87. Q&A: Should I Drop the B-word? And More
“If these terms are used over time, they serve to justify negative and harmful behaviors towards the group labeled with that devaluing term,” explains host Alejandra, transformative communication teacher and coach. Today, Alejandra answers listener questions on communication including why to drop the B-word and why some women downplay their accomplishments when they talk about themselves.
Alejandra explains that the B-word cannot be reclaimed the way some other devaluing terms have been.
Even just one word can have the power to bring connection and love or divisiveness and hatred. Devaluing terms like the B-word have been used to negatively describe women since the 15th century. You might be tempted to use the B-word in casual conversation as an attempt to reclaim it. However, this word is not really for women to reclaim because they never used it to refer to themselves in the first place. Instead, all using the B-word does is perpetuate negative connotations and sexist ideas.
Many historically marginalized groups have had words weaponized against them. For women, the B-word has always been used negatively by others. It isn’t a fun term that empowers women because it only serves to further the stereotype that women need to be submissive, simple, and agreeable. If you use the B-word in your communication, consider who that is serving and really think about if it reflects your values and beliefs.
Alejandra helps a listener reflect on why she feels uncomfortable talking about her positive qualities and achievements when she talks about herself. She explains that culture and language go hand in hand, and that if you’ve been raised in a culture that considers men more important than women, it will be hard for a lot of women to talk about their accomplishments without feeling that they shouldn’t.
• “One word can be so powerful. One word can bring connection, love, divisiveness, hatred. The possibilities are infinite.” (2:41-2:51 | Alejandra)
• “Devaluing terms usually describe a particular group of human beings as subhuman or as non-human animals.” (4:40-4:49 | Alejandra)
• “If these terms are used over time, they serve to justify negative and harmful behaviors towards the group labeled with that devaluing term.” (5:59-6:10 | Alejandra)
• “Language and culture go hand in hand. Culture continuously shapes language, and vice versa.” (13:28-13:35 | Alejandra)
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Podcast Music composed by Gary Lapow: