On Gendered, Loaded Words: It’s Time for Redefinition
There are a lot of loaded words falling out of people’s mouths these days.
Many of these words are gendered and their traditional definitions are awful. Since society is changing… slowly… very slowly… I think it’s time to put a positive spin on these words. I mean, they obviously aren’t going anywhere, so we may as well learn how to live with these words comfortably.
OK. So, which loaded words am I referring to? My “best hits” list contains:
The majority of the above words’ traditional definitions tend to be incredibly negative. Sluts and whores are pegged as sexually promiscuous. Bitches and cunts are said to be mean and un-agreeable. And all of these words are typically used to describe women.
Over the past year, I’ve started to redefine all the above words in my own mind. Why have I undertaken this endeavor? As a woman who dares to walk outside, I tend to get catcalled… a lot. Also: The more I use hashtags like #feminism and #strongwomen, the more hate tweets I get. (Example: I was called a cunt on International Women’s Day – classic.)
Here are the non-gendered, positive definitions I’ve given these words:
Slut: Someone who loves consensual sex.
Whore: Someone totally in love with something that’s a positive factor in his or her life.
Bitch: Someone who is incredibly successful and doesn’t take any shit.
Cunt: A person who knows and loves who they are, and loves their unique opinions.
So, imagine my catcallers and Internet stalkers’ surprise when I yell a thanks or tweet out a right on after I’ve been called a cunt. These people look/ reply downright confused and often times seem ashamed.
My personal redefinition project also has allowed me to have conversations with other people about these words when I use them in casual conversation. For example, I’ve always written about my love of horror under the name “Gore Whore.” I’ve had many-a woman ask me why I degrade myself by using the word whore so casually. My answer tends to make these ladies think about the word in general, and we end up having a great conversation about feminism.
Now, I know my re-definition project won’t change these words’ definitions for everyone, but I hope that I can at least unload these loaded words for some people, and make a few clueless catcallers uncomfortable in the process.
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