Sticks and Stones — The Poll

You remember it as well as I do:

Sticks and stones

May  break my bones

But names can never hurt me.

But they can sure as hell piss me off.  Especially when someone refers to folks, readers, women, whomever as “bitches.”  As in “yo! Bitches!  Listen up!”

It is meant affectionately, I’m told.

Ummm. No.  I don’t think so, buckaroo.  I think it’s offensive.  Very.

Am I alone though?  Am I the only one?  Am I the only person of my gender (or any other gender) who is offended when referred to collectively as “bitches”?  Female dogs?  Am I the only person of either gender who thinks it is annoying or offensive?  Am I truly a fuddy-duddy?

I thought I’d take a poll to see what my millions of readers think.  Because I always forget to post the results of “Other,” I won’t include it in my poll — instead you’ll be able to see where your opinion is in the greater scheme of FiftyFourAndAHalf-dom.

Feel free to expand on your answer in the comments, folks.  I’m sure I’ll be adding mine to yours!


Filed under Bloggin' Buddies, Dogs, Pets, Stupidity, Writing

163 responses to “Sticks and Stones — The Poll

  1. While I DO find it offensive, it seems to have evolved (devolved) into a word that has humorous connotations, too. I will say it on occasion for the shock/funny of a middle-aged woman like myself saying it, like how only blacks can say the N-word to one another.

  2. In general, I think it’s not only offensive to women, it’s offensive to both men and women, since these days, with some people… it’s “cool” to call both men and women bitches, or biatches, which sounds even more annoying to me. I’m gonna have to watch my word count on this one, because it reminds me too much of a social trend that really annoys the hell outta me… which is upper middle class white kids from the suburbs adopting black slang and fashion, and acting like they’re real bad gangstas… just because of the way they talk and dress. (gotta just love those pants hanging 2/3rds the way down a guy’s ass! dripping sarcasm fully intended.)

    Just my personal opinion here, but if you’re not Eminem… don’t try to talk and dress like the black dudes, upper middle class white boys. It just makes you look like the total and complete opposite of “cool”, and like flippin’ pretentious fools instead! At least Eminem really did grow up in the war zone that is Detroit, but you’re just pathetic fakers, and you’ve got about as much “street cred” as Mitt Romney..

    • I’m with you on this one Chris. It just looks so stupid. And don’t get me started on the pants — my son does that. I am always dying to just pull them down in public — it would be so easy. But sadly, I am not his 12 year old sister…

      You’re in good form, Chris!

      • Yep, stupid is definitely the way it looks… Me in good form? Not sure on that one tonight… Except that I should take extra care to not bite my tongue too hard, or I might die from being poisoned by my own venom. Lol

        • Perhaps you should watch an old movie ????

          • Good idea, Elyse! Maybe a Marx Bros movie would just the ticket. You’ll have to take my woid for this, but back in the day, I won a Halloween party costume contest dressed up as Groucho… But it wasn’t so much the costume that won me first prize that night, as it was my ability to do a nearly flawless Groucho imitation, using lines from his movies, and also ad libbing lines Groucho never said, that sounded like he did. That was a good time, and if you were there, I’m sure you’d have been a good time too! ;-)

            • Isn’t that a Groucho mustache???? (Sorry I couldn’t resist)

              • Well, actually, it’s not a Groucho mustache, but it looks the way it does because of the Groucho mustache I put on for that Halloween party, using black shoe polish that apparently contained a chemical that acted like a powerful depilatory cream, and I’ve been stuck with this light tan fuzz-stache ever since! Go ahead and laugh Elyse… laugh at my shame! I can deal with it! LOL :-D

  3. It is offensive. Yes, I have laughed at it when in a different context. But no, I would never employ it. I don’ t think, lol. Okay maybe press me to… lol. Seriously, every time I read it or other similar remarks Yo, Homies (meaning home boys) or anything else leaning negative, I cringe and think my mom may not have been the most scholarly person but if I addressed my social circle as “hey bitches!” no matter how old I was, she’d likely clip my ears for me. :) jmo

