Council Takes (Symbolic) Aim at the Words ‘Bitch’ and ‘Ho’


Internalized Oppression? Lil’ Kim lyrics such as “Hot-damn-ho here we go again, light as a rock bitch (UH), hard as a cock bitch” will have to go, if the City Council has its way.

Fresh off the symbolic ban of the word “nigger” in February, the City Council is looking to extend the ban to the words “bitch” and “ho.” Like the n-word bill, the ban would be symbolic and not have the force of law.

The bill is an interesting cultural document for many reasons, one of which being its odd blend of legalese and curse words, and another its linguistic analysis.

Whereas, The Council believes that the repercussions of words can be constructive or can be insidious, and that words, when misused, can lay foundations to legitimize the illegitimate and codify the unthinkable, including, for example, the concept that it is acceptable to refer to women as animals or, worse, that women are these words used to describe them;

Lest you think the Council is not down, the resolution displays a familiarity with the positive work of Queen Latifah, and name-checks “50-Cent, Eminem, R. Kelly, Snoop Dogg, Juvenile, Lil’ Kim, Foxy Brown, and Bow Wow, as well as the late Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G” as being responsible for the sort of “verbal assaults” that the symbolic legislation seeks to combat.

Defenders of the use of the word “nigger”, often cited the distinction between “nigga” and “nigger.” Is there such a defense for the words “bitch” and “ho?” The distinction between “bitch” and “biyotch?” Does anybody think these bans do anything to stop the promulgation of hate? Are necessary in this day and age?

As the resolution notes, this kind of speech has a history that predates Don Imus and 50 Cent:

Whereas, The Council recognizes that the word “bitch,” primarily defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as “female canine animal, especially a dog,” carries a legitimately non-pejorative definition, but the Council further recognizes that in 1811, Francis Grose, in his “Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue,” described “bitch” as “A she dog, or doggess; the most offensive appellation that can be given to an English woman, even more provoking than that of whore,” thus documenting a long-standing tradition of the word’s use for purposes of degradation; and
Whereas, The word “ho” is commonly used to refer to a whore or woman of loose sexual reputation

The full text of the council resolution can be found here.