Sticks and stones can break our bones,but words can never hurt them--unless we let them.
At one time, the accepted term for people of African heritage was "Negro" which is Spanish for "black." Then along came the plain-speaking Black Pride movement, and "Black" became the preferred reference. Later, we adopted the somewhat cumbersome "African-American." Correspondingly, what is now referred to as the "N-word," has gained in power. Too much power.
No word should be accorded that much emotional dynamite. Nor should sexual epithets like "c*nt." Words are just words. The combination of sounds that means "love" in one language might mean "hate" in another--or it might mean "applesauce." (Thus "Dikshit," a respected surname in India, is somewhat startling to English speakers.)
The best way to defuse a "demeaning" epithet is to ignore is--or claim it. If called a "c*nt," step back, smile, and say, "Yes, I'm a woman, and proud of it."
Do not allow yourself be controlled by other people's thoughtlessness, ignorance, or venom.