Benedict Cumberbatch: ‘Women need to take pride in their collective identity’


I’m going to try to fit a lot of Benedict Cumberbatch into this post. That’s a lot of long, hard Cumbergerth to get in here, but I’m sure it will fit. Of course it will fit. Since my brain gets a bit scattered when I’m discussing anything about my love, I think I will do this in beloved Cumberbullet-points:

*Benedict Has a Paternalistic, Somewhat Condescending Message for His Indian Fans & His Female Fans (it’s like he’s speaking directly to me!!!): When asked about by an Indian media outlet about his Indian Cumberbitches, Benedict said: “Especially in India there have been some extra ordinary events recently that too some awful events. Women need to take pride in their collective identity. I know it’s a silly fan name and I know it’s just for fun but you know the one I don’t like because it’s counter-productive to feminism in general. I prefer the idea of something softer like ‘Cumber Collective’.” This is getting to be less about Benedict’s “feminism” and more like he’s uncomfortable with the idea that women get to decide what our own cult-like name should be.

*Benedict Really Is The Lizard King. He told Vulture,I spent a lot of time studying iguanas and Komodo dragons and other reptiles at the London Zoo, to get that reptilian movement in my body. But Christ! It’s pretty hard to articulate that. In fact, it just has to be an ideal or a reference to it. They used a lot with my face and my hands, as the claws. But obviously I don’t have a tail, can’t breathe fire, don’t fly, and I’m not made of scales or cold-blooded. If you try and [move] horizontally, squeezing your legs together, with your shoulders hunched, and crawling on your hands, it syncs up with what you can do with your voice, which obviously with Smaug is very awesome. It got to the point where it was killing my voice.

*Voicing The Necromancer Was Satanic.We started doing that when I was on this thing, like a bungee, like walking forward but being pulled back at the same time, which was kind of helpful. Peter said he was like a black hole, and [co-writer] Philippa [Boyens] said the voice should be otherworldly, like there’s something inhuman about him. And then I said, ‘Why don’t we try recording the Black Speech backwards?’ And the Black Speech itself is hard enough to learn forwards! So we wrote it out phonetically. It was like I was performing a Satanic ritual.”

*Benedict was on Conan O’Brien’s show two nights ago. Some videos (sorry these are so big). The interview was decent but the real winner is still the Cumbervoice. I still hate the slicked-back hair.

Yes. The Voice. Some days I don’t even need to look at him, I just need the voice. I need to squeeze the bunny, God help me.



Photos courtesy of WENN.

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194 Responses to “Benedict Cumberbatch: ‘Women need to take pride in their collective identity’”

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  1. Maya says:

    Blaming misogynistic violence/rape culture on women not “taking pride in their collective identity”? What the hell? Come on Cumby, you’re better than this mansplaining bullshit.

    • Beth says:

      I think what he was trying express was more like “in light of these things I think it’s important for women to have this collective identity” or whatever. Surely he wasn’t trying to blame the term “Cumberbitches” for worldwide misogyny.

      • LadySlippers says:

        That’s how I took it. He seems to be very aware and really is uncomfortable with the term Bitch incorporated into his *name*.

        I think people really need to be a tad more understanding and give him the benefit of the doubt. Not all guys are a**holes and he genuinely strikes me as a gentleman. Let’s not automatically assume the worst.

      • Lindy79 says:

        I agree. I do think there’s an element of people who think he’s an arse in general just taking this and running with it.
        I’ve only ever read good things said about him so I’m willing to guess he’s a decent guy.

      • TheOriginalKitten says:

        I definitely think he’s uncomfortable with the word “bitch”. I laughed at “cumber collective”-cute!
        Anyway, I do think he’s a genuinely decent guy but I always cringe a little when I read a man saying “women should _____” even though he has wonderful intentions.

      • Yep says:

        That’s how I understood it as well.

        I can see how he’d come off as mansplain-y, though.

      • Gretchen says:

        I don’t think he is a terrible person, but I do balk at his suggestion that a “collective” female identity even exists. We aren’t some Borg hive-mind bonded across borders by the magic of our moon times. Suggesting that people have some sort of innate homogeneity with others based purely on hetero-normative social constructs of gender is not particularly productive for feminism either, and has a whiff of essentialism about it.

        Women don’t *need* to take pride in their womanhood (although I am not saying it is a bad thing), they *need* male centred and male dominated society to stop taking a crap on their freedom, opportunities, sovereignty and safety. I’d much rather feminist identified celebrities would focus more on institutional inequality than on what they think women *should* be doing.

        He doesn’t like to use the word “bitch”? Awesome. Repeatedly chastising women for reclaiming the word for themselves? Patronising.

      • LadySlippers says:


        As I’ve suggested to others, watch the actual Indian interview this except was taken from. I think it’ll put things into perspective. Unfortunately, when taken out of context it reads much differently than (I think) Benedict meant.

        At least watch it and see what/how he meant.

      • Gretchen says:

        I’ve read the transcript of the interview, I really don’t see how hearing him saying it is going to add a whole new layer or context to his use of the words “collective identity”. I’m not trying to be snarky here, but I really doubt I have so totally misinterpreted two words. He distinctly says “Women need to take pride in their collective identity”, Yes? Well, I disagree with the implications of that.

        I think it is important to acknowledge that intent isn’t magic. Even if it is in no way his intention to act like a patronising ass on this issue, it doesn’t mean that he is not acting like a patronising ass. All of us can be guilty of this. I never ever mean to be a patronising ass, but sometimes my white privilege slips out without me realising it, and I appreciate being called out on it so I don’t make the same mistake again. I would hope that men who consider themselves as feminist allies feel the same way. In regards to social justice issues I believe we should always be expecting more of ourselves and each other in these discussion, other wise how will anything ever change?

        Anyway, I don’t know him. I can’t call him up and ask him what he *really* meant by that comment. All I can go on is what he said, and what he said, I disagree with. That doesn’t mean I think “what an asshole and all round awful human being”, it means “Back to the drawing board. Do better, dude”. And as I said down thread in response to TheOriginalKitten, one way I wish he would do that is to set an example and direct his rejection of traditionally misogynist terms such as ‘bitch’ at other men, rather than implying (again) that women are setting back feminism by using them.

      • LadySlippers says:


        I often dislike reading anything because tone/inflection and a lot of other linguistic nuances are missed. The reason I was recommending people watch it, is because I went in thinking that maybe a lot of people here had a point, and was pleasantly surprised at how well he handled it.

        I think he’s kind of in a lose-lose situation as even here were have a great many people upset over what other women say. And that shows how divisive the topic of feminism is with just *us*. Overall, I think he handled it well.

        As for his ‘setting back feminism’ comment, are you saying that as a man, he can’t have an opinion at all in regards to feminism? See, I think it’s just an opinion and therefore, it doesn’t bother me one way or another. After all, it’s just an opinion. *shrug* Although personally, I think it’s a fascinating topic to broach — does one word really affect any cause one way or another???

        Oh well. We may have to agree to disagree. And I need to add thank you for responding politely whilst still giving me some fantastic points to ponder. As you’ve probably noticed, there were some intense discussions here — not all were polite (although luckily most were).



    • Indira says:

      We actually have had quite a feminist uprising recently in India. This whole year has been about raising awareness around the many women’s issues plaguing society. Unfortunately the uprising has come after horrific incidents of violence and assault. We are turning things around, slowly, though. Though now unfortunately there is another fight at hand because homosexual love has been criminalized as the Supreme Court has upheld a horribly archaic law. Still, we’re definitely fighting.

      Phew, sorry to bring all this seriousness in here. It’s just the weight of all that’s happening.

  2. Secret Squirrel says:

    CumberBabes? CumberCuties? The Velvet Uprising?, Ben-addictions (or Benedict-ions)?, Sherlock’s curlocks?

    I need more alcohol to finish this list…

  3. mabooski says:

    *rolls eyes* Calling myself a bitch doesnt make me any less feminist. Ugh. Oh yes, its OUR behaviour that will stop rape. GTFOH with that foolishness lizard boy. JEEZ.

    • LadyMTL says:

      I knowwww, that annoyed the hell out of me. I can’t even articulate how much I want to shake him and tell him to think about what he just said.

    • Maureen says:

      I don’t think most men understand the “rules” of feminism. I don’t think Benedict understands that women don’t need their feminism protected by men (or by other women for that matter — isn’t the whole idea about women’s individuality?), nor do “Cumberbitches” need to be protected from themselves. I’m not really a feminist in the formal sense but it’s incredibly irritating that he continues to go on and on and on about this. “It sets feminism back”, who is he to tell women what sets feminism back?? Women don’t need your help with this issue, Ben!!!!

