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My Swedish friends discuss the English word “bitch”


“hen”: Swedish gender-neutral third person pronoun

My friends Mow, Gee, Lanka, Eva and Bohr and I were having a little party at my house. The Swedes would call it a förfest (pre-party).

Now, Gee is a Turkish graduate student from Lund, in Korea for one term to study the Saemaeul movement, as well as make some money working for Samsung (duh!). As we were in the company of Swedes, he teased them about the sing-along drinking games the merry tall folk play. Then it began. Swedish social drinkers Mow, Eva, and Bohr suggested we play this game, in which we would call the “it” person “bitch”. The trio began to hesitate in Swedish. The talk was hushed, but intense, and serious.

Lanka, Gee, and I asked. What’s going on? Is the game too complicated to explain?

No. It was that we had to call the person “bitch”.

What did they mean?

The word “bitch” apparently has a more gender-neutral equivalent in Swedish, while keeping the sassy tone.

“What about man-bitch then?” “No, because that puts the man before the woman, that’s not fair” “Then bitch-man?” “Manwhore?!”

We never did draw a conclusion, of course.

Skål to all Swedish Feminists!

This entry was posted in: Diaspora Life


Internationally lost since 2000, Emily was born in Seoul, raised in India, and has been living and studying in France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands since 2014. A translator and interpreter by profession, she enjoys talking and debating just about anything.

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