Bitch, You're Such a Slut!: How College Women use Bitch and Slut for Identity and Relationship Work Open Access

Lopez, Alex (2014)

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Bitch, You're such a Slut!: How College Women use Bitch and Slut for Identity and Relationship Work

By Alex Lopez

Language is often engaged in creating or conveying identities. One can use various linguistic features to demonstrate an independent or a shared identity, which is to employ linguistic characteristics that are associated with a specific identity. For example, one can utilize language for their gender identity to convey and to tend to relationships with individuals who share the same gender identity. Gendered linguistic markers, like dude, can emit a message, create a tone, and index a specific relationship to the interlocutor. However, dude is more commonly associated with men. Informed by the speech community theory, this project intends to explore whether or not bitch and slut are being used among a sample college women, specifically at Emory University, to convey or create an identity for themselves and to index a message or a relationship to other women through shared expectations of the two words.

The purpose of this study is to 1) identify if Emory college women are using bitch and slut in their interactions 2) investigate how they are using the words and 3) identity what their motivation is for using the words, specifically if bitch and slut are used for identity and relationship work. Through qualitative and quantitative approaches, this paper explores how bitch and slut manifest in interactions and contribute to identity and relationships. Surveys and interviews were conducted in order to gather empirical evidence about perceptions and self-reported use of bitch and slut among college women in the Emory University community. Collected data supports the prediction of bitch and slut used for identity construction and for indexing a close relationship to other women. Bitch functions as a way to index a close relationship to established friends, while slut is used to construct a negative identity of women.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Chapter One: Introduction 1

Chapter Two: Theoretical Background 10

Chapter Three: Methodology 31

Chapter Four: Results 40

Chapter Five: Discussion 69

Chapter Six: Conclusion 87

References 91

Appendix A: Survey Measure 95

Appendix B: Survey Codes 102

Appendix C: Interview Schedule 104

Appendix C: Interview #1 106

Appendix D: Interview #2 119

Appendix E: Interview #3 129

Appendix F: Interview #4 142

Appendix H: Interview #5 149

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