      • TheOriginalKitten says:

        Nicely stated. I do get your point, but I honestly think his concern was coming from a benign and well-intentioned place.

      • LadySlippers says:

        Actually, I disagree and quite strongly too.

        When it comes to things like advancing women’s rights, most men that are anti-women’s rights just tune out women’s protests. They *might* however listen to another man. Might is better than not at all. And so I applaud him for speaking out on a topic most people have just become accustomed to — as bitch is now a fairly common term when it didn’t used to be. Derogatory terms for anyone shouldn’t become so common place they lose their vulgarity and fail to offend us.

        If we women (or any other oppressed minority) wish to achieve equality — we will accomplish a lot more by holding hands not pointing fingers. Pointing fingers DOES have its place BUT, I’m a huge fan of Gandhi and MLK, meaning that I prefer a peaceful evolution rather than a violent one. We honestly get more accomplished.

        Benedict, I am sure, was raised by a staunch feminist. My guess is Wanda has done an outstanding job in making sure her son saw women as equals and should be treated with respect. And to him, this is one way to show it. Agree or disagree but I think his heart is in the right spot which can’t be said of all men.

      • Secret Squirrel says:

        I get more of a sense that Ben would prefer a fanbase name that is more in line with his own values. He is not comfortable with the term “bitches” and would prefer his fans to not refer to themselves in this way. I don’t think that makes him anti-feminism, just gentle and respectful for all his female fans around the world. some of his fans are very young and I don’t think anyone would like to hear them referring to themselves as bitches just to fit in and feel like part of a group.

      • JesCat says:

        LadySlippers, we as women may be oppressed in one form or another depending on the culture we live in, but we are definitely NOT a minority. Just thought it important to point that out. :) Might be empowering to us to realize we’re not.

        Also, don’t underestimate the influence of an all male – and also probably very conservative and i think in essence misogynistic – boarding school on a young adolescent. His mother may or may not be a feminist, but apparently she didn’t object to sending her son to a school i would never ever send my kid to. Even if i had the funds (and a kid :D ). I wonder if they even had female teachers there or any other female role model – apart from matron.

      • V4Real says:

        Wow I never thought I would see any Cumby backlash. I don’t think he meant any harm or disrepect. However, I guess he should have realized that most women don’t want a man telling them what they should or should not do or what they should pride.

      • LadySlippers says:

        We are a minority in terms of power but, sadly, not in numbers.

        I think it’s rather harsh to assume that just because it’s all boys it makes it misogynistic. I went to two all women’s universities and we (unlike popular opinion) were and are not anti-male.

        At St Catherine University in my home state (my handle is our state flower) we discussed all different forms of feminism and patriarchy. A lot of people use the word ‘girl’ when they actually mean ‘woman’ and that is one hidden form of patriarchy — stripping away a woman’s power with just one word. Call her a girl rather than a woman. Go out and listen and see how common it is. We don’t do it near as often with boys and men.
        :-( if you’d like to correct this change your own terminology from girl when you really mean woman.

        Feminism comes in many flavours. It really does and we should embrace them all. And I don’t mean accepting patriarchal terms as our own. Patriarchy encourages us to be catty and divisive because they know ‘together we stand but divided we fall’. Shaming other women for legitimate choices does the same. This helps men more than it helps women.

        Please rise above this. See his comments and words as how he meant them. He IS a good guy and ladies, we don’t have enough of them. And until we can eradicate the world of men who DO think it’s okay to rape/torture/kill/enslave/abuse a woman, I’ll still repeat that. Even if only one man is okay with all those actions — that’s one too many.

      • Secret Squirrel says:

        I think women don’t want a man telling them what to do (not that I think that is what happened here) but I also think that women should accept and welcome the support of those men who are happy to stand up and fight along side women for equal rights.
        Ultimately though, it is his name that this fan title is attached to, so why shouldn’t he be allowed to express his opinion on why he doesn’t like it and would prefer it changed?

      • flavia_deluce says:

        I love Benedict but this has been something that’s bothered about me since day one–this nonsense about ‘setting back feminism’ as well as some other little comments, like one about his dieting and how now he knows how women feel (because all women are on diets all the time), as well as all the ‘mother of my children’ pining he used to do back in the day.

        Whether or not his intentions are good, it’s embarrassing for a couple of reasons, firstly because stressing about ‘bitch’ makes him sound like such a pearl-clutcher. Like, we claimed ownership of the word back in the 60s for crying out loud, and it’s used every day in songs and on tv, I mean, not that that’s all 100% above board but it’s not like we’re calling ourselves Cumbercunts or something. Just say, “Hey, they can call themselves whatever they want!” and get over it. He calls more attention to it by harping on that same annoying talking point.

        He isn’t the first well-meaning dude to be confused about how to be a feminist or how to address women’s issues. He’s just saying that he doesn’t like the word, doesn’t use it, and would prefer it not be associated so closely with him, and that’s fine–it’s the condescending advice to women about how they should define themselves that bugs.

      • V4Real says:

        @Secret Squirrel You’re preaching to the choir. I did say I believe that Cumby meant no harm or disrepect.

      • LadySlippers says:

        Actually I think he’s well intentioned AND well informed.

      • flan says:

        Jescat: in America there are more women than men (mostly because of the older age group, since women have higher life expectancy).

        In the whole world, there are more men:

        Also, normally I would agree with you all about him getting too involved in how women call themselves, but it’s done with HIS name. So not too strange that he has an opinion about that.

        Bitch might have been taken ownership over by women, but I hear it far more used by men in a derogatory way than by women in a funny or positive way.

      • theNood says:

        LadySlippers I agree with you about the use of the word ‘girl’. I hate it and so many people, both women and men, use it. Any time someone refers to me as a girl I always tell them that I am not a girl (I’m 42 FFS) I am a women. I didn’t go through the crap I’ve been through to be called a bleedin’ girl. Show some respect.

    • Kaya says:

      He didn’t say ANYTHING about rape! He’s just saying it’s a stupid word meant to degrade women, and it doesn’t make it okay for women to use it for themselves, because they’re defining themselves by a word that’s supposed to show them in a bad light. Why would his fans insist on a word to describe their fandom for him when he hates it?

      • LadySlippers says:

        I said as much the same in an above response to another commenter.

        A lot of people are putting words in his mouth. NOT COOL.

      • L says:

        He mentioned the recent rapes in India (its in the quote)-I think that’s where people are getting it from.

      • LadyMTL says:

        He didn’t use the word rape but he mentioned the “awful events” in India, and most of those have been women being gang-raped. I personally am not a Cumberbitch so if he hates the term, I just shrug. What I didn’t like was his (however indirectly) associating the word bitch with being anti-feminist. That is all. :)

      • TheOriginalKitten says:

        “What I didn’t like was his (however indirectly) associating the word bitch with being anti-feminist. That is all. ”

        But the word IS anti-feminist if a man is using it in reference to a woman. Benedict obviously considers himself a feminist so he was probably just expressing his viewpoint on the word “bitch” but coming from a male perspective, without realizing that he was indirectly commenting on how women use the word to refer to themselves.

        Personally, the men in my life are NOT allowed to use that word around me. Not directed towards me and not in reference to other women. Hell, I’ve had countless arguments with my BF for using the word “p*ssy” as a way to shade men. Female reproductive parts shouldn’t be used as a slang term for weakness-it’s f*cking insulting.

        …..but that’s a WHOLE other topic ;)

      • flan says:

        I agree the originalkitten.

        The worst things a boy can be called are words that make him ‘feminine’: bitch, pussy etc. No wonder some men grow up to despise women

        I applaud those parents who do let their kids play with whatever they want (dolls, toy cars etc), without making negative comments about that.

  4. Francesca says:

    Two women who looked like that (Cumberbatch and Conan) would never be allowed on tv together.

  5. LadySlippers says:

    Yes. The Voice. Yum.

    What stood out for me in the Conan interview (and prob just me) was he knew to use the term physical therapy (PT) instead of the rest of the world’s (RoW) term for it — physiotherapy. And to illustrate it further, he has used the term ‘physio’ for a Common- wealth interviewer. (Bringing Smaug to life was not only hard on his voice but messed up his back & neck so he needed physio for it). So he’s aware of differences in medical terminology. I know he used ‘zygoma’ but he could have googled that…..

    Yeah, I’m a geek.

