There have been a number of changes to society since the beginning of the 21st century and also in the late 20th century. Changing stereotypes and social norms have made it more acceptable for particular language styles and communication methods. Language that was deemed to be highly unacceptable in the 20th century is now very much the norm and almost expected amongst social groups. The word “bitch” is one such demeaning type of language that has now become a social language norm and consistently appears in conversations, in society and in popular film.
The frequency of this word in every day language has effectively changed its meaning and convinced academics and psychologists that it can in fact be used as a compliment. This paper will analyze two scholarly articles, the first from Rose (2014) and the second, from Robson & Silbey (2012). The first scholarly article from Rose looks at a broader perspective of the use of the word and how it dominates the influence and actions of women in general society. The second article provides a more confined and restricted focus on the presence of the word in popular film and media that society is heavily influenced by.
The word “bitch” has become a compliment in current society as a result of the context in which it is being used within. Rose (2014) argues that in the professional world, women would be referred to as “bitch” if they are successful and come across as being highly competitive and also threatening to men and also women within the workplace. Such instances where the word is considered a compliment are when a woman or even a man, are promoted or receive a bonus that others believe was unacceptable or completely out of context. The word “bitch” will be used behind their backs or in social groups and those that use it will be unaware that it serves as a compliment rather than a demeaning.
In a sense, Rose (2014) convinces the audience that the word “bitch” is associated with a more mysterious meaning and one that many people are completely unaware of. Robson & Silbey (2012) also incorporate this perspective in the movie industry and how the word “bitch” may highlight the success of an actress or being used in films to describe an actress or character who is well known and highly successful rather than incompetent and relatively unknown. If a woman in the movie industry is described as being a “bitch”, then they must be successful and highly dominant. Furthermore, the word can be used in the place of another compliment but due to changes in social norms and requirements, the word “bitch” is regarded as being more appropriate or popular.
Both articles also relate the word “bitch” to any other word that may be used to describe the actions of an individual and in fact, Rose (2014) in particular, argues that the word is that frequently used that it can be referred to as a compliment. Furthermore, there are trends in society that indicate that the meaning of the word has now become clouded with other issues and topics. In contrast to society 50 years ago, people now casually accept the use of the word and there are more women who don’t take a notice of the word or who regard as being related to success, fame and popularity. To be called a “bitch” is to be deemed as being successful and well noticed regardless of whether their status is controversial or unacceptable. Additionally, the word can be simply used to describe the presence of a female and in a sense, can be used by men to acknowledge the fact that there is a woman presence.
The articles also argue that the word “bitch” has a number of meanings and it depends on the context in which it is being used. Up to 20 years ago, the word would also be associated with an offensive context and used as a demeaning way to undermine an individual however in the 21st century, the context and particular social situations have changed its meaning and made it more flexible in its use and meaning. Furthermore, Rose (2014) emphasizes the fact that it can be related to either gender or not specifically females. Empowerment and dominance can be related to the word in both the movie industry, in professional contexts and also in general social situations. In movies, the word takes on an empowering meaning and is often used in highly controversial scenes where women of high status are described. It also becomes a compliment when compared to other words that could potentially be used to describe women. An example of this is recent films such as “Wolf of Wall Street” and “Wedding Crashers” where more dominant women are described as “bitch” and it serves as a compliment and a highly descriptive word for the wealthy and influential in society.
The word is also dependent on the thoughts of individuals and is privy to class, independent views and backgrounds. In certain areas of society, it is still regarded as being an offensive word however, as both articles highlight, it is becoming more popular as a compliment. This paper has effectively argued that it is now heavily associated with status and have a number of different meanings that individuals may not be aware of. From the onset of the word being used in social contexts, it can be easily associated with status and is also a mechanism of jealousy that many men use to describe a woman who has been promoted above them.