Reclaiming The Word BITCH

It’s funny, at two different places in my life, I can find solace, protection, and pride in wearing a label that I’m supposed to want to avoid. I've taken a trait that used to be a character defect and turned it into one of my favorite things about myself. 

I used to pride myself on being a bitch. I wore the title like armor, defending myself from personal attack. I was quick to label myself, claiming it before it could be pinned on me. I was a bitch. Those who didn't like it could screw off.

The label, and the actions that accompanied it, were a defense mechanism to mask my crippling insecurity and self-hatred. I was quick to screw you over, tell you bluntly what I thought about you and push you away as hard as I could, before you had a chance to reject me. I clung to my bitchiness, a defense mechanism, fiercely insisting that I didn’t care whether or not you liked me.

“Bitch” was a good thing. It meant that I couldn’t get hurt, because I wasn’t vulnerable. Eventually, it became clear that this was not sustainable. I had few close friends, people didn’t want to take me out for fear of my attitude. “We can never be sure what you’re going to say and we don’t want you to offend people,” they’d say. “It’s not personal.” 

But it was. 

I burned my bridges and wasn’t very good at swimming. The common denominator in my failed personal relationships and social interactions was me. Something had to change.

I did a lot of reflection, introspection, and growth. I changed the way I interacted with people. Today I meet people with kindness, compassion, and authenticity. I’m no longer pretending to be someone I’m not. I don’t try to push people away.  People still call me a bitch, but for totally different reasons– reasons I’m okay with.

Usually, when the word “bitch” is used to describe a woman, it’s because she’s doing something to challenge the compliant, meek gender role carved out for her in our society. “Bitch” is a gendered slur, used to put us in our place when we get too feisty. “Bitch” is what they call those that are too assertive, take no shit, stand up for themselves. It's used for women who find success in a patriarchal world whose goal is to keep us down.

Today, I’m called a bitch because I don’t respond favorably to a catcall on the street. If rejecting unwanted and threatening advances in public makes me a bitch, yes, I’m a bitch.

Today, I’m called a bitch because I ask to be paid for my physical, mental, and emotional labor. I refuse to work for free. If thinking that my time and expertise has value makes me a bitch, so be it, I’m a bitch.

Today, I’m called a bitch because I refuse to settle for crumbs in my personal relationships. I insist that people who want to be in my life treat me with respect. If not being willing to be taken advantage of or abused makes me a bitch, then I guess I’m a bitch.

Today, I’m called a bitch because I don’t tolerate being spoken down to or pushed aside. If advocating for myself and my family makes me a bitch, then the title fits.

Today, I’m called a bitch because I don’t smile at every man I pass in public spaces. If refusing to exist solely for men’s enjoyment (and not wanting to look like a deranged clown walking around with a permasmile on my face) makes me a bitch, then hell yeah, slap that label on.

It’s funny at two different places in my life, I can find solace, protection, and pride in wearing a label that I’m supposed to want to avoid. I've taken a trait that used to be a character defect and turned it into one of my favorite things about myself. 

 

Go ahead, call me a bitch. It’s one of the nicest things you could say about me.

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