|Andi Zeisler, Co-Founder of Bitch Magazine|
In The B-Word? You Betcha., published in the Washington Post in 2007, Andi Zeisler, co-founder of Bitch Magazine, discussed the choice of title for the magazine and the cultural significance of the word "bitch." The piece was published during the 2008 Democratic primary, when the term was routinely applied to candidate Hillary Clinton, as a term of derision and as a compliment (Tina Fey's Saturday Night Live Weekend Update segment comes to mind, in which she declared "bitch is the new black" and "bitches get things done"). Still, the word remains controversial, and one that many people choose not to embrace. With respect to those people, we do embrace the term.
Here's Zeisler on the word "bitch:"
People want to know whether it is still a bad word. They want to know whether I support its use in public discourse. Or they already think it's a bad word and want to discuss whether its use has implications for free speech or sexual harassment or political campaigns.
So here goes: Bitch is a word we use culturally to describe any woman who is strong, angry, uncompromising and, often, uninterested in pleasing men. We use the term for a woman on the street who doesn't respond to men's catcalls or smile when they say, "Cheer up, baby, it can't be that bad." We use it for the woman who has a better job than a man and doesn't apologize for it. We use it for the woman who doesn't back down from a confrontation.
So let's not be disingenuous. Is it a bad word? Of course it is. As a culture, we've done everything possible to make sure of that, starting with a constantly perpetuated mindset that deems powerful women to be scary, angry and, of course, unfeminine -- and sees uncompromising speech by women as anathema to a tidy, well-run world.