Is Being a Bitch a Bad thing
“You’re kind of acting like a bitch,” my friend said when I said no in a very polite way to a favor she asked of me. I was so hurt by her words, that I quickly acquiesced and did the very inconvenient favor.
I didn’t like being called a bitch. After all, I’d always been the nice girl. The girl who said yes to every favor asked, even it meant putting my needs last.
After being a consummate people-pleaser throughout my life, I began to see the light of self-empowerment after I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease. That’s when I finally decided to put what I needed first.
It’s sad that it took getting an autoimmune disease to make me FINALLY learn that it’s OK to “be a bitch.”
The Semantics of the Word
- A malicious, spiteful person, especially a woman;
- A lewd or immoral woman;
- Something that is extremely difficult, objectionable, or unpleasant.
I REALLY object to definition #2. There are plenty of other terms out there to describe lewd or immoral, do we have to associate bitch with it as well?
However, definitions #1 and #3 are pretty straightforward and there are many, many times when the word is applicable.
Unfortunately, the word bitch is also often used when a woman is attempting to assert some authority or control and the term is used to silence, shame and condemn her for it.
Separating the Malicious Spiteful Bitch from the Authoritative Bitch
First, I do not condone dictionary-defined bitchy behavior, i.e., behaving spitefully or acts of maliciousness. Sadly, there are many people out there who behave this way.
However, there are times when “bitchy” behavior, i.e., asserting authority or control, are absolutely necessary and called for. Many times a woman is labeled unfairly because people don’t like her new, empowered persona.
Therefore, I like to separate the two bitches, Wizard of Oz style, by labeling them as “The Wicked Bitch” and “The Good Bitch.” The latter being the authoritative bitch.
So let’s talk about when it’s OK to be the Good Bitch and what that really means. And also touch on Wicked Bitch behavior.
The Wicked Bitch vs The Good Bitch
You’re back-to-school shopping with your kids all day, fighting crowds and piecing together school supplies from a pathetically low inventory. The kids are having meltdowns, people are bumping into you and you have a splitting headache.
Now, you are standing in the world’s longest line waiting to check out and the cashier is painstakingly slow. You finally make your way to the front of the line and the cashier incorrectly tells you that the coupon you are trying to use is invalid. She was a little rude about it but you can tell she is overwhelmed. She’s clearly new and doing her best but she’s treading water at her new job. This situation could be handled “bitch style” two ways.
The Wicked Bitch would not look at the big picture. She would think that the cashier is intentionally being bad at her job. That bitch would unload on the cashier, belittle her and call the manager over to complain and argue to get the cashier fired.
The Good Bitch, a woman asserting authority, would recognize another woman struggling at her current role, have empathy and calmly ask to speak to a manager to remedy the coupon dispute. And while speaking to the manager, firmly point out that he is understaffed and has a struggling employee handling a crowd of people by herself.
The Correct Response
I was in this situation and VERY tempted to unload and be snarky. However, no matter how long my day had been or how bad my head hurt, being a spiteful bitch was not the answer. By choosing to assert authority without being malicious, the manager fixed the issue, started directing others in line to check out at customer service and apologized to his employee for leaving her on the floor alone to handle the crowd.
Times when you are going to be tempted to be the Wicked Bitch but should REFRAIN
- When someone in your professional world wins an award and you feel you were more qualified to win.
- When the Starbucks Barista did not make your drink correctly.
- When you’ve just met someone and can’t tell if they’re rude or shy (insider tip: probably shy!).
- Whenever your mother says anything about your clothes, hair or body in THAT tone of voice (full disclosure: my mom has never done this but I do have friends whose moms do – love you mom!).
- When someone in the service industry is really bad at his or her job but they are clearly trying, they’re just bad at it and they can’t help it.
- When someone younger than you acts shitty or uppity (remember how insecure you felt at that age?).
- When someone accidentally spills something on your favorite outfit and it’s ruined.
Times when it is absolutely appropriate and necessary to be the Good Bitch (asserting authority or control)
- When someone disrespects your boundaries.
- When someone harms your child/family physically or emotionally.
- When someone touches you inappropriately.
- When someone takes advantage of you.
- When dealing with racists, misogynists or homophobes.
- When someone disrespects you.
- When you need to be the voice for others who are underprivileged or experiencing an injustice.
- When someone tries to discredit you publicly or behind your back. This includes gossip.
Embracing The Good Bitch
You called a friend out for disrespecting you. You put a colleague in their place for trying to discredit you during a staff meeting. And you’re labeled a bitch…GOOD FOR YOU BITCH!
You’re becoming a better, healthier person. You’re not malicious or spiteful for speaking up for yourself. It means you’re transitioning into an empowered woman. That’s a good thing!
The next time someone unfairly calls you a bitch, just smile and say, “Thank you!”