Hip-hop has traditionally endured plenty of criticism with claims of misogyny and lewdness and rightfully so. If you listen to a variety of rap music long enough you’ll likely hear “b*tch,” which is largely perceived as misogynistic and indecent. Certainly hip-hop is not the only entertainment pocket that flares the expletive.
Reality television has boasted the lives of prosperous and privileged women in dramatic fashion with shows, like Real Housewives of Atlanta and Love and Hip-Hop, that depict progressive yet sometimes tactless women. Sit and watch and you’ll hear “b*tch” like it’s a character on the show. A recent column targets “Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta,” and details the so-called “Mass Media University,” and its ill effect on womanhood particularly that of young, black American women.
One week before the column was published, west coast rapper, Crooked I, released “Ratchet Heauxs” (pronounced “hoes”). The day before the posting Lupe Fiasco gifted us with his single, “B*tch Bad.” “Ratchet Heauxs” is a filibuster tirade about a deceptive, less than favorable woman. “B*tch Bad” is a conscious spin on the ever so popular expression “bad bitch,” which can be interpreted as some twisted testament of feminine pride or just a man’s immature appraisal of a woman.The two songs are dissimilar in style and approach, but nevertheless “b*tch” undergirds both.
Crooked I- “Ratchet Heauxs” | Psalm 82:06 | 2012
“Steady shit talking, bitch get walking. You know I’m pissed off, I don’t talk like this often. You say I’m on the chauvinist tip, when its 40 below snowing and shit, there’s still nothing cold as a bitch!…You a ratchet ass, reality show wanna star in ass, always looking past a good hard working man ass b*tch! See a broke nigga, the hoe is laughing, knowing damn well your account is over drafted. Fuck a regular nigga man, she’s looking for a draft pick. Her goal is to marry him then divorce him on some half shit. “ – Crooked I
So as hip-hop and media always do, those songs got me thinking. Let’s be honest. Men call women bitches and vice versa, and we’ll even address the same sex as a bitch if warranted. The rampant, all-inclusive use of the word suggests that “bitch” really isn’t that bad. What is profane to one is justified to another. I personally see the word as unacceptable, but its use is quite understandable. Hip-hop uses bitch in various contexts, from song titles like “Life’s a B*tch” to “B*tch Sickness.” But why is b*tch so prevalent in entertainment? Apparently we see b*tches in different forms, colors, and sexes. The truth is we’re all some bitches.
Freddie Gibbs ft. Devin The Dude- “Stray (Remix)” | The Miseducation of Freddie Gibbs | 2009. Originally recorded by Devin The Dude as “Stray” from the studio LP, Landing Gear (2008).
“That’s why I see the bitch in you. I call some women bitches, but most these niggas bitches too“– Freddie Gibbs
Men and women who have been decried b*tch share a standard set of typical behaviors. Unfortunately, bitch has become synonymous with or related to a woman or girl, and given the word’s literal definition, the sex association is clear. When we call someone a bitch we are often the witness of emotional turbulence or childish behavior. This generally takes the form of temper tantrum or “b*tch fit.” If a man’s emotions chronically supersede clear and rational behavior, don’t be surprised to hear “man stop being a b*tch!” But we primarily attach this type of behavior with that of women (even though we have all done it).
Side note: Have you ever examined an anti-man attitude that maybe comes across as misconstrued pro-feminism? This attitude includes, but is not limited to, expressions like “I don’t need a man,” or “all men are dogs.” What are we relegating ourselves to with such accusations? Hip-hop has confirmed.
Outkast- “Mamacita” | Aquemini | 1998
“She nigga bashin sayin you don’t need em in your world. Niggas all dogs? If niggas all dogs, then what you call broads? Felines in heat, meowin for some yawn balls?” – Andre 3000
You also may hear a selfish and/or unfaithful man man referred to as a dog. Assumedly that is because we tend to act like one. This is when intrinsic, physiological drive dominates behavior and “higher order” thinking takes a back seat. In regard to the human man, the libido acts as chauffeur with conventional wisdom at standby. The stereotype paints a sexually piloted, uncommitted, dishonest man. Interestingly, an untrustworthy woman has been aptly referred to as bitch [see “Ratchet Heauxs” above].
It is not uncommon to hear a man refer to an enticing woman as a “bad bitch.” The bothersome part about this is that a woman might braggingly lay personal claim to this. Men will typically find this type of woman as a suitable sexual partner. Again and by default we have minimized ourselves to canine species.
Lupe Fiasco- “Bitch Bad” | Food and Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1 | 2012
“Just like that, you see the fruit of the confusion. He caught in a reality, she caught in an illusion. Bad mean good to her, she really nice and smart. But bad mean bad to him, bitch don’t play your part. But bitch still bad to her if you say it the wrong way. But she think she a bitch, what a double entendre“– Lupe Fiasco
As humans we sometimes succumb to both sets of behavior, particularly in our sexual relations. When those attitudes or behaviors become so consistent, unyielding, and almost trait like, we’re appropriately called dogs. The common factor seems to be the temporary abandonment of logic and pragmatism and the embrace of emotionally dominated action. Human adults are usually expected to use reason and clear judgment and children are expected to eventually learn it. Other animals, such as dogs, are thought to be unable to do so to the extent that of a human.
Logic and reason is the evolutionary crown that represents dominion over others in the animal kingdom. But what about when we kick that crown around on the floor? Well that “queen” just might not be acknowledged as one. If she is, her court may at best recognize her as Marie Antoinette.
- Common- “The Bitch In Yoo” (Ice Cube and Westside Connection diss) | 1996
- DMX ft. Sisqo– “What These Bitches Want” | …And Then There Was X | 1999
- Dr. Dre ft. Snoop Dogg, Hittman & Six-Two – “Bitch Niggaz” | The Chronic 2001 | 2001