Who You Callin’ A…Does the “B-Word” Bother You?

March 2, 2014  |  


I remember when a good friend of mine started dating the best friend of a guy I had been seeing. They fell in love hard and fast and before I knew it while joking around on the phone he said something like, “Y’all b**ches play too much.” While my friend giggled it off, I promptly got on the phone and asked him not to refer to me that way. I wouldn’t begin to describe myself as an uptight person; in fact very rarely do I easily feel disrespected. But the ease to which he referred to us as the b-word was unsettling.

Although the term is used freely on TV since being a term of endearment I was still raised in a day where calling someone a female dog was unacceptable. But like the n-word, many of us feel like we can manipulate words to mean what we want them to and when we want them to mean it. Our most popular defense is, “It’s not what you say but how you say it,” which for many people is confusing. It’s no wonder why so any relationships suffer from miscommunication.  So when my friend decided to date this guy seriously and he casually called her his “main b**ch”, I was all kinds of confused when she tried to put him check responding with, “I’m your girl now. You can’t talk to me that way.” Huh? I don’t understand why women allow certain things before they make a commitment, but suddenly try to introduce new rules to the game when they get a title.  If you don’t make your standards clear from the beginning you can’t expect a man to fall in line because you’ve labeled the relationship. That’s false advertisement. You wouldn’t let Walmart do that to you, so why allow a man to?

I don’t care how many sitcoms think it’s catchy, I still have my reservations about the b-word. I’ve definitely hashtagged pictures of me and my bestie with “Long as my b**ches love me,” but even then it’s never felt all the way right coming off my tongue. And It’s hard to tell just who I’ll come across that isn’t cool being called that. I feel even if any word requires that much thought or reservation, I’ll just avoid using it altogether.

When I was growing up, calling a girl the b-word was the utmost sign of disrespect. It was used to refer to everything from a woman men perceived thought she was “better” because she didn’t want to be bothered by cat calls while she walked to the bus to a woman who got with her guy’s best friend behind his back. It’s the difference between a friendly game of the dozens to a full out fight where someone’s nose gets broken.

If we consider Merriam Webster Dictionary as an official source, it lists the definition of the b-word as a lewd or immoral woman, a malicious, spiteful, or overbearing woman, something that is extremely difficult, objectionable, or unpleasant. What we’re consulting as the authority on the English language doesn’t list anything positive or empowering about the world.  But over time there’s been this battle to make the word mean loyalty, dominance, independence, being outspoken and opinionated. We’ve had artists like Nicki Minaj, Trina, Lil Kim and Meredith Brooks as modern-day feminists refer to themselves as bitches, lovers and bosses all in the same breath. But if you remember Queen Latifah was about to catch a case in her song for U.N.I.T.Y. when a man let that word to leave his lips. I think if we as women can’t even agree on whether we are offended or empowered by the word, how can we expect anyone else to?

If the word “thot” is any indication, we are way too creative as a culture to try to manipulate the meanings of words that were initially meant to degrade us. And even though this discussion may seem outdated since the b-word has officially made it to network TV, I can’t help by question why some behaviors suddenly become acceptable when certain races say it’s OK. Having kids before marriage was for the hood rats until before Brad and Angelina decided to put the legacy before the marriage license, then it was “progressive”. The b-word was foul until Tina Fey started dropping b-bombs on 30 Rock and ABC advised us Don’t Trust the B in Apt. 23. Now, it’s funny.

Well I’m not laughing. And until I don’t have to run a survey in my head about if the company I’m keeping can handle how empowered and progressive I am, I think I’ll just call the ladies I’m closest to my besties.

Toya Sharee is a community health educator and parenting education coordinator who has a  passion for helping  young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health.  She also advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about  everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee or visit her blog, Bullets and Blessings.

Trending on MadameNoire

View Comments
Comment Disclaimer: Comments that contain profane or derogatory language, video links or exceed 200 words will require approval by a moderator before appearing in the comment section. XOXO-MN
  • Madame Noire: Wondering why my comments were deleted from this post?

  • MsLadyE

    The B-word DOES bother me. So does the N-word. I hate it when people call women “females” too. And the only people who call me “girl” are family and close friends.
    The B-word is NOT a term of endearment. It HURTS. It’s like somebody hauled off and slapped you in the face. If my man called me his main b—-, he’d be history. If a man loves his lady, he wouldn’t disrespect her by calling her a female dog.

  • coolyfett

  • Kristen

    I don’t like it, refused to be called it, refuse to call anyone else it unless they are being a REAL 13ITCH but definitely it’s not something I joke around with. If you allow yourself to be disrespected, and thinking it’s okay as long as it’s being used in a “good” sense then you’re allowing others to disrespect you in other ways.

  • Leah Robinson

    Yep my friends and I do not refer to each other using the B word. It’s become way too common and I don’t like. I’m a young woman not a B.

  • coolyfett

    Interesting….very interesting indeed.

  • frenchmarie

    actually, even if the person would be pointing at me, I don’t even feel concerned about this word.