  4. Well, I didn’t vote because I agree with several of your readers that context is everything. If a person slings that word at me or another woman in anger to diminish me or cut me down, then they could say the word “spaghetti” and I would find it offensive. If it is used humorously to tell a story, then it is simply a word and up for grabs like any other word to flesh out a story. I think intent is huge. For instance, I am vehemently opposed to this new wave that wants to censor any of Mark Twain’s books because he uses the “N” word (they substituted the word “slave” for the “n” word–that makes absolutely no sense and doesn’t accurately portray the times). I’ve never, ever been offended by Twain’s works and totally understood what he was trying to convey (even when he wasn’t as enlightened in his early writing as he ended up being toward the end of his days). That’s my two cents to a fun post. (First “guns” and now the “B-word”–you’re a gluten for punishment, my friend :)

    • You are forgiven for not answering my poll — although now the scientific validity of it is questionable …

      I had no idea that they were trying to “clean up” Mark Twain. Mark F’ing Twait? Literature must be taken in the context of its time. And especially Twain as his lesson was of the good and bad in people regardless of their color. Our society is totally screwed up.

      As for posting on guns, bitches — perhaps I need to do religion next … but I may have to wait for a while on that one (although the Catholic Church’s lawyers arguing that two 7 month old fetuses who were not delivered from their dying mother were not people and they didn’t have to do the c-section, ummmmmmmmmm ….

  5. GOF

    I was raised with old-fashioned values of respect for women, so this is totally offensive.

  6. Tough one. It is offensive when men use it because I can’t think of any scenario where it would be endearing. At least, not to me. I use it from time to time with my friends and in posts in a “simpatico” way that includes me being one of the bitches.

  7. Just like nearly everything, it depends on the context and the audience. On the one hand, since technically it strictly refers only to female dogs, someone could argue that female humans shouldn’t be offended. On the other hand, someone could argue that women should be offended at a guy calling other guys ‘girls’ as a put-down. And every argument in between.

    In other words, this whole topic is like walking through a forest with no trails.

    • It is certainly a thornier one than I was expecting when I put up the poll!

    • Did somebody just fart in here? Cause I can smell it, Hotspur, and I didn’t think that was possible online – but I guess it is with you. You’re the one who is like walking through a forest with no trails… and a trail map written in… Latin. Lol :-)

        • Ed and I are old “friends” Elyse, and I was just reminding him of a certain “joke” that he and I shared on WP last year. Ed’s a very impressive guy, and he’ll find 101 ways to tell you that himself. He also prides himself on trying to make bloggers over 50 yrs old feel old and out of the loop, and he sarcastically reminds 18 yr old British guys who have 1000 times the intellectual fire power that Ed pretends to have, that the English have a reputation for having bad teeth.

          But hey, maybe Ed is just an acquired taste, and you’ll learn to love him. Me? I finally grabbed the mouth wash, gargled and spit him out.

          • I just wanted the story — I didn’t worry that you were starting a fight on my blog.

            I hate being left out at my own party!

            • Elyse – just ignore him. He obviously has nothing to add to this conversation, and despite me having close to 1200 posts on two blogs, he somehow cannot bring himself to air his grievances in the comments of any of those posts, but must come here to drunk dial the whaaaaaaaaaambulance.

            • Also, just for fun, check out my Quotes page, where his masterpiece rests somewhere a quarter of the way down, and contains a two part conversation that took place January 17, 2012, a mysterious issue with which Mr. Sheridan is obviously having some trouble over a year later. It is similarly disheartening to discover that in a year’s time, Mr. Sheridan is still not much of a man.

              • I needed a full night’s sleep before stepping into this shit so deeply, so sorry for the delay …

                First, what a great idea to quote folks’ comment, Edward. I was surprised to see one of mine pasted there. I did not know I was so well regarded that someone would include my words on their own blogs. I thank you.

                My conclusion is to go back to sleep.

              • Gee Ed, that “still not much of a man” comment might really bother me… if it came from someone who had any clue what it really means to be a man… but that sure as hell ain’t you.

