Bitch. He meant bitch. Possibly cunt. Perhaps witch.
It was a tacky, hostile and personal insult, but for Trump, it was actually a euphemism of sorts. Women around the world instantly knew what he was really saying.
After all, “Trump that Bitch” is one of his supporters’ most popular slogans. Calling Clinton a bitch has been a standard practice for Hillary haters for months.
Of course, Clinton’s been a “bitch” for years ― as writer Andi Zeisler pointed out in The New York Times last month ― for changing her last name, for saying she’d rather work than bake cookies, for daring to reform the health care system, for existing.
Let’s be clear why the word is so despicable: Bitch is a gendered slur, meant to shame and silence women who dare speak up for themselves. Trump knows all about it, having publicly called former national security adviser Condoleezza Rice a bitch in a speech in 2006.
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Every woman who was still sitting through that painful exchange Wednesday night knew what Trump meant. Every woman who’s yelled back at a catcaller or turned down a man’s sexual advances ― only to be called a bitch ― knew what Trump meant. So did every woman who’s ever dared to be or do something.
Women understand that we when we speak up, question, interrupt or outsmart a guy, we run the risk of being called a bitch or witch or that other word.
“‘Bitch’ has long been an effective way to silence women because so many of us have been brought up to believe that remaining likable to others — even those we ourselves don’t like — is paramount,” writes Zeisler, arguing that we need to take back the word.
“All that’s required to reframe the word is to point out that the things bitches are often guilty of can be both unexceptional and necessary: flexing influence, standing up for their beliefs, not acting according to feminine norms and expectations.”
Women know this ― Twitter on Wednesday night and Thursday was filled with bitches being bitches and “nasty women,” vowing their revenge at the ballot box.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.