I am a feminist. I am also a gay man. And as a gay male feminist, I take direction from my feminist women counterparts who have first-hand knowledge of what it means to be the subject of misogyny. Likewise, I expect women to take notes from my experiences with homophobia, specifically male homophobia, and the use of the word "faggot" or "fag." This dynamic is not always perfect, but it is a symbiotic relationship of two demographics who have at least the capability of empathizing with each other's respective struggle against hegemonic masculine rule.
Enter Azealia Banks. During her initial foray into the topic of what it means to use the word "faggot," many gay men including myself, gave her the benefit of the doubt. Based on the context clues of her lyrics, her bisexuality and the quality of her art, I had faith that after the noise relented, her reason and understanding of the immensely painful emotion that "faggot" represents would be apparent. But after doubling down on her use of the word and justifying it by saying she is a feminist, the chance for her to show an ounce of compassion for the men who have been traumatized by this word has come and gone.
In case you are unfamiliar with Azealia Banks' take on the word, here are her thoughts on the subject. There are tons of tweets, Instagram posts and articles detailing her opinion of gay men, gay white men and her affinity for the word "faggot." But the root of her argument is this:
"A faggot is not a homosexual male," she tweeted. "A faggot is any male who acts like a female. There's a BIG difference."
Discriminatory slur words are not created by the people who they are used against, but by the prejudicial thoughts and actions of others who hate them because of prejudice. After these words are created, however, the people who these words were used against forever own them. And the defendants in the case, or anyone not a part of the discriminated group, are never allowed to rewrite the words history to change it's meaning or minimize it's impact.
Azealia Banks does has one excellent point amid the cacophony of bullshit she keeps spewing. The word "bitch" is a negative word used that was historically used to demean women. It is one of those obvious things that so many people, myself included, failed to realize. And in the spirit of feminist progress, it is a great discussion to pose to gay men. If Azealia Banks or anyone else is truly hurt by when a gay man affectionately says, "Hey, bitch" or jokingly says, "Bitch. please," then this is a discussion we need to have. But, based on the copious amounts of shit she has slung in the faces of homosexual men, specifically white homosexual men, it would appear that her intentions bear some malice.
Any minority should understand how it feels when someone tries to belittle your experience with discrimination. Growing up in rural Texas, I heard so many people try to justify their racist use of the n-word by redefining it.
"A (n-word) isn't a black person, it is someone who is low class. Anyone could be an (n-word)."
This flimsy justification failed to cover up the perpetrators inherent racism. And Azealia Banks' twisted attempt to redefine "faggot" as a feminist doesn't exempt her from homophobia. She most definitely said homophobic statements, which is inexcusable whether she identifies as bisexual or not. She has demonstrated hateful comments about gay men, and I hope I am wrong, but it would appear as if she is not going to stop anytime soon.
Just as a gay man cannot redefine the word "dyke," a woman, whether heterosexual, bisexual or homosexual, has no right to use "faggot," especially in the name of feminism. And to do so is a shame to feminists everywhere.
As a male feminist, I am all ears when it comes to how I can be better when it comes to respecting women, including my choice of words. But to Azealia Banks, please shut the fuck up, because you will never be able to redefine "faggot" to fit your twisted idea of what feminism is.