When I was in middle school, my friends and I all had our very own B.I.T.C.H. cards to carry in our wallets. It was nice because our wallets were pretty much empty aside from those little cards. They let everyone know that we were Beautiful, Intelligent, Talented, Creative and Honest. We were B.I.T.C.H.es.
Back then, it felt really amazing to “reclaim” a word that the boys in the cafeteria were attempting to hurl around. We thought that we were engaging in a feminist act, proudly proclaiming our bitch status. We referred to each other as bitches. We didn’t feel like we needed an excuse to act bitchy. “You think I’m a bitch,” we would respond to some jerk, “well you’re right. I am.” Man it felt cool.
Through high school, we continued to that that naive approach to the word. Make it a nice little acronym for actual compliments and it could be considered a good thing too.
Then we went to college. We ditched the bitch card. But we suddenly found a whole word of clever sayings on vintage postcards that made us feel warm and fuzzy about the word “bitch” again. Prim and proper ladies saying naughty things. It’s everyone’s favorite trope. We got some wind back in our bitch sails. We would discuss the word’s linguistic history as we drank boxed wine by the goblet, feeling oh-so-sophisticated.
In college, being a bitch just seemed like a funny joke. Sure, we talked about historical context, but we also felt so above that nonsense. We were surrounded by our friends and our joint lack of responsibility to anyone who lived outside of our campus that we didn’t really pay attention to the broader usage of derogatory labels for women. I think that’s why the word still seemed easy to reclaim for ourselves.
Then, I experienced a bit of grown-up bitchiness that made me question this whole reappropriation idea.
Top photo via Naff Funny Gifts Shop
Second photo via Oh Boy!