Bitch (offensive?)

Discussion in 'English Only' started by rocstar, Apr 28, 2008.

  1. rocstar Senior Member

    Los Mochis
    México - Español-
    Hello everybody:

    I have heard and seen in movies the use of the word bitch. Sometimes a lot more than needed. The question is: ¿Is the use of this word seen like "normal" in certain sectors of society or is it as I feel: Offensive?

  2. anothersmith Senior Member

    Los Angeles
    English, U.S.
    In most segments of society, it is considered very offensive.
  3. rocstar Senior Member

    Los Mochis
    México - Español-
    Thanks anothersmith:
    I teach English in Mexico. I lived in the USA when I was sixteen (a long time ago). A student lived there for three years (he lived there around three years ago). He suggested that sometimes they use it like slang to mean something not offensive but I couldn't really understand what he meant.

  4. anothersmith Senior Member

    Los Angeles
    English, U.S.
    Hi, Rocstar. I understand your confusion. To clarify: Drug dealers and pimps and people who generally like to think of themselves as "gangstas" (including rappers) will generally refer to women as "bitches." To those of us who are not engaged in drug dealing or prostitution or rap music, this is offensive.
  5. rocstar Senior Member

    Los Mochis
    México - Español-
    Thanks anothersmith. I thought so. But you know, I had to ask. Everything changes!

  6. anothersmith Senior Member

    Los Angeles
    English, U.S.
    ¡Pues claro, entendido! No offense taken.
  7. CrepiIlLupo Member

    USA - English
    Just to back up anothersmith from the other coast of the U.S., the only time the word "bitch" could ever be considered inoffensive is between very close friends. One would never call anybody other than this a bitch, as it is considered extremely offensive (at least in the United States).
  8. Sallyb36

    Sallyb36 Senior Member

    Liverpool UK
    British UK
    ....and in the UK too.
  9. LaReinita

    LaReinita Senior Member

    East Coast, USA
    USA (Northeast Coast)-Inglés
    Unless you're at a dogshow.;)
  10. SleepingLeopard Senior Member

    English - United States (New York)
    There's another use of the word that's not quite as offensive. It's used to describe something that's difficult, like:
    Learning to speak Japanese can be a bitch.

    It's still not a particularly nice word (nothing I would say in front of my mother), but this is a much less offensive use than calling a person a bitch.

    I agree that when it's used to refer to a person, it's very offensive, although it may be used jokingly among very close friends.
  11. mirx Banned

    This last sentence is key. Sometimes is used to say how fortunate a woman is for having or achieving something, the same way a man is sometimes called "lucky bastard".

    Number one:Ohh, my boyfriend took me to this amazing restaurant, and then he did the most amazing thing, he hired this guy who brough flowers over to the table and read a poem.

    Number two: Ohh my god! Really? I am so jealous, my boyfriend would never do that.

    Number one: not only that, when dinner was over he took me to this lake in his car and we gazed at the moon for hours, and he kept telling me that he loved me.

    Numer two: You bitch!

    It is also common among homosexuals and is not considered offensive.
  12. Porteño Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    British English
    While I might well refer to a male friend as a 'lucky bastard', I would never use 'bitch' to a female friend, although I have heard people use 'you silly bitch' in a jocular fashion to a close friend or even their wife.
  13. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    I am often to be heard addressing A Certain Gentleman Of My Acquaintance as a skanky bitch (among other things). He, in return, is perfectly at liberty to refer to me as a nowty cow (among other things). Neither of us bats an eyelash at this kind of nonsense.
  14. mirx Banned

    I see you have very open-minded friends.

    I would say this to a male only if we are close. The homosexual comment was because it is common even when people are not close, or have just met.

