The harm of derogatory words in friendships

Maya Brisan, Staff Writer

Ever since I’ve started my sophomore year of high school, I’ve noticed some interesting conversations taking place around me. Girls calling each other “slut,” “whore” and even “bitch.” It caught me by surprise. Why would girls be calling each other these terms? They aren’t naturally endearing words, especially not towards girls or women. Only after I’d heard it used in multiple conversations did I realize that these terms were used in a friendly way. 

And believe it or not, they were not supposed to offend anyone! The people who said them meant them to be endearing, to show the strength of their friendships.

These words have been used for so many years; however, their meaning was, is, and has always been derogatory. These words were spoken to “put a woman in her place,” “put her down” and to demean her. As a woman myself, I dislike those words with a passion! They were historically used to put other women down and to make sure that we never rose to our full potential. Why would they still be used, and used by women, who should understand the gravity and power against women those words have?!

A woman’s reasoning might be, “I’m taking the word back! I’m making it my own, to show men that it’s mine now…,” but I disagree. By continuing to use these words, you are showing men that these words do not hurt you, and that they are allowed to say them to you. With all the movements and protests about women’s rights, that seems quite hypocritical. The continuation of the words that hurt women seems like regression rather than progression. 

The term whore is defined as “ DEROGATORY a prostitute; (of a woman) work as a prostitute,” and this makes me think: Why in this world would you want to call your closest friend a whore? A prostitute? What makes a person think that this is endearing, that it shows how close you are? The term whore is defined as “ DEROGATORY a woman who has many casual sexual partners,” and again, the definition is degrading rather than positive. This should not be used in friendships, nor should it ever be used.

Even if you don’t think those words are offensive, the person to whom you direct them might find them that way. Other people might think of you differently because you use these words, possibly affecting your future relationships. These words have a long and tedious history of cruelty and hate, and nothing can change that. Maybe your friend doesn’t like being called those derogatory and hateful words, and everyone should respect that. Even if people don’t completely stop using these words in a friendship, they should at least be aware of which of their friends is okay with being called those terms. 

I know that I won’t be able to change how friends speak to each other, and I’m not trying to make anyone act differently. All I want is for people to think of what impact their words have on those friends, and how other people may view them.