Parent, Teacher, Author
My 6th grade daughter recently asked me what I thought of girls and women calling each other the “b-word.” She had heard some girls at school calling each other that when they passed in the halls, and she wondered why they were using a rude word to describe their friends.
Words are powerful. They can touch our hearts, sway our opinions, make our blood boil. Women and girls live in a world where their worth is often equated with the beauty of their bodies, with how much they attract others physically, with how much they conform to the thin ideal. Female politicians, academics, and public figures whose work is not based on their looks continue to be held to this standard by pundits and talking heads on both sides of the political spectrum, regardless of the strength of their character or arguments.
We must learn to use the power of our own words to proclaim who we are and who we want to be. When women with a public voice, such as celebrities, political pundits, and journalists use derogatory words to describe one another, we lose ground. When women focus only on the physical appearance of another woman instead of her character, integrity, or the strengths of her arguments, we lose ground. We may not have the power to change our system completely, but we do have the power to choose to use our words to speak truth and power to our sisters. It’s important that we treat one another with the respect that we want to receive.
It’s time that we adults call one another to a higher standard when it comes to the language that we use about women and girls. Adults model a language of respect and empowerment or one of disrespect and weakness, and children will follow.