Why men love bitches and other relationship quirks

Needy, clingy women, who drape themselves like a vine around men, catering to their every need and whim go unappreciated.

February 27, 2021 / 07:57 AM IST

The word ‘bitch’ seems to be changing its meaning yet again. It had stopped being a female dog a long time ago and stood for negative qualities of females of the human species. It translated into loud, obnoxious, vamp, rude, nasty, insensitive, unfeminine, menopausal, unreasonable and worse. Even ‘son of a bitch’ was no confirmation of any positive qualities in a man. ‘Bitch’ was a hiss and a curse.

Till Max Black of 2 Broke Girls picked it up and owned it with much pride and honour mid-nineties. Suddenly people of either gender were unsure about the exact nuances of ‘bitch’. The word seemed rich with possibilities, more gray than black and white. With the bad girl vibe replacing the past viper one, bitch was slipping into conversations with high heels and a potty mouth.

Madonna said, ‘I’m tough, I’m ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay.’ And bitch morphed into biatch, an affectionate call-out in sorority circles. Synonymous with success, here it was in anti-mousy terms, toting a gun, pockets full of cash.

‘She didn't care that people called her a bitch. It's just another word for feminist, she told me with pride,’ Gayle Forman wrote in her book If I Stay.

Now the book Why Men Love Bitches: From Doormat to Dreamgirl, back in the bestseller list, places bitch somewhere with top dog. This is a woman’s guide to holding her own in a relationship by author Sherry Argov. It comes into a world where women who like diamond rings are buying it for their own fingers; more and more women are beginning to own real estate around the world. They are working and saving and insuring and investing.

Argov writes in her book: ‘That's the big picture, your happiness. And health. You should never care what a man thinks of you – until he demonstrates to you that he cares about making you happy. If he isn't trying to make you happy, then send him back from "whence" he came because winning him over will have no benefit. At the end of the day, happiness, joy and, yes, your emotional stability, those comprise the only measuring stick you really need to have.’

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Needy, clingy women, who drape themselves like a vine around men, catering to their every need and whim go unappreciated. If Argov is right, men are not looking for yes-women with a nice line in nodding. If Argov’s argument is taken on board, then women who surrender, sacrifice, adjust and compromise are losers in the man-woman arena.

Bitch has gone from all its previous satanic connotations to mean a badass in a smiling way – it is sassy, it is saucy, it is all about attitude. The way the word is said has changed; the previous teeth-clenched evil-eyed mood is no more. Now it is uttered like a talisman. It wards off worthless men, casts a spell, universally describes individuality.

Why do men love bitches? Because bitches love themselves. As Stephen King said in one of his books: ‘Sometimes being a bitch is all a woman's got to hold on to.’
Shinie Antony is a writer and editor based in Bangalore. Her books include The Girl Who Couldn't Love, Barefoot and Pregnant, Planet Polygamous, and the anthologies Why We Don’t Talk, An Unsuitable Woman, Boo. Winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Asia Prize for her story A Dog’s Death in 2003, she is the co-founder of the Bangalore Literature Festival and director of the Bengaluru Poetry Festival.
first published: Feb 27, 2021 07:57 am

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