In the wake of The Onion’s unforgivable attack on Black girlhood, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with feminists who theorize that re-appropriating profane language removes its ability to inflict psychological damage.
Though the conversation began with the word “cunt,” it quickly spiraled outward to include the all-purpose “bitch” and all the baggage that it entails. What does it mean? Why does it bother us? Is it harmless?
See below for a snippet of one of those conversations that happened on Twitter:
Similar in functionality to the word “n*gga,” I’ve never gotten the appeal of “b*tch.” To be honest, the very thought of re-appropriating patriarchal language intended to belittle and insult is the height of lazy empowerment. The quest for equality is undoubtedly a high-wire balancing act but we have to be very careful not to engage in linguistic double standards while trying to gain our footing. It rings extremely forced and does feminism no favors.
True, one could say that words are harmless and that it’s the intent of the user that gives it a positive or negative connotation. And I would love to rock with that train of thought, but it never fails that words like bitch are always unisex. One minute it’s “You better werk, b*tch!” and the next minute it’s “B*tches ain’t sh*t but hoes and tricks.”