When boredom strikes, I turn on the tube. Not much of a reality TV fanatic, but my eye is drawn to a show that’s speaking my language, Sisterhood of Hip Hop. I initially think the show is about strong bitches…oops, I mean women making an impact in the rap industry. For about 20 minutes, I’m correct in my assumption. The cast members are five women from different hip hop meccas across the US; from New York to Atlanta, Georgia. I’m drawn in even more when I learn that each woman comes with her own unique style; from hardcore street vibes to sultry Jamaican patois. I was about as eager to watch this show as I was when VH1 premiered Miss Rap Supreme in 2008. Unfortunately, it managed to fall flat and was not renewed to return a second season. Foreshadowing, I presume. Legend femcee Queen Latifah made an appearance on Sisterhood and the women were tasked with remaking Queen’s U.N.I.T.Y. The song is about self–empowerment and women uniting to defend one’s self against degradation and violence. In the lyrics, she lashes out, “who you callin’ a bitch?” as if to respond to a harassing male on the street. I remember hearing this song as a young female adolescent hanging out with my girlfriends, chilling on the block and feeling like giants among men because we had a song about us and for us; a ladies anthem, if you will. During the few minutes I chose to bestow my full attention to this episode, I was relieved to see a series where women were working together with a purpose of promoting their careers, honing their passions and where women were not objectified as lustful, sexual beings. I figured I had embarked upon a DVR-worthy treasure.
The original song, U.N.I.T.Y from 1994 was slightly altered and the original hook was slowed to play host to a more 21st Century sound. Each rapper stepped to the mic and what I heard was contradictory at best. While it was wrong for a man to call a woman a bitch, it was ok for “a bitch” and her “bitches” to “ride together” and have each other’s back. With every bitch-laden verse, I was agitated. I couldn’t see the unity for the bitch trees. This seemed to be almost the opposite of Queen’s U.N.I.T.Y‘s meaning. Why not use words like, sistas, ladies, women, queens or my girls? How can you differentiate between a good bitch from a bad bitch (bad meaning bad)? In which friendly voice should one use in order to call another person a bitch? Apparently, they’re not the only groups or persons to use the word, but it’s more disheartening to hear a female acknowledge herself as a bitch and think it’s a display of strength. So, I’m inclined to question myself: Am I a bit too traditional? Is Bitch a term of endearment? Can we be reformed? Or, am I merely too bitchy about bitches just being bitches? I would love to hear your response.
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