For some women, the highest order of compliment one can receive. Think about it.. We associate the word bitch, when used as an insult, with a girl who stands up for herself, does not hesitate to use her razor-sharp wit on anyone who fails to give her enough respect, takes care of herself, puts her own needs first, and is just generally a badass, even to the point of being willing to defend herself physically.

A bitch is, in short, everything a woman is not supposed to be - complacent, matronly and selfless, delicate, dependent, and sweet. Actually, calling a woman a bitch is a lot accusing her of trying to be a man. Not to say that a self-declared bitch isn't proud of her feminity, but we live in a man's world. No one gives you credit for raising brilliant kids or giving to and caring for others at every opportunity. Worth as a person is determined by success and power. That's what a bitch is, someone playing that game, pusuing those ends. When that type of person comes in the shape of a woman, some people get scared or confused and call her a bitch.

So she says, "Thank you."
Why do you say that as if it’s a bad thing?
Because I don’t behave the way you say I should?
Because I wear my combat boots along with my underwire bra?
Because I don’t believe that you should have the power to whatever,
Whoever you choose, while I stand demurely with downcast eyes.
Because I don’t want to grow up to be my mother
Or even my father.
Because I don’t want to grow up at all.
Because I wear my attitude as easily as my eyeliner
Because I’d rather be my own bitch
Than your whore.

Oh, did you mean it as an insult?
Honey, that’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.
If you dislike what I’m doing enough to use that word,
To spit it at me with a glare,
Infuse it with such bile and hate.

Well, then.
I’ve gotta be doing something right.

One of the largest problems that I have ever had with the word bitch as an insult is that it is quite unfair to female dogs.

The word bitch, when used to describe a woman, means someone who is mean, judgemental, cold and uncaring. This is quite unfair to real bitches, since all the female dogs I have ever known were kind, accepting, warm and concerned. Of course, there are many angry guard dogs that are female, but in the realm of personal, not business relationships, female dogs are not "bitches".

Bitch is often applied to a man when he is weak, untrustworthy and underhanded. Again, dogs are usually strong, loyal and straightforward.

Thus, calling someone a bitch should really be used as a compliment.

Actually, the word has a curious resonance in that it's an insult to both sexes, but in a different way: applied to a woman, it means she's not womanly, applied to a man, it's that he's going to be anally raped and used as a servant.... that is, as a woman.

In Scots, you can call either gender a bitch, but it's (apparently) less an insult than a coarse term of endearment: Lord Kames, Henry Home, Scots humanist and hangin' judge (now that's an oxymoron...true though) used it habitually to greet friends ("brute" was another can tell I like this guy...) to such an extent that his parting speech on leaving the bench at the age of 86, suffering from terminal cancer, ended with a cheery "Fare ye weel, ye bitches!".

Somewhere in between, in current street lingo, at least where I am, it's used as a near-synonym for "woman". I can't but wonder whether the fact that Southern English, which is a major influence on Ebonics, is based on Ulster Scots is one of the reasons for this casual attitude...or is it just the effort to sound tough? Used by a woman, it's pretty much one of the most empowering words on earth: you can't be called a bitch in turn if you've already proven that you are one by calling someone else one!

Anyway, the line between the classes on this is firm. In my own life, I used the word (in the street sense) to my yuppie step-sister-in-law, who was, at the time, a teacher in a reform school, at a Christmas Eve party. She had been spending much of her time bitterly decrying such crimes against humanity as the popularity of Beavis and Butthead, the (to me, willful, but to her, shocking) ignorance of her pupils, and the like.... in short, why couldn't she be teaching blonde, blue-eyed, WASPs in an evangelical charter school? I sympathized up to a point, but found most of what she hated familiar, but by turns sad, funny, and mostly harmless...she may be a zookeeper, I said, but I live in the jungle, and as such, have had to make peace with my environment, not fight it. She replied by hotly denying that I had any idea what she was talking was inconceivable that anyone like me could live anywhere near what she had to deal with, much less know and understand its ways. Finally, in utter despair, I laughed and said, as tenderly as possible "Oh, don't be an uptight white bitch. Live a little. Be a sistah."

I was tossed out on my ear.

BITCH is a quarterly magazine read mainly by third-wave feminists all over the world (but a good majority of them are in the U.S.). Their tagline is "A Feminist Response to Pop Culture", which is astoundingly accurate. This magazine is not preachy and does not read like a Women's Studies textbook.

Features include:

  • Love It/Shove It- Editors write sassy, sarcastic reviews of current events, celebrity news, interesting (and sometimes totally useless) new products, and more. There is occassionally a good review, but most of the time the writers just bash the subject. They're eloquent in the same way Dear Dotti of the Weekly World News is... and it's no surprise, I love reading both.
  • Where to Bitch- Offers addresses and phone numbers for letter writing campaigns towards such issues as supporting gay marriage, fighting for sex workers' rights, helping women in other countries, stopping police brutality, etc.
  • The Bitch List- Subtitled "An Annotated Guide to Some of Our Favorite Things". A list in every issue of products and such that the editors are obsessed with, along with a short summary or description of each. Vitamin Water, Bonne Belle lipsmackers, Dora the Explorer, pet portraits, Elton John, rainbow cookies, the word "douchebag", and pilates have all appeared in various issues.
  • Bitch Reads- Book reviews; and...
  • Suggested Listening- Album reviews.

