There are years you live through, and years you survive. For Britney Spears, 2007 was the latter.
After her marriage to backup dancer and soul patch enthusiast Kevin Federline fizzled, the Goddess of Fierceness and Frappuccinos spiraled into a meltdown -- while being followed constantly by a maniacal mob of paparazzi who filled her every waking hour with microphones and flashbulbs, attempting to get to the root of what could possibly be bothering her so much.
A head was shaved. An ambulance was called. Then, on October 26, 2007, in what seemed like the middle of her darkest hour, Spears told all of her naysayers to sit the f--k down with three unambiguous words...
"It’s Britney, bitch."
The phrase immediately became synonymous with Spears herself. In her 2012 collaboration “Scream and Shout” with Will.i.am, she even sampled her own lyric, almost as though “bitch” is her last name: “It’s Will.i.am and Britney Bitch.”
Her fans at shows wear shirts emblazoned with this iconic proclamation, and almost all of her live performances -- including her current residency in Vegas -- feature liberal use of the B-word. One would be hard pressed to look at any of her devotees screaming, “It’s Britney, bitch!” -- or at Spears herself -- and assert that the B-word was being used in a derogatory way.
Spears commented on her use of the word in a 2013 interview with British TV host Alan Carr: “I just use it as...a term of endearment." She added, "It’s like a street slang for everyone."
Most recently, Spears has embraced the B-word in her single "Work Bitch," where she encourages people to embrace the control they have over their own lives and goals: “You wanna hot body? You wanna Bugatti? You wanna Maserati? You better work bitch.”
Again, "bitch" is used here not as an insult or a slur, but as a pronoun for someone who has what it takes to kick ass and take names. She’s taken a word that has long been used as a means of diminishing one’s power, and reclaimed it as an anthem for autonomy.
It’s significant that Spears first dropped the B-word in that October of 2007, at a moment when the world at large was hellbent on painting her as a victim. She reminded everyone that she was down, but not out -- and that she was still the international sensation who'd had more than 20 top Billboard hits by the time she was 25, and who'd be serving up more where that came from, just in case anyone wanted a piece of her.
Spears solidified the fact that a "bitch" is not one to be dismissed or ignored. A bitch is somebody who knows what they want and works tirelessly for it. A bitch is a badass. A bitch is a survivor.