‘Bitches were the first women to go to college, the first to break thru the Invisible Bar of the professions, the first social revolutionaries, the first labor leaders, the first to organize other women. Because they were not passive beings and acted on their resentment at being kept down, they dared to do what other women would not…And alone or with the support of their sisters they have changed the world we live in.’
Joreen Freeman ‘The BITCH manifesto’ 1970
Nice. Lovely. Sweet. Kind. While these are traditionally positive and aspiring descriptions to possess, our current society has twisted them into crippling weaknesses and vulnerability. How many nice people ever surpass their cut-throat contemporaries and climb to the top of their career paths? How many people get manipulated, exploited and trampled on directly because of their kindness? The sad truth is, nice guys often finish last and being a genuinely sweet person comes with a distinct set of drawbacks. This isn’t information complied from research and statistics, this opinion is based on my own personal experiences. It is because of this theory that this year, I aim to walk that narrow tightrope between being Mrs. Doormat and the archetypical bitch. Could 2012 see the emergence of a new, revised ‘bitch’?
It was a few days before Christmas that a close family friend warned me that I was in danger of becoming a push-over, a person easily walked over because I showed no signs of retaliation or true confidence. I could easily list off all the things that had deeply hurt me, actions by my ‘friends’ or ‘family’ that were shocking or malicious. But when it came to what I would do next…that wasn’t so easy. I was a poor parody of the independent and no-bullshit persona’s I admired. I was deflated. It slowly dawned on me that being nice had got me absolutely nowhere. I was frustrated, disappointed and most of all furious. So, in the last few months of my adolescent I decided that this chapter of my life needed to end in more ways than one. I needed to empower myself with the respect that others had repeatedly denied me. The pity-party was over and it was time to usher in a hardened, tougher version of myself.
But could this new, reinforced exterior serve as just a façade to a broken and damaged interior? Were the women defined by the word ‘bitch’ the result of hurt and abuse? It seemed that a nice girl would have to compromise her own natural feelings, unwillingly developing a bitter, cynical outlook as a defence mechanism. Within female interaction, it seemed to be a survival technique to be meaner, harder, bitchier then the next girl; in the jungle of predators sizing each other up, being ‘kind’ was a fatal flaw.
The good girl gone bad dichotomy is a sad reflection of society, that innocence and trust are useless flaws. Respect has to be won with an almost Machiavellian perspective, it’s a dog eat dog world and it’s futile to resist it. The celebrated feminist, Joreen Freeman wrote, Bitches are aggressive, assertive, domineering, overbearing, strong-minded, spiteful, hostile, direct, blunt, candid…A Bitch takes shit from no one. You may not like her, but you cannot ignore her.
And so it finally seemed that becoming a bitch was not a choice, but a necessity. As the world develops more and more vicious cyber bullying and deeper self-loathing, every young woman is confronted with the reality that you can either be a bitch or a bitch’s victim. Being passive and generous gives solace to a fool.
In the next twelve months, I will tread the line between being an assertive, confident young woman and a mean, callous bitch. I refuse to be demeaned, disrespected or exploited by anyone or anything. This year, I aim to ruthlessly put myself first, to quell my own naivety and see people for what they really are. I aim to bury the trusting, giving, nice person I used to be and emerge as a hard, detached and guarded young woman. But despite all this, I can’t help but feel a distinct air of sadness; whatever happened to loveliness?