                But not to worry, Ed, because I’m officially done with you now. No more insults in Latin, which I KNEW that you’d be unable to stop yourself from translating into English and then posting, so everyone would know the content of my insult to you… and I gotta love it when neurotic types like you finish my insults for me… just like I knew that you would. Lol :-)

                But no more from me… You say whatever you want, but I won’t waste any more keystrokes replying, because after this last reply, you no longer exist in my world, and you’re invisible to me.
                Let me leave you with just one last thought here, and then I’ll be gone from you forever…

                “I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes. And just for that one moment, I could be you. Yes, I wish that for just one time, you could stand inside my shoes. You’d know what a drag it is to see you.”

                • “Ed, after this comment that I’ve been saving up in my pink diary for a year until I was about to burst, I’ll never speak to you again. Just a few hundred words about this thing I’ve been keeping inside, based on my inability to be a man and simply unfollow your blog and move on, I’m going to hump your leg one last time.”

                  I’m a man, Chris. I don’t need to dwell in my past to make up for my shortcomings now. And if I don’t like or am not interested in the things you write (like that riveting article about celery, for example) I just don’t read them. I don’t attempt to dazzle ladies half my age with my pseudo-cleverness by making obscure insults. If I want to insult you, I do it directly. Incidentally, how is that mustache coming along? Ah well, perhaps when you’re older.

  8. wrestling with a response…. you know something satirical that could be construed as offensive if not sparkling with wit and hilarity. but it’s friday and my brain has melted. what a bitch.

  9. I’m with you, Elyse. I also hate all those songs calling women whores and bitches. Even worse is women calling themselves bitch or whore.

  10. It’s a two fold answer. I don’t mind being called a bitch if I’m being bitchy and I can sometime be that bitch. But to just be called a bitch out of spite, I have a problem with. If that makes sense. Kathy Bates said it best in Dolores Claiborne, “Sometimes being a bitch is all a woman’s got.”

  11. Before you use the word – think, would you be comfortable with someone saying it to your Daughter, Mother, Grandma, Wife? If yes, go ahead. If no… then go back to the drawing board (also known as thesaurus) and find another way to be funny.

  12. I’m not a big fan of “bitches.” Sluts, on the other hand,…

  13. Maybe it’s a Scottish thing, but my friends and I all refer each other as ‘cunts’ and have no issue with it; i.e. ‘what are you cunts up to’ ‘what cunt had the last can in the fridge?’. Context is always important, as is intent, and I wouldn’t say it in front of my gran or anyone else I know could take offense, but I don’t think you can ever distil the offense a word can cause into something as black and white as you are attempting to.

    I wouldn’t call you a bitch, as you’ve made it clear you don’t like it, but would I stop saying ‘y’all bitches ain’t shit’ in my best black person voice to my friends? No, because there is no malice in it and they know it’s a joke.

  14. Thank you for asking, Elyse. It is offensive. I don’t go around calling guys, “Yo, Bastard!” ;)

  15. I agree with Maineac and twindaddy. If it’s done in the right context, it can be funny. Here’s an example of what I mean. I do not care for Gangsta Rap at all, but I found it hilarious when the nerdy guys in the movie Office Space were dancing to it because of the irony. I’m not easily offended merely by the word – I think it’s when people really get personal with you that it hurts. You don’t need foul language for that.

    • Maybe I have just never seen it done in a funny context. But I see it a lot and it just comes across as something unnecessary.

      But I’m not offended by the word — it’s the referring to groups of people by the moniker. The word is one of the great words in English. Go figure.

      • Just curious, but in the context that triggered this (very interesting) discussion, wasn’t the term referring to both men and women?

        • Yes. It’s more offensive when directed at only women, but I think the use when the group involves any women is offensive.

          There are fine lines where I become a fuddy duddy, I guess.

      • twindaddy

        It wasn’t just one group of people, though. It was a very diverse group of people made up of men and women in addition to people of different ethnicities and nationalities. I get what you’re saying about slurs, I don’t like them either. But I don’t see this word as a slur.

  16. As mentioned above, context is everything. If someone writes “Yo, bitches!” he or she is trying to be ironic — there’s self-awareness of the offensiveness, the stupidity of the faux-gangsta pose. This as opposed to someone writing, “You bitch!” That’s outright offensive and hateful. Irony is more of a wink. But like most irony, when overused, it gets old. Triteness is an entirely different crime.

