Bitch” is a term of derision or dismissal. It has a few different applications, but mainly it’s a blunt, angry, aggressive noun — used mainly in heated kitchen arguments or muttered under one’s breath — directed at a woman whom the accuser regards as cruel, heartless, harshly dismissive, ruthlessly resentful or viciously manipulative.

Jane Greer in Out of the Past, Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada, Rachel McAdams in Mean Girls…that line of country.

The male term for such behavior is, of course, bastard.

The implication in this History of Swear Words clip is that perhaps only woman-haters use “bitch” and that in a perfect world it would be as verboten as the “n” word. Okay, but does that go for “bastard” also? Because that would be fairly ridiculous.

The truth is that on a daily basis certain guys unfortunately earn this epithet and then some, just as certain women have arguably behaved in a way that more or less justifies their being called a bitch or “beeyotch.”

Marriages and relationships are not always a bed of roses. Arguments happen, tempers ignite and combatants sometimes deliver harsh judgments.

I was called a bastard once, back in the mid ’80s. A woman friend told me that a friend of hers, whom I knew slightly, liked me and that I should think about giving her a call. “But she’s not my type,” I said, looking to be polite. “You don’t know her…give it a chance,” my friend said. “What I mean is that I don’t find her particularly attractive,” I said. “You bastard,” she replied.

Early in Martin Ritt‘s The Spy Who Came In From The Cold (’65), Leamas (Richard Burton) pays a visit to Control (Cyril Cusack). Control: “And, uh…how do you feel about [Mundt]?” Leamas: Feel?” Control: “Yes.” Leamas: “He’s a bastard.” Control: “Quite.”