Gavin Polone has a great, but I think, incomplete piece up in Vulture on network (and to a certain extent cable) television’s absolute aversion to the use of the word “fuck,” especially given everything else they allow:
Whom are we protecting by not allowing fuck on broadcast and basic cable TV? I love the word fuck. Words with hard consonants are so much superior to other words. And what does fuck mean, anyway? Sometimes it is a synonym for darn; sometimes it is used in a phrase like “fuck you” (and I don’t really even know what that means, I just know it’s aggressive and useful when driving in Los Angeles); and sometimes it’s used as a verb to mean copulating. But even in that last context, it is far less evocative of a visual image than what I had heard on 2 Broke Girls or the nation’s favorite comedy, Two and a Half Men.
It’s always been fascinating to me that “fuck” is verboten while “bitch” isn’t just permitted, it’s used with gusto. Unlike “fuck,” which as Polone points out, can be used in a variety of contexts, and with a variety of intentions, “bitch” has essentially no uses except to degrade people. If a woman is powerful, if she’s mean to someone, if she doesn’t want to have sex with you or the character who is standing in for you, if a woman is in any way non-compliant, she’s not just a bad person, she’s a stupid animal. If a man is weak, or grating, or obstructionist, or available to be dominated, it’s not just that he’s a bad person. It’s that he gets demoted a gender level, and then a species level. “Bitch” is a far more hostile term than “fuck.” The fact that the former’s permitted while the latter’s banned says a mouthful.