    And anyways, that is what I read in wiki and what I´ve heard on TV, perhaps is not used as naturally.
  15. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    I'd say Wiki has it right on this occasion, Mirx;)
  16. Porteño Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    British English
    I agree but I would never use the term to a male, even if he was a close friend.
  17. mirx Banned

    Wiki was talking about male homosexuals.
  18. bibliolept

    bibliolept Senior Member

    Northern California
    AE, Español
    The hip-hop use of the word bitch, pronouncing it as "bee-yatch" or "bee-yotch" is more common among younger males in the US. It, along with the normal "bitch," are often used in friendly contexts and not meant as insults. Some of my acquaintances do just this, though they are using the idiom for humorous intent, aping the more reflexive or natural use of it by others.
  19. katie_here Senior Member

    Life's a bitch, and then you die.

    I think I've heard it referred in prison documentary's when one male prisoner takes another as his "bitch".
  20. Porteño Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    British English
    But you said you would use it to a close male friend.

    "I would say this to a male only if we are close. The homosexual comment was because it is common even when people are not close, or have just met."
  21. Native Tejano Senior Member

    English - Texas, USA
    Rocstar, great question.

    Most times, "bitch" is an offensive term. It is the rough equivalent of "puta", "bruja", and "cabrona". Put simply, it is a derogatory term to describe a distasteful woman. You can also use it to describe a distasteful man. When using it to describe a man, it is like a "double insult" because you are not only regarding the man as distasteful but you are also indirectly calling the man a woman.
    You could say "William is a bitch."

    In some contexts it can used to describe someone who complains or whines a lot.

    Look at the following example: "James is such a bitch. He never likes playing basketball because of the heat."

    This is where the phrase "quit your bitching" comes from. "To bitch" is a verb that means "to whine" or "to complain." However, take note that this is slang. You should never use the term "bitch" as a noun or verb if in a formal setting (like a job interview).

    Nowadays, "bitch" can be used as a soft or friendly insult among friends.
    Examples: "O you bitch! You are eating my cookies!"
    "Bitch, you are really good at poker." (Notice how "bitch" here is like a sarcastic compliment).

    "Bitch" is also used to describe something difficult or used as the equivalent of "pain in the neck."

    "Calculus is a bitch."
    "Studying for a final exam is a bitch."
    "Running uphill is a bitch."

    All in all, sometimes "bitch" is soft but more often than not it is offensive. You should not use the term unless you are speaking with someone you know very well or if you are in any informal setting. Do not use it in a job interview or any other formal situation.
  22. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    I don't see it as quite as offensive as some other contributors to this thread evidently do. And I don't see it as having much to do with sex...

    Basic meaning: female dog. No problems.

    Used between friends (female/female:tick:; female/homosexual male:tick:; homosexual male/female:tick:female to heterosexual male & vice versa probably not:cross: ...what do I know about other combinations???): as in "Oooh you bitch!" meaning: you are very naughty or I am so jealous of you!

    Description of a female: "She's a bitch = she's a cow = she's got a vile tongue on her = she's nasty about other people".

    Description of something non-sentient: "Life's a bitch and then you die". Life is vile/horrible/kicks you in the goolies...
  23. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    I find it offensive when used to insult someone, either to their face or behind their back.
    In both these cases it is meant to be offensive. Otherwise it's not offensive.
  24. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Excellent point, cuchu.
  25. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Ooh you should at least try it, Porteño:D

    Yes, I know, chat's a bugger.
  26. bibliolept

    bibliolept Senior Member

    Northern California
    AE, Español
    Yes, if used as an outright insult it could be considered "doubly" insulting, but I would again point out that even in male heterosexual circles, at least among younger AE speakers, the phrase is gaining wider acceptance in the context of friendly conversations or at least as part of typical teasing banter.
  27. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Yes, I'd say it's become an increasingly bantery word in BE, which is why some of us lot find it pretty inoffensive. (Even as an insult I find it fairly anodyne, its once-sharp edges now somewhat blunted.)
  28. vicky1027 Senior Member

    usa english
    I agree, "biotch" means bitch, but it definitely softens it up, and is used with friendly joking. But it's also used often among young females. As a matter of fact, I don't hear it very often at all among teenage boys.
  29. sasho Senior Member

    English - United Kingdom
    I object to this observation. How do you know this? Just because someone is gay does not make them more likely to use certain words than somebody else. There will be gay (and straight) people who use the word 'bitch' on a daily basis, others who have never said it in their lives, some who find it offensive and others who do not.

