Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Bitch or Witch?

As a result of censorship, men called women "witches" instead of "bitches" in the song: It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp* at the 78th Academy Awards on Sunday.

This begs the question: Is it better to be called a Witch or a Bitch by a man? So, prompted by a comment from Panacea on a previous post, I looked up a few definitions.

Bitch [noun]
1: a lewd or immoral woman
2: a malicious, spiteful, or domineering woman - sometimes used as a generalized term of abuse

Witch [noun]
1: one that is credited with usually malignant supernatural powers … often with the aid of a devil
2: an ugly old woman : hag
3: a seductive, alluring, bewitching woman

Pimp [noun]
1: a man who solicits clients for a prostitute

Wow! The definition of "pimp" sounds so banal and bland. It even suggests that the pimp is working as a subordinate for the prostitute - with absolutely no mention that he is engaged in an unlawful, immoral and destructive practice. (Whereas a prostitute is described far less favorably, as debasing herself for money.)

As for Bitch vs. Witch, at least "Bitch" is less ambiguous. I pretty much know where I stand. Isn't it interesting that "Witch" can indicate both an ugly old hag - as well as - an alluring seductress? Clearly, if anyone calls me a "witch," I will have to request clarification!

“Excuse me, Sir, but do you find me utterly irresistible or extremely unseemly? Or am I really a spawn of the devil? Please clarify.”


* Winner of the Oscar for best original song (2006).

(The definitions above have been collected/combined from the American Heritage Dictionary and Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

27 repartee:

Blogger Sven wrote...

That makes pimp sound synonymous with broker.

"I just heard about a great new investment opportunity, I'll have to call my stock pimp."

You might find some of the definitions at Urban Dictionary more accurate. Here is one:

Pimp - A man who makes a profession out of reducing women to commodities and convincing them to sell their bodies to clients. An oppressor of women. One of the lowest forms of humanoid scum.

3/08/2006 3:06 PM  
Blogger frankengirl wrote...

Sven – You’re so right-on about the pimp-broker equation! It’s like pimping has gone mainstream?!

“One of the lowest forms of humanoid scum.”

Ha! Yes, I much prefer the definition you’ve found over the ones I collected/combined from American Heritage and Merriam-Webster - ;)

Thanks. It’s good know at least one dictionary is a truth-teller.

3/08/2006 3:54 PM  
Blogger frankengirl wrote...

Ah, Sven - I found another "splendid" definition at the Urban Dictionary!

Prostitute: "A women who sells her body to a variety of creeps, low-lifes and degenerates. The majority of her wages goes directly to her abusive scumbag pimp who takes pride in the fact that he arranges for her to be degraded at the expense of scum."

In the more traditional dictionaries, she’s described as promiscuous and debasing herself for the sake of money.

3/08/2006 4:28 PM  
Blogger actonbell wrote...

Great post! Witch and bitch are used so often, we really ought to make people say exactly what they mean:)

Prostitute~ a person, usually a woman, who performs sexual acts for money. It is a business transaction, albeit a sad one.

pimp-a man who sometimes kidnaps and rapes, and always arranges clients for, said prostitutes. The pimp is the real lawbreaker.

3/08/2006 7:02 PM  
Blogger frankengirl wrote...

actonbell - Hi! You make an excellent distinction here between pimp/prostitute.

"Witch and bitch are used so often, we really ought to make people say exactly what they mean"

Yes, and they must use at least one simile or metaphor or it just doesn’t count! - ;)

3/08/2006 8:44 PM  
Blogger mysticgypsy wrote...

hahaahahah imagine what would happen if we asked such a question for every word we used :P

hmm...which surprises me actually...since most of us just assume meanings of words so easily without stopping to question :/

(except perhaps in English classes :P)

3/08/2006 9:21 PM  
Blogger frankengirl wrote...

MysticGypsy! Yeeeeeeeees!

What if we don't understand each other most of the time?! Scary! (No wonder people get into so many messes!) We may assume we are using the same "language," but all the while, we are translating words quite differently (like aliens)!

