Bitches

Check In: Yesterday, I took another of my regular trips to San Francisco and as is typical and expected, I came home exhausted. Then there were Thanksgiving preparations.

And I failed to post.

This seals my Rebowrimo doom. I did actually write, but it’s editing for presentation that’s a bitch.

So what happens now? I’ll continue to try to write daily, and keep to my 300-word minimum to the end of November, but I’m not going to worry about getting back to F&F until next month, especially now that there’s a recount happening in three states and the possibility of a Trump reprieve, though still improbable, is not the super-tiny lottery-chance hope of appealing to the Electoral College.

I have a fantasy, if tampering is determined, of all the Clinton supporters getting to say The election was rigged!, which would be sweet, sweet schadenfreude after Trump’s premature rigged election declaration and the (effective!) efforts of his own campaign to suppress Clinton voters.

Happy Thanksgiving, all.

Post-prescript: I was going to write about one thing, and then my brain got its gears shifted and, well, I wrote about this instead.

What’s the difference between a slut and a bitch?

A slut will sleep with anyone.

A bitch will sleep with anyone but you.

Traditional, mid 20th century.

A literal bitch is a female dog. Most female dogs I’ve known have been even tempered if not outright friendly and affectionate, which raises the question why metaphoric bitches are angry and vindictive or capable of treachery and ruthlessness.

Bitch can also refer to a harsh (tedious or arduous) task (say, a particularly rough mountain trail laden with thorny brush and swarms of mosquitoes). An infamous adage tells us Life’s a bitch and then you die. That all of life is a struggle, though better(? easier? more worthwhile?) than not living.

Something that’s bitchin’ is excellent, cool, the best. But this seems to date back only to the 1960s or 1970s. Later bad and sick will join the ranks of approval synonyms.

To bitch (the verb form) is to complain to excess or to the annoyance of everyone around you, which aligns with the anger thing. Bitching is often used like whining to dismiss a complaint or to say the anger being expressed is disproportionate to the inconvenience caused by the problem. In this era of divisive politics, such dismissals are commonplace.

But again, female dogs are not particularly terrible, and it’s curious how the best-friend-to-humankind (capable of service whether male or female), got a far worse rap than vixens, that is, female foxes, who will gladly kill all the chickens in your hen-house just for the lulz. In the meantime we raise and train bitches to hunt foxes down as vermin.

So why the bitch-hate?

There are two hypotheses.

The first one is that bitch once referred to a mere promiscuous woman the way slut is used today. We see it in how we’ll say Chaz is my bitch to suggest he’s subservient to me even to the point of providing sexual services. A bitch would be sexually available the way a harlot or hussy might. Only in the 19th century did we decide that a bitch would bed you, but then poison your morning tea and flee with your assets once she grew bored of you.

I say mere as if having a healthy sexuality is hardly a thing to mock. But for no rational reason, affirmative sexual expression is the worst wrongdoing western culture can attribute to women. Selling children into slavery; betraying one’s own liege lord to his enemies; directing a siege to lob plague meat into the enemy courtyard; desecrating and robbing the shrines and cathedrals; demolishing holy statuary; poisoning your own guests in your own house; massacring enemy villages to the last infant and cattle; If you’re a woman, all these are mild compared to getting that bit on the side.

We have Judeo-Christianity to thank for this aversion to female sexuality. (In the meantime, guys are required to be putting it to a woman somewhere, or his peers will regard him as less than a man.)

Misogyny isn’t new, though. Men feared their own desire for women in classic times as well. (See the origin of Medusa for a creepy example.) But in those days trollop was the stereotypical default setting of women, much like cad or lothario or sticks his dick in anything is the stereotypical default setting for men today. But if you wanted to befoul a woman’s reputation in ancient Greece, suggesting she’s an easy lay would only make her friends at the Parthenon. Instead, you’d suggest she eats children. And if you wanted to degrade a man, you’d say he slept with a woman who then ate his children.

In the 14th century when bitch was first written in reference to a woman, bitch was the worst. While the upper echelons of the master hierarchy of evil wanton women weren’t very well known, it was established clearly that whore* was at the bottom, except for bitch which was below whore. So while son of a whore, was both an insult to your heritage and, unforgivably, also a debasement of your Mom, and an affront worthy of murder, son of a bitch was another whole tier worse than that, and the kind of fighting words that started family feuds and wars between nations.

But this doesn’t explain the transition of bitch from mere strumpet to worse than Medea. It only leaves one to speculate that someone decided a bitch had to have some qualifiable characteristic that put her beneath whore and decided she was a femme fatal who would steal your heart and then feed it to your son in a stew.

Also, still, why do dogs have such a bad rap? I mean they’re pretty adorable.

But that brings us to the second hypothesis, which is that a metaphoric bitch isn’t being juxtaposed to just any female dog, but very specific ones, in this case the hounds of Artemis, possibly to Artemis herself (since she changes herself into a hound sometimes for funsies).

Cross Artemis, and she becomes the exemplar bitch. Those who’d dare look upon the moon goddess while she was bathing, or who would deceive or rape one of her virginal acolytes** would find themselves turned into a stag and hunted by Artemis and her hounds to be torn apart. Artemis has seen a lot of bullshit from a lot of guys already, so it’s not a good idea to try to get one over on her.

Applied to the adage Life’s a bitch, and the meaning becomes more immediate, much more like Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero! (Seize today and put no faith in tomorrow!)

When bitch refers to Artemis’ hounds, some have argued, instead, it refers indirectly to Artemis’ celibate acolytes, with whom no man will rightly score. It was Victorian England and Puritan America and those who could write also knew their classic mythology (id est they were educated). And they were sexually frustrated to the last.

Oddly, bitch was the swear word used (and used a lot, to the exclusion of more common ones) in Borderlands 2 seemingly as a punctuated version of bro or lad or mate, such as Light the fuses, bitches or Jakobs, bitch. Accept no substitutes., either demonstrating further evolution of the term, or projecting that language may not be the same in the future.

I can’t think of a clever way to end this. Son of a bitch.

* Whores perform sex as a service in trade (in contrast to the others on this list who love banging for the sake of banging). This is to say whores expect compensation, and their first love is that compensation. Sex for them is work and though they will tolerate it, they don’t necessarily love it the way sluts and trollops do.

** Artemis’ acolytes are celibate and virginal, and Artemis herself is regarded as a virgin. She’s been open to love, though, as she was quite smitten by the handsome hunter and hero Orion. Artemis and Orion were totes hot for each other, and for a goddess looking for a good, true guy, Orion seemed like the real deal. But then, Apollo got overprotective and liked thinking of Arti as his innocent (virginal) little sister, and he tricked her into slaying Orion in the middle of a hunt. Other suitors have proposed to Artemis, and she hasn’t always said no. She has a thing for fellow hunters, but is justifiably skeptical, and has become a bit of a stalker. Artemis would track these suitors and discover they would willingly betray her. Her suspicions verified (and reinforced) she’d prep for a new hunt once again.

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