Come argue with me about the word “bitch”!

I’ve been thinking a lot about the word “bitches” in the world of roller derby. I often hear (not so much in my league, but online and generally by a younger crowd) phrases like “I’m going to push some bitches down at practice tonight” or “that bitch blocked Demanda Riot so hard in the last bout

”. I’m all for reclaiming words, we are an empowered community of athletes who don’t take shit from anyone and if we want to turn a word that normally belittles our population* (and that of half the worlds population) around and use it for our positive expression I’m all for that, I just don’t think “bitch” is that word…at all.

We are tough women*, we push our physical and mental limits often and grow together doing something we love. We are a family, we are sisters.

It’s taken a lot of work to get the sport to where it is now, respected as a feat of athleticism, an unstaged event, something that is worthy of supporting. Despite how positive derby has become in the eyes of society it’s still sexualized like none other (the ripped fishnet image, you know what I’m referring to). I feel like our use of the word “bitches” puts down our peers who we are trying to lift up (and do lift up in every other way).

Derby is one of the few places I can consider myself a feminist just by doing. In other areas (specifically surrounding academia at college) feminism is something you talk about. Discourse is passed off as action. When I am skating I feel that my relationship with my teammates perpetuates feminism more than any conversation I could be having. Putting that relationship on display is providing a positive role modeling of how I think women should be with one another: compassionate, tough, empowering. Why then, do we bring ourselves down by throwing around the word “bitch”?.

I would love to spark a conversation with this post. Please respond (even if you think I’m just arguing semantics I would love to hear your opinion).

*trans inclusive, of course.


5 thoughts on “Come argue with me about the word “bitch”!

  1. I’m glad you decided to tackle such an important issue. I have no experience with roller derby myself, and all that I have seen of it is the empowered, highly feminist side that you are so proud of. I was thinking of covering the topic of “bitches” in a blog post of my own. Perhaps I still will, though in a different context. What my opinion boils down to, I suppose, is that if you feel that “bitch” is being used derogatorily, it would be best to try and revise its use. “Bitch” itself is a very interesting word, and it can be used to denote either a very submissive individual or a very dominant individual. The distinction between the two in this case is a problem, but from the quotes you’ve used, I have to agree that it is most likely being used to describe the former, more negatively viewed “bitch.” You are arguing semantics, but in reality, there IS a world of difference between “I’m gonna push some bitches down tonight” and “I’m gonna take on a bad bitch tonight.”

    So, I guess what I’m saying is that I agree with you. Maybe the answer to this is to try and get rid of the term all together, maybe it’s to let it go as one negative among a sea of positive things about derby, and maybe it’s trying to flip the current “preferred” use of the word.

  2. Excellent insight. For me, “bitch” is in context- if I text a friend and I write BITCHES! it’s generally MY GIRLS! If I write/say, “She’s a bitch!” that’s in negative sense. My friends know the difference and I don’t use it unless I’m ready to back it up! 🙂 p.s. I’ve just begun my derby journey and not ready to use the word on anyone yet!!!!!!! Thanks! kellydawn68

    • The word “bitch” is absolutely a matter of context, I could not agree more. I think most things are.
      So happy to hear that you’ve started your derby journey. It’s a great one full of bruises and falling in love. Are you participating in a fresh meat program? If so, for what league?
      Best of luck with all of your derby endeavors, it gets rough at times but don’t give up!

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