B-word gains currency

B-word gains currency
Britney Spears worked it into the title of her gender-neutral dance anthem Work B**ch, urging anyone with big (materialistic) dreams that they’d “better work, bitch”.

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Bitches - they are everywhere in hip-hop.

She's not one of Jay-Z's 99 problems, Kendrick Lamar does not want her to kill his vibe, Kanye West thinks his is perfect.

A multitude of other rappers use the word interchangeably for girlfriend - and not in a flowers and chocolates kind of way.

What happens, though, when a woman uses the word?

It is back on mainstream radio these days, thanks not to Nicki Minaj or Iggy Azalea, but two pop divas hoping to make a splash with their comeback singles.

Britney Spears worked it into the title of her gender-neutral dance anthem Work B**ch, urging anyone with big (materialistic) dreams that they'd "better work, bitch".

"It's like a street slang for everyone, you know, like you get to work, that's what you do when you get to work and it's like, cool," she said on a UK chat show recently.

For years, the US star's calling card has been "It's Britney, bitch", the intro to her post-breakdown 2007 single Gimme More.

It is, apparently, very "cool" now, as people warm to the idea that a woman can use the word in a way that empowers rather than degrades.

Lily Allen got the memo, and proudly sings "it's hard out here for a bitch" in her new single Hard Out Here, which discusses the double standards male record industry types practise on their female artists.

Bitch, the UK singer said to The Guardian recently, is a term for the rebels, the risk-takers in pop, politics and other fields.

"(German Chancellor) Angela Merkel ... Rihanna's an inspiring bitch, my mum, Miley's a bitch, rising. She's my hero," said Allen.

Wittingly or not, she was paraphrasing 60s feminist Jo Freeman, who, in her 1968 "BITCH Manifesto", said: "You may not like her, but you cannot ignore her."

But other women have had their turn at rehabilitating the word for mainstream use, to little or no effect.

Who can forget US singer-songwriter Meredith Brooks' 1997 hit Bitch, mainstream radio's feminist anthem that supported the idea that a woman could be more than just sweet or sexy.

More precisely, she could be a bitch, a child, a mother, a sinner, a saint and people should take her as she is.

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