In 1997, Meredith Brooks' song, Bitch, burned up the charts and through verbal taboos. Was her use of bitch a reclamation of a pejorative title, or did it reinforce misogynistic machinations? An examination of the lyrics to Bitch, the music video, music reviews and Monique Wittig's concept of woman reveal the patriarchal discourse surrounding the song and the tension between authorial intent and active readership. The lyrics of Bitch are superficially subversive; the underlying tone supports a patriarchal definition of womanhood and the negative connotations of bitch. The chorus of the song appears to support a multifaceted and proud identity.
[...] The last verse compiles various negative, essentialist images of women: “I'm a bitch / I'm a tease / I'm a goddess on my knees / When you're hurt / When you suffer / I'm your angel undercover / I've been numb / I'm revived / Can't say I'm not alive / You know I wouldn't want it any other way.” The juxtaposition of against “revived” suggests that the oppression of women can be lifted with the acceptance of an inner The concurrence of a “goddess on [her] knees” with and “angel undercover,” however, strengthens the patriarchal construction of woman as subdued and sexually subservient. [...]
[...] This last vision also suggests that Brooks had an awareness of the danger in having her message of empowerment garbled by patriarchal institutions. The reception of Brooks' song exemplifies the varying inferences made. “When Meredith Brooks broke through with her 1997 single "Bitch," you could pretty much cut the irony with a knife: a song that was meant to show off her multidimensionality (as well as that of all women) instead became a song that defined her, and in many ways limited (Durchholz). The irony is not limited to Brooks' image. [...]
[...] The second review dismisses the song and advocates that listeners File under "Angry Young Women." Following the likes of Fiona Apple and Alanis Morrisette in line for the confessional, Meredith Brooks became yet another female rocker exposing and expressing her emotions strongly. "Bitch" was Am Woman" for the next millennium, making Helen Reddy's declaration in the 1970s seem like one big yawn (Gdula) By lumping Brooks with the other “angry young women,” it is clear that this reviewer superficially judged the entire album based on Bitch. [...]
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