Who among us in 1997 (and ever since) hasn't caught herself singing along in the car when this comes on? I suppose that could just be me. But I'll bet there's hardly anyone reading this that hasn't been called a bitch, at least once and probably too many times to count. In the end, to a degree, I think bitch is one we own now, and has lost its sting as an insult. If that's true, though, what is the new frontier in insults? My answer, and you weigh in, after the jump.
I think that the line that one shouldn't cross (even in jest) is probably different for every woman — which is why, when someone we know and whose opinion we value crosses it, it's so painful. For instance, someone calling me "stupid" doesn't hurt because I know that I'm not; I've heard "bitch" so many times since high school that it's lost its sting and I consider the person who uses it to be uncreative; and cunt is vulgar, but I do have one, so it's hard to be too insulted. On the other hand, "psycho" stings because I'm afraid I might be, "fat" hits me in a sensitive body-image place, and, if you really want to hit me in the bad place, there's really nothing like "whore." That manages to hit (all at the same time): years of Catholic guilt; some unresolved feelings about my culpability in my own sexual assault; the fact that I've thought one too many times that there wouldn't be another man in my bed only to face the option of either a new one or a permanently empty bed; and some minor residual shame over my sex drive. It's the solar plexus of my psyche, and when someone says it (even if it's in jest), it feels like someone punched me in the gut.