Who You Calling a Bit**? A How-To on Properly Addressing Women

May 7, 2012  |  

“Who you calling a bit**?” Yeah, here we go.  Apparently, I gotta let you know I’m not a bit**, a broad or a ho*.”

This is not a feminist manifesto.  A strongblackwoman rant it is not.  It is not a compilation of musings to be dismissed as chick logic.  This is no angry/bitter woman’s monologue.  A Mz. Independent, you better r.e.s.p.e.c.t. me, nag fest this ain’t.

To my Polo wearing, cool is forever, in search of Clair Huxtable, steeped in hip-hop culture brothers (whom we love), THIS is an open letter from colored girls who’ve abandoned suicide in favor of homicide when recounting daily doses of misogyny and declaring ENOUGH.  Let us acknowledge that a bit** is a female dog, a ho* a garden tool and broad an adjective used to describe things that are wide and of great breadth and extent.  And while some are indeed wide with supple rolling hills of wonderment, neither of the aforementioned terms is an appropriate moniker for a woman.

Now, I understand the politics of respectability and I agree that by and large women can do better in respecting themselves and thus garner greater respect from men.  With that, I can already anticipate the argument that not every girl is a woman, but before we go down that road of differentiation—let me submit one thing.  Let’s be real, some of your mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, nieces, cousins and friends have or will exhibit the same kind of behavior that promptly causes you to label a woman a #yourchoicewordhere.  Is it okay then for me to use this same term when referring to your mother?  Are you planning to use similar language for your daughter whose behavior WILL be influenced by the culture you continue to architect with your mouth?  Would it not be a more honorable and affirming practice to do away with vile and violent terms and to refer to the fairer sex as women instead, albeit calling those things that are not as though they were at times.

Let us have another frank moment.  I have not seen such display of unfaltering loyalty than that displayed by the black woman on behalf of the black man.  Even in the face of so many all out media affronts that would have one believe that there are very few dateable black men available for black women, black women continue to express their preference for black men rather than date outside the race.  Black women continue to herald such preference amidst very vocal proclamations of some black men that they prefer to date women who are indeed not black.  Black women will accept a man’s baggage and will embrace and treat children their men fathered with other women as their own.  In some extreme cases, black women will accept collect phone calls, deposit money into commissary accounts, and make the trek to prison to visit black men they love.  Many of us know women like the one Lupe Fiasco references.  You know, “the down baby mama who he really had to honor ‘cause she was his biggest fan,” the one who even let him use her Honda to drive up to Dallas when he opened up for amateurs and “let him keep a debit card so he could put gas in it.”  Man!  That’s a black woman for you.

I’ll leave the painful conversation that includes the bitter truth that black men simply are not as loyal, are not as devoted, are not as committed to black women as we are to them for another day.  But, today I will ask that you do not repay our stalwart allegiance by calling us bit**es, broads and ho*s.  It is disrespectful; it is painful; it is outright unnecessary and uncalled for.  My mama named my Sheena…you should call me Sheena.  I am someone’s daughter, sister, the aunt that nieces and nephews look up to.  I am the friend who affirms those around me and gives them the liberty to be themselves, the companion who is committed to remaining the object of your desire, who makes sure that your stomach remains full, your intellect tickled and your spirit fed, the one who understands your struggle and vows that you will be respected and built up rather than torn down by the words of my mouth.  It is from my bowels, my womb that all of civilization was birthed.  I am a (black) woman.  Call me that.  And for those whom you do not think worthy of the term, call them women anyway.  Call them women until they begin to behave as such.

May I go further?  Don’t call me a female.  Yes, I understand that I am indeed female.  I have two X chromosomes, a vagina that I am quite fond of, a uterus and ovaries.  I’m not denying the obvious.  I am, however, pointing out that calling me a female is another instance where you’re neglecting to acknowledge me as a woman.  How many times have you heard a woman say “I tell you about males” or start a sentence with “males today” while simultaneously shaking her head?  Chances are, never.  You may not understand this, but referring to a woman as a female is usually seen as pejorative.  And despite whether you understand it, if I express to you that I find it disrespectful, you should probably just refrain from using it.  Men arguing for the use of female in place of woman is like white people insisting upon calling black people colored or negro instead, thin people calling overweight people fat, and those who believe they themselves are actually sane referring to mentally ill people as retarded.  While a small case can be made for the use of some words, all of the people in favor of making said case should just take several seats.

Cues U.N.I.T.Y.  Can I entice you my Polo wearing, cool is forever, in search of Clair Huxtable, steeped in hip hop culture brothers—whom I love—to simply love a black woman from infinity to infinity?  She’s not a bit**, a broad or a ho*.  And though she may be female, don’t call her that!  If you can’t call her by name, by all means call her woman.  She just might be the Clair you covet and in turn call you Brother to the Night…let you be the blues in her left thigh and become the funk in her right.  Alriiiight?

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  • Guest

    My favourite article from Madame Noire so far

  • Pingback: U.N.I.T.Y. That’s a Unity… Who You Calling a Bit**? A How-To On Properly Addressing Women | songofherself()

  • activist1

    I understand where the author is coming from but women are guilty of all of this as well. It goes both was. Women need to be just as responsible for how they refer to other women and men as well.

  • RedButterfly81

    I would turn into Mike Tyson if anyone calls me a B___ because I’m not a female dog! But there are young women, some older than me, don’t mind getting called the b-word and most of them call themselves that word. My mom said not to respond to those words other than my name or ma’am. Plus I hate it when guys call us “female” in a negative way, I know I’m a female, but don’t say it as if it’s a bad thing.

  • SuZQ

    So agree…hate the word “female” as a description of a woman. Female does not denote a species eg a female dog, female cat, female bat, etc, while woman is understood to mean a human woman. The word female, for me, is one step from calling me a female dog ( a b*tch). Yucky word!

  • I do cringe when I hear women referred to as “females.” Of course we are female, but there is something negative in the tone when a guy says females.  Cant put my finger on it….


    YES!!! Love this article! I HATE the word FEMALES. Last timed i checked that word was utilized as an adjective, not a noun (e.g. Proper way to use “female”: That female panda is preparing for childbirth  or His female friends upset me). I agree that using the word “female” to address women/girls is a way to distance themselves from the person. smh! 

  • Miss B

    (Standing up & clapping)

  • Yeah….OK

    I haaaaaate when women or men say “female” like who teaches u to say that?!? It sounds ignorant I always say woman or man when I’m talking about humans…. It’s my pet peeve!!

  • Hold on one second here Sheena. If I may I am 22 year old black man that has respect for a black woman or any woman for that matter. I do not use such defamatory words towards women at all. I simply refer to the situation as it is seen by my eyes.  If they are acting impulsive, mean- spirited or even vengeful etc. As for your article I did read it and I do understand where is it your coming from but, do not label EVERY black man as a polo wearing in search of a Clair Huxtable brother. Because, The truth of the matter is : people are the products of the their environment and aforementioned situations that causes them to act accordingly towards it by the guidelines set by their family members, friends, media, & their neighborhood. Also, don’t lump up every black man in the same category for none of us is created equal by reason of personality. But hey, what am I to say i’m just another brother from the ghetto that just knows how to talk and understand women from their perspective, that is constantly seen as dirty mouthed individual that cannot talk intelligently because my black brothers from another mother cannot seem to get their vocabulary in check. -Joseph 

  • Mls2698

    I’ve never been called any of those words.