5 Points: “Bad” Words I Use to Describe Myself

1. Feminist.

–noun
1. the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.

I’m not sure why this is such a bad word, or why I’ve caught so many women saying things like, “I’m not a feminist, but…” I don’t understand why a term that sums up my desire for equality seems to illicit such negative reactions or why so many people shy away from using it to define themselves.

Personally, I rather like it. It reminds me of strong, petticoat wearing ladies like Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony. It reminds me of a whole history of trying to set things right, of trying to be paid the same wage for the same job, of trying to have equal protection under the law, of trying to gain control of our bodies. It reminds me that we’re not quiet there yet, that even though the numbers of female CEOs, college graduates and doctorate recipients keeps growing, we’ve still got a lot of work to do.

2. Liberal.

–adjective
1. favorable to progress or reform, as in political or religious affairs.
–noun
1. a person of liberal principles or views, esp. in politics or religion.

Political mumbo-jumbo sought to vilify this word and I’ve got to say, it did a pretty good job. It got tossed out in the past presidential election and took on a nasty sort of vibe when spat out by conservative pundits. I never really understood what was meant by “too liberal” and can’t seem to grasp how progressive thought has been made to seem so damn wretched and evil. Change is scary, sure, but if shit’s fucked up, shouldn’t we aim to fix it?

3. Bitch.

- noun
1. an unpleasant difficulty; “this problem is a real bitch”
2. Slang.
a. a malicious, unpleasant, selfish person, esp. a woman.
b. a lewd woman.

Maybe it’s that I was an impressionable young person when Meredith Brooks “Bitch” hit the airwaves and topped the charts. Or maybe it’s all the sociology and women’s studies classes I’ve taken that discuss and dissect society’s portrayal and labeling of strong, outspoken women as “bitchy” or “bitches.” Regardless, I’m totally cool with adding the title of bitch to my label.

4. Tree-hugger.

–noun
1. an environmentalist, esp. one concerned with preserving forests.
2. derogatory term for environmentalists who support restrictions on the logging industry and the preservation of forests

Here’s the thing: I really like trees. And rain forests. And endangered species. And mountain tops. And unexplored, uncharted territory. In fact, it’s pretty safe to say I really like the whole damn Earth (except for maybe the parts of Australia that have the top deadliest snakes and spiders as native inhabitants). In fact, I’ve even hugged a tree a time or two.

5. Freak.

–noun
1. any abnormal phenomenon or product or unusual object; anomaly; aberration.
2. a person or animal on exhibition as an example of a strange deviation from nature; monster.
–adjective
1. unusual; odd; irregular: a freak epidemic.

In high school I was all about rockin’ in out me style. There were plenty of self esteem issues floating around in there too, but, outwardly, I was a loud puff of energy and me-ness. A snobby skater boy once called me a “fucking freak” after I asked him some random, weirdo question and I took it as a compliment. I reveled in it, which only made his little skater boy scowl grow ever more fierce. I took it to mean I was unique, different, against the grain.

What’s a “bad” word you’re okay using to describe yourself?