On Bad, Boss, and Basic Bitches

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Blog # 8:

I recently watched a CollegeHumor video about "Basic Bitches"--or, as they define: "an extra-regular female." Though I found the video to be humorous, I think there's a bit to say about what it means to "reclaim" the term "bitch."
When women attempt to reclaim a derogatory term, or even use it ironically, I think there is, to some extent, a sense/experience of false power. The term has been used negatively for so long that using it in popular culture seems to reinforce exclusion.
Further, by categorizing women as Bad Bitches (think Rhianna), Boss Bitches (think Beyonce), or Basic Bitches (ie. the CollegeHumor video) implies that *all* women are, in fact, "bitches", but that some women are better/stronger/more unique "bitches" than the rest. This can solidify intergender conflict (women shaming other women) as well as make it seem alright for men to refer to women as bitches. Although it may be a valiant effort to reclaim a derogatory term, it simply doesn't work as well as other examples.
For instance, the SlutWalk movement (a demonstration against slut shaming and rape culture) does a fantastic job reclaiming the label "slut." There is a big difference here, though.
"Slut" is a term used to describe the particular *actions* of a woman (be it their wardrobe choices, sexual activities, etc.), while "Bitch" is a term used to describe the *being* of a woman. The two are very different in that Slut is an active reclamation, while Bitch is a submissive attempt to create hierarchies within an already marginalized social group.

Not all terms are problematic in being "reclaimed." For instance, "queer" has been reclaimed as a positive identity term. However, I find the attempts to reclaim/define different types of "bitches" to be problematic.

Thoughts?

1 Comment

I really enjoy that you brought this topic up. Although in some contexts women do use it in a joking manner, the majority of the use of bitch is indeed negative. It is possible to take back the word bitch, but for a while that word will still have a negative connotation. The way in which people in the media, mostly the music industry, are reclaiming bitch, is wrong because they aren't proving that it is a word that can equally describe everyone. Bitch can be taken in many different ways, some of which are shameful. The way that bitch is being reclaimed is often used for shaming women by other women, which creates a problem by having yet another way to harass women. Bitch is thought of as being reclaimed, but in reality it is hardly being used in a way that women should be proud of it to use. Some groups have been able to reclaim words such as slut, queer, gay, etc. and bitch can be added to that list eventually, but when it is used as a shameful, there can hardly be a reclaiming of the word. How it can be reclaimed, I am not sure, but I do believe that eventually people will think of using bitch in a derogatory manner as they do about using gay in that sense.

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This page contains a single entry by goinx008 published on May 11, 2014 3:29 PM.

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