I remember the first time I was called the “b” word. I remember it like it was yesterday, but really it was more than ten years ago.
I had just started the 7th grade and was on the bus home from school. I was sitting and chatting with a friend of mine, and mercifully my bus stop was coming up soon because the bus was never exactly a safe haven for me. I have always loved chewing gum and had a reputation at school as the girl who would give you a piece of gum if you asked. That day at school I had given out all but my last piece of gum, which I had saved for the bus. Another girl who was in the same grade as me noticed me chewing gum and made her way up the aisle to ask me for a piece. I told her I was chewing my last piece and apologized. She gave me a look that made me shrink into my seat as she evaluated the situation. After thinking for a second or two she spat out the words “what a b****” and walked back to her seat.
In the ten years that followed that incident I have been called that name again. I wouldn’t say it is countless times but enough times to get me thinking. And that first time? It has been seared in my memory for many reasons.
I remember thinking:
- Am I a b**** because I can’t share something with you I don’t have?
- Wait don’t call me that, you can have a piece tomorrow, just don’t call me that.
- You barely know me! How do you know I’m a b****?
I remember feeling:
- Hurt- just plain and simple. Someone had made a judgment about me that I felt was not fair or accurate. (Then again no woman is a b****. There are many adjectives that can be used to describe different women, but that one should NEVER be used.
This may not sound like the most emotionally scarring event that a 7th grader can experience. In fact, it may seem quite silly; to be called a b**** over not having gum to share. It stuck with me however, and that is what is important.
As I mentioned before, I have been called a b**** since that day, sometimes to my face and sometimes behind my back. What hurts me more now than the judgment it projects is who it is coming from. I would estimate that about 80% of the times I am called a b**** is by a fellow woman. A woman. Women are using insults specifically created to put women down on each other! I have decided not to call my fellow women that word or tell them they are acting b****y. Not ever.