Do you know the moment ratchet hit mainstream? I don’t know but I assume it was yesterday when New York Magazine wrote an article about ratchet. I wrote about ratchet here on this blog a year ago.
Ratchet can be traced back to the neighborhood of Cedar Grove in Shreveport, Louisiana. “You talk to working class black people [down there],” says Dr. Brittney Cooper, a co-founder of the Crunk Feminist Collective. “Ratchedness comes out of that. And some of that particularity gets lost when it travels.” The first appearance ofratchet in a published song was in 1999, when Anthony Mandigo released “Do the Ratchet” on his Ratchet Fight in the Ghetto album.
What I find interesting about the article is that it traces the origin of ratchet use to both hip hop and gay slang.
For Ian Bradley, a stylist and NYC nightlife maven, the word has quickly past its due date in gay culture. “The word is hella last year,” he says. “The ones who say it are the ones who are ratchet.”
However, Michaela Angela Davis has been an outspoken opponent of the word and its relationship with reality shows like “Love and Hip Hop” and “Basketball Wives”. Her concern is that ratchet is a perjorative about black women. It can be used that way, but I personally don’t think that ratchet is only aimed at black women. I think using the word “female” instead of woman is more of an offensive term. Female just refers to gender but woman also recognizes the person. I like slang and pop culture, but when girls, ladies, and women are only referred to as females it is problem. It negates their humanity.
Women can be ratchet. Men can be ratchet. Women are more than females.
April 12, 2015 Update: Tink’s song, “Ratchet Commandments” explains it all.