Does the word bitch still have bite?


The word 'Bitch' has always been a representation for the worst things men think about women (and gay men) but women have been trying to reclaim the word for a very long time and I think we may have finally done just that!


At some point in history, the word bitch almost became synonymous with 'woman that I dislike' and in some situations, just 'woman'. To this day, men use it an insult when referring to another man that they do not respect. The word was once considered an insult so severe we called it a slur and muted it in songs on the radio. It was once called "the most offensive appellation that can be given to an English woman".


Enter second wave feminism and Jo Freeman's 'The Bitch Manifesto.'




The truth is that even when used as a derogatory term, it was always to refer to women who had attributes that people praised men for having. Hillary Clinton has often been called a bitch for refusing to back down on certain issues. I know at least 10 women, including myself, who have had this word yelled at them when they said NO to a man or stood their ground. It is said about a woman who dares to be honest about having a sexual appetite. So I guess it shouldn't have been surprising that the word was starting to turn it's face towards feminism.


The word couldn't just change from one day to the next though and I feel like it got even uglier as Hip Hop made it's way to the mainstream. I love hip hop music and so much of what it represents but no one can deny it's highly misogynistic culture and the impact of songs like Dr. Dre's "Bitches Ain't Shit", Ice-T's "Six in Da Morning.” or snoop dogg's "ain't no fun". These songs, among many others, reinforced the idea that women were not human but rather, female and needed to be put in their place. It corrupted the word even further and most of the women in hip hop at the time went out of their way to reject the term.

Then, in 1999, there was Trina.


I don't know if she coined the term 'bad bitch' but she was the first woman that I remember wearing the 'baddest bitch' badge and just making it sound cool and powerful instead of demeaning. It was one of those moments where you do a double take at your speaker because a rapper said something HARD! As if the line was going to be written on it.


It wasn't written on my speaker but I think feminism and history remembers that record. Trina's song emphasized the fact that there was really nothing wrong with being a bitch. A bitch, according to Trina was a strong and powerful woman who was in charge of her sexuality. In hindsight, this is exactly what the men in hip hop had been saying but they had been phrasing it as an insult and she was the first woman, who without using the term feminism, outright said that there is absolutely nothing with those things.



It took some time before the term actually spread to the mainstream and was accepted by the public but there was clearly a swerve in pop culture. Women who were making changes in different industries used the word on big platforms! From Tina Fey’s “Bitches get stuff done!” to Madonna’s "Unapologetic Bitch' and Nicki Minaj carving a whole new lane in hip hop while constantly referring to herself as the baddest bitch.


Today, the term means a lot of different things. Modern feminism has retaken the word and re-appropriated. It has not completely lost it's bite but much like the N word ( Not that they are the same!), it's meaning is very reliant on who is using the word, their intent and the context it is being used in.


The opinion on the use of this word in casual, everyday language is still very divided. Where do you stand on it? Do you consider yourself a bad bitch? Do you call anyone else a bad bitch? Do you think we have reclaimed the word?!






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