    *folds petals in and hides*

    • Åsa says:

      I have no idea what you’re talking about, but I just wanted to say: Don’t hide! Let your geekflag fly proudly!

      • LadySlippers says:

        You mean the physical therapy (PT) vs physiotherapy (physio)? Those are medical terms to describe a person working in one area of rehabilitation medicine. The other two that round out the big three are: occupational therapy (OT) and speech therapy (or speech, language, pathology/SLP). There are others but they aren’t as well known or accepted by insurances (American perspective).

        I went back to school for OT (completed my undergrad and need to go back and complete my master’s) and it’s just a niche thing to know that in the States we use PT and everyone else uses the term physiotherapy. It shows an enormous awareness on his part between the different terminology used here in the US. The zee/zed or pants/trousers difference (plus many more) is significantly more common than PT/physiotherapy. I’m honestly just a little bit in awe that he knows that.

        Hope that helps explain it more.


      • LadySlippers says:

        No problem!!! Always feel free to ask — my door is always open.

        And for those that don’t know what PT or OT is, I gave a very brief description WAY down this post. :-D

  6. FreeBunny says:

    I don’t get the fuss about “the Cumberbitches” comment.
    He says the same thing since the beginning and won’t change.
    As a woman, I refuse to be his bitch, anyone bitch or calling myself a bitch.
    There’s nothing empowering for women to call themselves bitches. It’s just using some sexist male vocabulary and acknowledge male domination.
    Some feminists think it’s ok as long as women call themselves bitches ? For me, women or here teenage girls calling themselves bitches are just accepting patriarchy. They just assimilate and internalize some misogynist clichés but it doesn’t bring them more freedom or power.

    • Lindy79 says:

      I agree, and I think it’s where he comes from.
      To quote Tina Fey in Mean Girls
      “you have GOT to stop calling yourselves sluts and whores, it just makes it look ok for guys to call you sluts and whores”

    • Kaya says:

      Yeah. Also, even when women say, “We’re taking it back,” who’re we taking it back from? Female dogs? It’s a stupid word that doesn’t need to be reclaimed by women. This is the one thing I REALLY appreciate in this guy.

      “This is getting to be less about Benedict’s “feminism” and more like he’s uncomfortable with the idea that women get to decide what our own cult-like name should be.”

      How. Can. You. Possibly.

      I mean, how did you infer THAT from his comment??

    • starrywonder says:

      I agree I am not a fan of anyone calling me a bitch. You are not owning that word the way you think you do when you go around calling yourselves that and say well my friend and I call it each other that and it’s so funny.

  7. Maureen says:

    No, thanks, Benedict. I don’t believe in “collective identity”. Makes women (or any group of people) sound like a bunch of robots. I’m an individual and will keep my identity as an individual, thanks very much.

  8. Lindy79 says:

    I’m seriously hoping there’s a Lost in Translation situation happening with those quotes, like he doesn’t want to offend with the word bitches (especially in other cultures) but he’s going into very muddy waters.The wording here sounds like a bad translation so I’m really hoping he was taken out of context.

    I’ve said it before, so I’ll repeat my feelings on the whole Cumberbitches thing. As a 37 year old man, he might personally feel uncomfortable calling women (and young girls) bitches even if it’s a name they’ve given themselves, and I get that. Its a word that men probably shouldn’t throw around about women even in a lighthearted context. Also some PR elements might be telling him to distance himself from the name so people don’t think he is the one who started it and for the above reasons. Some women DO take offense to that word, especially if it’s said by a man, so he’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. I honestly wish they’d stop asking him about it though or that he’d develop a “if that’s what they want to call themselves then that’s fine, my fans are great” stock line he can throw out.

    • Maureen says:

      I just don’t get what’s so hard for him to understand/accept that women like using this word for fun and play!! I’m seriously getting so pissed right now. Women love teasing their friends with phrases like, “Bitch, PLEASE”. It’s just for fun and play. The word became poison when men used it against women in a vulgar and demeaning way. And then INTENDED it to be painful for women to hear. A bitch is a female dog in heat. That’s the real definition. So when a man calls a woman a bitch he really intends for it to humiliate her. So, while Ben may have a sensitivity to this word because he’s aware that it has hurt many women, he doesn’t need to protect us when we use it in a playful manner. I just have a hard time believing he doesn’t understand this very basic difference. Which is why I don’t think he really cares about this issue at all but just feels that turning on his sensitive Euro-liberalism (that’s a real thing!) for the female fans will make him look dashing in their eyes.

      • TheOriginalKitten says:

        You have a lot of really interesting comments on this thread, Maureen.

        I liked this: “So, while Ben may have a sensitivity to this word because he’s aware that it has hurt many women, he doesn’t need to protect us when we use it in a playful manner. I just have a hard time believing he doesn’t understand this very basic difference.”

        I agree that he probably does understand the difference, but maybe he feels obligated as a man to show his disdain for a word that CAN be used in a very derogatory way. I’m not sure that Cumby is a big role model for young men, but if he is, I think it’s better that he’s speaking out against a word that many men use to degrade women. Too many men use the word “bitch” as if it’s ok to say and not enough men speak out against the prevalent use of this word in both modern society and pop culture.
        I honestly wish that MORE men were uncomfortable with the word “bitch”.

      • Lindy79 says:

        OriginalKitten, that’s it exactly.

        To be honest, in a world where young girls think Rhianna must have asked for it or provoked it, and Chris Brown can “hit them anytime” because he’s hot (there are tones of sites with screen grabs of the tweets when he performed at the Grammys), I’d rather listen to BC feeling awkward as a man saying the term bitch than that any day. Even if he’s making people think twice about it, that’s good enough for me.

      • LadySlippers says:

        Maureen, I do not call my female friends bitches to tease them. I agree 100% with Lindy here. I can see where some people want to erase the negative connotations of a word but it’s not something I can ever feel comfortable with. Lady and Dame used to be respected titles for women, but like a lot of words used to describe women, it can come with some very negative connotations. Mistress is another — most people don’t even know the contraction Mrs is actually a contraction of mistress. Mister and Mistress were titles a man and a woman assumed upon marriage. Men were ‘bumped’ up so eventually all men got the more respected term while the female equivalent was dragged through the mud.

        My feeling? Applaud him for trying to do the right thing even if you don’t agree. There are certainly thousands (if not more) that would happily rape a woman to show her ‘who’s boss’. He’s not THAT guy. He’s trying to do the right thing. Let’s cut him some slack.

      • LadySlippers says:

        I agree Kitten. Well put.

      • Nan says:

        To pataphrase your comment above about the ““rules” of feminism” and “whole idea about women’s individuality” it is surprising you are so upset about one man expressing his discomfort of having his own name linked to another word in manner that is not supporting his views and opinions.

      • Helen says:


        You do realize it’s still not used for play in the uk, right? They use c$%t like that but not bitch so much. (that how come that cumberbuddy girl couldn’t understand why people were yelling at her for the c-word, it carries less weight in the uk than the us.)

  9. yeahright says:

    I dont think he was trying to sound as snooty as he came off. I think as a man in the public eye and having a group of females go by that name he is probably embarrassed or feels awkward about it. And he should feel awkward about it so for him to recognise that is fantastic in my books but he just chose to comment on it in a kind of scolding and intellectual way. A bit unnecessary but I see the point he was making from his point of view.

    • Maureen says:

      Isn’t there an American actor whose fans call themselves the Hey Girls? What if he went around in every damn interview complaining about adult women referring to themselves as “girls”. What if, every time “Hey Girls” was mentioned, he waxed on and on about how adult women should respect themselves and refer to themselves as women, not girls and have collective respect for their womanhood, blah blah blah. Think how irritating that would be!

      • Lindy79 says:

        The words “girls” and “bitches” are not the same thing though and have different meanings, to be fair, especially coming from a man.

      • FreeBunny says:

        There’s a huge difference between girls and bitches.

        Language is power, if you can name something you’ve got the power, it’s a political thing.

        The name “bitch” is a misogynist term used by men to belittle women. The fact that women or teenage girls use it don’t change its meaning at all. From this point of view, women have no power.

        A real feminist act would be use a word that give power to women not a word that discriminate them or reduce them to men’s clichés.

        From this point of view and as a man who seems to know the power of words, he understands a lot about what feminism should be.

        Feminism is about women, teenage and little girls’ s dignity, not about calling ourselves c—, bitches, twerking, having sex or showing off half nake.

        It’s about how many women rise to power and are respected for that, anything else is just a way to fit in male traditional mould, some toys that men give us to entertain ourselves and keep us far from real power.

