Battleaxe – a formidably aggressive older woman (my interpretation: no longer gives a flying feck)
Bitch – a female dog, wolf, fox, or otter. Or, a pejorative slang word for a person—usually a woman—who is belligerent, unreasonable, malicious, a control freak, rudely intrusive or aggressive.
Until I sought out the above definitions, I was aspiring to be a battleaxe as my well-earned rite of passage. Now, I’m not so sure. I mean, bitch sounds so much more ….. well, more. There are six words and phrases above to describe a bitch, and only two to describe a battleaxe. Bitch has so much more scope for expression, and just to be bad. Totally against what women aspire to, or are told to aspire to.
Until now, I had casually thrown out the insult of “bitch” on occasion, when upset or angry, without really understanding the deeper concept of what a rich life a bitch might have. Sure, no-one especially loves a bitch, but does a bitch care? This leaves her with room to move through life as she likes – just like a prick and an arsehole do. However, a prick and an arsehole – which are generally terms reserved for men – don’t conjure up the same amount of hatred as a bitch does. Why is this? Putting my amateur psychologist’s hat on, I reckon it’s because men bought the rights to be pricks and arseholes a long time ago, although not all indulge in their right to be these things, but women have never been allowed the right to be a bitch. When a woman is a bitch, she is going against everything that every culture everywhere says women should be. We accept that some men are pricks and arseholes all of the time, some men are pricks and arseholes some of the time, and some men are pricks and arseholes none of the time. But no woman can be a bitch at any time, without incurring double the criticism and hate a prick or an arsehole incur.
Now that I have brought pricks and arseholes into the conversation, consider the definitions I found in the same place that I found the definition of the word bitch –
Prick – a vulgar word for penis as well as a pejorative term used to refer to a despicable or contemptible individual.
Arsehole – a vulgarism to describe the anus, and often used pejoratively to refer to people.
Bitch remains a clear winner, with its’ six words and phrases to define it.
We appear to get much more enraged over a bitch, than we do a prick and an arsehole. A bitch busts through all the cultural expectations built up around women, and shatters the foundations of our personal wee worlds. We don’t know how to manage this. Whereas with men, we aren’t surprised when they behave like pricks and arseholes, because we’ve been taught that that’s just what happens sometimes. We deal with this a lot better.
A different kind of bitch is a woman is whom I refer to as a Bitch of Patriarchy, sometimes disguised as a Princess of Patriarchy. A Bitch/Princess of Patriarchy is a woman who allies herself with the power group – i.e. men – because of the advantage, position, or feeling of safety it gives her, and then discredits other women, either overtly or covertly. She does this in order to be liked more than them by the men, or keep them away from the men, and thus have more prestige with the men. A sub-group of this is the woman who achieves a hard-won promotion in an unsupportive and mostly male environment, and feels compelled to defend that scarcer-than-hen’s-teeth prestige from other female challengers, from a basis of insecurity. Both spots are forever tenuous, as they are based on having continuous approval from men, so getting dethroned on a whim is always an imminent threat. A BoP is different to a woman who is has attained her own power, and is a bitch in her own right. That I can reluctantly respect, even if I may not love her very much for it, just as I don’t love a prick or an arsehole. Women are mostly manipulated into being BoPs by the culture we live in, and this is sadly understandable, although still offensive. In reality, I shouldn’t even be writing this paragraph, because there’s still an aspect of playing into the ancient patriarchal game of divide and conquer. We all get caught in its net at times, because it’s the world we still live in.
Another definition of the word ‘bitch’ is an insulting term (sometimes jokingly amongst mates) for a man who is subordinate, or for a man who is just a nice guy and respectful towards women. Women can use it between themselves, or for men, in the same way, too. We know who those women are. Oops – there I go again!
The worst words to call someone are female by definition. I’m guessing it’s because women are still considered subordinate to men, with a not-yet-dead expectation of being supportive, useful, and entertaining for men as their main value. When they aren’t these things, then they are badder than bad men. Many men don’t actively think this – although some do, of course – but we still live in a patriarchal culture where this is embedded, often subtly and unconsciously, in our everyday environments.
Think of the other female word which is right up there as possibly the most offensive name a person can be called – c#nt. When that word is uttered, the utterer is showing their utter contempt. Like the word ‘bitch’ it can be spat out with force and ferocity, often assisted by an evil gargoyle face made by the spitter to help with its delivery. They just seem to beg to go together – the worst curse and a gargoyle face. I’ve got nothing against gargoyles, but a gargoyle face is probably best left on a gargoyle. The word c#nt is so bad, that I daren’t write it properly, in case of being censored or censured.
Maybe we should reclaim battleaxe, bitch, c#nt as power words, rather than dis-empower words? Perhaps it should be a mark of a woman’s drive, determination, and force-of-person to be called these words? We can accord them the same grudging acknowledgement of power that prick and arsehole have acquired. Let’s give them the same kudos, and see how that feels. We don’t have to be all these words all of the time, but know we can rightfully be any of them if we need to, and be comfortable with it. It goes against everything we’ve been taught, but then again, where did those teachings originate from?