  17. I went with Offensive,
    But I think it might be usable as humorous in the right context.

  18. If someone were to refer to me as a bitch (even though I might have an opinion they do not care for), I do happen to be a female but I do have a name. I agree with you totally not appropriate and the rappers of today need their mouths washed with soap.

  19. She’s a Maineiac nailed it. Context is everything. If someone said to you, “You’re such a bitch,” then yes, you should find it offensive.

    • Context is everything — that’s why I feel that when it is used generally like that it is demeaning. And saying “you’re such a bitch,” too can be taken two ways — if someone says it to me while laughing it is different from when they are screaming it at me seriously. I mean, not that anybody would ever think that I am a bitch. Perish the thought.

  20. twindaddy

    Reblogged this on Stuphblog and commented:
    Dearest readers, please chime in with your thoughts. Vote in the poll if you wish, but please let me know how you feel in the comments. If people are truly offended by the word I will respect all of your wishes and quit using it.

  21. twindaddy

    Ugh. You know where I stand with this. It’s a word. No more, no less. It’s only offensive if you choose to be offended by it. It also depends on the context. If I straight come up to you and called you a bitch, you should be offended. Unless you are a bitch and are proud of it.

    But addressing a group of friends as bitches, as she’s a maineiac suggests, it is not offensive nor is it meant to be. It’s all a matter of context and perspective.

    As I said, I will keep your opinion in mind in the future because I respect you and like you, but I definitely don’t agree with you here. This mostly has to do with the generational gap and what things are acceptable to different people. As I told you yesterday, the stigma has largely been removed from that word by women embracing it. I’m sorry I offended you and I hope you know that was NOT my intention.

    • TwinDaddy, I know you0 didn’t intend to offend. If I thought you had, I wou1l01000d have simply clicked off. It IS generational and I think that is a big part of the problem. People are due a certain amount of respect and I think that this word takes a whole group and disrespects them. It has become acceptable to many — but so have many other things I won’t go into here and now (Perhaps I should start a fuddy duddy blog page).

      But if a word you put into a post potentially offends, why use it? Unless the writer means to offend, which is certainly within our rights and you and I both do raise hackles from time to time. But one of the rules of civil discourse is not to rattle folks with the trivial, but with the heart and soul of what you’re saying.

      • twindaddy

        A couple of reasons, I guess. One, I don’t like being censored. Two, it’s part of my normal vocabulary. However, I did say I would keep it in mind in the future and I meant that. I certainly don’t want to lose you as a reader, but I also want you to understand that it doesn’t mean to me what it means to you.

        • Twindaddy, I’m just gonna say this as my experience – neither a recommendation nor a condemnation of how you write. I followed a lot of blogs before starting my own, and one gent in particular is VERY fond of the “f-bomb”. While he is funny, and TRIES (not necessarily 100% successfully) not to offend, I have seen a few people cringe at the language. When I started blogging, I made a conscious choice to keep my language “PG-13”, even though my natural language can push the “R rating right over a cliff. To date, none of my posts (a whole whopping 40 or so) has received any commentary about cuss words. Yeah, “heck” and “dang” might sound a bit prepubescent, but they get the point across. (The fact that I, MYSELF, act prepubescent, is another point entirely. :D )
          For what it’s worth.

  22. I’m with Laura, it depends on the context. Just yesterday, I was watching my fave show “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and the guys came in the bar and yelled out (to the other guys there) “What’s up, bitches?” I thought it was freaking hilarious. But that’s probably the only time I’d think the word bitch is funny.

  23. Snoring Dog Studio

    I’m so thrilled to read this. I think I posted on this topic before but I’ll say it again – it’s a demeaning, disgusting term. Try all you want to, but calling yourself and your girlfriends “bitches” just shows the world that you don’t respect yourself or your gender. We don’t need any more help from misguided “cool” people to promote and sustain the inequality women still have to deal with.

  24. Ah ha …. I saw the reference to regal persona! So are these acceptable: bitchy as a descriptor or bitching as a verb?

    • They are to me — but then that may be different based on the person being described.

      But if I am bitchy I don’t generally have a problem being told so — at least not if that someone is out of reach of my scepter!

      It’s the broad brush that I find offensive. And part of that is generational, I think.

