Brian Edwards Media

Posts Tagged '‘bastard’'

How come it’s OK to call a man ‘a bastard’, but you can’t call a woman ‘a bitch’? Just asking, Dear Heart.

I have been pondering the difference between ‘a bitch’ and ‘a bastard’, and ‘a total bitch’ and ‘a total bastard’. The reason for my pondering is that I’ve observed that while a man may not relish being called ‘a bastard’ or even ‘a total bastard’, he is unlikely to feel that it is the ultimate insult, requiring pistols at dawn. A woman, on the other hand, will react extremely badly to being called ‘a bitch’ and will consider being called ‘a total bitch’ a legitimate defence to a charge of murder.

To resolve this mystery, all you have to do is attempt to soften the impact of each word by attaching a positive epithet to it. For example: a handsome bastard, an attractive bastard, a sexy bastard, a brilliant bastard. Each of these combinations suggests approval or perhaps envy. Even more negative epithets still have this sense of grudging admiration: a ruthless bastard, a devious bastard, a self-serving bastard, a calculating bastard, a cheating bastard, a rich bastard. There’s the envy again. How come he gets away with it when I can’t?

Now try softening the word ‘bitch’: a beautiful bitch, an attractive bitch, a sexy bitch, a brilliant bitch. It doesn’t work. The noun is too powerful for the adjective. It is laden with contempt. The ‘bitch’ might be beautiful, attractive, sexy or brilliant but, spoken by a man, each phrase conveys less admiration or respect that a sense of endangered male status. ‘What she needs…’   Read the rest of this entry »