Then, there are at least 7 great articles in each issue about anything and everything-- subjects from the past that I remember include:

Also, this is one of the few magazines that I can actually read the ads in, and sometimes will even purchase one of their products. They advertise such things as indie records/bands, sex toys, reusable cloth pads, political t-shirts, feminist porn sites, and DIY businesses. The ads are small and most take up only 1/8 of a page or so, but I read them anyway- most are for great things!

This mag is perfect for third wavers who like to be political and smart, but enjoy reading pop culture magazines more than wordy, textbook-like ones. BITCH is a fantastic compromise between "Off Our Backs" and "Cosmopolitan".


So I went to Burger King for a Whopper; not exactly the Crime of the Century. And some fries, and a vanilla shake. I love those vanilla shakes.

And this mousy little thing—I forget her name, Brenda I think it was—Brenda says, ma'am, you can’t get a Whopper. Or a shake or an order of fries, she says, it’s 9:35 a.m.

I know that, I told her. I’m aware of what time it is. And she says, ma’am—that’s twice she’s called me “ma’am”—she says, ma’am, we don’t start selling lunch until eleven.

Ma'am. You know what “ma’am” means, right? Bitch. That’s what it means. Welcome to Burger King, bitch. Why couldn't she just say that.

No. She calls me “ma’am”, and then she says, how about a sausage egg biscuit.

It’s hardly the same thing. In fact, it’s not even close. So I said, you’re telling me you don’t start cooking burgers until 11 a.m.? Is that what you’re saying?

And she says, no ma’am, we cook ‘em earlier than that. But we don’t sell ‘em until after eleven. That’s our policy, ma’am. That’s four “ma’ams” now. Count ‘em up.

So I look behind the counter and I see a guy cooking sausage. And bacon, and he’s scooting scrambled eggs around with a long metal spatula.

He looks up at me and he smiles. Pleasant-looking kid. Seems to know what he’s doing. The grill appears to work, and I’m pretty sure there are burger patties somewhere on the premises.

Have it your way, I said. And Brenda says to me, ma’am? I think we’re at five, I’ve lost count. Your policy, I said. I thought it was, have it your way.

I know, I know; that was back in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s, and it was a line from a jingle. “Have it your way” was a slogan. Brenda doesn’t remember, “hold the pickle, hold the lettuce…”

Brenda’s too young to remember that. She’s a mousy, pimply, pasty little thing and she has no idea what I’m talking about.

But a jingle, or a slogan, I would assume, relates in some way to a policy. And the policy of Burger King is to exchange meat for money. In any year, at any time. I have ready cash. They have burgers and they have buns. I’m starving and it’s almost ten; I’d like it my way, please.

The grill guy’s back there scooting eggs around and flipping this and that. I’m there and Brenda’s there, and Brenda couldn’t care less about some old Burger King commercial. She’s sick of me and tired of arguing and she wasn’t even born until some time after 2000. She calls for the manager, Greg, and now Greg’s there.

Greg and I go ‘round and ‘round, we cover the same territory. I say I want a burger, he says, we don’t sell ‘em until after eleven. How about a Croissan’wich, he says. On the house. And that’s where I should’ve stopped. I’ve had a Croissan’wich. They’re alright. I should’ve just let it go.

But I was rankled. I was vexed. I felt as though I’d been wronged. Does that make me a bitch? Maybe it does, and maybe I am. But it irked me to no end that Greg and Brenda wanted me to be quiet and go in a corner and stuff a Croissan’wich in my mouth.

So ‘round and ‘round, back and forth, then Greg delivered the coup de grace: he looked me in the eye and he said, ma’am, have you been drinking?

If they had offered me a Whopper a week for life, it wouldn’t have mattered a whit. If they threw free french fries into the bargain, I would not have been dissuaded. I think it was the “ma’am” prefacing the implication I might be in my cups that really cinched it; at any rate, I let loose with a string of curse words that would’ve made a sailor blush.

I’ll admit, I might’ve been tempted if they’d thrown in vanilla shakes. I love those vanilla shakes. But the memory will have to suffice, as I’m no longer welcome at Burger King. Not at that store, at least. What a fuss they made! The police were called. I was surprised they got there so fast. You’d have thought I slaughtered my fast-food foes and left them dangling from meat hooks.

So I let off a little steam. I spoke my mind. Am I a bitch for speaking my mind? Men do it all the time. You know what they call them? Great men, that’s what.

The police put me in handcuffs, charged me with disturbing the peace. Seemed like a lot of hullabaloo, for such a low-level transgression. I assumed you paid a fine or they gave you a ticket, but no. I spent the night behind bars, with meth-gobblers and crack-eaters.

“Have it your way”, my behind. And all this hoop-de-la, jail and everything, for what? It was hardly the Crime of the Century. “A previous incident", they said. It's barely even worth mentioning. 

I said to the girl, an Arby’s Beef ‘n’ Cheddar. Some curly fries. And a Jamocha shake. She said, Ma’am…

It was 10 am.

I loved those Jamocha shakes.

Bitch (?), n. [OE. biche, bicche, AS. bicce; cf. Icel. bikkja, G. betze, peize.]


The female of the canine kind, as of the dog, wolf, and fox.


An opprobrious name for a woman, especially a lewd woman.



© Webster 1913.

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