I had no idea that when I substituted the word bitch for female dog in last week’s Naughty List/Police Report that it would raise such a firestorm. First of all – let me assure you bitch is the correct word for a female dog and as the editor of this paper, I made the substitution consciously. Go to any dog show and you will hear the word over and over again from adults and children with no one batting an eye. Frankly, I was surprised when the police report arrived with female dog in it because the word bitch is more accurate, shorter, and more to the point – so I changed it. As I did so, I chuckled because I found the double entendre amusing – I thought others would too – and this was true for most. Others were offended. Please understand that I have a young child and I would never publish anything I would not approve of her reading or learning from. On that note, I want to clarify a few things – it is the editorial policy of this paper to use the best word whenever we can. There is nothing wrong with the word bitch when it is used to describe a female dog – we feel that it is important for children to know that and understand the distinction. There are many other words like this and we will not bend on those either. If a philistine were to be slayed with the jawbone of an ass, we would not describe it as a donkey for fear of offending delicate ears. We will not change the name of a pussy willow or Puss in Boots. Nor will we substitute more politically correct names for the male names Dick or Peter. Additionally, we will not hesitate to tell about Mrs. Smith’s angina or Mr. Smith’s coccyx – if there is any reason to. You can also rest assured that if a man from Bangkok travels to Uranus and discovers a blowhole – we will report it, if it has relevance to this community. In terms of the word bitch, we will only use it in context of a female dog and never to refer to a complaining person, a female person, a person riding in a truck between two other persons, a man abused for sexual pleasure in a jail, or other slang meanings. When we say bitch, we mean a female dog. I hope that’s clear now.
For a fascinating look at the history of the word bitch – check this out http://clarebayley.com/2011/06/bitch-a-history/
Or here is the short version from Wikipedia:
The term “bitch” comes from the 1150 word bicche, which was developed from the Old English word bicce. It also may have been derived from the Old Norse word bikkja for “female dog”. The Oxford English Dictionary dates the term meaning “female dog” to around 1000 A.D.
Bitch, literally meaning a female dog, is a slang pejorative for a person, commonly a woman, who is belligerent, unreasonable, malicious, a control freak, rudely intrusive or aggressive. When applied to a man, bitch is a derogatory term for a subordinate.
Its original use as a vulgarism, documented to the fourteenth century, suggested high sexual desire in a woman, comparable to a dog in heat. The range of meanings has expanded in modern usage. In a feminist context, it can indicate a strong or assertive woman.