« on: September 09, 2014, 04:10:46 pm »
Like with just about every other word in English, the word "bitch" has a lot of uses. None of those uses are particularly enlightened, and most of them are in fact based on assumptions about gender roles. The woman who asserts herself is a 'bitch,' the man who fails to assert himself is a 'bitch,' and it is also a word for constant non-constructive whining and complaining, which may or may not be intended as a comparison to women but even if it isn't, it's very clearly not avoiding such comparison.
I personally do not use the word, and when someone else uses it, especially when a man uses it in reference to a woman, I always cringe a little, just because it's saying a lot more about the speaker than about the target of the epithet, and every time I hear it I have to say to myself "well now we know we're in the company of an asshole."
Less clear to me is its implication when it is used by a woman toward another woman. Does it mean that the woman using the word has wholesale bought into gender role assumptions? I don't think so, based on the fact that some very 'progressive' women I know use the term simply to describe other women who are needlessly callous or seem to take pleasure in someone else's discomfort. In those cases I get the feeling that "bitch" is used purposely as a hurtful word, which means that it carries a lot of weight and social stigma behind it, and for that reason alone I suppose I should never use it just because if a word has that much negative force, there are probably better things for me to be saying.