Well, here’s a new word for my vocabulary. If you can’t guess what it means, see below.
An upcoming TV series is raising eyebrows, and blood pressures — and writer Cathleen Falsani has some thoughts on it:
When ABC recently announced it had ordered a season’s worth of a new show based on the novel “Good Christian Bitches,” I’m not sure which surprised me more—that the network planned to run a show with the word “Christian” in the title, or the derogatory “bitch.”
A dramedy set in Dallas, the show follows the character Amanda Vaughn (Leslie Bibb) who moves back to her hometown (and her mother, played by Annie Potts) after her marriage ends in scandal. In high school, Amanda was the quintessential mean girl. “Oh darlin’, you were a bitch with teeth,” her mother says in a clip from the show’s pilot.
Back home in Texas, Amanda encounters a gaggle of her old “frenemies” from high school, led by the mean-girl-turned-Sunday-School-teacher Carlene (Kristin Chenoweth). Each more saccharine and seemingly perfect than the next, they greet their wounded “sister” with thinly veiled enmity lurking behind huge smiles, and then rip her to shreds when she’s (mostly) out of earshot.
“Good Christian Bitches” immediately drew fire from both Christian and women’s groups for marrying “Christian” with “bitch” in its title. Producers quickly changed the name to the less offensive “Good Christian Belles,” and most recently re-christened it yet again as, simply, “G.C.B.”
On the surface, the loudest criticism of the as-yet-unaired show has been semantic. “Bitch” is not a term most of us ladies would choose to apply or use on our sisters, no matter how appropriate it may be. It’s demeaning and coarse.
Folks from the Parents Television Council and their ilk bristled, understandably, at the word and the tacit cultural acceptance using it in a television show’s title might bestow on the word.
Conservative critics found unusual allies among women’s groups, who also pushed back at the original title. “It is not an appropriate term to use to describe any woman, regardless of faith,” said Yana Walton of the Women’s Media Center. “Entertainment media, especially film and music, have been normalizing misogynistic language for years.”
Fair enough. The deeper criticism of the show, however, is that it unfairly attacks Christianity by lampooning, with ample snark, Christian culture…
…The kind of “Christian” women depicted in “G.C.B” are a reality. I’ve known scores of them throughout my lifetime in the church and, in my worst moments, confess that sometimes I’ve been one of them.
In my circle of friends, all of us rooted in the evangelical Christian tradition and church culture, we have a term for those women who greet you in services with an air-kiss of peace only to stick a metaphorical slingblade in your side as soon as you turn to pick up the hymnal.
We call them “Chritches.”
And I have to wonder: when did a five-letter word that is designed to be derogatory to women become so accepted?