When did the word go from meaning “characterized by abject fear; cowardly” to just plain “abject”? As I hear it used today, it lacks the element of fear and focuses on debasement. No, not ‘the basement’, but a status of having impulses, motives, morals, values, and standards that are very low. Low as in “in the cellar”, if not the gutter. So far, my craven longings tonight include pizza topped with nothing but anchovies, but I could probably do better. Maybe that’s more of a “craving longing”.
Here’s an example from a random blog:
Dating from Madame Butterfly and even before, representations of Asian women in the West have run the risk of appearing to cater to a certain craven impulse in Western men, a dynamic that on both sides is constructed and confining. The interesting question becomes, then, are the women of Shonen Knife subtly parodying this Western image of Asian Women, are they embracing it and capitalizing on it, or are they moving beyond these expectations and framing the question in an entirely new way? How contrived is their girlie, kitschy cuteness?