"Becky" is a derogatory term for a white woman. According to Amelia Tait, writing in the New Statesman in 2018, Urban Dictionary at first defined it as a white woman viewed as "snobbish", but in the song "Becky" (2009) by the American rapper Plies, it apparently referred to white women who perform fellatio. After Beyoncé used it in 2016 ("He better call Becky with the good hair"), Tait writes that it came to mean a "white girl who loves Starbucks and Uggs and is clueless about racial and social issues".
In USA Today in 2016, Cara Kelly suggested that the term dates to the social climber Becky Sharp, protagonist of William Makepeace Thackeray's novel Vanity Fair (1848) and the 2004 film of the same name. In Mark Twain's novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), Tom Sawyer falls in love with Becky Thatcher, with her "yellow hair plaited into two long tails". Daphne du Maurier's novel Rebecca (1938) features another woman "who will always be in a man's head", Kelly wrote.
Usage and meaning
Rapper Sir Mix-a-Lot used the term in "Baby Got Back" (1992): "Oh my God, Becky, look at her butt", while Plies sang: "Becky, do you love me? Are you riding?" Beyoncé referenced it in "Sorry" (2016): "He only want me when I'm not there / He better call Becky with the good hair." In 2017 Rebecca Tuvel, the author at the center of the Hypatia transracialism controversy, was labelled a "Becky" by critics.
In 2016 Karsonya Wise Whitehead of Loyola University Maryland attributed two meanings to the term: a woman the speaker does not respect, as in "she is beneath me", and "a white woman who is clueless, who is kind of racist, [and] who makes statements without knowing what she's saying". Whitehead was not convinced that the term is a racial slur, although Beyoncé's use of it (the "good hair") had a racial connotation, she said, by implying that straight hair is preferable to typical black hair.
- Kelly, Cara (27 April 2016). "What does Becky mean? Here's the history behind Beyoncé's 'Lemonade' lyric that sparked a firestorm". USA Today. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
- Tait, Amelia (24 January 2018). "Karen, Sharon, Becky, and Chad: How it feels when your name becomes a meme". New Statesman.
- Brean, Joseph (3 May 2017). "After 'In Defense of Transracialism' sparks outrage, editors of philosophy journal castigate its Canadian author". National Post. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
- Weiss, Suzannah (29 April 2016). "Is 'Becky' really a racist stereotype against white women?". Complex. Retrieved 26 May 2018.