Being a Bitch is Not a Female Vocation

Rap and pop music are notorious for their derogatory references to women, black people and gay people. I refuse to waste my precious time listening to music that is neither well executed nor moral in its lyrics, because the more we listen to the pitiful likes of Robin Thicke - gallivanting and gyrating embarrassingly in his striped suits and sunglasses, telling us we "know what want it" and Pharrell Williams is there to support him on this, convincing himself people actually care - the more these shambolic excuses of artists will continue their reign of fuckery and take up valuable studio space.

I am as guilty as everyone else for enjoying Jay-Z's 99 Problems. He wants us all to know loud and clear that his 'bitch' ain't one of his problems but, evidently, referring to women as 'bitches' for entertainment purposes is.

In some ways, women have reclaimed the word 'bitch', especially feminists who've been stamped with this label for so long we may as well adopt it, spin it on its head and say "you know what, maybe I am a bitch for being strong and independent and fighting for my basic rights! Goodness, it's all so obvious now!" Women have tried to reclaim being labelled 'bitches' because what choice do we have? Everything is critical but nothing is meaningful, because it's so easy to play the Banter Card that there is little sincerity in what people are really trying to say. Being a 'bitch' is brushed off as Banter, and it's only an issue when you voice your disapproval of it. Otherwise it's what you are and you have to deal with it.

Being a feminist doesn't make you a bitch, being opinionated doesn't make you a bitch, standing up for yourself in the face of abuse doesn't make you a bitch and putting your foot down to firmly establish something important doesn't make you a bitch. I will be the first to admit that I have probably referred to myself as "a bitch" or as "in a bitchy mood", simply due to lack imagination to use a better noun or adjective. What does this say about me, about the culture I live in that describes women as 'bitches' so frequently it's seldom analysed any deeper than being jokey and juvenile? 

Referring to a woman who has zero tolerance for bullshit as a 'bitch' irritates me as much as describing anything affectionate/heart warming/annoying/stupid/unfortunate/pointless as 'gay'. It is a senseless description that is being used for purposes way beyond what it actually denotes. It's (usually) applied without the intention of being insulting to homosexual people, but there lies the problem. We're using language that we don't know the long-term or widespread consequences of. We're passing on the message that being a 'bitch' is constitutive of a certain personality trait, is a term of endearment from a boyfriend to his girlfriend, or simply a woman in general. We allow 'gay' to be thrown around as a harmless insult because when used outside of a sexuality context it somehow has all kinds of definitions and connotations, but it's casual and there's no hateful intention so it's a-ok.

I don't know when, why or how the semiotic shift in the meaning of 'bitch' came about, but I'm sure it's original creator did not intend for it to become a go-to word for fillers in rap songs.

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