We need to talk about language….I mean if that’s ok? I don’t mean to be pushy or bossy but….Ok, you’re a bit silent now and look disappointed …I mean you didn’t put this on the agenda and I realise we’re all busy and this was unexpected but…Look, I’ll just carry on and finish and you can think about it and maybe we can talk later when you have more time….Is that ok?
If the opening paragraph seems familiar that’s how many of us do it, because that’s how many of us have to do it. Let’s face it raising a difficult topic like the mass oppression of women by men through physical, mental, verbal, financial and sexual manipulation and abuse, isn’t the easiest of things to do. Is it.
The sociologically identified construct of patriarchy is widely treated as a word best whispered if said at all, and yet its reach and scope has recently been shown up to be very real. In an industry where older men routinely gather in silence around a camera rigged to a monitor, where a much younger half naked women simulates sex with another man, as it sells more units of art; we were “shocked” to learn that sexual abuse and harrassment of the vulnerable by the powerful, is routine.
In any institution or power based construct there is bullying and there is abuse. Depressingly women are being blamed both for their silence and for speaking out. But this also is routine for one clear reason.
Patriarchy permits abuse.
When a society is based on the exploitation of one gender over another for the benefit of one gender and the detriment of the other, then it enables abuse and prevents equality.
Put bluntly, men rule.
For the purposes of this blog I want to be clear. This is about the oppression of women by men. I’m not going to cite instances of oppression of men by women.
There’s rarely a topic, that directly and disproportionately affects women that, when addressed isn’t now diluted by the “ But what about men” argument. That’s the patriarchy at work. If you want to stop and read something which focuses on that, I recommend anything written or said by Philip Davies MP. Which isn’t a statement I’d usually make.
As I said, men rule.
So to return to language, I want to state something clearly, I’m a bitch.
I know I’m viewed as such because as I’m 51 and because I’m a woman and particularly a woman with autism, I’ve learnt that women with autism are no friend to the patriarchy. I have a rather fixed view of fairness for one thing and the utterly disconcerting habit of saying exactly what I think. Autism aside there is an invisible rule when it comes to expressing opinions “men can, women can’t”
I expressed one of my illegal opinions this week, when I watched Chris Packham’s excellent documentary entitled “Asperger’s and Me”. There was only one thing missing from the programme, a woman with autism. There were women of course, Chris’s partner and a mother of a young man with autism and there was some historical footage of a girl being forced to conform to ABA but autistic women? Not so much.
I did wonder comedically if they should have called it “Asperger’s and Men” but I only thought it, I didn’t say it, because it was widely and rightly praised and that would have meant flowing against the tide of opinion which is a bit knackering online, after a long day of fighting for my autistic adult daughter’s rights, offline.
I did like it though for many reasons including his coat hanger system.
My energy has been spent for as long as I can remember on attempting to fit in.
If you want to read about my road to diagnosis you can in my blog, which I wrote in 2014, called “Asperger’s and me” Oh the irony
Highlighting that there were no women in the show, doesn’t take anything from the show, unless you’re a woman or girl with autism currently living through diagnosis of a condition, which is predominantly seen as male. In that regard the program’s gender bias, didn’t really help dispel that myth.
The reason I created the hashtag #SheCantbeAutistic stems from the difficulties women and girls face in being diagnosed, because we present very differently from men. Therefore the default position when you’re being assessed lies in proving that we are autistic. Aspects raised when I started the hashtag are things like “being able to do stand up comedy, having children, being married, holding down a good job, being creative, wearing makeup and being interested in fashion and having friends”.
It’s an odd position to find yourself in but as I say, men rule.
As a self-proclaimed bitch, I’m saying this for two reasons. Firstly I want to reclaim the insult and instead wear it as a badge of honour.
Women who are called bitches by men are usually confident and able to clearly state what they want. They highlight the fact that they are expected to be much better than men in gaining promotion and identify when their rights are being compromised. They call out injustice and won’t be silenced. Men calling women bitches are misogynistic.
Men calling other men bitches, are using the term to state that in their opinion the man to whom they refer is less than human, inferior, whiny, and owned by the superior male. It’s a call to deference. Men calling men bitches are sexist.
Women also call women bitches. They do so from a misogynistic construct. They have been taught that to call another woman a bitch is an adherence to male dominance, as it is traditionally the word used to control. In using that term about another woman, either to a man about a woman or to a woman in front of men, they establish their conformity to the patriarchy and their deference to its rules. It highlights that the other woman has stepped temporarily, out of their pre-designated “place” and that they as the user of the term is remaining firmly within it. Women calling other women bitches are serving at the will of the patriarchy.
I’m happy to be referred to as a bitch for the simple reason that it means I’m speaking clearly. I’m challenging the status quo and I’m disconcerting those who need to be disconcerted.
The second reason for referring to myself as a bitch, is to reclaim the power of the insult.
Insults are opinions but the word bitch, carries a weight of societal approbation, which is tiresome. It speaks to predestination, to lines that are drawn of which I had no say, of place, of time and most worryingly is used to silence women. We are supposed to be afraid of being described in this way. We are required to be cowed by the term and to be schooled in the manner in which we are supposed to behave, by men.
The patriarchy moves in mysterious ways its oppression to perform.
Ultimately it would be better if women weren’t called bitches. However until we reach a time when true equality is achieved, I’m happy to take the word back and highlight its intentions.
I mean, if that’s ok…?..I’ll leave you to think about it shall I? You know when you have more time… Please don’t… you know…think I’m being a bitch, or anything….