Bitch: Etymology and Select Typologies
April 5, 2007
In several recent posts the term ‘bitch’ has been bantered around quite loosely. We here at Beats Entropy have used the term in various ways, sometimes with loving respect, other times with disquieted camaraderie , and occasionally it has come up in somewhat more serious discourse.
Etymologically speaking, the term ‘bitch’ has a few common and a few uncommon meanings.
Primarily bitch is understood to be noun referring to a female dog or fox. More generally, in this sense, the term bitch can be extended to a variety of animals via conjunction, for example: wolverine-bitch, donkey-bitch, etc…
The second definition of the word, no longer in decent usage, is a noun describing a lewd or sensual woman, which in modern usage has come to be a derogatory term for an especially malicious or treacherous woman (still often associated with sexuality).
While most of our current modern usages are derived from its derogatory meaning, bitch also has other technical definitions, including its application to a promiscuous male (meaning essentially the same as ‘dog’), a mining term relating to a specific metal rod used as a tool, a verb meaning to frequent the company of lewd women (as in: Let’s go out bitching tonight), and finally as a noun describing a primitive Canadian oil lamp.
As noted however, most modern uses of the term relate to its more derogatory meanings. Yet even within this limited scope, the term has come to be used to describe a plethora of typologies. While the faces of ‘bitchness’ are vast and multifaceted, I have provided – for convenience – four primary archetypes denoted in the modern use of the term.
Type 1: Le Biche or ‘The Bitch’
Also described as a capital ‘B’ Bitch, Le Biche or The Bitch is purposefully malicious and cruel individual (self identifying on the feminine end of the gender scale) who navigate social tact like a Panzer through a puppy mill. Le Biche is strong, smart, socially apt though often tactically short sighted, and can castrate a full grown Ox at 70 paces with a well placed stare.
Type 2: He-bitch
Typically associated here with men of alternative sexual natures, the he-bitch (or in long form he-bitch-man-whore) meaning draws itself from a combination of the lewd woman and dog-man definition. Dripping with sexual innuendo, the he-bitch is characterized by lewd and catty behaviour, as well as the occasional unpermissioned man-toy borrowing.
Type 3: Bitches (generic-male)
Not to be confused with the he-bitch (above), or the bad ass bitches (below), bitches refer to a growing constituency of heterosexual males who practice a particularly lame and flaccid sort of overcompensated masculinity. Best embodied by the punk guy who hits his girlfriend in an epic fight, gets a bottle of gin thrown at him, loses the girl cuz she aint gonna take his shit no more, and proceeds to call up her mom to see if he can get reimbursed for the lost booze. Bitches are typically less than brilliant, compensate for low self-esteem with unpractised machismo, and rarely have any working conception of responsibility or duty. These are the bitches that, as a wise woman once put it, would only be good to be ground up for cat food, but for the fact that many cats do not like to eat pussy.
Type 4: Bad Ass Bitches
Best described in the August 2006 Beats Entropy post of the same name, bad ass bitches are the elite of their gender (born, converted or other-identified). They are as Jack Sparrow is to pirates, as shotguns are to zombie hunters, as mint-chocolate-sex-lube is to all other lubricants. Simply put they are best of the best, who remind us that contrary thousands of years of misogyny, paternalism and patriarchy – the human spirit cannot be contained or limited by invasive categorizations of masculine and feminine.
Of course we here at Beats Entropy support the god-given right to twist and goad language to whatever cruel purposes one might desire. The above typologies are neither exhaustive nor authoritative, but rather a small insight into the noble lineage and diversity of this important term.