Whoa. Hold on. A word? True, words can hurt. But words can be transformed or "reappropriated", reclaimed so as to reduce their injurious tone to one of positive affirmation. It got me thinking about language and its power. Where does the power of a word lie? In its history, its context? The manner by which we utter it? Does liberation involve shedding the trappings of such nonsense, refusing to embrace terms defined by others? What is liberating about accepting a static view of language, viewing culture as repetitve fixed behaviors that endure throughout history? I think viewing the word differently over time is reflective of a liberated posture. What do you think?
Many feel a "bitch" is an assertive, rebellious, outspoken or strong woman. A woman unafraid to speak out or question. A woman that speaks her mind even if it is not what we want to hear. What's so wrong with that? Plenty, if you are an insecure man or an uptight traditionalist- hellbent on framing the status quo and hanging it on your mantle.
The question was raised over at Marginal Notes
There is considerable debate within various cultural groups over the reappropriation, or reclamation, of language. Some argue that, by co-opting or "flipping" terms that have historically been used against oneself, derogatory terms are deflated and given new meaning. The most well known example may be the now frequent use of the word "nigger" in hip-hop music. Similarly, many gays and lesbians embrace "fag" and "dyke", as some women do "bitch" and "cunt".
While the reclaiming of language has gained popularity, some warn that the process obscures the historical roots of terms, and the very real oppressive forces that they represent. In a sense, the danger is false consciousness.
And for those of you that are squeamish about the C word, there is an overview on reappropriating that as well here.