— Gloria Steinem American feminist and journalist 1934
Context: I think most social justice movements take the words that are used against them and make them good words. That’s partly how “black” came back into usage. Before we said “colored person,” or “Negro.” Then came “Black Power,” “Black Pride,” and “Black Is Beautiful” to make it a good word.
"Witch" was another word I remember reclaiming in the 1970s. There was a group called Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell (WITCH). They all went down to Wall Street and hexed it. And Wall Street fell five points the next day; it was quite amazing! “Queer” and “gay” are other examples. … I think we all have the power to name ourselves. I try to call people what it is they wish to be called. But we can take the sting out of epithets and bad words by using them. Actually, I had done that earlier with “slut” because when I went back to Toledo, Ohio, which is where I was in high school and junior high school, I was on a radio show with a bunch of women. A man called up and called me “a slut from East Toledo,” which is doubly insulting because East Toledo is the wrong side of town. I thought, when I’d lived here I would have been devastated by this. But by this time I thought, you know, that’s a pretty good thing to be. I’m putting it on my tombstone: "Here lies the slut from East Toledo."