It’s not the dirty word you think it is.

Goddess Diana Hunting; Wikimedia Commons

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez broke C-SPAN Twitter video records with her reprimand of Rep. Ted Yoho, after he called her a “fucking bitch”. Her powerful words came not in response to what the Congressman said — as she made clear, those words were nothing new to her — but rather his failure to apologize, referring instead to “his passion” for his God and country.

Rep. Ted Yoho made a mistake repeated by us all. He said words for which he has no real understanding. The context in which we use many words today, in several instances, bear no semblance to those words’ original meanings.

According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, English is a West Germanic language closely related to Frisian, German and Dutch languages. It was brought to Britain by the Anglo-Saxons who migrated there from Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands, around the mid 5th to 7th centuries AD.

The etymology of the English words we speak can be traced to those languages, but over the centuries the interpretations of our words have been heavily influenced by religion and patriarchy. The most obvious example is the word “God”, which for many is immediately interpreted as masculine, even while the earliest archaeological evidence for the practice of religion by humans points to the worship of the Goddess.

It is notable that Oxford Dictionaries, in response to accusations of sexism, state that they are simply reflecting how words are used in the real world.

And so let’s explore the word “bitch” and how it has been influenced by religion and patriarchy….

Artemis, the Greek Goddess of hunting and wild animals (known in Roman religion as the Goddess Diana) was worshiped as the Divine Huntress by the Scythian tribes named “Alani” by the Greeks. Alani translates to “hunting dogs” and the modern name “Alan” is a derivative of this. It is said that Pan, the Greek God of the wild and hunting, gifted Artemis seven bitches and when Artemis led her priestesses in the nocturnal hunt, the priestesses wore masks of hunting dogs. These priestesses were known as Artemis’ “Sacred Bitches”.

With the introduction of Christianity and the suppression of paganism, to be called a “son of a bitch” was to be called a pagan worshiper of the Goddess. The word bitch was intricately associated with the Goddess, and Judeo-Christian religion and patriarchy, in demoting the Goddess in favor of a masculine God, made it a derogatory term for the female. There is little irony in Rep. Yoho referencing his God and country in his non-apology.

In 2015, feminist and political activist Gloria Steinem urged women to say “thank you” when called a bitch, as a means of counteracting the derogatory word. Feminists have reclaimed the word as one denoting power, strength and independence. Even as women have been reinvigorating the word “bitch” with the power of the Goddess, men continue to spit out the word with the force of maliciousness that the patriarchy fosters. Educating people about the true meaning of words, brings a much needed clarity and pause.

As for being called a “fucking bitch”? The Dutch “fokken” is the foreparent of “fuck”, meaning “to breed”.

If you ask me (you didn’t but I’ll tell you anyway), what the world needs right now are bitches breeding more bitches. Because as Tina Fey tells us, “bitches get stuff done.”

For more information on women’s history and the true meaning of words used as derogatory terms for women, see The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets by Barbara G. Walker, honored by the London Times Educational
Supplement as 1986 “Book of the Year”.

See also https://wisewomansacademy.webs.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/groups/433625056685847 where you can connect with Debra Debow, who has a wealth of information to share on the subject.

Shifting Paradigms Freelance Writer/Ghostwriter/Editor Connect with me https://www.linkedin.com/in/nandinigosinemayrhoo/

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store