I completely identify with one of my trigger words being the word, “bitch.” I have had several occasions where males have called me this demeaning term when I was acting, “too successful,” “too independent,” or “too much like a man.” Why does the oppressor feel the need to oppress further to make himself or herself feel significant? We can have as many women groups to empower and stop women from being oppressed, but it is actually the oppressors that can stop the oppression from taking place and empower the oppressed.
Today, when I shared my story with fellow grads that I have been battling my own work environment with the southern chauvinistic thoughts that surrounded me everyday, I received a look of disgust in return. Student Affairs consists of mostly females, and it was clear enough that the other graduates in my presence could narrow down who I have had these experiences with. I have also battled the same views and words in the midwest during a very trying time in my life. I am not trying to pigeon-hole one particular part of the country or stereotype a culture. I did, however, grow up in the south, where I was taught to be submissive to my elders and any other gender. It took me a very long time to understand that it was alright, and expected, to be assertive and speak about my strengths in the professional world. My new found knowledge was liberating! At the same time, the fact that it is 2012 and I still have to have a conversation in the workplace with a man to explain that I do not “appreciate” that word, is discouraging. What happened to the Women’s Rights Movement in the 19th century?
Even if this word is played off as joke, it should not be used to describe someone’s actions or a person. The word is used to degrade and shame the person it is describing; and such a connotation is related mostly to women or being feminine. Is being feminine and strong that bad that you have to call me an animal? I would like to challenge you to think of your own privilege, culture, and life practices. Do you consciously or unconsciously, by your actions or words, try to elevate yourself above someone else to help you feel more powerful? How are we modeling behaviors for our students to learn?