You must be talking about Python 2, the deprecated version for 12 years now, with support ending next year.
Because last time I checked, current, modern Python only has one type of string.
Sure, I am picking out one particular use case, but it isn't uncommon to wrap C code in python scripts to mung data going in and out of it.
You are right though. String manipulation does appear to be easier than Python 2's implementation.
"Note that this class handles bytes independently of the encoding used: If used to handle sequences of multi-byte or variable-length characters (such as UTF-8), all members of this class (such as length or size), as well as its iterators, will still operate in terms of bytes (not actual encoded characters)."
>>> bytes([102, 111, 111])
>>> struct.unpack('I', b'\x01\x01\x00\x02')
So it makes sense that Python is treating it has a raw bytes array (what you call "a byte string"): it has no way to know that it is UTF8 or CP850 if you don't tell it.
But because of c/c++ experience or habits from python 2, one tends to confuse the concept of text (represented with the type "str" in python) with some specific low level implementation (the raw bytes array).
Python explicitly avoid this problem, by defining that either you know what it is (utf8 text, big endian number, etc) or you don't (raw bytes array). Manipulating text as a raw byte sequence manually would be the equivalent of manipulating directly the IEEE 754 representation of a number: it's not what you want for a high level scripting language, and hence it's why Python 3 doesn't do that anymore.
Because that's exactly what it is? std::string is a bytes buffer, not actual text. There's no guarantee that the contents of std::string will be in any encoding, let alone a specific one.
I was writing brand-new applications in it for my job as late as early last year
Why the defiant tone?
As I do a lot of Python for a living, and still work on both Python 2 and Python 3, I have talked a lot with people writing new P2 apps in the last few years.
My experience is, either you have very niche constraints, or somebody made an unwise/uneducated engineering decision. Unfortunatly, I meet way more of the second type, and of course, most of them pretend to be of the first.
On what planet was my comment you were replying to FUD? I simply pointed out a few things I'm not fond of in the language (with one point in particular stemming from my own ignorance of the language, which was corrected by folks). I was quite clear in stating that python is a language with pros and cons like any other. At which point did I claim anything to be objectively wrong with the language or spread any FUD whatsoever about using it?
I would, however, like to question this wisdom of always having to run the latest and greatest. Yes there are security considerations but properly hardened, old software and runtimes run fine. You need an actually security guru, though, and not some startup promising turn-key solutions.
And the reason you don't see that for ruby or node is because their community said "move or die". And many, many projects just died. I've seen the graveyard in the corporate world.