Wonder Why They Call U Bitch.

This article was originally published on TheVine on 5th September, 2012.

Earlier in the year a rumour was circulating around the interwebs that Jay Z had shunned the age-old method of addressing women in rap and hip hop—“bitch”—after the birth of his baby with Beyonce, Blue Ivy, had made him realise the error of his ways. Alas, the poem in which Hova allegedly “curse[s] those that give it [bitch]”, turned out to be a fake, but it did raise some pertinent issues about calling women “bitches” in the rap game.

More recently, Jay Z’s bestie Kanye West revealed he wrote his song “Perfect Bitch” about Kim Kardashian, who took it as a compliment, showing how one person’s misogynistic insult is another’s compliment.

Rapper Lupe Fiasco’s latest track and accompanying video ask is “Bitch Bad”, using children to show the different ways we internalise the term. Again, one person’s put down is another’s feminist manifesto, like Bitch magazine, Missy Elliot’s “She’s a Bitch” and “Queen Bitch” by Lil’ Kim.

Perhaps in response to Fiasco’s request to start a dialogue on the “destructive” and “troubling elements” of bitch, Kanye has taken to Twitter to add to the discourse. He asks, perhaps in relation to “Perfect Bitch”, “is it acceptable for a man to call a woman a bitch even if it’s endearing?” To those who tend to towards “yes”, he asks, “would we refer to our mothers as bitches?”

A similar question comes to mind as the one brought up when the Blue Ivy poem, “Glory”, was released: why did Jay Z only shun the word after the birth of his daughter, as opposed to when he wed one of the most desirable women in the world, Beyonce? Is she not good enough to warrant not being called a “bitch”? I guess in this case, baby trumps baby mama.

But supposing that because women are addressed as “bitches”, “tricks” and “hos” in rap music they must automatically be viewed as such (and, really, what is a bitch or a ho? Someone who speaks their mind? Someone who gets some action between the sheets? If so, sign me up!) IRL is to subscribe to the outdated “hypodermic needle” theory of media studies. Certainly, though, popular culture does infiltrate other aspects of daily life so it’s important that Fiasco and West are contributing to the unpacking of this word that’s so inherent in rap and hip hop.

This is hardly a new phenomenon, though. 2Pac “Wonder[ed] Why They Call[ed] U Bitch” on his 1994 album, All Eyez on Me, concluding that having unprotected sex, getting paid for it, looking and moving a certain way and abusing the welfare system are all reasons why someone might “call you bitch”.

Eighteen years on, “bitch” is still “so prevalent in our culture right now,” says Fiasco. Because, as mentioned above, “bitch” is most certainly a derogatory term for many in the hip hop industry, as evidenced in “Bitches Ain’t Shit” by Dr. Dre and Too $hort’s pertinently titled “Call Her a Bitch”, but also in wider society to address a woman who doesn’t conform to femininity norms: mouth shut, “legs closed, eyes open,” from 2Pac’s abovementioned battle cry.

But, alternatively, as Busta Rhymes’ “I Love My Bitch”, Ja Rule’s “Down Ass Bitch” and Kim’s reaction to “Perfect Bitch” will attest, it’s also a term of endearment.

In a rare moment of clarity, Kanye Tweets, “Perhaps the word BITCH and N*GGA are now neither positive or negative. They are just potent and it depends on how they are used and by whom.”

Indeed. So while friends and lovers might use the word in passing affection, those who want to stifle independent women or ones who’ve scorned them, it’s still very much a problematic term.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Rapper Lupe Fiasco Weighs in on the B-Word: “Bitch Bad, Woman Good, Lady Better.”

[The Wire] Discussing Linguistics with Kanye West.

[The Rap Up] The Unified Bitch Theory.

On the (Rest of the) Net.


