Ho’s, sluts, and other terms for women…..

This controversy raging over Don Imus’s comments about the Rutgers Women’s Basketball team, has made me really think about how language so frames our thoughts about women, black women and white women. How easily, just in a tossed off phrase, can the accomplishments of group of young women striving to be the best, be brought low. Call her a ho….a bitch…a slut. I’t all the same.
And it really concerns me that those terms have become so ubiquitous in our society, that I’m sure Imus didn’t really think too much about it when he said it. I’d bet if you did a logging of his programs for the last few years, calling women names, has happened before.
It’s what Imus does….rude remarks that for many pass as humor, insulting whoever comes within his scope. That’s his schtick. Surely that’s no surprise to anyone.
What should happen to him? That’s not my decision…I don’t listen to Imus….never have and I never will. I don’t like him. That won’t change.
What I do hope this brouhaha will do is focus a discussion on not just the hideousness of negative racial comments….that is a given…but also trying to change the language about women. To stop the use of such terms that are intended only to demean women, and render their accomplishments moot. How many times have you seen a woman become successful, and heard someone remark, and often from another woman,  “I wonder who she slept with?”…..isn’t it all the same?
That a women’s sexuality is adored and besmirched all at the same time….and women are guilty of it too. Stop the name calling, even in fun….it only empowers others who have no right to use those terms, to throw them around, thinking, “it’s all in good fun”.
I know someone, …a guy at work…who occasionally uses the term bitch. And he is a great guy….and I don’t think he is sexist, but I’ve let him know, I don’t like the word, used in reference to me or anyone. And….he got the message.
I was reading a book called Women and Language in Transition by Joyce Penfield….in is she writes….”A woman’s sex is used as if it is the most salient characteristic of her being, but this is not the case for males. The situation is basis for much of the defining of women, and it underlies much of the deprecation.Stanley(1976), in researching terms for sexual promiscuity, found 220 terms for a sexually promiscuous woman but only 22 terms for a sexually promiscuous man.”
Enough already.


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