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The Dreaded B-Word


Cartoon Maggie near a mushroom hut with a rainbow behind it

I wrote this for my newsletter, and the response from my subscribers was so powerful that I decided to repost it here on the blog.


The B-Word

I try not to look at reviews. A bad one can mess with my writing.

 

But I peeked at a few pre-release reviews of The Mermaid Murder, and they were really good, so I kept reading and got to one reviewer who feels it's inapropriate for my main character, Rachel, to call her inner voice "Inner Bitch."

 

The reviewer has every right to her opinion, of course, but I feel compelled to respond.


The Bitch in Nature

The bitch is the female canine. If you're familiar at all with dogs, you know that if there are a male and female in the same home, the bitch is always the boss. In the wild, a bitch is the alpha of her pack. Her partner is also a leader as her partner, but make no mistake about who is in charge. He might lead the pack, but she leads him. Bitches provide for their families, lead hunts, and defend against predators. They protect their own.

 

The Power of Words

Words are important. Words are to a writer what paint is to a painter. Would we deem certain colors off limits to an artist? Words are colors, and sometimes there's only one perfect word to express the precise meaning a writer wishes to convey.

 

There are exceptions, but only a few. For example, I'd never use the N word in life or in a book. It's been used by people who look like me as a hateful slur against people with darker skin tones than mine. It's not my word to reclaim. Only those it's been used against have that right. I never want to hear that word on a caucasian's tongue. How People of Color choose to use it is none of my business.

 

In a similar way, "bitch" belongs to all women, because we are the ones it's been used against. We get to use it in any way we decide, because that's how bitches roll. In taking back the word, we take back its power, and our power--the power they tried to take from us by using the word as a pejorative.

 

In fact, it's long been a practice to use words that mean "female" as insults. Pussy. Hag. Crone. Cunt. Bitch. Twat. Witch. Femme. All refer specifically to women or parts of women. All have been stolen and repurposed to insult women and men who aren't deemed masculine enough.

 

Crone, for example, was originally a term of honor. In Wicca, we hold croning ceremonies to honor our elder women as they ascend to that status. Crone is not an insult unless we allow it to be. It was never an insult until we allowed it to be.

 

Bitch as Alpha

Rachel de Luca is an alpha. (So am I.) She's a leader, provider, and protector of her pack. She does not use the word "bitch" as a pejorative. She uses it as it is, a powerful word with connotations of female strength, female assertiveness, female outspokenness, female empowerment, female courage, female persistence, female leadership, female dominance, women's unbreakable will, women's unshakable confidence, and women's unstoppable determination. That's what the word bitch means when Rachel (or I) use it.

 

In today's world, women call each other "bitch" in a respectful manner clearly not intended as an insult. It's a word women use a lot like we use the word "sister" or "boss." If you're called a boss bitch, you should feel doubly complimented. One of the most powerful New York editors I ever worked with had a plaque on her desk that read "Bitch Queen of the East Coast." She was not, I promise you, insulting herself. She was proclaiming her power, her leadership, her status.

 

Bitch is a word in need of reclaiming, owning, and using as women see fit. Kind of like our bodies.

 

Today, the word bitch means whatever the bitches of the world say it means.

 

Women

As women, we are under attack worldwide: 200 million girls and women from 31 countries have undergone genital mutilation; 15 million girls worldwide will never set foot in a classroom; 50% of the world's women are restricted from certain jobs or careers; in Missouri, pregnant women aren't allowed to get a divorce; trans women are four times more likely to be the victims of violence than cis individuals; the rights of women to control our own bodies by means of birth control, fertility treatments, and/or abortion are being taken away in more places every day.

 

The pack is under attack, my sisters. Our daughters and granddaughters are under attack. Their futures are under attack. 


Bitches defend the pack, not by policing one another's word choices or freedom of expression, but by amplifying them! We do it by standing together, fearless, loud, outspoken, empowered, and by refusing to back down. These are the qualities attributed to bitches, the very things "they" dislike about us. They want women to be quiet, small, silent, polite, and pretty. (Not to mention barefoot and pregnant.)

 

Screw that. Be a loud, proud, outspoken, empowered, independent woman.


Bitches rule!


 

For more from Rachel and her Inner Bitch, click the link for the blurb, excerpt, and all the buy links. Coming to paperback and ebook Tuesday! Pre-order today.


The Mermaid Murder in e and paperback, on an ocean background with a distressed brunette mermaid (blue tail)


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4 Comments


Honestly the word bitch doesn't bother me as long as it isn't derogatory although my mom would be scandalized if I used it in her presence, my grandmother too because she was the only one allowed to curse because she had a reason to do it! LOL! I believe in female empowerment but I find myself cut off because of my pro life beliefs and my conservative beliefs. I believe in empowering all females and I disagree that abortion is empowerment but because I don't think correctly according to some, I am a misogynist. I know women in my family who are very powerful, my gran would be one of them. She ruled the roost and that was before women…

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I hope everyone who reads here will respect your right to your opinion. I understand it's a touchy topic, and I appreciate you reading here and hope it wasn't too hard a post.

Hugs,

Maggie

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Woohoo you rock it sistah!!! Totally agree!! Love your books !! Keep going!!

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Thank you! I appreciate the support and encouragement!

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