It absolutely cracks me up that (at least this week) ABC is airing a sitcom called "Don't Trust the B____ in Apt. 23." (That's the real name; I'm not censoring it.) I only saw a minute of the show, and it wasn't funny, but the title is hilarious.
Words have never offended me. I can't think of a word that's been used in my presence that, strictly based on its existence, has bothered me. I understand that other people consider certain words "bad," but I don't get that. George Carlin said, "There are no bad words. There are bad thoughts," but then, we can't get upset about what someone is thinking until they say it, and the words take the brunt of our displeasure.
Sure, I get that some people don't like to hear some words. They've been taught all their lives that these are offensive things, that the people who use them are trying to insult them, and that anyone who stoops to "such language" has run out of more sophisticated ways of expressing the thought involved.
I don't buy into that. There are words--chiefly ethnic slurs--that are considered acceptable within the group and violently incendiary outside of it. It's the same word. Context creates insult. In that case, it's the thought and not the word, isn't it?
When a neighbor of mine--long ago, before we moved to this town--took a look at my infant daughter in my arms and suggested that "she really has a Hebe face, doesn't she?", I wasn't offended by the word; I was horrified by the thought being expressed. And I asked him if he understood why there was, in fact, a For Sale sign in front of my house. He didn't. We left a few months later.
So the little TV show about the "B" in Apt. 23, I'll admit, simultaneously amuses and baffles me. Because I'll be damned if I can figure out how the expression "bitch" became a curse word.
It's a female dog. That's what the word means. And yet, say it out loud in front of many people, and they will look as if you've suggested they are of a sexual deviance so lurid and perverse that to identify oneself in such a way would be to have committed a crime against society. All you've done is compare a woman, presumably, to a female dog.
Try it with a man: "You dog, you." "He's a real hound." "He follows her around like a Golden Retriever." Where's the offense? It might not be the most complimentary term imaginable, but a vulgarity? Hardly. My dog doesn't mind when we call him a dog. Of course, he has no idea what the heck we're talking about, but even if he did, I don't think it would bother him much.
So what is the big deal with "bitch"? The fact that it's a female dog? That's it? Nobody seems to have a problem with it during the Westminster Dog Show every year.
Try calling a woman a "ewe," or a "doe," or a "filly." Probably not going to endear you to them, but it won't get your face slapped. It doesn't add up. "Bitch" isn't even a four-letter word, and we've clearly decided that is the requisite number of letters for a really offensive word. Call someone "reprehensible" or "contemptible," and nobody blinks. Why? Too many letters. (Also, there's a decent possibility they don't know what you mean.)
The same network has another show--which I have been assiduously avoiding in the sincere hope I will never have to spend a minute thinking about it--called "GCB." That used to stand for "Good Christian Bitches," which apparently was the title of the book upon which the series was based. And once again, ABC (perhaps noting that it already has the letter "B" in its name) chickened out and created an acronym that absolutely no one recognized. When the show was being promoted before its premiere, I assumed the letters stood for "George Carver Bridge," and that it was about a span named after the world's most famous peanut scientist.
We assign, sometimes, too much responsibility to individual words. Perhaps it's time to consider the thoughts behind them and let people--in the interest of free speech--use any word that fits the thought. Then we'll know what people really think.
Assuming that's something we actually want to know.