A lot of words have been hurled at angry women voters lately.
My particular favorite is “Nasty Bitch.”
In the words of Inigio Montoya…”You keep using those words. I do not think they mean what you think they mean.”
I was in a meeting a few weeks ago with a woman who was discussing complaining to your congressman.
“You have to be polite to them and deal with them with respect,” she said. “But, the minute you lose your temper or start to get upset, the first thing those guys do is start talking about how you’re a ‘nasty bitch.’”
I’ve been called a lot of things in my life, and I guess that’s one of them.
But I don’t think it has the effect on women that men think it does.
When I was a kid, being called a bitch was far from a compliment. It wasn’t even something you heard everyday.
My first recollection was probably from “Dynasty” or an old Bette Davis movie.
It was, at the time, something slung at a woman to diminish her femininity and effectiveness. It meant they were an evil-scheming woman who was willing to do whatever necessary to get what they wanted.
And it was a pretty big blow back then.
One could spit out that word like it was some flaming epithet that could be hurled at someone like an atom bomb, decimating them at the end of an argument, or even the beginning of one.
There was even a time when I think being called a bitch hurt my feelings. It was one of my first jobs, and I was in sales, and I was arguing about whether or not a client was mine instead of another salesperson’s. I was told to stop being such a bitch.
It hurt. It really hurt.
But somewhere along the way, the meaning for that word changed.
At some point, there was a shift and being a bitch stopped being a bad thing. It meant a woman who was willing to stand up for themselves and to fight for what they wanted. It started to mean someone who didn’t care if they made other people uncomfortable with their actions.
It began to be looked at like a compliment.
It started to mean someone who was willing to stand up and take charge.
What’s wrong with that?
I’ve been called a bitch for standing up for myself, for standing up for my family, for standing up for the things that I believe in. I’ve been called a bitch because I argue with people when I think they are wrong. I’ve been called a bitch when I did what I needed to do in order to get things done. I’ve been called a bitch when I didn’t give in to pressure to do something I knew was wrong.
As if any of those are bad things…
After Donald Trump called Hillary Clinton a nasty woman, we all became “nasty women.” And now, as people hurl more insults, we WANT to be “nasty bitches” – because that means we’re being listened to and getting under people’s skin.
The lady at the meeting was in her 70s, I think. I sat there and watched while she discussed her call. You could tell from the twinkle in her eye, this wasn’t her first rodeo as an activist.
You could tell this wasn’t her first fight.
And you could tell, just by looking, that she wasn’t used to backing down.
And then, she said the one thing you probably wouldn’t expect to hear.
“If they think I’m a bitch now, they haven’t seen anything yet,” she said.
That’s the thing, I think.
Some women aren’t up for being shrinking violets anymore, or afraid of being seen in a negative light. They’re ready to take on actions that will help them to fight for what they think is right.
Being called a nasty bitch, just doesn’t mean what you think it means.
It’s a compliment. It’s a motivator. It’s a goal, in some ways.
And calling us that definitely isn’t going to stop us.
Copyright Liz Carey (c) 2017