Who You Callin' a Bitch?

Back in the mid nineties, Queen Latifah released a song called U.N.I.T.Y. It's been a long time since I've listened to it. And it's my guess that Tina Fey has never heard it.

According to Tina's most recent Saturday Night Live weekend update skit, it's okay to call yourself a bitch and to call other people a bitch too. And all women should be proud to be called a bitch because, "Bitches get things done."

In Tina's world, Hillary Clinton is a bitch so therefore she's going to get things done.

Just like Rosa Parks and Betty Shabazz, right? Just like Oprah? Just like my mother? Just like my sister?

Just like me?

Because trust me, I get things done. But I don't believe I need to be a bitch to do so. I don't believe strength and standing up for what's right means I'm a bitch. As Latifah said, "Real bad girls are the silent type."

Emulating the worst aspects of a male-dominated society in order to accomplish something is nothing but getting down in the gutter. We've got plenty of male bitches running things and Lord knows we don't need more of the same.

I don't tolerate people calling me a bitch. To me there's nothing empowering about being called a bitch. And I don't take it as a compliment if it's another woman calling me that. Where I come from, you call a girl a bitch and it's on.

Maybe this is a white women of privilege thing. Maybe they are the ones who find it empowering to be called a bitch. I don't know. You tell me.

And another thing Tina Fey needs to recognize is that bitch will never be the new black. I don't care if she was referring to it in a fashion sense or not. The double entendre is pretty obvious.

Tina Fey can stand around and say, "I'm a bitch and I get things done!" all she wants but I bet she won't have a hard time catching a cab in New York City.


Yeah, I'll bet Tina Fey's never stood on the southbound traffic side of Broadway hoping that cabs will pull over because they're thinking she's not headed uptown.

I've bet Tina's never had a cab driver tell her he doesn't know how to get to the Bronx.

I fully believe sexism is alive and well in the United States, but in the meantime, don't call me a bitch.


Jameil said…
i'm more annoyed by racism than sexism. i have a post floating in my brain right now about that very subject. my friends in college were all very very into throwing the word bitch around all willy nilly. i'm pretty desensitized to it but only with them. anyone else and i get crunk.
Tami said…
Well said, Liz! The Tina Fey skit irked me to no end. It was offensive to me as a woman and as an Obama supporter. Sexism and racism in this presidential cycle has been deplorable, but I am weary of the "more oppressed than thou" narrative that many feminists are floating. And I say that as a womanist/feminist myself.
Anonymous said…
I (in my dreams because I don't have the time) need to make a list titled: "Bitch" will be the new Black when--and list all the things Black folk deal with like targeted for horrible loans, denied access to equal housing, driving while Black, not getting a job because of your (ethnic) name on your resume and the list goes on and on and on.

Sit down Tina.
Malik Akbar said…
You know what, white women really, really need to stop thinking that because they have ovaries they don't have a race, along with everything that comes with it.
1969 said…
*Standing ovation*

I don't respond to that term either. Something about likening my strengh and feminitity to a female dog rubs me the wrong way. LOL
I come from a time when "bitch" was a bad thing to call a woman, and it still is.

Tina Fey is a moron. I didn't see the skit but it sounds offensive. SNL hasn't been worth watching since the days of Gilda, Belushi, Morris, Ackroyd, Murray, and the rest of the original cast members.
Malik Akbar said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Well... I'm about as white as they come, and I guess I've had some privileges....

No one calls me a bitch. Period. Nor would I ever call anyone else a bitch. Stupid is never a solution.

Personally? I think Tina needs to eat a loaf of bread, maybe a plate of pasta, some brie would help too. It would calm her quite a bit. But that's my solution for Naomi Campbell and all the other grumpy size 2 women of the world.

It's a carb vs. no-carb world where I live... ;)
Lisa Johnson said…
I'm so glad you wrote about this! I was so disgusted after watching SNL. It seemed like the B-word was being used on just about every skit. But the "B is the new black" comment pushed me over the edge and I just turned the tv off. I've lost a lot of respect for Tina Fey.
Nerd Girl said…
Amen. I haven't watched SNL in years, so I can't speak to this particular sketch, but bitch has never been a term that I found acceptable.

I actually lost friends over this in college, because girls would refer to each other as bitch, and I wasn't having it. Then, or now.
Anonymous said…
I recently saw a Janet Jackson interview with Perez Hilton and he asked her what her friends call her and she said they affectionately call her bitch. I was so disappointed - I'm not going to buy her cd even though I've loved her forever. She's not in Control anymore if people are calling her out of her name!!!You gotta let them know!!! I'm not a bitch or a ho!!!!
Liz Dwyer said…
If I was Hillary, I'd feel insulted to be called a bitch. Wouldn't it have been funny if she'd jumped out of her chair at the debate and started rapping Latifah's lyrics? LOL! See, our presidential debates are too boring!

But both racism and sexism have really come out with this presidential race. I am tired of hearing pundits say, "Well Barack could vote before Hillary could because he's a man." Um, yeah, except for that pesky thing called Jim Crow, right? Oh and Emmett Till's murder, gosh, black men have had it sooo easy in America. So sick of it!

