“nasty.” adjective. Dutch nestig “dirty,” literally “like a bird’s nest.” Likely reinforced in either case by a Scandinavian source (compare Swedish dialectal naskug “dirty, nasty”), which also might be the source of the Middle English word. Of weather, from 1630s; of things generally, “unpleasant, offensive,” from 1705. Of people, “ill-tempered,” from 1825 (OED).
So, actually, no, I’m not “a nasty woman.” And that’s okay.
I get the knee jerk response of solidarity to reclaim the power taken by Trump playing the name game with Clinton during the third and thankfully final “debate” for the U.S. Presidential election. But I’m gonna refuse the “nasty” label, t-shirt, hashtag, FB like, and coffee mug.
Almost as soon as the words “you are a nasty woman” were delivered from Trump’s pie hole, tweets flooded the internet: #strong women are nasty women.
No. You are strong women.
The virulent misogyny that runs through and through the compulsion to disparage strong intelligent non-compliant women with insults has gained counter-traction and push-back by women and girls “owning it”: Yes, I am nasty.
Yet, is this really how one asserts power?
This current nasty uptake should not to be confused with the reclamation of the words such as“slut” and/or “whore” which have resurfaced because their discourses stand and deliver sexual agency and power by individuals who have been exploited and objectified. Another powerful act of owning it is with the word “cunt.” The etymology of “cunt” is found with the Proto-Indo-European “cu,” and links to other feminine/vaginal terms such as the Hebrew “cus;” the Arabic “cush,” “kush,” and “khunt;” the Nostratic “kuni” for woman. The word cunt is woven into the name of powerful women such as the Indian goddess Kunt. It flows in the energy force Kundalini. Even the devil (another pebble thrown at Clinton during Debate # 2) was a powerful rebel angel tossed out of heaven after taking on the Almighty.
But “nasty”? It’s an adjective. It qualifies a noun. There is a difference.
Perhaps it is easy to get swept up in the hate-hurricane. It continues to be necessary to shield ourselves by opting to wear the names hurled at us in order to parade the message: I am indeed strong. I am not vulnerable to attack.
But what else is this doing?
Another tweet read: “Taking my daughters to vote with me so I can raise some nasty women.” Is this response not contributing to forms of disempowerment by commodifying, popularizing, normalizing, and accepting violence?
Be you. Be strong. Be intelligent. Be the best you can be. Dream big. Shoot high. Or chill on the sofa at home eating tacos in your jogging pants, but perhaps also pause
(like really pause)
before claiming the misogynistic nasty descriptors that are cast your way because you can also refuse the words. Because you are strong and powerful.