You Said What Now?

I got a bit peeved yesterday. One of my friends was called a Bitch for advocating. I’ve been there.  I know this woman, she isn’t a Bitch. She knows her stuff. She won’t take BS. She won’t back down simply because someone else has another opinion or has power.  But she isn’t a Bitch. And you shouldn’t call her one – not only is it inaccurate, but it is disrespectful.  And that poise that she shows as someone calls her a Bitch (either directly or in whispers), shouldn’t be mistaken for weakness – that is her strength in action.  See, she is strong beyond measure, and in that moment, and in so many moments, she is channelling her energy into making a positive impact on the world.

So, why the Bitch comment? Why do so many of us get called Bitch in its various forms (“pushy,” “unseemly,” “unladylike,” “mannish” to name a few). Why are we defined not by who we are but by who we are not, by the expectations we are breaking… with breaking expectations being a BAD thing?

Logic isn’t the sole domain of men any more than emotion is the sole domain of women. To live in these binaries is fundamentally disrespectful and disempowering to all genders. A woman holds the potential to think critically just as much as anyone else. A man holds the potential for empathy just as much as anyone else. The universe of human experience lives within each of us, the potential for everything is there: “good,” “bad,” “male,” “female,” “straight,” “gay,” “saint,” “sinner,” and all of the beautiful in betweens. Spoiler alert: Look at any type of spectrum… Get out that prism and look at some light… go ahead, I’ll wait. Did you see it? Most everything lies in between.

So back to my friend, “The Bitch.” Some of you reading this might be thinking “OMG, is she talking about me??!!” Well, probably not, but in a greater sense, yeah, probably. I have a lot of friends who have stories like this. I have stories like this. We are strong, we are many, and we are growing. We catch flack for it, yet still, we keep going.

I have a wonderful uncle who many years ago helped me clarify things. He is a faithful man by profession, heart, and soul, and he said that as long as I was pure of heart and stuck to my values… truly stuck to them, even and especially when it was tough… then I would be fine. It’s as simple and as complex as that. It isn’t rocket science, but it takes a lot of self examination.  It involves asking questions such as “That felt satisfying.  Do I feel good about it?” and “Did I do that because I believed it was best or because I wanted it to be so?” Sometimes the answers are mixed: “I believed it was best but I also wanted it to be so, so I gotta figure out what that’s about…” And sometimes the answers are clear but tough: “You know you can’t take that opportunity – it’s lucrative, and it would solve some problems for you, but it doesn’t align with your values.” But whatever it is, as long as I clarify my values and stay true to them as best I can, I’ll be alright.

If you think I’m a Bitch or my friends are Bitches, then that’s alright… I’ve got a clause in my code about that. It is a milkshake of Self Reflection, Taking Responsibility, and General Self Esteem. It goes like this:

1) Check to see if you were being honest (with yourself and others)

2) Check to see if you were being kind (to self and others)

3) Check to see if you were being thoughtful (of self and others)

4) Check your motivations

5) Check for miscommunications

6) If you can honestly say you were thoughtful, honest, intentional and kind in your exchange, then you are okay.  If you can’t, own your part and take appropriate action to resolve the situation. And remember, you don’t know what you don’t know, so you can ask your friends.  (I once saw a sign for kids that said “THINK before you speak – is it True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, Kind?” – I like that, I strive for that… kids get the best advice…)

Sometimes you are going to do all of that and people are still going to think you are a Bitch… that’s on them, that is their stuff.  I wish it didn’t happen, I wish we were all a bit kinder to each other.  Whatever our gender or identity or community, we needn’t build ourselves up by tearing each other down. To my fellow “Bitches”: I love you, I admire you, and I got you. And remember that the fire that burns inside you can help light someone’s path.

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