  25. Offensive, unless you’re talking to a kennel!

    Otherwise I’d respond with “Yes a**hole?”
    :) MJ

  26. I think it’s just a symptom of the real issue – the total lack of respect, civility and compassion in today’s world. Oh yeah, I know I’m a fuddy duddy too.

  27. I didn’t vote because for me, it depends on how it’s used. I think it’s offensive to call someone a bitch (or bitchy) because you don’t like her (or him). I think it’s extremely offensive to refer to a person as being someone’s bitch. I’m on the fence about the casual use of “bitches” as a form of address. For me it depends on the person speaking, whether this fits in with their normal speech patterns, and what they’re saying to whom.

    • What! You didn’t vote???? You have totally screwed up this extremely scientific poll you, you …

      Just kidding. I hadn’t even thought of the “someone’s bitch” part. If anyone referred to me or anyone I knew as such they would be unlikely to do it again.

  28. I don’t use it because it minimizes the value of the person. If I am angered by someone I hope I can find a more productive way to describe how I feel. I hear it in colloquial use and it doesn’t bother me except when I hear it from a man – that feels wrong to me for some reason.

    • There does seem to be a wide range of feelings towards the word!

      I am ok with it in some ways, not in others. Funny.

      • I read a post last night using the word and it cracked me up. I like to think that I am not easily offended and the post did not offend me. I suppose my hesitance to use it stems back to my mom – old school etiquette.

  29. I find it pejorative, but more than that, I just think it’s so overused that it makes people sound not very smart or creative. And I like a good swear word, just not one that is used in practically every context these days. Humor fails to redeem it, since it has been used so negatively to describe women for so long.
    There used to be an idea that if the maligned group used a slur against each other, it was taking the power away from the word. I don’t think that’s true – I think it just mainstreams an offensive word.
    I didn’t do your poll, because I’m not offended as a woman. I’m irritated that people think it’s somehow cute or funny, when it just makes them sound like bad imitations of pop culture. ‘Everybody does it’ doesn’t make a good defense for slander or a limited vocabulary.

  30. Miss Z

    I dunno if it’s offensive. If I see a guy calling a bunch of other guys bitches, I don’t take offense to it or anything because it’s just another way of calling them a bunch of girls. Now if they guy was saying that to a bunch of girls, THAT’S definitely offensive because the meaning is different.

    That’s my two cent, anyway.

    • But he’s not calling them a bunch of girls — he is calling them bitches. There is a difference and it’s in attitude.

      • Miss Z

        I agree. Look, I think that just because you don’t like the use of the word, that doesn’t make you a fuddy duddy. It just means you have an intact sense of decency and etiquette. I’m not saying it’s alright to use the word but, personally, I’ve become desensitised to its present-day use because I’ve seen and heard it so many times that it just doesn’t bother me anymore.

  31. I’m in the minority here. I think there are worse things to be called. And, honestly, I’ve called plenty of men bitches, including my husband. ;)

  32. Actually, my daughter (age 43) sometimes affectionately calls me “a bald headed bitch” and we both crack up. (I wear my platinum hair very short.) But, (and this is a big but), she’s the only one that could ever say that to me and have me laugh.

  33. LOL buckaroo and fuddy duddy. Oh my, you make me laugh, Elyse =P

    No one dares to pick the last two options.

  34. Sue

    Context is all. If a man addressed me that way, I’d slug him. As for me, at age 50 I’ve decided to embrace my inner bitch, because she’s powerful and savvy and is gonna make sure I don’t take no sh*t from anyone . . . including myself. Know what I mean?

    • Context IS all — you’re right. I don’t object to specific people (including myself when it fits) being called A bitch. I am offended by the overall categorization — the description of everybody that way. In this post it was actually men and women. But I don’t think slurs are acceptable, regardless of which one.

      And good for you Sue. Nobody should take a whole lot of shit.

  35. I can’t stand that word. I preach to my sons that I never want them to use it, only to later watch a show or movie together where the women refer to each other like that or men insult and demean each other by calling them that. So no, you are not alone. I find it offensive, too, and I’m usually pretty low keyed about things.