      • lizziebee93 says:

        @FreeBunny: Whilst I agree that ‘bitch’ is, indeed, a derogatory term, I also don’t think we can talk about wrong or right ways to ‘do’ Feminism. There are many different perspectives to look at, and as Feminists we should encourage people in general to study them all and find what feels comfortable for them. If Maureen thinks and feels that the word ‘bitch’ doesn’t offend her but Mr Cumberbatch’s ‘Paternalism’ does, then that’s her opinion. It won’t change the fact it’s His last name that we are using, and he is just giving us his point of view on the subject.
        Also, I am rather curious to know why you think that our sexuality and the way we dress wouldn’t be part of being a Feminist? Would you elaborate on the subject?

      • FreeBunny says:

        I know that there’s several feminisms and that not everybody agree about that.
        For me, our sexuality or the way we dress are freedoms that we have conquered or need to conquer.
        But it’s not because we’ll be free to dress as we want or have sex with who we want that we’ll be men’s equal. We’ll be men’s equal the day when half percent of our parlements will have women, the day when a woman can be president without it being “extraordinary”, the day when 50% of management commitee members will be women and nodoby would care about that and everybody will think it’s just natural.
        We can be free to call ourselves bitches or dress ourselves wathever we like, if at the end of the day our salaries are not the same than men, that means nothing.
        Just look at plastic surgery, we ca

      • lizziebee93 says:

        Ok, I think one part of you comment got cropped out for some reason, but I understand your point. The thing is, to be able to dress how we want and have sex with whomever we want without being labelled a ‘Slut’ IS a part of Feminism. I don’t normally like to quote Wikipedia, but when I google’d Feminism it was the first link that came up and I was in a hurry:
        ‘Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. A feminist advocates or supports the rights and equality of women.
        Feminist theory, which emerged from these feminist movements, aims to understand the nature of gender inequality by examining women’s social roles and lived experience; it has developed theories in a variety of disciplines in order to respond to issues such as the social construction of sex and gender.Some of the earlier forms of feminism have been criticized for taking into account only white, middle-class, educated perspectives. This led to the creation of ethnically specific or multiculturalist forms of feminism.
        Feminist activists campaign for women’s rights – such as in contract law, property, and voting – while also promoting bodily integrity, autonomy, and reproductive rights for women. Feminist campaigns have changed societies, particularly in the West, by achieving women’s suffrage, gender neutrality in English, equal pay for women, reproductive rights for women (including access to contraceptives and abortion), and the right to enter into contracts and own property. Feminists have worked to protect women and girls from domestic violence, sexual harassment, and sexual assault.They have also advocated for workplace rights, including maternity leave, and against forms of discrimination against women. Feminism is mainly focused on women’s issues, but because feminism seeks gender equality, the author bell hooks and other feminists have argued that men’s liberation is a necessary part of feminism and that men are also harmed by sexism and gender roles.’

      • FreeBunny says:

        You’re right my message have been cut but it’s because I’m lame with a computer.
        I don’t say I have got the right version of feminism or that I’m right about it, it’s just mine.
        For me, men are not our ennemies. Men must be or should be our allies and Benedict could be one of them. So when I see that people are angry at him for something I think he’s right about or that I could have say, just because he’s a man, well that annoys me.

      • lizziebee93 says:

        It annoys me too. I feel a bit impotent because this is the internet and there’s nothing we can do about it, but to give our own opinions and hope it helps someone change their perspective. Also I feel you took my words as if I was shading yours, and I find that unacceptable. I am sorry if it felt too harsh, but I was trying to explain to you my opinion and what I think feminism means, which is not just about Workplace rights and equal pay. In my country abortion and marriage equality are prohibited by our laws, and its something that continues to make me angry. All of these issues are equally important, I don’t think any of them should take precedence.

      • FreeBunny says:

        I would never say that abortion or marriage equality aren’t important, but we all come from different countries.
        Today in my country we fight for more political and social equality because we have abortion and marriage equality but that doesn’t mean that we can’t fight for more.
        I don’t oppose any women’s rights or say that we should priviledge some rights over others. I’m sorry if you thought that but I’ve never meant it that way.

      • lizziebee93 says:

        Thank you for that, it did feel that way. I am sorry if I have made you feel uncomfortable, this is certainly a controversial matter and it is only natural, I think, for tense words to be exchanged.

  10. Esti says:

    Paternalistic and condescending just about sums that up. I’m generally pretty neutral on him, but that comment really irritated me.

    • Maureen says:

      I’m going to see Smaug next Tuesday with a group of Tolkein nerds just like me, and I’m super excited to enjoy more of Ben’s work, but I don’t think I want to see his real self for a while. I’m really annoyed that he’s bringing this issue up AGAIN. While he may not Google himself (rolls @@ eyes) I think his people need to get on the internet and read the comments section of blogs like this and get a clue about what his fans are willing to tolerate and what we’re not willing to put up with.

      • Secret Squirrel says:

        I’m guessing by the flurry of diverse comments in this post that his fans don’t even know what they are willing to tolerate or not tolerate!

      • allheavens says:

        People are putting words into his mouth and that is not the least bit cool. If he is uncomfortable with the term, he is absolutely right, he should be.

        There is nothing empowering about the term “bitch”. It is a derogatory and degrading term used by a patriarchal society to “put women in their place.”

        Co-opting, owing or reclaiming the term does nothing to empower women. It is like embracing misogyny in order to lessen its effects.

        It is ridiculous to think that men cannot be or should not be important allies in pushing women’s agendas in a what is a male centric society. If you think otherwise, then you are foolish.

      • LadySlippers says:

        AllHeavens, I concur. I stated something similar down this post (comment is awaiting moderator approval).

    • icerose says:

      To me he just has an old fashioned ,upper crust sheltered view of the issues around feminism and women’s rights. But ii tend to see him as quite conservative anyway especially in his choice of roles let alone politics.

      • Lindy79 says:

        You’re dead right. he should be voicing pirates in Disney straight to dvd movies.

        Conservative in his roles…Jeez
        *shakes head*

      • Secret Squirrel says:

        Stand tall Icerose. Your opinion matters here.

        I was wondering how long it would take the Hiddles/Cumberbatch debate to raise its weary head. I’m pretty sure the only ones that think there is a rivalry between them are the fans. The two gents are apparently still friends from their War Horse days and catch up occasionally.

      • LadySlippers says:

        I don’t mind honest opinions but she slants her views in a way to denigrate one man in order to bolster another man. That’s just not cool in my book.

      • Miss Jupitero says:

        You’ve been smacked, Icerose!

        Cumby rulez; Hiddles droolz.

      • Lindy79 says:

        Squirrel, if it were any other poster I would agree but icerose has constantly compared the two. Cumberbatch is always in the negative and Hiddleston in the positive, which is why she’s gotten this reaction (and I am guilty of biting to it)
        I agree I don’t believe there to be a rivalry at all between them.

      • Aysla says:

        Have I been living under a rock on CB? I had no idea there was a pseudo-rivalry (among fans) between Cumberbatch and Hiddleston. That’s kind of hilarious… oh, people.

      • Secret Squirrel says:

        Thanks Lindy. I sensed there was a history there, but I think Abby made it a bit of a personal attack on Icerose which I don’t think is fair. I think both Cumby and Hiddles are handsome gents who can be appreciated equally without it being a crap fight between fan groups. The rivalry between them is all in the imagination! Surely I’m not the only one that thinks this??

      • LadySlippers says:

        Squirrel, that’s it in a nutshell (no pun intended). She seems to ignore things that don’t suit her preconceived notions in order to throw shade on Benedict’s actions. But does see the hypocrisy when she doesn’t do the same to Tom Hiddleston. In her eyes BC is horrible whereas TH is fantastic. No matter what either really does.

        These men are friends so why create a false division where there is none? And both are human too with faults and assets — it’s just silly.

        Hope that helps.

  11. Abby says:

    Wow people here are just ready to jump on him for one little thing and twist his words completely.

    I saw the whole video and his entire intention to say taking pride in your collective identity was to make women stand up for each other in these adverse situations especially in India which is a male dominated society. Don’t even argue with me on that because I am Indian and I know it’s a FACT. I am so impressed that he is up to date with international events compared to majority of Hollywood snobs.

    Also his treatment with that Indian reporter was really nice. I have seen many Hollywood celebs acting either disinterested or too cool for you when interviewed by an Indian which makes me cringe. So kudos to him for treating him with the same professionalism as he would treat a Caucasian reporter.

