In 1992, during the summer after I graduated eighth grade, rapper Sir Mix A Lot released his ubiquitous ode to the female derriere, “Baby Got Back.” For the better part of the next three decades, friends and acquaintances were known to greet me with a familiar line, more frequently than could ever be funny:
“Oh, my, god, Becky, look at her butt. It is so big.”
As a self-conscious teenager looking to nurture an inclusive roster of friends, this marking of my name as synonymous with superficial whiteness was a double-edged sword. A familiar, teasing conversation starter with some, a limiting barrier with others.
However, this was only the beginning of my first name’s synthesis with white girl-ism. In 2016, superstar Beyonce introduced pop culture to the next iteration of “Becky” with her smash album, Lemonade. On the track “Sorry,” rumored to be Bey’s response to husband Jay-Z’s marital infidelity, “Becky with the good hair” became a faceless stand-in for the morally dubious, if nonetheless attractive other woman. Although I was 37 years old when the album dropped, and long inured to Valley Girl-accented Sir Mix A Lot callouts, I wasn’t quite ready for what came next.
Writer Tim Teeman of The Daily Beast sums it up:
“This is no gentle parlor game: It’s Becky-hunting season…
According to Urban Dictionary, ‘Becky’ is a reference ‘to the act of fellatio.’
The dictionary cites Plies’s 2010 song ‘Becky,’ and references the singer makes to getting blow jobs. This links to the female name Becky ‘because of the widely held notion and/or stereotype that Caucasian women are somewhat more sexually liberal in terms of frequency of encounters, random partnering, and overall lasciviousness.’”
Then “Becky” moved from big butts and marriage wrecking into the fight for social justice. For the last two years, I’ve come across social media posts from people of all races and genders calling out the “Beckys” who make life harder for other women and people of color. Pals are usually careful to add an editorial comment absolving me of categorization – “of course not YOU Becky Sarwate.” But seeing the name by which I’m known continually and casually conflated with toxic female whiteness does occasionally sting. It’s ironic that a woman who strives to develop herself as an ally to all, is undercut by the noxious brand associated with her moniker.
However the English language is nothing if not living and fluid. Very recently I became aware of another application of my name to stereotype. Only this time, instead of resignation or revulsion, I welcome the association with proud and open arms. I relish the combative occasions that the misappropriation affords. This Becky feels redeemed.
In April the incel community foisted itself upon mass cultural consciousness when one of its terrorists mowed down 10 pedestrians in Toronto with a van. Heretofore, the community of “involuntarily celibate” men who share a mutual hatred of women largely kept to the Internet fringes where they belong. Rebecca [Becky] Jennings of Racked writes:
“What makes the attack different from many other forms of terrorism is that incel isn’t an organized militant group united by political or religious beliefs — its main grievance is with women’s ability to choose their own sexual partners.”
Incels distill a world with billions of diverse women into just two categories, neither of which includes ladies who will give these dangerous losers the time of day. To the group of pathetic, delusional morons, we are either “Beckys” or “Stacys.”
And what exactly is a “Becky” to the (mostly) white male sociopath?
“an ‘average’ woman… wearing ‘loose baggy clothing to hide small tits/flat ass’ and needing to wear ‘super tight yoga pants to get a few looks…’ a feminist who ‘will likely die [sic] her hair green, pink, or blue after attending college’ and ‘posts provocative pictures because she needs attention despite being a ‘6/10…’
While incels seem to believe that the untouchable (and seemingly nonexistent) Stacy will never sleep with them, they feel as though they are owed attention and sex from Becky.”
My hair color does indeed contain a streak of blue and I love yoga pants. You got me there, incels. And I also confess that my favorite past-time in the Trump era is disabusing the entitled, (mostly) white male patriarchy of its pretentions to control over the bodies and minds of my sisters. I am after all, just your average 40 year-old, 6/10. I must have plenty of time on my dateless hands, right?
It frees me up to excoriate the online basement dwellers who threaten women on Reddit, as well as their mainstream apologists, such as conservative New York Times columnist Ross Douthat. In an Op-Ed earlier this week entitled “The Redistribution of Sex,” Douthat asks:
“If we are concerned about the just distribution of property and money, why do we assume that the desire for some sort of sexual redistribution is inherently ridiculous?…
At a certain point, without anyone formally debating the idea of a right to sex, right-thinking people will simply come to agree that some such right exists, and that it makes sense to look to some combination of changed laws, new technologies and evolved mores to fulfill it.”
I just can’t…
No wait I can. As a Becky of “evolved mores,” I wholeheartedly reject the idea that sex should be equally distributed so that incels feel less murderous. Perhaps it’s safer and more logical to assume that a version of Darwin’s Law is at work here – garbage humans are less likely to get laid, and thus reproduce. This is a win for genetics, not another life-threatening burden for women to carry.
As to the continued use of my name by the incel community to spread misogynistic hate…bring it. After all, I survived the BeyHive.