she may be viewed as an inspiration by some, many will dub her as “ruthless,” “cutthroat,” “mercenary,” “bossy” and let’s not forget that ever so popular, “bitch.”

A woman who chooses to take her career path at the expense of her family is viewed as cold; a man who does the same is ambitious and driven.

Why do we live in a world where Rick Ross refers to himself as a “boss,” a figure to be respected, yet women of equal or greater talent than his are reduced to name calling each other and sexualizing their bodies?

Let me make it clear that I do not have anything against women celebrating their sexuality, but the sad truth is that it is rarely ever done with the right motives in mind.

Instead of growing up in a world where we are taught to embrace our femininity, many women are taught to believe that it is something to be leveraged in exchange for influence.

We are taught that our bodies should be withheld as some sort of prize for men to enjoy and those who do not follow this ruling are dubbed “whores.”

And who can blame these women for behaving in this supposed slutty manner? When enough people tell you what you “are,” you begin to believe them.

In the 1960’s, an American schoolteacher named Jane Elliot conducted the “blue eyed/brown eyed” exercise on elementary school children. Lines were divided on the basis of eye colour and those with blue eyes were told that they were superior, while brown-eyed children were ostracized and stereotyped as inferior.

Elliot issued a test after the exercise and noted that children with blue eyes, even if they previously had lower grades, scored higher on the test than usual, while children with brown eyes scored lower.

Although this exercise was meant to show people the dangers of racism, it can apply to any people who are discriminated against.

Women have been told negative things about themselves for so long now that they have internalized them.

As a result, we have a society where the least important qualities about a woman, like the way she dresses or looks, are used as yardsticks to gauge her value or sense of “decency.”

This International Women’s Day, before we wag our judgmental fingers and flippantly promote sexual oppression by referring to each other as sluts, let us take some time off to assess the world that we are building with our tongues.

A world where men view women as conquests and women view their bodies as objects, either as personal tools of manipulation or sources of male satisfaction.