Bitch (adjective): literally meaning ‘female dog’, is a slang pejorative for a person, commonly a woman, who is belligerent, unreasonable, malicious, a control freak, rudely intrusive or aggressive. (Wikipedia, 2016)
The word ‘bitch’ has been used as a derogatory term within the English language for approximately 800 years. According to Dr Timothy Jay, author of an academic paper on ‘The Science of Swearing’, ‘bitch’ has been in the top ten most used swear words for over 80% of its history – that’s 640 years. Originating from the comparison of women with ‘dogs on heat’, the word ‘bitch’ has always been somewhat charged; a quick internet search of the term will uncover untold amounts of celebrity drama. However, slowly but surely, the way that people (especially women) interpret the word has shifted.
It appears that the word ‘bitch’ has come almost full circle – previously synonymous with bitter and undesirable women, it is now resurfacing as an almost complimentary word. I can only speak for my own experience, but ‘bitch’ now seems to have a double meaning, a subtext of sorts. If someone has cause to call you a bitch, especially as a woman in a working context, it means that you have done something that means something of importance – something that the other person may not have expected that you were capable of.
Women, I believe, are reclaiming this derogatory phrase as their own. Even if the sentiments behind the name calling haven’t changed, the way that the insult is received has undergone a quantum shift. No longer quite as concerned about the opinions of others, women are free to simply not give a fuck. Our future well-being is no longer tied up in marriage (shout out to feminism), our careers are our own, and the only opinions we need to heed are our own. The word has lost some of its clout. A glance at the Urban Dictionary is enough to add some substance to this pet theory of mine. As of 2004, a ‘bad bitch’ is defined as follows: ‘totally mentally gifted and usually fine as hell’. If that definition holds true, and I believe that it does, then that is definitely something to aspire to.
So, next time someone calls you a bitch, they’re essentially saying that you’re ‘totally mentally gifted’ and ‘fine as hell’. And if that’s not something to be proud of, I don’t know what is.
Image credit: Sophie Gamand (#PitBullFlowerPower) https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/a3/b2/76/a3b27676e7fc388671f89c1a87d99f5f.jpg