    Even if the statement was sourced from elsewhere, what I have said above is common sense. Please don't encourage such blatant stereotyping by presenting banal, unfounded statements as fact on this forum.
  30. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Hold on, sasho.

    We're trying, on this forum, to understand the way in which language is used.

    Isn't it possible that certain forms are used more between females; between males; between homosexual female/males; etc etc etc.?

    Isn't it interesting to try to work out the subtle differences in usage between language groups?
  31. Cathy Rose Senior Member

    Northeast USA
    United States English
    It all comes down to this: know your audience. I've become desensitized to the word in the past few years, but it still makes me feel uncomfortable, even when I use it myself. Too many young, African-American women have grown up with the word, and now they think it's a perfectly acceptable form of address. It's fine as good-natured ribbing between two friends, but it makes me sad to see women accept being called a name that refers to an animal.
  32. sasho Senior Member

    English - United Kingdom
    Yes, it is interesting to try and classify usage and of course this should be a key aim of the forum. But only through carefully articulated comments and observations based on evidence, not through unfounded generalisations such as the one cited.

    In my opinion, homosexuals do not represent a 'language group'. Sexuality does not impact on usage and vocabulary in the way that nationality/ethnicity can. It is the generalisation that I object to. It would have been more accurate to note that use of the word 'bitch' is common usage in media representations of those in the 'gay community'.
  33. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    Moderator note: Please don't wander too far from the thread topic. If you have a burning desire to delve deeply into something tangential, please feel free to open a new thread.
  34. mirx Banned

    Well then take my "citation" as "bitch is common usage in media representations of those in the 'gay community'".

    I did not intend to mislead someone with that statement, and I don't think any sensible human being would actually believe that all male homosexuals use the word bicth in a non-offensive way. Wikipedia, as much as some might hate it, is actually a founded resource. The quantity of people that rely on it make it so.

    Vocabulary IS indeed greatly impacted by one's sexuality, the same that it is impacted by one's age, geographic location, profession, lifestyle (include gay if you may), mood and many other subjective factors.

    Again, if you feel uncomfortble with the way I made my post, feel free to interpret it in a way that pleases you most, or distresses you the least.

    I did specified however, that those where not my own opinions but rather what I read in the mentioned article. Thus not making it a fact, as you said I did, but rather a point of reference.

    This particular thread is not about correctness, or how "accurate" it is to use a word in a particular context, but rather how that word is perceived by different poeple, so any evidence as poor as it might seem is welcome and does contribute to better understand things.
  35. Matching Mole

    Matching Mole Senior Member

    England, English
    I don't think anyone has mentioned the (possibly dated) US informal/youth/slang word "bitching" (usually bitchin'). I believe this is a term of strong approval, and must be derived from "bitch". I believe this is a meaning reversal (as in "bad" coming to mean good, and normally negative words like stupid and fat respelled into terms of approval).

    I'm not sure, though, if the word "bitch" per se is subject to this reversal.
  36. bibliolept

    bibliolept Senior Member

    Northern California
    AE, Español
    I think that this idiom has definitely seen its heyday come and go.
  37. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    Drifting towards the outer reaches of bitchdom, there's the exclamation
    of amazement (and either disgust or great approval), Sonofabitch! This is often
    slurred into something more like sumfabitch! There is generally nothing offensive about this exclamation.
  38. bibliolept

    bibliolept Senior Member

    Northern California
    AE, Español
    And related to that is the use of "sumbitch" in a neutral manner, as others might use "bastard" or "bugger."

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