Confession: I, in the presence of a man, called another woman a bitch the other day.

I didn’t say it to her face, and he certainly isn’t going to tell her I said it, but I’m having mixed feelings about it. As the feminist editor of this-here feminist magazine, it feels wrong to use the “B word” against another woman, especially within earshot of menfolk. Even if she earned it. Which she totally did, by the way.

Am I participating in my own oppression by uttering this tired sexist slur meant to diminish and intimidate us? Or am I celebrating my hard-won freedom of expression by callin’ it like I see it? Maybe it’s this month’s theme, What’s in a Name?, that has me feeling so torn about it. Or maybe I’m just disappointed that this particular woman missed the memo that we should all be looking out for each other. And that she was such a beeyatch.

I won’t bore you with the details, but the upshot is that I had a meeting to introduce myself to the Rhymes with Kitsch, and she was wildly unpleasant to me and the man I was with. A scant 21 minutes (yes, I checked) into a meeting that was supposed to be an hour, we hauled ass out of her office before a trap door opened and she sent us plummeting into that pit from “Return of the Jedi” that Jabba the Hut had (minus Carrie Fisher wearing intergalactic swimwear).

We left there slightly dazed, stunned by how slyly hostile she was. As we debriefed afterward, he and I danced around describing the experience until I came right out and said it: “She was just kind of a bitch.”

He looked relieved that I’d been the one to say what we’d both been thinking, and I felt relieved to speak my mind. The whole thing turned out to be kind of a bonding experience, which is a plus.

But I don’t like that it came to that, and I like even less that we had to go through it. I’m well aware that fellow feminists have embraced the word and reclaimed it, but this has still left me feeling a little defeated.

Why was she so mean to us? I have no idea. Why is she that mean to everyone I know who has ever interacted with her? Not a clue. What I do know is that she’s one of the highest ranking women where she is, and she clearly didn’t get there by being a ray of sunshine.

Ultimately, I console myself with the idea that if she’d been a man, I would’ve called him a jackhole, or something equally eloquent, and not felt conflicted at all. Nasty characters are nasty characters, and that is what equality is all about.

I also console myself by planning to mentally chant “Jedi mind tricks don’t work on me” the next time I meet with her.

In the R-word,

Karen Hawkins is the Founder and Rebelle in Chief of Rebellious Magazine. She is a recovering mainstream media reporter and editor who wants to thank her former boss for naming the online magazine she's...

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