English evolves, twists and turns, gets abused, butchered, slanged-around, and new dictionaries come out - and what if the person we are chatting with is working off an OLD edition of the dictionary!!!

Then again, it might be burdensome to define all of our words as we speak - ;) I see no remedy here.

Gosh, no wonder I feel so misunderstood! :P

3/08/2006 10:55 PM  
Blogger UltimateWriter wrote...

I think witch carries slightly more respect as it does describe an actual profession.

3/09/2006 9:34 AM  
Anonymous Holly wrote...

Although I can't entirely justify why, given the profound ugliness implied by "witch" and the way our culture equates any sort of female value with beauty, I think I agree with ultimatewriter, that "witch" carries slightly more respect. I think I'd rather be a witch than a bitch.

I guess I think "witch" implies a recognition--albeit a fearful recognition--of female power, while "bitch" is an attempt to minimize and trivialize that power.

3/09/2006 10:01 AM  
Blogger frankengirl wrote...

UW –

Yes! A witch may be evil, but at least she’s industrious! And what does a bitch do but bitch (verb: complain and moan)?

Holly –

As both you and UW point out, there are pagan women who profess proudly to be witches.

In respect to “Bitch,” I have been sensing there is a new wave of women reclaiming the word “Bitch” for themselves – using it as a definition of strength and toughness. Like: “I’m a Bitch and proud of it! So don’t mess with me!”

But this is similar to the way in which a woman may call herself a “Girl,” but a man should not. The word changes meaning in the mouth of the opposite sex.

Despite the “mainstream” definitions, I think - in the mouth of a man - “Bitch” objectifies a woman more, adding a sexual edge, that “Witch” does not. Bitch and Whore seem to go together, where as Witch does not.

Yes, I’d rather be a Witch, too - ;)

3/09/2006 10:34 AM  
Blogger Golgotha_Tramp wrote...

I'm proud to call myself (and have on many occasions) bitch, whore or my favourite wench!

Usually when I'm being mean and enjoying it I call myself a Bitch.

I use the word Whore all the time, I call myself and all my male friends it (never to a girl unless you know for sure it's cool)

And I am the best Beer wench in Nottingham, so don't be messing.

I think again it comes down to context. Things like I use the "C" word all the time and have no issue with it. I actually like it as a word but I would never call some one it.

3/09/2006 10:50 AM  
Blogger frankengirl wrote...

Golgotha – Thank you! You perfectly illustrate a woman who embraces a word (which might be used against women) and who makes the word your own. By using Bitch the way you do, you’re redefining the word, and thus, the word loses power over you.

If someone says: You’re a bitch.
You might say: Damn right I am!

This turns the word on its head and it’s a wonderful way to counter-attack.

Also, you use the word playfully, not angrily. As you say, context is significant here. In anger, bitch becomes an ugly world (and rather uncreative, if you ask me). - ;)

3/09/2006 11:21 AM  
Blogger The Poodle's Friend wrote...

Yeah, bitch is losing it's negative connotations. It's the cool thing to be right now.
What about 'byatch'? Isn't that sometimes used as the 'playful' substitute for the real word? I wonder if the meaning is different at all...

“Excuse me, Sir, but do you find me utterly irresistible or extremely unseemly? Or am I really a spawn of the devil? Please clarify.” - this had me giggling in a rather silly manner. My mum gave me a look. Thanks for cheering me up, frankengirl! It reminds me of 'Excuse me, but are you the imprint of a departed soul?'

OK, I swear this is the end of the comment. You're probably not interested, but the Turkish word for pimp is 'pezavenk', and it's a terrible insult, but I find the word uber-funny (as in, the sound it makes is funny). Anyways, nobody in Turkey would even dream of writing songs where pimps are glorified.

3/09/2006 12:36 PM  
Blogger frankengirl wrote...

TPF - Of course, I’m interested in your Turkish ways, you Poodle! And I personally find “bad” words far more enjoyable in other languages. I’m glad “pimp” is a terrible insult in Turkey, because I’m getting this vibe here (from the award and definition) that I'm supposed to think pimps are hip and sympathetic guys, but the statistics tell me otherwise.