  12. TheOriginalKitten says:

    Oh man…poor dude can’t win.

    I think the comments here are well-expressed and important points are being made, but I don’t understand the insinuation that men shouldn’t have an opinion on how the word “bitch” is used simply because they don’t have a vagina.

    He’s allowed to think that the word is derogatory, guys. Personally, I have more respect for a guy that’s scared of the word “bitch” than a guy who thinks it’s ok to use it casually and often.

    Ultimately, I think that knee-jerk feminist reactions are never helpful in situations like this. Men should feel comfortable discussing the topic of feminism with women, but freaking out on them just shuts down the dialogue entirely. We need to keep the doorway open- more open discussion and less condemnation and judgment here.

    • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

      I agree completely. Nicely put.

    • LadySlippers says:

      Kitten, I agree as well and hope I’ve articulated that in many of my responses.

      The only winners here are the people that are trying to uphold patriarchy. They win when we are too busy infighting about who and how one offensive term can be used.

    • Abby says:

      Thank you, well put!!

      I faced a lot of overt sexism early in my career that was actually easier to deal with than the covert sexism I face now. When you call me a stupid girl or make a comment about my boobs, I know how to fight back. When I’m excluded from social activities at work, because they are boys nights and I’m the only woman on the team. or talked over constantly, or told I’m to assertive when I dont act differently than my male colleagues, don’t know how to deal with that. I consistently deliver better results than the men so at the end of the day they love me but the day to day fight can be grinding. I wish more men would be willing to talk about these issues, even awkwardly, but when I bring it up I am being too sensitive and need to get over it. I wish my industry wasn’t so male dominated, but hopefully the next place I work will be different.

      • LadySlippers says:

        You know what’s really sad????

        On a thread about feminism — no one has commented when someone’s faced real sexism. And we all have at one time or another.

        Abby, I hope things get better for you. I do. {{HUGS}} and hold your head up high.

    • Biggles says:

      That last paragraph was perfect. Completely agree.

    • Gretchen says:

      I’m glad he is comfortable talking about it and has thought about it, but he has mentioned this SO many times now it just sounds like a regurgitated soundbite. I wish that he would use his platform to tell men not to use the word bitch, instead of repeatedly telling women that they are setting back feminism.

      Yes, male allies can be a good thing for feminism and it is great when men reject traditionally misogynistic terms, but they should be explaining this 101 sh*t to each other, not to women. The issue of reclaiming derogatory terms is divisive, and, as this thread alone shows, not all women agree on this issue. That is fine. There are valid points to make and, as women, we have an equal stake in the discussion. He does not. Again, he should be telling other men not to use derogatory terms, not ignoring reclamation arguments and (repeatedly) telling women who fall on that side of the fence that they’re somehow breaking feminism.

      • LadySlippers says:


        Wonderful point about being a bullhorn promoting feminism to other men. However, I don’t think it’s a regurgitated sound bite. I really don’t. I think he genuinely feels this way and is very polite and articulate about it.

        Again, cannot agree enough that MORE men should be talking about this to each other. As I’ve stated here, a lot men only listen to other men. Especially on topics they think threaten their ‘man-hood’. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if more did this?

  13. allons-y alonso says:

    Come on people! Give Curly Fu the benefit of the doubt. He’s being beaten to death by people interviewing him about a term he is obviously uncomfortable with.

  14. icerose says:

    What I find amusing is his comments about voice strain. Apart from having had voice training which should help him to avoid these issues the voice in all the trailers I have watched sounds digitally distorted so was it really necessary for him to go to all that trouble and put his voice at risk.
    Likewise with the Dragon movements. He new that it would be a very physical undertaking so why complain about backache etc. I can understand if you physically have an accident but to complain that the movements gave him pain just strikes me as poor planning/consultation all around not only from him but from the production team. If you look at some films the cast have gone through special physical training to insure they can manage the physicality of the role expectation

    • Lindy79 says:

      It’s called being dedicated to his role, a lot of actors get injured on set (both physically and in some cases emotionally) and it has won him nothing but praise from the director/co-stars/producers and early reviews.

    • Froop says:

      Talking about it is not the same as complaining about it, is it? He mentioned moving and using his voice in certain ways caused him some pain/discomfort but was not exactly bitching about the fact.

      For someone who doesn’t like him you spend a lot of time keeping up with his interviews and coming to some very strange conclusions. Everyone else is right, if it was Baby Hiddles you’d be saying ‘Oh the poor darling I’d feed him some soup and knit him a scarf bless his cotton socks!!!!!!!’

    • LadySlippers says:

      Icerose, I’m going to be pretty blunt here but I really and honestly tried to give you the benefit of the doubt but your bias is PAINSTAKINGLY clear.

      First, yes vocal training does teach you the boundaries and limits of your voice. However, for some people, that means they’ll still try and push their voice or body past those limits to achieve a goal. Not good but not unheard of either (people and animals have been known to do this). Second, they originally were not going to filter or distort his voice until later in the recordings — this distinction is something he has made very clear. Basically when they could hear the damage was probably their clue to abandon the no distortions idea to save his vocal cords. And he was grateful.

      Third, as I mentioned above, people quite often push their limits while trying to achieve something. Self-injury happens. And the neck, back, and shoulders are quite an easy area to throw something out. Many people use PT*, OT*, massage therapists, and chiropractors for injuries related to sitting at a desk which is hardly extreme.

      * Physical Therapy (PT) is a area of rehabilitation medicine that concentrates on the lower half of the body. So they cover mobility, gait, and strength/balance training (among others). And while this is changing, they traditionally use exercises rather than other modes to rehabilitate.

      *Occupational Therapy (OT) is another area of rehabilitation medicine that concentrates on the upper half of the body. So they cover shoulders, arms, and hands in rehab. In addition, they use activities/occupations (bread making, pottery, gardening, etc) to rehabilitate rather than just using exercises.

      Note: There are areas of PT and OT that overlap. (Speech therapy often overlaps with OT too)
      Also, using occupations in therapy is shown as very efficacious so the use of occupations is being increased in other therapies outside OT.

    • allheavens says:


      Hiddleston is not going to knock on your door, profess his adoration and offer up a ring.

      Please just stop.

    • Emily C. says:

      Oh god the Hiddleston Vs. Cumberbatch thing is going to become just like the Jolie vs. Aniston thing, isn’t it? You can’t like both of them, you can’t dislike both of them, you can’t just sort of like one of them and sort of vaguely dislike the other, it’s unpossible! If you dislike Cumberbatch, you must be in love with Hiddleston; if you dislike Hiddleston, you must be in love with Cumberbatch; and if you’re sick of all the worship both of these guys get, no matter your opinion of them as individuals, er… you don’t exist?

    • lunchcoma says:

      It’s a demanding role. It’s not complaining to talk about the challenges behind it, particularly when people are interested in the information. I know I’m curious about the filming – if Cumberbatch hadn’t talked about it, I would have assumed his role was entirely voice acting.

      Emily C.: Ugh, I hope it doesn’t turn into that. I can perhaps understand liking one celebrity and disliking each other when it’s known that they’re feuding, but I don’t see any reason why there needs to be so much polarization when talking about people who by all accounts like and respect each other.

  15. ncboudicca says:

    Ironic that he has to go into Benny the Bitch mode every time he has to answer that question.

  16. Valerie says:

    A group of women are in a fan club praising and gushing over a man and the anti feminist part of that is the name?
    Wow. We don’t have enough phallic worshipping in the world? Maybe that’s what he was trying to get at with the “identity” remark but it obviously could have been more clear.

  17. I’m thinking we should use our “collective identity” and bow out of his fandom.

  18. LadySlippers says:

    Do you know what upsets me? People, especially women, think that feminism is solely owned, and should be controlled, by only women. Feminism and equality, need to be fully embraced by the world, NOT just women in order for equality and respect to be achieved.

    To further illustrate my point, the one word in the English language I cannot abide is the N word. I won’t even write it I find it that despicable. And I’m white. So is it wrong that I feel so strongly about this? No. I’m also straight but stand up for LGBT rights too.

    Here’s the thing, feminism hurts women. Yes it does. But let’s not forget it also hurts men too. Sure they benefit from it — but it comes with some serious drawbacks. Especially for the men that don’t fit into the traditionally masculine model which is very true here in the US where macho men are worshiped and all other men shamed. And we aren’t the only culture that has a ‘Marlborough Man’ mentality.

