It seems as if the word “bitch” has become so overused, it has lost virtually all meaning, leaving the occasional legitimately-wronged man with no words to describe women who actually harm them. Poor men!
Last week, the Daily Male reported that a dentist sedated her ex-boyfriend and then pulled out every single one of his teeth, after he had unceremoniously dumped her for another woman. The man appeared at her office in need of emergency dental surgery just days after he had broken up with her; when questioned, she admitted what she did, saying that she had been “unable to detach from her emotions” and now faces jail time as well as professional sanctions from her licensing board.
The man explains,
I knew something was wrong because when I woke up I couldn’t feel any teeth and my jaw was strapped up with bandages. She told me my mouth was numb and I wouldn’t be able to feel anything for a while and that the bandage was there to protect the gums, but that I would need to see a specialist.
But when I got home I looked in the mirror and couldn’t f****** believe it. The b**** had emptied my mouth.
Apparently, there simply are no words in the English language to differentiate women who actually cause harm from any other woman, or a woman who causes subjective or even made-up harm from one who causes objective, actual harm: the same reactionary, misogynistic slurs are used to describe us all. What differentiates a bitch from a non-bitch seems to be a man’s pleasure or displeasure with any woman’s behavior, regardless of the reasonableness of his response — the word is never descriptive of the woman, or of anything the woman actually did.
What is revealed by this use of equivalent language (e.g. referring to women as “bitches” regardless of context) is that boys and men think of all girls and women in exactly the same way — essentially, as the scum of the earth, and morally and even criminally deficient, and to the maximum degree — no matter what we do or don’t do.
Another interpretation is that men regard all girls and women and our actions and inactions to be irrelevant in the same way — which, in a political sense, happens to be true. Because patriarchy.
Including, as in this case, when a woman pulls out every single one of his teeth, bandages his head and jaw, and sends him home, violating several laws and rules of professional ethics in the process.
Here, one is left to wonder what this man would’ve called this woman if she would have, in addition to assaulting him, also lied about it, or worse? Or what words he had been using to describe her before that, when he was simply no longer interested in the relationship because he had found someone else? If he had ever called her a “bitch” previously, that would indicate that he had held her in exactly the same regard before — before she had even done anything objectively harmful or wrong.
But clearly, while it is frequently the case that men think a particular woman — or all women — are “bitches” all or much of the time, this equivalent response is objectively unreasonable. Indeed, if determinations of reasonableness or credibility were objective, men who call women “bitches” would be determined to have neither; if all women are bitches — and we all are — the pronouncement is meaningless.
Of course, since all men are presumed to be credible, the issue of “credibility” itself is a meaningless pronouncement, when applied to men. Saying that a man is credible is like saying “an apple is an apple” or describing a tangerine as being tangerine-y. Under patriarchy, the words are synonymous, and synonyms cannot legitimately be used to define or describe one another. Red flags should be raised, every time anyone tries.
Just like with the words “woman” and “bitch.”
ETA: On May 8, 2012, msnbc.com reported that the original story reported by the Daily Male has been revealed to be a hoax. See here for additional information and links. — Eds.