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You’ve heard about the Big Bitch Brouhaha on Capitol Hill.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called out the congressman who’d insulted her in vivid terms. And she actually repeated those vivid terms on the House floor.
Barrels of ink and pounds of pixels later, we know how every pundit, politician and protester feels about the original exchange and about the congresswoman’s on-the-record response.
You have your own opinion, I’m sure.
“He was an insufferable jerk.”
“She had it coming, she’s so mouthy.”
“He’s a hypocrite, yapping about his wife and daughters.”
“She shouldn’t have put that language into the Congressional Record.”
“A pox on both their houses!”
What struck me was how little has changed since I wrote about the way that language has been used forever to demean, insult, and bully women. In February of 2015!
Check this out …
Are You Staying Behind the Line?
The question comes up nearly every time I talk with women about a more powerful personal Presence.
A young woman asked it at my Highland event the other day. “How do I avoid being a bitch? It’s a fine line.”
It always tickles me that the people most worried about this issue are the ones who are farthest from that line. And this woman was no exception. So sweet and so soft and so timorous; she could move a long way in the direction of a more powerful Presence and still be nowhere close to bitch territory.
That’s typical – I hear this concern most often from people who have the least to be concerned about.
And that makes me feel bitchy! Concern about being labeled a bitch keeps so many women from stepping into their power, from playing full out, from accomplishing all they could if they weren’t so damn worried about stepping on someone’s toes.
Dictionaries define “bitch” with words like malicious, spiteful, overbearing, and selfish. Well, no wonder we don’t want to be described like that. Who would?
But maybe “malicious” means I speak up for myself.
And “spiteful” means I’m direct; I get to the heart of things.
“Overbearing” could suggest I’m not a doormat.
And am I really “selfish” … or am I just putting on my own oxygen mask first?
If we live in fear of the label, we sacrifice a lot. Who knows what that young woman from my book signing could accomplish if she weren’t going through life terrified that people will think she’s a bitch?
The answer may just be to embrace your Inner Bitch.
Not that we need to go out of our way to actually BE malicious, spiteful, overbearing and selfish. But we ought not to shy away from saying and doing things that might make somebody somewhere uncomfortable. And I’m afraid that’s exactly what happens when “what if they call me a bitch” is running our lives.
Years ago, at my first radio station, one of my male colleagues (and they were all male colleagues) taped a sign to my studio door: “Chief Bitch.”
I remember not liking it much. I also remember deciding to leave the sign on the door. Let it be a warning to anyone walking through that door instead of an insult to me.
I wouldn’t have said it this way at the time, but I was indeed embracing my inner bitch. And declining to be intimidated by the name-calling.
You won’t be surprised to hear that it wasn’t the last time somebody called me a bitch. I was in talk radio for years … the hate mail can be vicious! And, I’m a woman with opinions. And, I’m not shy about sharing them.
I wouldn’t want to be any other way. I encourage you to share your opinions too.
It would be lovely if we’d reached a point, all these years later, that women could speak their minds and be assertive and be in charge without running the risk of being called a bitch. We haven’t.
The truth is “Bitch” is still used all day long to keep women in line. Or try to anyway.
I say let’s step out of line.
Watch for that moment when you find yourself holding back. When it’s on the tip of your tongue to say something, but you swallow your words because you don’t want to be a bitch. And let me know what happens when you decide to let go of that fear.
So here we are in 2020, and “Bitch” is still an effort to keep women in line. Well, it failed spectacularly this time, didn’t it?
I was glad to see the representative from New York clap back at the “gentleman” from Florida. And especially happy that she dismissed the Daughters-Defense against allegations of blatant misogyny.
It was no surprise that other women in the House stood to describe similar experiences. We’ve all had similar experiences, haven’t we?
My inclination has been to ignore them, for the most part. Something along the lines of “don’t give them the satisfaction of knowing they got to you.”
Now, I’m rethinking that let-it-roll-off-your-shoulders response to insults and bullying.
And of course, I’m still eager to hear what you have to say about the whole issue.
Share your thoughts in a comment below.