Azealia Banks: Offensive or Clueless?

Azealia Banks has once again managed to enrage a whole lot of people, and like always, she's not sorry. In a recent interview on Sirius XM's QutQ with Xorje Olivares, Azealia said that her use of the word "f*ggot" isn't homophobic, but rather is rooted in feminism. 

"To be homophobic would imply that I'm, like, `I can't sit next to a gay man `cause Imma catch the gay, but I already caught the gay," Azealia told Olivares. "I feel like when I use the word, it comes from, like, a feminist point of view, not a homophobic point of view. It's really just kinda like you feel attacked as a woman." 

Azealia refuses to discontinue her use of the word, saying that as long as men can call women offensive words, she'll continue doing the same to them "” she apparently doesn't follow her own advice, either. While she has a point about how hurtful language can make its way into the mainstream vernacular and still deeply affects others, she completely contradicts herself by continuously using such a derogatory term.

The word is defined as "a bundle of sticks," but it's introduction into every day language is incredibly dark and cruel. According to the Anti-Defamation League, people started using the word as an insult in the 1300s during the European Inquisitions, where "heretics were required to gather bundles of sticks and carry them to the fire that was being built for them." You know, to BURN THEM ALIVE. 

For those who wanted to save themselves, the Catholic Church allowed "reformed" people to wear clothing with the offensive word on the sleeve. Eventually, people used the term "to refer to anything that was considered to be a burden or difficult to bear." 

"Well, the word...really means a bundle of sticks or kindling used in a fire. Now, in the Middle Ages, when they used to burn people they thought were witches, they used to burn homosexuals, too. And they used to burn the witches at a stake, but they thought the homosexuals were too low and disgusting to be given a stake to be burned on, so they used to just throw them in with the kindling..." 

While I haven't been able to find any research that confirms this statement, homosexuals were burned at the stake, and have been persecuted for centuries. Crom's next point is especially poignant: 

"You might want to know that every gay man in America has probably had that word shouted at them when they're being beaten up, sometimes many times, sometimes by a lot of people all at once. So, when you say it, it kind of brings all that back up." 


The first use of the word as a slur against gay folks is traced back to the 20th century, and many speculate that since the word bashed women, people started using it as a way to ridicule more effeminate men. 

Words have the power to destroy others. You could argue that we are responsible for our own feelings and how we allow others' words and actions to impact us, but being constantly reminded that someone views your life as less meaningful than another's is painful "” hear it enough, and you might even start believing it. 

Azealia, who identifies as bisexual, isn't using the word as a means for reclaiming it "” which, many talented gay folks have argued wouldn't be helpful even if she were. Instead, she's using this word and trying to justify it as a feminist word. It's not. 

Azealia says the word is intended for men who don't want women to be independent. No, the word she's looking for is "misogynist," which refers to someone who hates women

Except they are your problems, Azealia. Channel [V] Australia

By trying to justify her hateful speech as an expression of feminism, Azealia has wildly misunderstood what feminism means and has given people even more of a reason to fear it. Feminism is quite simply the belief that men and women should be granted equal rights "” although, it's important that we tweak the definition to include all identities. Feminism is not a belief that one gender is superior to another, and it is certainly not a belief that supports hatred of gay people. 

In her interview, Azealia criticized white people who would argue against her use of the FA-word, saying that they would also have to criticize people who use the N-word. I realize that I'm a white, heterosexual woman who is arguing that her language is hurtful to the LGBTQQIAA community, but Azealia is assuming that I wouldn't call someone out for using the N-word just like I would call someone out for discriminating against gay people. Since I'm not a member of either the black or gay community, I would never use either word, as they are not mine to reclaim. 

However, she does raise a good point. When we throw around offensive words, we're reinforcing negative stereotypes and violence against groups of people. It may seem hard to find a balance, especially when you feel that you are just joking around with friends, but it's important to remember that words are power. 

Of course, that doesn't mean you just have to stop speaking. But, think about how you use words and why. What you say has a bigger impact than you might think "” just ask Azealia. 
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