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—h,” 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***h” 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***h Bad.” “Ratchet Heauxs” is a filibuster tirade about a deceptive, less than favorable woman. “B***h Bad” is a conscious spin on the ever so popular expression “bad b***h,” which can be interpreted as some 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***h” undergirds both.
Crooked I- “Ratchet Heauxs” | Psalm 82:06 | 2012
“Steady shit talking, b***h 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 b***h!…You a ratchet ass, reality show wanna star in ass, always looking past a good hard working man ass b***h! 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 b***hes and vice versa, and we’ll even address the same sex as a b***h if we feel it is warranted. The rampant, all-inclusive use of the word suggests that “b***h” has found comfort in our consciousness. 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 b***h in various contexts, from song titles like “Life’s a B****h” to “B***h Sickness.” But why is b***h so prevalent in entertainment? Apparently we see b***hes in different forms, colors, and sexes. The truth is, when told by perception, we’re all some b***hes.
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 b***h in you. I call some women b***h, but most these niggas bitches too“– Freddie Gibbs
Men and women who have been decried b***h share a standard set of typical behaviors. Unfortunately, b***h 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 b***h we are often the witness of emotional turbulence or childish behavior. This generally takes the form of temper tantrum or “b***h fit.” If a man’s emotions chronically supersede clear and rational behavior, don’t be surprised to hear “man, stop being a b***h!” But we tend to 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 b***h [see “Ratchet Heauxs” above].
It is not uncommon to hear a man refer to an enticing woman as a “bad b***h.” The interesting part about this is that a woman might braggingly lay personal claim to this, perhaps as a means to inoculate against the misogyny and transform diminishment into empowerment. Men will sometimes find this type of woman as a prime sexual partner. Again, and by default, we have minimized ourselves to canine species.
Lupe Fiasco- “B***h 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, b***h don’t play your part. But b***h still bad to her if you say it the wrong way. But she think she a b***h, 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 B***h In Yoo” (Ice Cube and Westside Connection diss) | 1996
- DMX ft. Sisqo– “What These B***hes Want” | …And Then There Was X | 1999
- Dr. Dre ft. Snoop Dogg, Hittman & Six-Two – “B***h Niggaz” | The Chronic 2001 | 2001