On U.S. Cosmopolitan naming the Kardashian’s “America’s first family”:

“If our first family is supposed to be an accurate representation of the American people, who’d be a better choice than this absurd, problematic and inexplicably wealthy crew of bad-rapper-enabling Instagram mavens from Hidden Hills, Calif.?” [The Root]

But where’s Caitlyn? [Go Fug Yourself]

Amber Rose’s SlutWalk changed the game for women of colour. [HuffPo]

Reproductive coercion in rap music. [Broadly]

Why do we decry artistic women for being “fake” but praise male artists for the same thing? [The Cut]

White #MasculinitySoFragile is the cause of so much gun violence. [HuffPo]

Why Kim Kardashian West’s pregnancy admission is revolutionary. [Daily Life]

And for more links from Aussie and NZ feminists, including yours truly, check out the latest Down Under Feminists Carnival. [Opinions @ BlueBec]

Image via Time.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Kim Kardashian Rolling Stone

Kim Kardashian’s Rolling Stone cover story:

“… [The Kardashians] also exhibit an attitude toward their bodies that can only be called revolutionary. Women have long asked for fair vagina representation in media, for their vaginas not only to be sexual objects but to smell and bleed and pop out babies, and on their show, Kardashian vaginas do all that and more, which is very different than other pop-culture vaginas.”

Speaking of Kim, is she becoming more political? [Fusion]

And Kanye West could actually be the best president the United States has ever seen. [The Guardian]

How SlutWalk Melbourne has evolved in the past four years. [Spook Magazine]

HIV on HTGAWM. [This Ain’t Livin’]

“I Feel Bad About My Nose.” [Broadly]

“How Political Was N.W.A., Really?”

“When asked if racism existed outside of Compton by SPIN magazine in 1990, Eazy-E replied, ‘The black police in Compton are worse than the white police. Chuck D gets involved in all that black stuff, we don’t. Fuck that black power shit; we don’t give a fuck. Free South Africa; we don’t give a fuck…We’re not into politics at all.’” [Talking Points Memo]

You can’t decry Straight Outta Compton for its misogynoir while also consuming Tyler Perry products. [The Root]

Move over #DivasRevolution: WWE is in the midst of a black revolution and it’s been right under our noses this whole time. [Uproxx]

Disability advocacy campaigns need to be inclusive of the people they’re claiming to help, not pitying of them. [Junkee]

Is Justin Bieber’s new song a pro-consent anthem? [The Cut]

In praise of gender-neutral public bathrooms. [Daily Life]

Women can be pedophiles, too. [Broadly]

Image via Rolling Stone.

On the (Rest of the) Net.


“To be Rihanna… To be a black woman and genius, is to be perpetually owed.” [Pitchfork]

Why we find the sexualised violence of #BBHMM so disturbing. [HuffPo Women]

The Supreme Court of the United States’ landmark decision to legalise marriage equality nation wide is great, but the freedom to marry should also mean the freedom not to marry. [The Cut]

The Kim Kardashian sex tape flag at Kanye West’s Glastonbury set shows women’s sexualities aren’t their own. [The Guardian]

Has Kim changed… or just the way we think about her? [Daily Life]

Orange is the New Black and a defence of rape scenes:

“My hope is that going forward we can have a Pennsatucky Test for rape scenes much like the Bechdel Test. Is the victim’s point-of-view shown? Does the scene have a purpose for existing for character, rather than plot, advancement? Is the emotional aftermath explored? As long as sexual assault continues to be a scourge of our society, TV shows ought to mine the subject; it’s important we keep the conversation going. Just take care of your characters. Don’t rape ’em and leave ’em. They deserve to have their trauma acknowledged. They deserve to have their stories told.” [Vulture]

“The Personal Politics of Public Bathrooms.” [The Cut]

Grief in the time of social media. [Kill Your Darlings]

Why does TV suck at understanding the internet? [Junkee]

To celebrate U.S. series UnREAL‘s renewal and debut on Australian screens on Stan, read about how the show flips the reality TV script and how it’s pushing the boundaries of female masturbation. [Vulture, TV Tonight, The New Yorker, HuffPo Women]

Mums with guns. [Jezebel]