    A woman in my American culture is automatically deemed less worthy than a man. Penislessness is a sure handicap. Almost any word used to described a woman has numerous derogatory connotations — even those that started out with positive connotations. A man called by one of those terms highlights the issue because there is NOTHING worse than being female (as viewed by a man).

    Men and boys cannot show the range of emotions accorded to the human race. They are, however, permitted rage/anger and happiness. Men are also allowed to express their sexuality in ANY way they deem fit (even when it robs others of rights). On the other hand, women are allowed the rest of the emotions (men and women can share happiness but only that one emotion), excluding rage/anger. And are seriously condemned for expressing any sexuality.

    Feminism should not be about stooping to the depraved behaviour of men while still disparaging our traditional strengths (we do have them). Sexuality should be expressed in a healthy manner by both genders. Men often aren’t always respectful/healthy in their expression so we should not seek to emulate their poor choices and actions which is what a lot of ‘modern feminism’ advocates (this really only confirms and conforms to patriarchal views).

    Benedict has every right to voice his opinion on the matter — it’s no different than you or I doing it. People often accuse him of being ‘femme’ because he cries and shows traditionally feminine traits. I’m sure he got poked fun of for even dressing and acting as a woman for plays. Americans call him and other British males ‘gay’ for these very same reasons. Others cut him down mercilessly for his unconventional looks. And it’s all patriarchal attitudes in play.

    So I think he can and should be uncomfortable for a derogatory term to be bandied about in conjunction with his name. I can concede it’s a very clever use of his name while still acknowledging the anti-female slant. It’s both — that’s what makes it sartorial.

    In conclusion, *Civil rights need to be something we ALL participate in regardless of our make & model*

    • Joanie says:

      Feminism hurts women? That’s a typo, right?

    • LadySlippers says:

      Sorry. You’re right. I meant patriarchal belief or machoism.

      Thanks for catching that!

    • Biggles says:

      I love this post, I absolutely agree with you.

      In particular your comments on how our often ‘anti-female’ society is just as damaging to men in regards to being stereotypically ‘feminine’ or ‘macho’. I have three brothers myself, and it was after watching one of them being mercilessly bullied for being ‘too girly’ (which basically meant he enjoyed usually the company of girls over boys and didnt like football, let alone the abuse he may have gotten had he cross dressed or been transgendered) that it really struck home to me how our rigid expectations of gender affect both sexes. I want fair and honest treatment for myself, but I also want it just as much for my brothers and other men and boys like them. And I think that should be a big, and recognised, part of feminism, that it is a pledge for equality in everything in the sexes and not just ‘dragging women up to the level of men’, which is the impression I get from a lot of people (in RL) with regards to their definition of feminism.

      To be honest all that I get from Cumberbatch’s comments is that he doesnt like the term ‘bitches’ being flung about, which might not bother everyone but hey ho thank god we have free speech and he chose to express his opinions rather than fob it off with a generalised comment. Its a valid point he is making after all. Not particularly sure what the issue is (although Im enjoying this debate).

      (Sorry if this is a bit incoherent, running out the door as I type!)

      • LadySlippers says:

        Exactly. Just a few days ago people were clutching their pearls (some not all) when Knox Jolie-Pitt wore nail polish. That’s just one teeny example. My son struggles with the fact he has emotions (gasp) and how that’s supposed to be a part of his identity. Think of how many men would be healthier and happier if they were allowed to FEEL?
        Patriarchy hurts more than just women.

        Human beings should be able to express themselves all across the board and not be pigeon-holed into a few acceptable culturally defined gender roles/ situations/ emotions etcetera.

        And I’ve decided the fact that people don’t listen and hear is equally sad.

  19. Miss M says:

    “Especially in India there have been some extra ordinary events recently that too some awful events. Women need to take pride in their collective identity. I know it’s a silly fan name and I know it’s just for fun but you know the one I don’t like because it’s counter-productive to feminism in general. I prefer the idea of something softer like ‘Cumber Collective’.”

    This dragon b*tch pretending he is not talking to me… Pretty much addressing my comment about his condescending ways toward the Cumber(un)collective crowd…

    “I spent a lot of time studying iguanas and Komodo dragons and other reptiles at the London Zoo, to get that reptilian movement in my body. But Christ! It’s pretty hard to articulate that. In fact, it just has to be an ideal or a reference to it. They used a lot with my face and my hands, as the claws.”

    Spending a lot of time studying them?! King L., please…

    “But obviously I don’t have a tail, can’t breathe fire, don’t fly, and I’m not made of scales or cold-blooded. ” Are you sure?!

  20. Joanie says:

    If you actually watch the video, he’s not being paternalistic. He’s asked this question ad infinitum, must be sick of it, and tries to handle it the best he can. I’m sure he realizes that his female fans will ultimately call themselves whatever they want, but how’s he going to say ‘Yeah, they’re my bitches’ without sounding like a complete twat? The guy can’t win.

  21. Emily C. says:

    Don’t tell women what we “need” to do, you paternalistic lizard-alien.

    He just keeps getting more irritating all the time.

  22. lunchcoma says:

    He didn’t phrase the comment perfectly, but I don’t think he’s being condescending in expressing an opinion about the fanbase’s name. This isn’t just a bunch of women calling themselves bitches. It’s a bunch of women calling themselves bitches and then attaching it to him. I don’t personally find the word bitches to be particularly offensive, but I don’t think I’d like to have my name attached to something that violated my principles.

    And…this may be the result of low expectations (for our culture in general, not Cumberbatch specifically), but I find it rather encouraging when celebrities are willing to talk about feminism in a positive light at all, rather than having a bunch of female celebrities say they’re not feminists because they like men too much and a bunch of male ones who ignore it entirely.

  23. drea says:

    It’s irritating that this is still an issue. It’s almost like he’s running out of talking points again.

    I’m sure he’s got more than enough fans who are willing to change their tag to please him, but it’s just not that serious bruv. Like calling yourself a Cumberbitch is REALLY going to set feminism back, in any way. And to link that “silly name” to something as significant as actual events happening in India? Please sit DOWN, Mr. Cumberbatch. Over-reach much? Renaming your fandom is a cutesy pop culture thing and has no place in the discussion of serious real world events.

    • Helen says:

      Yes, what an asshole for citing real world events and prompting unaware fans to look into it.

      That ‘silly name’ would irritate the hell out of me if it was connected to me personally. Guy’s got a fan name he literally cannot say without being called a sexist pig.

      Love how mad people get over this when you’ve got loads of celebs happy to degrade women whenever they can. Poor dude is trying at least and gets totally shit on because he’s not the perfect paradigm. I’d just give up and talk about my bitches all the time if this is what I was going to keep getting over it.

      • Maggie says:

        Totally agree, Helen, with all your points.

      • LadySlippers says:


        And worse we applaud abusers/rapists and other real misogynists* while we get our undies in a bundle over a guy that really supports and understands feminism.

        Talk about messed up.

        But that is patriarchal attitudes down to the core.

        *and victim shame on top of applauding those men.

      • drea says:

        You need to step back for a bit here and realize that I’m not attacking him for prompting “unaware” fans to look into real world events. Please. I’m irritated because changing the name of a guy’s fandom is something I’d really rather not have people discuss in the same breath as blatant, centuries-old, tradition-driven, society-sanctioned misogyny. It’s about appropriate context and levels, no?

    • LadySlippers says:

      Point taken.

      But people are asking him and it’s not like he is choosing to broach this topic on his own.

      Bottom line — I wish we’d give him the benefit of the doubt and not automatically assume the worst.

      • drea says:

        Oh, I believe he has good intentions. I just think that he’s been asked about the Cumberbitches thing so many times, he’s taken to reaching into very serious issues in order to make his stock answer more relevant. He doesn’t need to do that.

      • LadySlippers says:

        Actually– have you seen the full interview? It’s fabulous and he treats the subject with enormous tact. People have really taken his words and meanings and twisted them into things he doesn’t intend. > He makes it CLEAR that he’s uncomfortable with the word bitch and babe but won’t tell women what to call themselves.

      • Maureen says:

        Except that on one show he “slipped up” and forgot to be “sad” and “disappointed” by the word, and accidentally yelled out “There’s one of my Bitches!” or something to that effect when he saw one of this fans in the audience. He was quite happy and playful. It didn’t seem to hurt him at all when that word flew out of his mouth.

        Look, no one is twisting his words. Most of the people who disagreeing with him are fans. No one is scoring fan points by defending him to the death, because there’s no competition here. This thread is the first time I have written comments complaining about Ben’s commentary re: “Cumberbitches” and feminism. The first time, despite the fact that he’s been on about it for the entirety of 2013. And here on 13 December was the first time I’ve made a fuss about it.

