Welcome, bitch. Good night, bitches.
Virginia Heffernan in the NY Times Arts section writes about the frequent and complex use of the word “bitch” on television these days. The new, masculine form of bitch, that is. She says that while overuse and parody have taken the sting out of the old usage, the new bitch is just getting started. And because the old word is now essentially cute, the darker meanings of the current usage appear to have eluded the network censors. (Who seem also to have lost control of the word “ass.”) From the sexual bottoms on HBO’s Oz to the slogan “Welcome to the OC, bitch” on Fox’s The OC to (say it isn’t so!) ABC Family’s “Bitch Boy,” to the drag and Paris Hilton communities where “bitch” is something one aspires to, bitch has come a long way since this editor was sent to the principal’s office and paddled for calling a classmate one. (NYTimes, sub req)
And so the word that once defined a misogynistic double standard (“If a man is assertive, he’s called ambitious; if a woman …”) now defines another: If a woman’s called a bitch, she’s powerful, formidable, a winner; if a man’s called a bitch, he’s shamefully weak.