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As general, and potentially offensive, statements often do not impact us that much, sexist swear words may also be considered harmless. But the reality is far from it, as they have a long history of contributing to the demeaning of women. The use of these words raises more questions than answers about the intent or purpose of the speaker. Swear words are the last resort in anger. They are often used to vent out our frustration over a particular event or action. So, why do we choose to use such abusive swear words? Do we realize how demeaning these words are? Whether you agree or not, I believe that society has a problem with sexism, especially in our language.
Sexism is prevalent in our everyday conversations in ways we don’t realize. The language we use daily shapes the way we view ourselves and others.
By the same token, there are swear phrases that target women who step outside of their roles as caregivers by comparing them to men. The word “bitch” is based on popular ideas of women’s nurturing, slave-like nature and calls upon associations of negative masculinity by conjuring an image of a man who is not in his proper role as head of a household and employer. This makes the language implicitly transphobic by erasing identity categories for people who don’t swear. `Bitch’ is a slur evoking images of an untamed animal or a woman who is unruly, dangerous, and may not follow the social conventions of the time. This use points to the idea that social conventions are oppressive. The term is also used for women who do not conform to social norms and expectations which reinforces this idea that society oppresses women.
Swear words are examples of the power of the language to enforce sexism. The male’s abilities and worth are enhanced, while the female is degraded by referring to them as a woman. The word bitch has more of a derisive connotation because it is an insult directed toward women, whereas the son of a bitch is considered milder because it is said about men. Swearing is not just a way to express emotion. It is also a powerful tool used to diminish someone through categorization and belittlement. When we use swear words as insults, we are relying on the fact that it will incite negative emotions in others by categorizing the person as something “less than”. Sexism is a way of seeing that distorts the way we relate to each other. The essence of sexist thinking is the idea that male and masculine are the norm (or ideal) forms, while everything else is a deviation from that. This manifests in grammar, therefore, with less valuable words attached to the feminine and women.