is to say so!).rnCarlson deems “bitch” the “epithet ofrnchoice against uppity women . . . a reminderrnthat women have not come suchrna long way.” She claims that “there is nornequivalent epithet about men. Bastardrnand son of a bitch have less sting, in partrnbecause society expects—and rewards—rntoughness in men.” This same pointrnwas made by Barbara Ehrenreich, againrnin Time (apparently, calling you-knowwhorna “bitch” really yanked the chain ofrnsomebody at Time). Ehrenreich agreedrnwith Carlson that neither “bastard” norrn”s.o.b.” has “anything like the force ofrnbitch. The meanest things you can savrnabout a man boil down to attacks on arnwoman: the mother insult, implying subhumanrnstatus and morals—and men canrnexperience its sting only indirectly, at arngeneration’s remove.”rnA similar point was made by LeonarnHelmsley on the Sally ]essy Raphaelrnshow: “When a man loses his temper, hernis aggressive; I’m a pushy bitch. . . . WerernI a man, I would be termed an ‘excellentrnexecutive.'” Ironically, a few minutes later,rnMrs. Helmsley blamed her tax problemsrnon her employees, apparently unawarernthat an “excellent executive” hiresrncompetent help, supervises their work,rnavoids publicly criticizing them, andrntakes responsibility for their actions.rnContrary to the assumption of Carlson,rnEhrenreich, and Helmsley, a manrnwho fires an employee on Christmas Evernfor a minor infraction (as Helmsley did)rnwould not be considered an “excellentrnET US K N O WrnBEFORE YOUrnGO !rnTo assure uninterrupted delivery ofrnCHRONICLES please notify us inrnadvance. Send change of address on thisrnform with the mailing label from yourrnlatest issue of CHRONICLES to:rnSubscription DepartmentrnCHRONICLESrnRO. Box 800rnMount Morris, lUinois 61054rnNAMErnNEW ADDRESSrnexecutive”; rather, he would be called arn”bastard” or a “son of a bitch,” which arernterms of derision, not respect. Likern”bitch,” these terms indicate characterrndefects involving a profound lack of humanrndecency. Perhaps “bastard” andrn”son of a bitch” have “less sting” for Carlsonrnand Ehrenreich because each knowsrnthese terms cannot be applied to her.rn(Among Dave Letterman’s “Top 10rnGood Things about Leona Helmsley”rnwas: “Knows the first name of each of thernhundreds of employees she arbitrarilyrnfired.”) While it is true that “bastard”rnand “s.o.b.” attack a woman, the attack isrnlaunched in addition to, not in place of,rnthe attack on the man; few men considerrnit more pleasant to have their mother insultedrnalong with them than to be insultedrnalone. “Bastard” and “s.o.b.” are alsornmore offensive than “bitch” becausernthey suggest inherent defects, whereasrn”bitch” alludes merely to the behavioral:rnone is a bastard bv chance, but a bitch byrnchoice.rnHow can vou tell a bitch from a strongrnwoman? Bitches bully others whilernsimultaneously claiming victim status.rnConsider Madonna (whom DavidrnKoresh, by the way, called “the ultimaternwoman”): as a guest on David Letterman’srnshow, she uttered a cable-onlyrnexpletive 14 times and indulged in dullrnand vulgar dithering. When the Americanrnpublic was not charmed by her antics.rnMadonna whined that her failedrnperformance was Letterman’s fault, asrn”he knew all along what [she] was goingrnto do,” and that she was “being punishedrnfor being a single female, for havingrnpower.”rnOr consider Roseanne, America’srnmost beloved bitch—at least while herrnbitchiness was a comic persona. Menrnand women alike laughed at her assertionrnthat “If the kids are still alive whenrnmy husband comes home, I’ve done myrnjob,” or how she and her husband foundrn”birth control that really works: everyrnnight, before we go to bed, we spendrnan hour with our kids.” Back then,rnRoseanne was able to laugh at herself,rnsomething bitches never do. Gradually,rnhowever, Roseanne’s pseudo-bitchy personarnbecame actualized, and the plotsrnon her show are in danger of degeneratingrninto self-pitying self-dramatization.rnBitches suffer competitively, their painrnalways greater, their problems morernsignificant, than yours. Nowadays,rnRoseanne’s humor often issues from ludicrousrnpronouncements, such as thosernfound in her autobiography My Lives: “Irnhave my first memory of being molestedrnby my mother at age six months,” or “Irnsurvived my childhood by birthing manyrnseparate identities to stand in for onernanother in times of great stress and fear.”rnCertainly, successful women arernsometimes unfairlv characterized asrnbitches. Clement Freud, for example,rnused to call Margaret Thatcher “Atillarnthe Hen,” and Secretary of State GeorgernShultz said that “If I were married to her,rnI’d be sure to have dinner ready whenrnshe got home.” Mrs. Thatcher laughedrnat the clever cracks, smiled politely at thernstupid ones, and focused her attentionsrnon doing her job rather than on reinventingrnher image.rnContrary to Carlson, not all upwardlyrnmobile women are called “bitches,”rnnor are all those who refer to obnoxiousrnwomen as “bitches” men. The term isrnused by both sexes, and it refers not tornthe degree of a woman’s ambition but tornthe spirit informing it. Truly strongrnwomen worry about equal opportunityrnand equal pay, not about being calledrnnames by people they don’t esteem.rnStrong woinen are too busy accomplishingrnthings to dawdle over their press clippings,rnand too self-confident to suggestrnmuzzling the “b” word, or any wordrnat all.rnTry making a list of ten epithets usedrnto describe a hated boss: you will probablyrnfind that most such terms refer primarilyrnto men. Perhaps in the future wernwill develop new, female-directed insultsrnto identify women we don’t like. Then,rnwhen another First Lady decides she’srnthe “Co-President” and starts bossingrnaround elected officials, we can say she’srn”a genuine H.R.C.” And when a femalernjournalist uses a cutesy “just betweenrnvou and me” to broadcast a mother-sonrnconfidence, we can identify her as “a realrnChung.”rnLaurie Morrow is a professor of Englishrnat Louisiana State University andrn1993-J995 Salvaton Fellow of thernHeritage Foundation.rnThe Hundredth Meridian by Chilton Williamson, Jr., will not appear thisrnmonth. It will resume in the next issue.rn50/CHRONICLESrnrnrn