Magic Mike XXL was released this week and I wrote about the original here. [TheVine]

The latest Down Under Feminists Carnival has much more Aussie and Kiwi feminist goodness to keep you satisfied. [A Bee of a Certain Age]

Image via Pop Sugar.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Rihanna met gala 2015

The red carpet allows women to take up space they wouldn’t normally. [Spook Magazine]

In defence of the Supergirl trailer:

“It’s Supergirl. It’s supposed to be aimed at teenage girls. If you’re not one, and it bothers you that it’s aimed at someone who isn’t you, just think: now you have some understanding of what it’s like to be a teenage girl (or indeed, grown woman) watching another TV show/movie/video game trailer and thinking ‘oh right, another TV show/movie/video game aimed at men.'” [Den of Geek]

A love letter to Betty Draper. [Buzzfeed]

Deconstructing the effort that goes into being Kim Kardashian. [The Atlantic]

Kardashian’s Selfish calls to mind “another struggle of a young girl inventing herself in and out of the spotlight amidst Southern California insanity, hedonism, and wealth, but at the epicenter of the most highly charged racial trial of an era; where the black man won at the same time as her body became deformed, shaped, changed.” [Vulture]

If Anna Kendrick’s not a Cool Girl then what is she? [Buzzfeed]

Since when did giving the least amount of fucks become cool? [HuffPo]

Joss Whedon’s reproductive coercion and forced motherhood. [Bitch Flicks]

Not wanting children doesn’t make you selfish: actually, having kids does. [Catherine Deveny]

ICYMI: My (just!) three problems with Married at First Sight.

Image via Mirror.

On the (Rest of the) Net.


Analysing Kim Kardashian’s selfies. [Fusion]

Avengers: Age of Ultron is crap because:

“… Whedon can’t get more than five or ten minutes to establish or complicate their motivations, because Marvel is mandating that he not waste screen time on things like the characters’ motivations when he could be shooting ads for their other movies, because Marvel doesn’t care about men, women, or anything except getting you to show up in a few years for the next installment of Avengers.” [Medium]

Why did it handle Natasha Romanoff’s forced sterilisation backstory so insensitively? [Hello, Tailor]

Further to that, an interview with the Black Widow miniseries creator about the feminist implications of said backstory. [io9]

And if we’re calling heroic fictional characters sluts, Black Widow isn’t among them. (Though what even is a slut?) [Flavorwire]

Tavi Gevinson made a comic about the rise of calling celebrities mums/moms. [Rookie]

Post-menopausal women like Hillary Clinton make the best leaders, according to “science”. But what about pre-menopausal women? [Daily Life]

Ratchet reality TV in the age of Shondaland. [Cleo Journal]

Image via HuffPo.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Women-hosted podcasts are the next big thing. Glad I’m on the bandwagon then, as I just hosted my first podcast for Outback Championship Wrestling, interviewing TNA star and Amazing Race contestant, Robbie E. I’ll post it here when it’s available. [Bitch Magazine]

And I also recapped last weekend’s Outback Championship Wrestling show featuring Robbie E.

I wrote about Cristina Yang’s radical unlikeability and feminism. [Bitch Flicks]

Also, the unlikeability of Hannah Horvath and Girls. [Kill Your Darlings]

An interview with Caitlin Stasey about her website, Herself. [Jezebel]

My third roundup of links for feminaust is now live.

In defence of Blair Waldorf. [Bitch Flicks]

And Kim Kardashian. [The Hairpin]

Ross Gellar is a men’s rights activist. [The Frisky]

Katy Perry’s religiosity. [Buzzfeed]

What it means for men’s masculinity to not “hit below the belt”. [Sociological Images]

“She’s just so… Black!” The politics of Blackness. [Salon]

ICYMI: 50 Shades of Grey is 50 shades of boring, and am I a Bad Feminist?

If these links weren’t enough weekend reading for you, check out the 82nd Down Under Feminists Carnival. [A Life Unexamined]