Why Do Books Love Bitches?

Bitch, please.Bitch, please.Last week I got a press release for a new book called "Taming your Alpha Bitch."

"Did you know there are five kinds of Alpha Bitches?" No I didn't. I also didn't know that being both "fierce and feminine" can get me "everything I want" but that "being an alpha-bitch can hurt my weight loss goals."

I'm confused: is being a bitch a good thing? It is when you're writing a book. Go to the self-help section of Amazon, type in the word 'bitch' and you've got yourself 130 pages of books on the subject.

The origin of owning the 'B' word may be attributed a 1999 book by Elizabeth Wurtzel called "Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women." But it wasn't until one of the great literary titans of the new millennium, Paris Hilton, used the word on TV, that the term became a symbol of privilege. In the Paris movement, bitch is a term respect for fellow females who don't really trust each other. It's like saying "I'm jealous of you, even though I'm usually the one people are jealous of."

By 2005 Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin, used the new approach to the term in the title for their diet and lifestyle book, "Skinny Bitch." It was an instant bestseller that spawned a series of spin-offs. In 2006, came "Why Men Marry Bitches" (bitches of course written in red lipstick font). Sherry Argov's book applied Freedman and Barnouin's edgy tone to the elements of "The Rules." Again it struck a cord with book buyers.

Six years later, the word is still scrawled across self-help books for women, but the meaning is becoming more fractured. According to the hundreds of Bitch books out there now, it's unclear whether it's a positive thing or something to avoid.

Here's what I gather based on recent book titles.

Being a bitch is good when it comes to sex and relationships ('Why Men Marry Bitches,' The Bitch in the Bedroom,' So You Wanna Be a Sexy Bitch,' The Sexy Bitches' Book of Finding Him')

It's bad when it comes to work ('The Girls Guide to Being a Boss without Being a Bitch,' Shedding the Corporate Bitch,' Bitch Please: How nice girls can succeed in a bitch's world,' Don't bitch, Get Rich)

Except when it's good for work ('The Bitch's Guide to Success,' The Bitch at Work,' 'Lucky Bitch: A guide for exceptional women to create outrageous success')

It's good for beauty ('Skinny Bitch,' 'Most Pretty Girls are Bitches')

It's bad for making friends ('Shut up Skinny Bitches,' 'Don't Be a Dumb Bitch')

It's good for soul-searching ('The Bitch's Bible, ;Happy Bitch: The girlfriend's straight up guide to losing the baggage and finding the fun fabulous you inside,' 'Getting in Touch with Your Inner Bitch,' 'Bitchitude for the Bitches' Soul')

But it's bad when you lose control ('The Bitch Switch: knowing how to turn it on and off', 'Be that bitch being in total control of herself')

Confused? You should be. Whereas it was once simply a way of owning an insult-it's now taken on enough power that experts feel the need to teach you how to use the force for good and not self-sabotage. Bitch books are like watered-down gender-specific versions of the 'Art of War,' where authors devise strategies for Machiavellian manipulation as keys to success in work, romance and health.

But beware: bitchy can turn to butchy real fast (lipstick and pearls are crucial for avoiding this misstep according to many book cover images).

The introduction to 'Taming your Alpha Bitch,' a book that offers guidance on training your power bitch like a bulldog, suggests that female success has turned us into bitches. According to them, that's both good and bad.

"Now more than any other moment in history we as women are discovering and expressing the full magnitude of our authentic and unabashed power," writes authors Christy Whitman and Rebecca Grado.

But that power has gotten to our heads. "It turns out the aggressive masculine demeanor that we thought would place us on the fast track to success is actually driven by underlying beliefs of fear and lack."

In the end the key is to be both "fierce and feminine" as the book subtitle suggests. Or in other words not too bitchy.

Despite all the initial empowerment derived from taking back the insult, the word bitch as become another form of sexism, offering way-too specific guidelines for being a woman, and at a price. No matter what, it seems, bitch can't do right.

Are any of these bitch books actually helpful or will they just drive you into an over-analyzing worm-hole? Scanning through the titles of books offering bitchy tips for home decorating, bitchy ways to start your own business and bitchy approaches to dropping twenty pounds, I found one book with bitch in the title that actually made sense to me.

A 2010 book for young girls written by Elsie Spruill, a concerned grandmother and middle school drama teacher. It's called, "Say It: I'm No Bitch, I'm No Ho And I'm More Than Just Another Vagina."