Vol. 22, No. 5,514 - The American Reporter - September 7, 2016

by T.S. Kerrigan
American Reporter Correspondent
Los Angeles, California
November 14, 2007
T.S. Kerrigan

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LOS ANGELES -- As if he didn't have enough problems with his campaign, Sen. John McCain is now being charged with insensitivity and evasiveness in not responding more directly to a woman in South Carolina who asked in respect to Hillary Clinton, "How do we beat the bitch?"

Perhaps it relates to my life-long mystification with women, who, I suggest, more readily make use of this epithet than men do, but I have never understood the meaning of the word or why it is applied to some women and not others.

In other words, what makes a woman a bitch? When someone, again mostly a woman, refers to another of her sex as "a bitch," I always want to ask, "What do you mean?"

Etymologists are not much help. It is reasonably clear that the older, literal Meaning of the word, a young mother dog, first appeared in English as "bicce" shortly before the Norman Conquest. The Oxford English Dictionary speculates that the modern word may have come from the Lappish "pit ya" and there are those who point out the existence of "betze" in the German and "biche" in the French as possible sources, but there is no agreement as to the root of bitch.

One thing is apparently clear, the term has been applied to lewd or sensual women at least since 1400, the idea being that female dogs are rather common in their promiscuity. The American Heritage Dictionary defines bitch as 1) "a female dog," 2) "a lewd woman," 3) "to complain," e.g. to "bitch." The companion "son of a bitch" is found in King Lear where reference is made to "One that art nothing but the composition of a Knave, Beggar, Coward, Pandar, and the Sonne and Heire of a Mungrill Bitch."

The BBC. in takes the easy way out and suggests that bitch is simply the female equivalent of bastard. This is less than helpful, especially when one considers the social and economic realities of being a bastard in England and America in the past.

But as much as one can say about Bill and his antics, there has never been, to my knowledge that his wife was guilty of any lewd conduct of her own in the past. Furthermore, I would hazard the opinion that the word no longer refers to women of ill repute in the sexual sense. I think we have to throw out this connotation and proceed to some other possible interpretations of bitch.

There also seems to me to be a modern connotation of the word which has not been officially expressed, where it refers to either a malicious or a powerful woman. The late Leona Helmsley and Martha Stewart would be cited by some as bitches under this interpretation. Some people would find Hillary's involvement in politics in the past and her present ambitions sufficient grounds for including her in this classification. This may also qualify someone like Eleanor Roosevelt to be called a bitch.

It could also be argued that a bitch is just any woman another woman doesn't like, like the lady in the van talking on her cell phone who cuts your wife off on the road. The first word out of your wive's mouth wll proba bly be "that bitch."

So what does it mean in this day and age to be called a bitch? In the fina analysis, the word seems to be just another all purpose pejorative term that has little or nothing to do with dogs or lewdness. Maybe Hillary is a bitch, whatever that means, and just maybe it is a reason to vote for her.

AR Correspondent Tom Kerrigan has argued - and won - before the U.S. Supreme Court, published poetry and seen his plays produced. He lives in Los Angeles.

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