Wednesday, June 28, 2006

To Bitch, Or Not to Bitch

It has been raised by one of our incredibly savvy readers, Mr. DG, that it's a little confusing that Vicky and I go 'round using the word "bitch" like we do, limited mostly to the verb form.

Regardless of part of speech, it's certainly something that I've agonized over. Should I really use a phrase like, "I totally bitched her out," since it's A) sexist and B) like, omg, SOOO Valley?

Speaking of the Valley, as a Southern Californian, I would like to point out that the phrasing and dialect you hear on certain WB and Fox shows is more or less exactly what I sound like when I speak out loud. A common conversation with Vicky about pornography, say, goes a little something like this:

Me: "Dude, porn totally fucking sucks."
V: "Totally."
Me: "Like, you know, why are guys such loser dumbshits anyway? Like, can't they just, like, totally stop being dumb?"
V: "Yeah, like, seriously. They're such fucking losers. Fuck 'em."
Me: "DUUUUDE! Ohmigod, yeah, like I am SOO with you."

Obviously, we are scholars. Like, I am totally wowing you right now, I just know.

Here's an example of what I, in my native tongue, might call a "bitchfest." Today I had to go to a meeting with a bunch of other people from my new job. I was put in the position of having to make nice with my co-workers, most of whom have worked together for several years. So what did I engage in? The complete and total bitching out of our superiors. Thus a quick and easy bond was formed.

The problem I have with giving up the word "bitch," other than the obvious fact that "bitch" is used as a slur against women, is simply that I can't think of any better word for a replacement. "Bitching" is more than mere complaining or kvetching or airing of grievances. Bitching is always petty, often exaggerated, and mostly without merit. I think it isn't fair to falsely call "higher-minded" complaining "bitching" when it is not. Some arguments and complaints and criticism aren't coming from a petty place, and whenever people call all of women's complaints "bitching" they are clearly fuckers. And if I complained about such fuckers, that wouldn't be bitching, that would just be righteous, dude.

Using this definition still leaves me with a problem, because if the behavior is so shallow, shouldn't I stop engaging in it? There's obviously nothing feminist about it. For instance, today, after joining in with the "bitching" about our superiors, I felt shitty. So it's not only something that is harmful to others, but it's clearly harmful to me (and I don't like harming me). Talking shit can get some appreciate laughs, but it can also give you a gossipy, mean -- nay, bitchy -- reputation.

As a mean feminist, sometimes I argue things from a high-minded position. But other times, I just bitch. I don't want the two things to be confused, though. I don't want my criticisms to be dismissed as just "bitching" on my part. Since hey, who says even mean bitching can't offer up some sound points, right? Telling the truth bluntly, being straight-forward: these things have gotten me called "bitch" more times than I can count.

I'm not asking for us to "reclaim" the word bitch. I'm just asking for sympathy in regards to the limits of the English language and a nod of tolerance towards our personal colloquialisms. If anyone has a better suggestion for the "bitching" that I'm talking about, please let me know.

3 Comments:

Blogger Phemisaurus Terribilis said...

You are whingeing like an old man.

11:29 PM  
Blogger Amy's Brain Today said...

I call it "venting" -- because that suggests, to me, that I'm blowing off steam, I don't necessarily expect the listeners to help me find solutions or do anything at all, or even take me seriously, that in fact what I'm saying might not even reflect 100% what I actually think. It's just releasing frustration. The friend, co-worker, what have you can say, "Yeah, that sounds really frustrating" without actually agreeing with me or trying to fix it, and I'm free, in a calmer moment, to have a better opinion of the thing/person under attack during the vent. I dunno, it works for me.

But yeah, the post-bitch ick factor, not good. Going into it knowing I'm just releasing frustration helps me not feel so bad after.

4:09 PM  
Blogger Yawning Lion said...

I vote for the word "griping". It even sounds kind of, like, icky, you know? And, you can say things like:
"ohmigod, that meeting was totally gripe-worthy, don't you think?"
"I'm going to gripe his ass out for pinching my cheeks like that."
"Could I just gripe for a minute?"

To griping,
YL

2:55 PM  

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