BITCH!

I’ll be honest with you. When I thought of the name “Bitchtopia”, I just thought it sounded cool. I started Googling song lyrics from bands I liked, looking through the song titles, pairing words that might sound provocative and interesting. One of the pairings was Bitchtopia—as in, maybe, a “Utopia For Bitches”?—and we had our winner.

As we move closer to publishing our first issue, though, I think more and more about the name and why it’s so provocative. Specifically, what is it about the word ‘bitch’?!

The modern word ‘bitch’ is rooted in the Old English word bicce, derived from the Old Norse word bikkja, meaning ‘female dog’. The word began to be used as an insult around the 15th Century and was primarily applied to a promiscuous woman—the ‘metaphorical extension of the behavior of a female dog in heat’. According to an article written by Clare Bayley, the use of the word ‘bitch’ rose to serious popularity at exactly the same time that another movement began to grow—suffrage. For the first time on a systematic level, women began to gain an independent identity with the 1st Wave of Feminism, and their critics followed closely behind. Literature saw a rise in the use of “bitch” in reference to a difficult, annoying, interfering, or vulgar woman, as opposed to the primarily veterinary use of the word prior to the 1920’s.

The insult saw a dip in popularity during the WWII era, correlating with a high respect for women who were essential to the war effort and patriotic chivalry, and during the 50’s, correlating with the rise of ‘perfect housewives’ and suburban sprawl. Then suddenly, in the mid-60’s, the use of “bitch” rose to new heights—along with the 2nd Wave of Feminism. Interesting, right?

Today, the insult has grown into something much larger. It is even often applied to men, implying that the man is weak or not ‘masculine’ enough—that is, too “female”, because being female must be bad. Female politicians are often called ‘bitches’ for showing the same aggressiveness that a male politician would be praised for. I’ve been called a ‘bitch’ in a negative way countless times, by ex-lovers, by kids, even by strangers on the street. It still feels offensive and mean, even though I can walk into any grocery store and buy Sassy Bitch wine, make recipes from a diet cookbook called Skinny Bitch, buy my pregnant friend a pink onesie with ‘BITCH’ printed across the front of it, or register for a Stitch ‘n Bitch knitting class. The word has simultaneously lost meaning and continued to be insulting, violent and offensive when used in different contexts. This dichotomy creates a provocativeness that is hard to ignore.

In our 4th Wave of Feminism, I think we can safely say that the feminist movement has reclaimed “bitch” as a powerful, positive word, as women did in the 60’s and in the 90’s. This time, we are reclaiming it for powerful people. People, being cis-women, cis-men, trans people, queer, gay, straight, white, people-of-color, etc. We are continuing the work of feminists while adding our own spin on a growing movement, and with the creation of Bitchtopia.com, we hope to make a little utopia for all of us powerful bitches.

Enjoy!

Coming Out? What Will My Parents Think?!

Despite what my phone calls home sound like, my parents are the greatest, most understanding parents that a person could have. It’s not a matter of being blessed—it’s due, simply, to a lineage of well-tempered, good hearted people which my parents have learned from. Still, even though I adore my parents and appreciate everything they do for me and my brothers, we’ve always managed to keep a good line of privacy. As the youngest child, I followed the norms which my brothers had formed for me, which included a heavy amount of respected silence. My family never talks about our personal romantic relationships or the serious feelings we have when our mental health is wavering. I mean, I dated someone in high school that my parents never even met. I think my mom is under the impression that he took me to one concert in the city… I don’t even know. She knew I was safe and relatively happy with it, so nothing needed to be pried out of me. (See what I mean? Good parents.)

When Bitchtopia was starting to really come together, I couldn’t keep it to myself. I wanted to shout it from the rooftops: “THIS MIGHT WORK OUT. MOM AND DAD BE PROUD!” My day dreams were filled with images of my parents forwarding emails to their friends, including news snips about the website and them calling their friends to tell them how proud they are that I was able to pull this all together. Then it hit me… I never told them I was a feminist.

How do you come out to your parents about your political beliefs, when they include views that most of society would deem “radical”? My parents might understand that I feel differently on some level, but how would they feel if they knew that I identified as queer just because I don’t want to identify with heterosexuality? How would they feel if they knew that I’m pro-choice, even if the only reason for a woman getting an abortion is because they wanted one?  Taking a political stance is one of the most courageous things I’ve ever done and I was never scared of the public’s opinion, but I’m dreading the conversation I’m going to have the next time I call home, after this is published.

I did not form my feminist opinions because I am angry at my childhood or because my parents treated me unjustly. In fact, it is because of my parents that I am intelligent enough to look beyond the surface of society, or to just do what I’m told because it’s told to me. It’s because of their understanding temperament, their endless adoration for their children and my ability to have some freedom and privacy from our family life, that I was able to explore my own political projects.

So, shout outs to you, mom and dad. I hope you’re not too embarrassed by the candid conversations Bitchtopia will start, while understanding that they are discussions that need to be had. Maybe one day, we’ll be comfortable enough to discuss them together. Until then, school is going well, I’m busy, I love you and I’ll call you later.

Author:

Ingrid (a.k.a. lilgrrrlcreep)

Editor In Chief