        Because I’m sick of his whining about it and playing the Knight in Shining Armor about it. I do not think less of him as an actor or as a person. I’m just annoyed as are many others. I’m not even arguing from a feminist point of view. I’m arguing from the point of view of someone who thinks he should sit down and be quiet already.

      • LadySlippers says:


        I don’t think he slipped up at all in your referenced example. In fact, I think he demonstrated the use of a vulgar term is *sometimes* valid and appropriate when certain rules and context applies (as LilyRose mentioned). Furthermore, he continues to follow those rules, as he understand them, when he chooses not to use it outside those rules and contexts.

        I think he understands this a lot better than many (including myself) give him credit for.



    • Katie says:

      @ Drea

      It reads (tbh, I didn’t watch the video) more like he wanted to ref the issues in India since that’s where the reporter was from and they specifically asked about fannames. Obviously realizes it’s not equivalent, as he points out it’s not as serious before mentioning it: ‘I know it’s a silly fan name’ etc.

      I do think he’s screwed no matter what he says or doesn’t say on it.

    • EscapedConvent says:

      I agree with you, drea. Let’s move on to the next tempest in a teapot, I say!

  24. Avilita says:

    It’s rather sad that a word such as “bitch” is now perfectly acceptable to describe a woman.

  25. EscapedConvent says:

    Well this certainly is an old tired subject. Could someone please wake me when we stop debating the use of the word “bitch” in the Cumberbitch context?”?! Couple of thoughts: 1) I do not now need, nor have I ever needed anyone (alien lizard or other) to help me decide what to call myself. 2) I liked `Cumberbitch’ when I first heard it solely because of the play on his name. Other posters & I have had a lot of silly, whimsical fun with his name & unless he changes his name, I expect that will continue. That is the only thing that struck me when I first heard it, hand over heart.

    It was Cumby himself of course, who began the debate on whether or not it was disrespectful to women to call themselves “bitches” & if it “set feminism back.” My short answer is “No.” Yet it would take a volume-length set of sentences for me to express everything in my head on this subject, & it’s Friday & I’m just too tired.

    It’s too bad that media people are so dimwitted that they have had to stick a microphone up his nose 700 times at last count, to chortle “So…your female fans call themselves CumberBITCHES! yuk yuk yuk.” This is where I feel sorry for Cumby. What was he supposed to say for a reply? He had to say something. He has been smacked around for almost every thing he’s said on the subject, & to me it is “just not a big deal.* I thought CumberCollective sounded dopey, but if that’s what some ladies want to call themselves, I could not be happier for them. What does strike me as absurd is people calling themselves Cumberbitches & being content with that title, only to change to CumberCollective because their Master’s Voice told them to. How about if I decide what to be called for myself, hmmm?

    Finally, the use of the word “Bitch” is a very very rich topic & there is not time enough nor space to pour out all my thoughts on the subject. I use the word “bitch” in regular life, & my friends understand what I mean when I use it, as I do when they use it. It is unlikely that I will stop using it simply because some people don’t get it. If I changed personal expressions to fit what others do or don’t get, I would simply have to duct tape my mouth. ~Fini~

    • Soporificat says:

      Yep. Everything you said (although I personally don’t use the word “bitch” or other gendered slurs anymore).

      The thing that is puzzling to me is, if this is a question that is asked of Cumberbatch so frequently (and what an embarrassing question it is, too) and if so many women have expressed annoyance with his typical response (which they have), why haven’t his PR people crafted a concise, neutral response that pretty much side-steps the question? Isn’t that the kind of thing they are paid to do?

      • EscapedConvent says:

        That is a very, very good point. If he knows it is going to be brought up (as it almost always is) then have a good, neutral & disarming answer ready that will put the issue to rest. Maybe people will stop asking him about if if he stops squirming & looking so perturbed about it. Worth a try.

  26. Mel says:

    Say what? “Collective identity”?
    Why should I – or anyone – take pride in any fictitious construct?

    And that’s not mentioning the fact that there are seven billion people and only two sexes. That would be some collective!

  27. LilyRose says:

    I think what is off-putting about Cumberbatch’s statement, as it appears printed on the screen, is that it sound like benevolent sexism. I get what he is going for, however as a member of the white straight dudes club, he is the default. Everyone else is an Other. As an Other knows being lectured about our experiences is annoying. It’s like being told as a woman to not walk alone at night, as if we’ve never heard it before and it has never been drilled into our collective identity heads, along with how crazy we be, what clothes we wear and what our jobs should be, also math is hard. I have always suspected that he is uncomfortable with the word bitch so closely associated with his name. Which is fine, I respect that. But dressing it up in (pro/anti)feminist clothes gives me a serious case of the eye-rolls.

    Re: the feminist qualification of the word bitch. Like many things the word doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Gender, race and class has a lot to do with it. This is what scholars call intersectionality. “Bitch, please” is not something my white friends grew up with, but my Latino and African-American friends did. It’s contemporary use originated in poor neighborhoods. (*) I can’t recall the sociological term for the reclaiming words phenomenon, as someone else mentioned words starting with N, F, D and C. Oppressed classes have reclaimed one word or another for ages now, it is taking ownership away from those doing the oppression. On its surface it seems counter intuitive, a “tool of the patriarchy”! But it functions to change the narrative, to strip away its power, to create community (no kidding). Women of color have to struggle with both sexism and racism, carving and reclaiming an identity in both. Mainstream feminism is a white woman’s game, which is why race and class are often left behind or simply dismissed (see Moran, Caitlin; Schw yzer, Hugo). I think the word Bitch is great but I care about context and intent. It’s used for comedic effect with Cumberbatch, again if he doesn’t like the word and its association with his name that is fine. But he isn’t doing anyone any favors by policing what is or what is not, whatever he deems, feminist.

    Anyway, just my two cents.

    *If you have time/care to read about African American feminism this is a great collection of essays on the topic:

    • Soporificat says:

      LilyRose, thanks for the links. Just in the past few days I was literally thinking to myself, “Soporificat, you need to inform yourself about African American feminism”–no, for real I was, and now suddenly, here are some great resources!

  28. Katie says:

    He’s always expressed this opinion on it but is careful to let people know it’s an opinion and not an order–’I prefer the idea’ as opposed to ‘I want’ or ‘they should’ is a quick example from up above.

    Helen up there is right. He should just do whatever because someone is always going to be pissy about it while saying sexism won’t suffer from a fan name yet implying Cumberbatch’s personal opinion is going to harm it at the same time.

  29. Lindy79 says:

    Can I just say, if nothing else and Cumberbatch aside (although not too far aside as he’s too adorable ;) ), its great to sit and read through some really thoughtful, well thought out feelings and experiences from so many view points.

  30. icerose says:

    People just assume that my comments re Benny are linked to Hiddles but I was aware of Benny long before Tom cam on the scene .I do not follow him closely but pick up on interviews now and again, I have friends who are die hard fans and quite we quite often discuss our differences of opinions with out everyone feeling the need to “slap” each other down.
    But just because I do not always praise him or defend his stance does not mean I dislike him or his acting. I have a right to my opinions. Jumping to conclusions about why I say what I do as opposed to asking me to justify feels like a typical OTT fan reaction.
    I did not enter into the debate re the use of the term bitch or the even how it links to feminism because a lot of it had been covered in another post and there was very little else to say that was not repetitious. This is not the first time he has made comments along this line and I do find him slightly old fashioned in both this area and in his general presentation. There is nothing mean or nasty in my saying that and if people disagree that’s there prerogative but please do not imply motivations which does not exist.
    I find that his choice of roles are usually very straight forward unlike say Ben Whishaw who often goes for more quirky off beat characters which generally I find more interesting. That is not to say that he does not turn in good performances but even parts like Sherlock or Frankenstein are bedded in well known literature and the rest are often bios or book based adaptions.
    My comments re his appearance as Smaug I have made elsewhere and people have both agreed and disagreed. I do think that using him in the Hobbit was in part for the publicity of having both the Sherlock stars in the film. He does a reasonably good job from what I have read although not all the reviews were effusive in praise but that does not mean that someone else less known could not have done a better job with both the motion picture work and the voice work. I have more admiration for Andy Serkis who was relatively unknown at the time he portrayed Gollum and did the job with out going on about how difficult it was and he probably got payed less. And it did occur to me that he said the bits about his voice and physicality to promote his own acting abilities in the film. But many other actors have done this before. That was my reaction when I listed to the interview and I stand by it regardless of what others think about my motives.

