The reappropriation of oppressive language

January 2, 2007


Bitch magazine is undoubtedly a wonderful thing for women, a feminist magazine responding to unfavorable media images of women in pop culture. However, I really don’t understand how using the word “bitch” can be anything but negative when the power structure that perpetuates the word as popular invective persists. Have the editors of Bitch ever tried to read their magazine on the New York City subways, when there’s about five hip hoppers in your train car, who just quite possibly, don’t get the whole “reappropriation” thing? Maybe because reappropriation does not work. Just like corporate entities carefully craft their brand images, why aren’t traditionally oppressed groups getting more creative in reforming traditionally oppressive language? Why not take a cue from gays?

The same thing goes for the N word. I’m glad comedian Paul Mooney renounced his use of it after the Michael Richards incident. (I’ll add more on this later).

Even if the use of “Bitch” is ironic, it fails to be as progressive as its content. The title appears to be rather aesthetic, wouldn’t you say? Not like women haven’t had enough of being reduced to issues of athetics and beauty.


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