"bitch is losing it's negative connotations. It's the cool thing to be right now"

Gee, thanks for reminding me that I am so un-cool! - :P

As for my “Excuse me, Sir,” I find that whenever I’m dealing with low-lifes, I like to confuse them with verbose politeness. ;)

3/09/2006 12:57 PM  
Blogger Sven wrote...

"I’m getting this vibe here (from the award and definition) that I'm supposed to think pimps are hip and sympathetic guys."

If that is the case than pimps have become the new mobsters.

3/09/2006 1:13 PM  
Blogger frankengirl wrote...

Sven -

Yikes! I can see it now - a new smash-hit show on cable: The Pimpsters - Men who sell women because nobody will buy a hot toaster oven anymore.

All -

*rant warning*

For anybody considering pitching a new series to HBO, I'd like to remind you that...

Prostitution is slavery, and unfortunately, it’s going on right here, right now, in America.

I understand that poverty can feel like slavery, too. I suspect that’s what the pimp-song is about, but you don’t eat another human being because you’re hungry. And that’s how I look at prostitution: it’s cannibalism.

*end rant*

3/09/2006 2:47 PM  
Blogger JLB wrote...

I'd have to say that I'd prefer to be called a bitch when the occasion arises.

For me, witch implies not an ugly old hag (unless I'm reading the Grimm's Fairy Tales), but rather the term used often used in pagan circles to describe those who practice witchcraft (both male and female).

For me, the terms are not synonymous. If someone calls me a witch, they'd better mean it as a compliment! :)

3/09/2006 6:50 PM  
Blogger frankengirl wrote...

JLB – hehe! "when the occasion arises"

Ah, it's good to know we have supporters of both "witches" and "bitches" among us as well as some "switches" who change with the context.

My favorite witch appears in an anthology Don't Bet on the Prince by Jack Zipes (I cant recall the title of the specific story at the moment!), but its a wonderful collection of fairy tales.

3/09/2006 7:26 PM  
Blogger simmi wrote...

A 'bitch' is a female dog, and a 'witch' is a woman with knowledge of medical practice and who is aware of the power of intent...and knows how to use it.

It was a nice suprise coming across your blog. I find the issues pertinent, and written with witt and humor. Please visit my blog, and give me some feedback

3/10/2006 4:44 AM  
Blogger Marti wrote...

What an excellent discussion! Words, their connotations, meanings and interpretations are fascinating to me.

I think I like “witch” better because it does indicate a woman of power. I’ve never heard of a witch being subjugated under a magician, wizard or warlock, like a prostitute is under a pimp. “Bitch” sounds like “prostitute” or “extremely angry, vengeful woman”.

Now - please don’t throw rocks at me (LOL) Certainly in an ideal world, every sexual relationship would have voluntary, willing participants and mutual respect and understanding. Sadly, this is not the world we live in.

I am simply posing a question I have often pondered...prostitution is often referred to as “the oldest profession”. I wonder at what point in our “civilization” men became willing to exchange some sort of payment for sexual favors. The stereotype of the “caveman” is a Neanderthal grabbing a woman by her hair, dragging her back to his cave and presumably raping her. It doesn’t leave the impression of him “paying,” or any type of agreement to participate on her part. So somewhere along the way, the arrangement of a woman agreeing to “trade” her body as a commodity, and a man being willing to pay for this commodity, had to occur. Is it evolution? Even in the animal world, we see “mating rituals” and a female “chooses” a male to mate with. Does rape exist in the animal kingdom? Does prostitution? (I have no idea.)

Anyway, this is a terrific discussion, and I am glad I stumbled across your blog via BlogHer.

Loved the "excuse me sir..." LOL!

Best wishes!

3/10/2006 8:40 AM  
Blogger Golgotha_Tramp wrote...

See this is what I never understood, why spend £50 on a hooker when you could go to a bar, and buy a girl drinks and take her home.

I don't care what any man says there is one girl in a club who is willing to sleep with you. sure she may not be the pick of the bunch but surely it's better then a hooker?

3/10/2006 10:11 AM  
Blogger Panacea wrote...

