1. An old woman considered ugly or frightful.
2. a. A witch; a sorceress.
b. A female demon.
Words are powerful, and I try to steer clear of perpetuating oppression, in my writing and in my real life. If we can choose our words, then why not choose words with substance, words that hit where it counts. When I see a woman walking down the street, covered in the fur of a dead, innocent animal, I want some things; I want her to know that she is a murderer, I want her to feel ashamed of herself, I want her to feel remorse, and I want her to break down and cry over the animals that she killed, just for vanity. I don’t need her to feel ugly, I don’t need her to feel judged based on her age, and I don’t need her to think that the only reason that we are yelling at her is because she is a woman.
So first things first- we need a replacement, right? But this can be very problematic because of the power our society has bestowed on certain words. People use these words because it feels good. It can feel a lot more powerful to call someone a “fucking bitch” than it does to call her a “fucking jerk”, but if we rely on oppressive words, then aren’t we now the oppressor? Don’t we want our words to make people feel bad about their actions, not their looks or gender?
Change can be hard, but I feel that if we can make the animal rights movement more inclusive to every age and every gender, then why not? You know that feeling you get in your stomach when you hear someone say “they were acting like animals!”, or refer to the police as “pigs”? That is the same feeling that I get when I hear someone shout “fur hag”.
I remember, I was at an anti-fur march and, suddenly, a “Fur! Hag!” chant began. I felt uncomfortable and quickly looked around to see if there were any older women in the crowd. You know that there were, and they were all marching silently.
That is when I made a promise to never use those words again.
Personally, I like to use the good ol’ fashioned “Murderer!” or “Scumbag”. “Cruella DeVille” can also have a nice ring to it, and people understand instantly the greed and evil soul of Cruella DeVille, I mean, c’mon, she has “Cruel” in her name! (and it doesn’t hurt that it just so happens to rhyme with “How many animals did you kill?”)
Let’s give it a shot, for all the hard working and amazing women (of all ages) in our movement. We can do better.