  • bee

    No one can refer to me as the “b-word” and not have me pitch a fit or suggest that they don’t address me at all, if they feel the need to use such derogatory terms towards me. I even hate when women say, “.. don’t call me out my name” .. wth? I always counter with, “..soo, the b-word is your name?” It’s not a term of endearment at all – same goes for the n-word in my book.

  • Shawndrea Rachelle

    I personally think we give that word waaay too much power

    • bee

      I LOATHE when people use this excuse. Words are just words until they sting you, right? smh

      • Shawndrea Rachelle

        It’s not an excuse it’s my opinion

  • AliRobi

    How old are you all? What’s your Twitter/ FB?

  • hollyw

    Ehhhh… it doesn’t bother me as much as it used to, and I’ll admit to deferring to it jokingly a few times recently w/ my bff… however, I’ll also admit that I felt more like using it literally towards her when she p*ssed me off, too, so that’s enough to wean me off of it altogether.

    I see what the writer’s saying in comparing it to the N-word; however, I think it’s worth noting how the English language does evolve and words are capable of changing and losing certain meanings. Case-in-point, her Webster’s definition. Last century, b—- meant dog and the word we used to describe b-tchy women was “shrew”(e.g. Taming of the Shrew)…*shrug*

  • provokethought

    Does it bother me? YES!!!!!

  • DeadRising3



    naw don’t call em the B word…. these cunts deserve more then that

    • trollyfae

      So did ya mother, but she got stuck with you. Wanna do her a favor an k.i.l.l.y.a.s.e.l.f..? :O

  • Kitten Roulaine

    It is a derogatory term, and cannot be used as a term of endearment under any circumstances. Women can, and could have nipped this frivolity in the bud a long time ago, by simply aligning yourself with people who do not, and will not accept this type of language ( which is also indicative of behavior) to be present in any type of dialogue. Mothers teach your daughters this is not an acceptable form of vocabulary ( anyone opting to be a friend will get that, and follow suit ).

    • DeadRising3

      While the mothers are teaching their daughters not to accept this word, who will teach boys and men not to use it against women and girls?

      • Kitten Roulaine

        The same mothers and fathers. It all start’s at home, the good and the bad.

  • Cinnamon

    The B word and the N word should not be used.I have used them and a lot but recently I know my saying them are wrong and degrading so vowed to stop. Secondly I don’t want my daughter hear me describe someone by these words.These words are ugly….

  • FromUR2UB

    When I’ve called someone a b*tch, a n*gger, or a mammy – to describe women who remind me of house servants from old Hollywood movies, saying things like, “Ohhh, Ms. (insert a first name), I’m so confuuuused!’ (I’m in the south. It still happens) – I mean them to be offensive. I take them the same way. You can’t be my friend and call me derogatory names. Even among friends, I suspect there’s a bit of cattiness there when that b-word rolls out.

  • Val

    I don’t do the B word nor the N word. And, I don’t accept people referring to me as “girl” either.

    • TT

      Girl be quiet.

    • DeadRising3

      I don’t accept those either. I also don’t accept being referred to as ‘young lady’ because it is always said in a patronizing manner. It is also incorrect.

      • hollyw

        Agreed. Anything that comes with a prescription, I can do without. Can I just be a woman lol?

        • DeadRising3

          I know, right. I hate when someone greets me as ‘young lady’. Like, why do you need to greet me by pointing out my gender and perceived age?

          • hollyw

            Exactly! And I still look like a teenager so the situation gets extra -creepy with them trying to backpedal to see if I’m even legal…UGH!

  • I appreciate your opinion but “Having kids before marriage was for the hood rats…” seems a bit unfair in this discussion. I don’t have children but that statement seems just as offensive as “the b-word”.

    • TT

      You’re whats wrong with black women today if you support children out of wedlock.

      • What I don’t support is generalizations + labels being used in a post about not using offensive labels. Nice of you to spend your Sunday trolling versus adding anything of substance to this discussion.

        • IMJSANYUmad

          that aint trolling, THIS is trolling… u a ugly MUTT, and the rat fur round ya neck confirms this L you taking

          • DeadRising3

            “An internet ‘troll’ is an abusive or obnoxious user who uses shock value to promote arguments and disharmony in online communities. ” – About(.)com

          • trollyfae

            I think you just confused her with ya girlfriend…oh wait, probably don’t have one, always begging for attention on here wit ya needy azz haha!

        • hollyw

          On-point response. I should’ve known that an article debating anything having to do with respect and women would bring out the trolls faster than a.score to a crackhead smh…

      • Chey

        Right, let’s call a spade a spade. That’s messy.

      • DeadRising3

        So this one woman is what is wrong with an entire population of people?

  • Mia

    My parents didn’t give me the B-word as my name when I was born, I’m not a female dog, my friends even hate that word, so don’t call me that derogatory word. I even loathe when other females and gay men call themselves that, I mean really. Yeah I’m that old school.