    • I’m glad I’m not alone. I don’t mind the word completely — I think it is often an apt description. But when it is use for an entire group/gender, and it is a slur, well, then I don’t get it.

      And don’t get me going on movies and TV. The ones that depict adults as totally clueless make me nuts.

  36. It is a hard title to grab onto with me being as sweet as I am and all. As women have accepted calling themselves that, others feel entitled to address them as such.

  37. Can’t really answer this. MOST of the time it is offensive; ALL of the time when said by a male. But there are occasions when a small group of women are together and the word is used to be intentionally outrageous that it is funny. So you can count me as 3/4 of a check for the first answer in the survey.

    But then at 66, maybe I’m 3/4 of a fuddy duddy, too?

    Would love to know what triggered this post. :-)

    • That’s probably the most reasonable answer — that most of the time it is offensive. Which is why it is safer to not use it.

      If we are all fuddy duddies, well then we are in much better company thant those who go by “bitches.”

      And here’s the answer to the trigger (from above — I cheated and cut and pasted): The term was used in a blog post and I mentioned in a comment that I thought it was offensive. It was meant to be funny, to be affectionate. I just told the person I didn’t think it was and that I would write about it tonight. Hence the post!

  38. Let’s see – I’m the only guy here so far, and there’s one vote for “Male: Offensive to women. Gee, wonder which way I voted? ;) :D

  39. I don’t know how to answer this….you do know what QBG stands for don’t you?

    • No, actually, I don’t.

      • Queen Bitch Goddess –

        In 1998 I was the Program Director for a Dept of Education IT program. I worked for their prime vendor and was a member of the Steering Committee. Their CIO was a very proper southern gentleman, I really liked him but there were days we fussed in these meetings. At this particular meeting I was presenting why they needed additional resources, including more servers and bodies to the tune of about $2.5M, this on top of the $30M they already planned to pay. So after my presentation, he said to me:

        “This is all because you are just a conslutant.”
        I smiled sweetly and replied, “no sir, you pay me very well for my time I believe there is another word that applies.”

        The entire room burst into laughter, employees, elected officials and other vendors (all members of the Steering Committee). He apologized profusely for his Freudian slip. I laughed hysterically and accepted his apology.

        The next day their main Servers failed, proving my point. I got my change order. When we got their systems back up my new log in for the day was QBG1998, which he had specifically assigned to me.

        I asked why and he told me with a truly sweet smile. He became a great friend and reference for me until the day he passed away a couple of years ago.

        • That is a hilarious story. I’ve been meaning to ask what QBG stood for for the longest time.

          Still it is different. It’s also one-on-one, handled with humor. Just a random person painting people with one brush just irritates me beyond belief.

          I’m not opposed to being called a bitch — although when I deserve it most is probably not the safest time to do so. I am not opposed to swearing as the words I once got in trouble for are part of the lexicon and part of my vocabulary. But generically calling folks bitches, well, it bugs me. I said that already, didn’t I. A couple of times. I must mean it.

          • Want to know something even funnier? I so much adopted the QBG over the years my personalized license plates are QBG 01

            I am with you, I don’t like random use of Bitches in reference to women. I think it is in bad taste. In that respect I agree with you. I don’t like it used in anger either, that or any other gender reference as with anything else I suppose.

            So I guess with that being talked out, I know how to answer your poll.

        • Val, Thanks for sharing! :)

  40. You’re not a fuddy duddy, you just have manners and certain standards that you shouldn’t have to compromise! I’m 35 and I think that kind of talk is very offensive! People who talk like that will not be winners at the end of it all! –Alison

  41. Of course it is offensive… just like ‘baby mama.’ Who in the world addressed you and your friends that way?

    • and, for your information, I am a 53yo woman, so it is entirely possible we are both fuddy duddys ;-)!

      • Oops, I tried to respond to the first half of your comment and it came out below. Oh well.

        But you know if I am gonna be a fuddy-duddy, at least I will have company.

    • I hate that one too, but I am way too old for anyone to call me that!

      The term was used in a blog post and I mentioned in a comment that I thought it was offensive. It was meant to be funny, to be affectionate. I just told the person I didn’t think it was and that I would write about it tonight. Hence the post!

Play nice, please.

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