There are so many ways for a woman to be called a bitch without the word ever escaping the lips of the accuser.
Before Twitter confirmed what I already knew about being called the “b-word,” I learned all about the endless ways of being referred to as everything but a child of God by the boys and men on the streets of San Francisco. From being soaked with water guns to having my purse taken and held as ransom for my “real name and number,” I’ve seen what it means to be called the “b-word” without an actual parting of the lips.
Even those men who claim to love & respect women can call you a bitch without saying the word. “Smile girl!” #MasculinitySoFragile
— Un-Edited (@Un_Edited) September 23, 2015
Today this type of behavior goes by popular terms like shaming and street harassment and the streets have expanded to include virtual pavements by way of social media and texting, but the lesson is still the same: Wielding the word no in response to a man’s advances is a capital offense punishable of up to 100 ways of being called a bitch, with at least 99 of those problems not using the actual word.
Despite Jay Z’s avouchment of having “99 problems and a bitch ain’t one,” even his wife, thee Queen Bey has, and is currently experiencing the punishment of brandishing the weapon No. In a recent interview, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, responded to Beyoncé’s independence, her beauty and her choice to bare cleavage with a public criticism of her wardrobe choices and her husband’s perceivable agreement of her independence. Minister Farrakhan charges Beyoncé and other women with being the keepers of the sanity of men. He asked, “How can a man think straight, looking at the beauty of Beyoncé? Help us to be more sane.” Because…#MasculinitySoFragile.
It amazes me how some respectable men can genuinely love and respect their mothers, sisters, daughters and most any other blood related female, but can so easily scroll through their timelines or woman gaze on Any Street, USA (and beyond) and proudly declare their lust or abhorrence—usually a hybrid of the two–accentuated by the “b-word” towards someone else’s daughter, sister or mother. Reject a man’s unwanted attention or disregard his demands, and while he may not call a woman the “b-word,” his lust may quickly turn into abhorrence trying to question you with, “Who do you think you are?” and convince you that “You’re not all that cute anyway.” Women keep walking, ignoring both his advances and his misguided assertion. A woman’s polite silence is usually the key to stave off further comments. Because…
#MasculinitySoFragile that it’s more important to teach women to reject men politely than it is to teach men to accept rejection peacefully
— jamilah (@JamilahLemieux) September 23, 2015
Women generally exercise a great deal of decorum in the face of male insults because the oppressed are always taught to love and respect the oppressor. But this isn’t just true for women. It’s also true for the black lives that are devalued by people and systems that oppress but expect a thank you sir and ma’am while unjustly flexing their authority. It’s true for the boy wonder who demonstrates ingenuity, but due to his cultural makeup and religion, is racially profiled and oppressed. It’s true for the aging population who have paid into a system that places them on an unlivable fixed income and demands that they be satisfied with the poor conditions. It’s true for the homeless and mentally ill veterans. It’s true for every oppressed person and group of people who consistently find themselves on the wrong end of right.
#MasculintySoFragile is a reminder that the war on racism, xenophobia, and homophobia is a war fought alongside sexism. We’ve made great strides in how far we’ve come, but we may still need a few more decades, catchy hashtags and newly coined terms for those strides to be long enough to make us a nation of equals.