Monday, May 30, 2011

Pimp My Bitch

I was invited on Facebook to attend a Slutwalk rally to bring awareness and action to rape culture.  It's called Slutwalk as a way to take back the power of the word 'slut' in order to show that shaming and name calling is not okay.  Like what the rally promotes, but I'm really not interested in reclaiming my inner slut.  Besides, I can't bring myself to believe that there is redemption in the word.  To me, this will always be a denigrating word, no matter how it's used.  There are somethings you just can not appropriate, which got me thinking about the way in which we use language to shape what we value. Yardiegal is deeply convinced that our American English, a colonialist hodgepodge of German, Latin, and French, is absurdly being upended and re-packaged by mass market media and fringe communities to redefine and challenge assumed personal and sociopolitical values.


To put it bluntly, you know something's changed when the phrase "Pimp My Ride (or house, tofu, etc.)" has nothing to do with the world's oldest profession.  The word 'pimp', which is defined as a man or person who solicits a prostitute in return for a share of the earnings, has taken on dualist meanings for a consumerist culture.  Sayings like, "steady pimpin'" and "pimpin' ain't easy" can mean either a man who is working his cash flow while maximizing his ho's,or anyone who considers themselves working at a job(s) to make ends meet just so they can survive. It's rooted in class and race struggles and is lyrically translated by rappers and their lackeys.  If asked how he were doing, you would never hear Donald Trump say, "Oh, you know how it is. I'm just steady pimpin'...", though it appropriately and metaphorically describes exactly what he does to make his money.

'Bitch' and 'nigger' both hold the same allure as taboo words that have become second-hand in our verbose society.  Comedian Katt Williams has taken it one, condescending step further and combines these two words, nigger-bitch, to describe a woman, regardless of her race.  Yes, he goes there, and he freely lets the NB-bomb drop in his routines like he's affectionately talking about his mama.  It used to be that a female dog was just that.  Then it became Joan Collins.  Then it became the title of a feminist magazine.  Then it became a male who acts up like a female. Then it attached itself to the word 'slap' and became a reality show phenomenon.  Nigger has had this same intricate journey, though some would argue that it's become transcendent. So much so, that it has a new spelling, 'nigga', with an altered definition so that White people can feel cozy using the word to describe their Black buddies.  See Season 2, Episode 11 of The Boondocks for a cartoon re-examination of this imperturbable word.

'Wife-beater' should be an oxymoron considering that anyone who is married shouldn't beat their wife.  It holds an image of some carelessly drunk man in his Hanes undershirt stumbling somewhere between "F&@# you, Bi%!ch!" and hand-cuffed on the ground with a police officer restraining him.  Here's the bizarre inflection: it's become an accoutrement for both men and women who like to bar-hop and check out the scenes at clubs.  A while back, I bar-hopped with a friend who wore a wife-beater paired with sexy jeans.  She was on the look-out for a cute guy and hoped that her style sense looked more straight than queer.  That was so gay.

'Conscious Capitalism' is a new term I'm hearing these days.  I don't exactly know what it means, but I'm wondering how that is even possible.  I'm guessing that it's like luxury with a conscience which helps people who wear certain types of furs or certain types of diamonds feel exonerated from being linked to the needless bloodshed.  It seems as if there are afflicted individuals that need comforting when they drop Benjanims on high ticket items when deep down inside they know that they really don't need this stuff.  As a result, they invoke a Mary Poppins perspective and take a spoonful of sugar so that the yucky medicine will go down.  Richard "Tricky Dick" Nixon, then vice president to Eisenhower, voyaged to Latin America where he became very dismayed that the political tenor of some of the countries that he visited, like Venezuela, seemed to soft-pedal communism.  Remember, this was the era of McCarthyism, and our world was seeing red.  Tricky Dick and other state officials desired to promulgate American brand capitalism in these countries.  Consequently, Eisenhower decided to Poppin-ize capitalism by inventing different names for it: free enterprise and free market. This, he thought, would be the clincher. 50+ years later it remains.  Hook...line...

Sinker: Operation Geronimo. It's infamous moniker was a legendary Apache chief who fought for his people and land against the invasion of the U.S. and Mexican forces.  He was cunning, fearless, and had a way of consistently evading capture.  Sound familiar? Geronimo believed that his culture and religion was being stolen from him on land that the oppressors claimed as their own for economic and security interests.  Sound familiar?  In the same way jihadists co-opt the teachings of the Koran to justify carnage, we use our words to defend our opinions and beliefs.  We've twisted and reverted slang and wordings to explain away things we wish to no longer speak of and to make light of dilemmas to which there are no plausible answers.  The best advice I've read shows just how far we've come in an effort to redefine our selves and our values:

Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.

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