    • FreeBunny says:

      At first, if you didnt’t call him “Benny” it would be better.
      The “Benny” thing is slightly condescending, something you call a child not an adult man. I don’t know fans who call him like that, they call him Benedict, more rarely Ben, not Benny.

      Then, no actor have a total control over their career. Most of them, if they’re not Brad Pitt, play what studios give them to play. They rarely chose so implying that actors only do the roles they want or chose to do is hasty.

      Finaly, I don’t see the interest to compare him to Andy Serkis, praising Serkis and implying that he hasn’t been cast for his talent but only because of Sherlock or that other actors would have been better than him.

      In fact, if you don’t compare him to Hiddleston, you compare him to other “more diserving”, with “better career choice”, “more talented” or “more interesting” actors than him.

      You never praise him for what he actually does, it’s never enough for you and there’s always someone better than him for the same job.

      Not that I care much, you have the right to dislike him, but you’re quite transparent.

    • Lee says:

      You are wrong he got this part long time ago, actually before he was known for Sherlock, Peter Jackson didn’t even know about him at that time. He said it in one interview.

    • Maureen says:

      I’m just curious about why Tom gets to be “Tom” while Benedict is demoted to “Benny”. None of his family, colleagues, or friends have ever referred to him publicly as “Benny”. He is always Ben or Benedict.

    • LadySlippers says:


      I was very honest when I said I really tried to give you the benefit of the doubt — I really did. But the truth of the matter is you needlessly nitpick Benedict to death. And over the silliest things. It’s almost as if you’re mad he doesn’t give you anything juicy, like a great many other celebs, so you resort to minor things in the absence of juicier ones.

      Perhaps you don’t realise it but your bias IS very clear. Your posts about BC could not be more different in tone and content from your posts about TH (or anything/anyone else).

      For example, after Benedict’s satirical reading of R Kelly’s lyrics on Kimmel (which R Kelly thought was funny), you asked about whether Benedict was being disrespectful ‘spoofing’ someone’s poetry. It seemed ‘innocent’ enough but you were obviously fishing for a put down. Here you place Andy on a pedestal in order to highlight where Benedict is lacking (for the record, no one knows if Andy has sustained injuries but I’d bet he has thereby nullifying your point).

      That’s what people see and comment on. There are other examples but those are just two recent ones. So you don’t like Benedict — I think you’ve made it clear despite your statements above. Most of us are okay with differences. At least I am. But please, I’m asking very politely, step back and reflect on what I’ve said, as well as others. And don’t tear into him (or anyone else) just to make others look better. Please.

      Very Respectfully,


  31. EscapedConvent says:

    Something just struck me out of the blue. Cumby went to an all boys’ school from the age of eight. Might “Cumberbitch” be one of the names he was called to be teased & tormented at school? Just a thought.

  32. emma says:

    I wish someone had seen him studying the reptiles at the zoo! That would have been so interesting to see!

    And I get where he’s coming from with the Cumberbitches thing, but it’s not insulting, come on. It’s just a fun name!

  33. Thora says:

    He’s a wonderful human beeing and that really came from his heart I feel. Ok he should maybe not say to women to stop calling them cumberbitches but stop trying to make an ass out of him. Atleast he is interested in these things and aware of what happens in the world. Everyone who knows him says he’s kind, wonderful. Some of you sound like he’s the worst human beeing ever when to me he seems like one of the most interisting, kind, down to earth celebrities out there. You bitches are shit, I’m not against critisicing celebrities but some of you just say wrong and hurtfull stuff. And he’s a human beeing, not a lizard.

    Then he might have put his words little wrong. But can’t believe that people can get so butthurt about something this sweet man has to say, haven’t you got more important things to do, like fighting for rights for women. Atleast he’s trying to do his piece, on a wrong way it seems but I’m sure he’s probably doing more than some of you screaming here.

    • LadySlippers says:

      Watch the video. He explicitly states he would not tell women what to call themselves but he prefers something ‘softer’ (I think that was his word).

      People here need to actually watch the video.

      As for giving him the benefit of the doubt because he seems like a good guy, gets drowned out. No one cares as long as they can step on their soap box.

      • Maureen says:

        LOL, he isn’t telling women they should stop using the word …. but he can’t stop talking/complaining about it for the entire year of 2013. But no, no, no he’s not TELLING women to stop using it … even though he plainly suggests they should use a different word. No, no, he’s not telling women they should stop using this word … even though he keeps calling their feminism into question.

        He IS trying to get women to stop using it. He IS telling women to stop using it. Granted, he’s being as polite as he can and trying to take the burden off himself (“I’m saying this for YOUR good. I’m looking out for YOUR integrity as women. This is not for me. Oh no, no. This is for YOU.”) He would be more effective if he were candid and just admitted that the word “Cumberbitches” embarrasses him.

      • LadySlippers says:


        Did you actually watch the Indian interview? Because I still strongly disagree with your entire assertion. I honestly think you’re projecting here. I don’t think he’s saying this at all. I’ve seen a lot of these interviews and he’s clearly a) uncomfortable and b) not telling women what to do. In fact, he always seems very careful not to impose his beliefs on anyone on any topic.

        I know you’ll disagree with me and that’s fine. But I strongly get the feeling that Benedict is not ‘that guy’. And you’re right, there are plenty of those types of men (too many) but Benedict doesn’t strikes me as one.

        Just thought I’d point out that in another post you respond by telling a commenter that this isn’t about feminism, “it’s about what women choose to do between friends” (paraphrasing) and then say in another post it IS about feminism. You can’t have it both ways. The fact of the matter is it IS about feminism — even when it’s between friends and in jest. As another fabulous commenter stated, minorities often try to ‘take back’ oppressive words for empowerment. It is very common. And as the other poster also stated — context is everything as is who is actually allowed to use the offensive term. Interestingly enough, even you’ve shown it was used in a specific context, with certain people. Which means you unknowingly showed us how and when a minority is able to use an offensive and vulgar term in order for it to lose it’s incredibly derogatory nature (as long as certain rules are enforced).

        Basically, you can’t have it both ways. This IS about feminism (always was) and Benedict is very well informed on the topic of feminism and fully supports it. Benedict is a feminist and seems comfortable with that fact. Other posters have stated bitch is *especially* vulgar and offensive in the UK and Benedict has shown he will not to use it and will use other terms instead (and even those are said jokingly). But Benedict will NOT tell us what and how we should use that term. He gets that’s for us to decide — that we have the power to name ourself.

        Sorry, I honestly cannot see how he could have handled that any better. I think he handled this delicate topic with aplomb.

        Oh well. Hope you have a fantastic rest of your weekend. I mean that in all sincerity.

        Very Respectfully,


  34. Lil says:

    You also need to take into consideration that where he’s from ‘bitch’ is really looked up on as an insult – call another woman that and you’ll find yourself in a fight! No wonder hes’ uncomfortable with it.

    • Maureen says:

      ONCE AGAIN: the issue at hand is about women who CHOOSE to call themselves “Cumberbitches” and refer to each other as such and have no problem with it. This is about the CHOICE of SOME women to use that word for fun and play in relation to their fandom. Why is this so hard to accept by Benedict and so many women in this thread?? The issue is not about using the word in reference to someone who doesn’t like it. The issue is not about “owning the word”. The issue is not about that word making some people uncomfortable. The issue is not even about feminism.



    • LadySlippers says:


      Have you seen the video? If you had you’d see your anger is unfounded. He states he’s uncomfortable with both bitch and babe but would not tell women what they should call themselves. In fact, he’s quite clear about it too.

      I suggest you watch it. I honestly think you’ll see he’s way more respectful than what many realise.

  35. GeeMoney says:

    Oh boy… anyone, in my opinion, who publicly wants to declare themselves in any way, shape or form someone’s “bitch”, has no self-respect. What an awful thing to declare about one’s self.

    It’s pretty obvious Cumberbatch doesn’t like the name of his fan base. And I agree with what someone else said on this thread… I think that the name embarrasses him. Cumberpeople, or Cumberbabes or ANYTHING ELSE probably would have been better.

    For the last few years, he’s been politely stating that he doesn’t like it. And I’m thinking that he’s hoping that it’ll change… but that’s looking like a pipe dream at this point in time, so perhaps he should let it go.

    I feel for him that he’s on the receiving end of a bizarre fan base name, but I’m guessing a bizarre fan base is better than no fan base at all (sorry for the double post).