Why do people have to play the "We've suffered more than you," game? Every single day in this campaign just when I think we haven't sunk as low as we can as far as racism and sexism in this campaign, it gets taken to another level. It does all of us a disservice. And don't you sort of wonder if Tina Fey and Bob Johnson are friends these days?

Exactly. I have no doubt she's faced sexism but that's stuff that Tina Fey will never have to experience. She'll never get kicked out of a cab once the driver hears that she's going to Harlem or the Bronx. But I have. And my husband...standing on a corner with my sons in NYC, he couldn't get a cab to stop for him. A white guy had to stop a cab and then the cabbie got mad when the white guy didn't get in! UGH!

There's a total lack of acknowledgement of that in Fey's statements. And yet we're all supposed to laugh. Hah hah. It's not funny though. And they need to look at why they don't even have someone on their cast who can play Obama. They had to audition outsiders. Just ridiculous.

I agree. But we have missed the memo that female dogs get more done than the male dogs. More sniffing, digging, running, fetching balls and sticks. LOL!

There's always ten minutes of SNL that are actually funny and then the rest of it is usually pretty dry. I loved Maya Rudolph as Donatella Versace. And the church lady was funny back in the day...and those "Ambiguously Gay Duo" cartoons used to have me in stitches. But I usually forget it's on these days because it gets so boring that it's hard to stay awake. On the other hand, it could solve my insomnia problems if I just make myself watch SNL every night.

I will say it was SO bizarre to hear Hillary Clinton refer to another part of this same SNL skit last night in the debate! It was just surreal. I can't believe we have a woman running for office who basically condones being referred to as a bitch as some sort of empowerment thing. That's CRAZY!

We've all had privileges in some way, haven't we? It's all a matter of whether we acknowledge it or not and whether we think it's ok that we've had those privileges.

I think the eating thing could help a lot of actresses. It's not fair that men can pack on pounds and still get movie roles. Ugh.

When I first saw a clip of it, I only saw the "bitches get things done" part of the skit, and then when I saw the whole thing with that comment about it being the new black, I was so angry. And I know people have tried to pass it off as being only a reference to fashion, like pink is the new black or something like that, but I don't think so. I'll just have to be a little too sensitive on that one.

Nerd Girl,
I remember everyone raving over how Waiting to Exhale was such a good book and the first time I read it I couldn't believe how the women called each other bitches in this supposedly endearing manner. I couldn't imagine calling one of my girls that. And still can't.
Liz Dwyer said…
What??? That is disappointing. She definitely shouldn't let anybody do that. I just don't get what's affectionate about that. What, do her friends go around and say, "Hey, Bitch! Come give me a hug and thanks for saying a prayer for me!" Totally weird.
I don't watch SNL but well said.
It's interesting to think about privilege. There have been times in my life when I didn't have anything to eat. I remember times in my life when I was alone, cold, and terrified. I have also suffered because of the way I look. So, food, warmth, love, clothing all feel like privilege and a real gift.

That's not to mention the sacrifices people before me made to create the amazing California education system. The capacity to vote in a system that at least strives to be fair. And every other privilege that I take for granted because I cannot imagine life without them (flushing toilets? this blog?).

I do know and understand what you mean. I even understand what Malik is saying. I know the truth, and certainty, in the statements.
Haute in LA said…
Don't call me one either! Some say "oh I take ownership of the word and by doing that it negates the normal association of the word and turns into a positive." To each her own. Star Jones can say it means Babe In Total Control of Herself all she wants. HAUTE is not guying into. Like you, I don't stand for any type of disrespect, nor do I have time to try and decipher whether or not the deliverer of a message meant it in a "Bitch I love your strength" kind of way or a condescending "you stupid bitch kind of way."
Anonymous said…
I'd never call you that, Lady Liz. Neither would I use that word toward my wife, my mother, my grandmother, my sisters, my daughters, or my female friends.

Saying that word is empowering is every bit as stupid as saying that the use of the nigger (or ever more stupidly, nigga) is empowering when used by black people.
Liz Dwyer said…
I have even more reason to not watch SNL now. And I really like your blog name!

I know what you mean and many of us are not grateful for the privileges we have. Despite the things I've had to deal with though, I am always aware of the privilege of being lighter skinned in this country. Sure there have been some people who have not liked me because they think I'm a "high-yella heffa" as I was once called, but I know that preferential or better treatment has happened more frequently. I've seen it in action too much to not recognize it's existence. I think the challenge is in rejecting it and making sure that I don't start thinking that I am owed or due something because of my skin color. Good stuff to think about though.

Haute in LA,
Exactly, it doesn't turn it into a positive. I kept hoping Hillary would come out and say, "Hey, I'm not a bitch and I think it demeans all women to call me that just because I'm strong and determined." I guess that isn't going to happen though.

That is the same argument and it's really weak. There's nothing empowering about either word.
Lola Gets said…
I decided to watch Mad TVs "Best Of" Saturday night, so I missed this show.

Now, I see that Im the only one with this opinion, but Im going to say it anyways: I recognize that I can be a bitch sometimes. Not all the time. And I dont call myself a bitch, nor do I call any of my female friends bitches either. But I do recognize that there is part of my personality that can be very nasty, snarky, and attitudenal (yeah, I made that word up), and that some folks would label that behavior as bitchy.

This discussion makes me think of that Meredith Brooks song, "Bitch." Take a listen sometime.


Popular Posts