Well, as TPF said the word 'bitch' is losing its traditional meaning.

I have to say that so is the word 'witch'. Earlier, when someone said the word 'witch' you automatically thought about 'The Wicked Witch of the West' kind of witch. Now when somebody says the word 'witch' or 'wizard' the first thing that comes in my mind is Harry Potter and then I think of Hermione, who is a witch. (But then that's just me..clearly I'm obsessed!)

With the advent of a whole new upcoming fantasy genere with magicians that are not always evil and witches that are strong, impressive women with magical power, I'm not sure whether it can still count as an insult.

3/10/2006 1:26 PM  
Blogger niTin wrote...

Did I ever tell you how much I love your posts, how ashamed I feel of my gender everytime I read them, and then don't even feel like commenting on them.
Today I muster up the courage to tell you that you're doing an excellent job. I like to give credit where it is due.

3/10/2006 4:03 PM  
Blogger frankengirl wrote...

Hello all!

Simmi – I’m glad you cast your ballot on this issue and thanks for visiting! - :)

Golgotha – Ah, you’re a breath of fresh air! I love how you just tell it like you see it - ;)

Panacea – Oh, you just can’t resist bringing HP into this, can you? But you’re so right, the fantasy genre is blazing, right now. This should be a good time for witches - :P

niTin – Thank you for joining us and speaking up! I appreciate your support, but sincerely hope I’m not spreading any shame!!! We’re all individuals first; all unique.

Marti – Welcome! Thanks for joining our discussion. You bring up a fascinating debate. One which I’m not fully equipped to answer. In the context of this post and the “pimp song,” I would respond that prostitution, in most cases, is not much different rape. From my simplistic understanding, the majority of pimps drug, kidnap, rape prostitutes to keep them “obedient.” They also charge them money so that a prostitute never actually makes enough to become independent of the pimp. If the prostitute is maimed, she has no one to turn to, because she has no recourse in our legal system. Thus, she’s really a sex slave, not much different at all than that woman being dragged into the cave by the caveman. Sorry, I can’t see a lot of evolution there! Argh!

However, since you describe prostitution as a trade or agreement, I suspect you may be speaking more about “escorts” or a select group of Hollywood-type prostitutes who may pick and choose the men they sleep with. Prostitution is also legalized in a few select areas, and this removes the pimp as well as many health hazards. This is more of the “business model” you seem to suggest – I think they even have receptionists!

But unfortunately, there will always be sick people who will want pimps to find them children/teens. And from most accounts, the pimp/prostitute relationship is a master/slave one.


And on this happy, happy note – !

Thanks Again to All & Goodnight! :)

3/12/2006 10:09 PM  
Blogger AJ wrote...

I'm so glad to find out I am not the only person in the world who thought that Oscar-winning rap song was so very wrong. I just couldn't believe my eyes to watch those rich, pampered people, women included, be amused by a song describing something that brings SUCH misery to so many women. It was astouding, it was horrifying - there are almost no words.

But the thing is, it's not just rap of this kind that demeans women. All over the internet, I find legitimate, interesting sites written by intelligent, well-educated people (ie Gawker, TWOP, DLIST Blog) who refer to women as b*****s as if it is absolutely normal. Any woman, whosoever she is. Frightening that to so many people, women have become universal trash and it's no big deal. Sorry to go on and on, but it's so rare to find fellow thinkers on this issue.

3/14/2006 11:38 AM  
Blogger frankengirl wrote...

AJ –

Thanks so much for your contribution to our discussion. It is horrifying how common it is to degrade women with words. Since it seems impossible to stop what has clearly become so “acceptable,” I think some women are trying to redefine “bitch” as a symbol of strength and resistance to sexism.

Personally, I think anyone who uses bitch as an insult to women should wash out their mouths with a gallon of liquid soap, but that’s just me - ;)

3/14/2006 12:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous wrote...

If I have to choose I prefer to be called bitch than witch because some bitches are really beautiful, but all witches are unhappy and very ugly. Anyway it is rather offensive, so if a man call me witch or bitch, I would yell him buy viagra

12/28/2010 12:08 PM  

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