Monday, February 17, 2014

Stop Calling Assertive Women Bitches

My daughter is three-years-old. She's scared of absolutely nothing and no one. She's wild, free, daring and a fire cracker. I love her spirit.

I see her. I truly see who she is at this young age. She's a force to be reckoned with. She's a strong little girl. One day, she will grow up to be a strong young woman. I can't wait to see that evolution take place.

Right now, however, her strength is interpreted various ways by society. Often people will refer to my daughter as "bossy," "demanding," "wild" or worse "a brat."

I'll tell you what my daughter is, she's assertive. She knows what she wants and she is not afraid (even at the young age of three) to get it. That's a skill to be proud of. That's a quality that needs to be nurtured and honed. This aspect of her personality should not be dulled, it should be harnessed and used for good.

My girl is a born leader. When people come up to me on the street and remark that my child is "wild," I often come back at them and say "that's okay, one day she's going to be the C.E.O of a large corporation. You just watch."

This view of powerful women being "bossy" starts at a young age. When I was a little girl, I believed the way to get others to like me was to be nice. I shouldn't be confrontational. I certainly should avoid hurting other people's feelings. Additionally, it would be wrong to express anger, because that would make me look "crazy" or "wild." The brainwashing from society starts young.

As an adult woman, whenever I've had the guts to express myself or stand up for what I believe in, I've blatantly been called "crazy" or a "bitch" or other pejorative terms for merely confidently expressing my opinion. Assertiveness is an asset. Assertive women are often mistaken for being "bossy bitches."

When a man asserts himself, society calls him a go-getter. People are impressed when a man stands up for himself or achieves his goals because we have been conditioned to believe that it is acceptable for men to be assertive. Women, on the other hand, are supposed to smile and be nice.

If a woman displays outward assertiveness, she is called "a bitch." Assertive women are not bitches. We're powerful, we're strong, we've got something to say and we're not afraid to say it.

The next time someone calls you a bitch, what they're really saying to you is "I am intimidated by the fact that you have a strong opinion and I'm not sure how to handle your confidence."

Back to my little daughter. I will continue to encourage her to be vocal about her opinions. I will tell her that her voice matters. I will encourage her to speak up, even when it seems like nobody is listening. Her voice is strong and it needs to be heard.

Stop calling assertive women bitches, and start calling them brave. Start referring to them as go-getters. Most importantly hear what they have to say.

5 comments:

  1. I ditched the word "bitch" altogether. I ditched it because it has no equivalent for men. It is specifically a derogatory word to describe women only. No such word for men exists. That’s how ingrained misogyny is in our culture. Because I can no longer tolerate it, because I so many women, the state of womanhood, and the contributions of women to my life, I have reached a place where I’m comfortable removing it from my own vocabulary.

    I feel that using the term “bitch” is destructive and perpetuates hatred specifically toward women. Not only hatred, but the idea that women are weak, and that it is inherently insulting to be a woman, to be associated with women, to have feminine gender qualities, to rely on women, or to respect women.

    As a feminist, I’m obviously with the women. And I absolutely will not use this word. I’ve also refuse to call somebody a “pussy”, as if pussies are somehow a bad thing. I refuse “bitchy”, “son of a bitch”, “bitching”, and “bitchfist”. I made up “bitchfist”. I kinda want to use it because it’s funny. But I won’t.

    Haha, kiss that girl for me. My big girl’s a leader too. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I ditched the word "bitch" altogether. I ditched it because it has no equivalent for men. It is specifically a derogatory word to describe women only. No such word for men exists. That’s how ingrained misogyny is in our culture. Because I can no longer tolerate it, because I love so many women, the state of womanhood, and the contributions of women to my life, I have reached a place where I’m comfortable removing it from my own vocabulary.

    I feel that using the term “bitch” is destructive and perpetuates hatred specifically toward women. Not only hatred, but the idea that women are weak, and that it is inherently insulting to be a woman, to be associated with women, to have feminine gender qualities, to rely on women, or to respect women.

    As a feminist, I’m obviously with the women. And I absolutely will not use this word. I’ve also refuse to call somebody a “pussy”, as if pussies are somehow a bad thing. I refuse “bitchy”, “son of a bitch”, “bitching”, and “bitchfist”. I made up “bitchfist”. I kinda want to use it because it’s funny. But I won’t.

    Haha, kiss that girl for me. My big girl’s a leader too. :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Such a nasty double standard that our culture sets and expects women to live up to. I've surrounded myself with strong, challenging and powerful women, and I know beyond a doubt that I'm a better person for it.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Having been called the B-word since kindergarten, I can certainly relate to the desire to see one's girl pre-schooler as 'assertive'. I am struck, however, by the lack of nuance about restraints around the darling's behavior when it comes to situations such as the use of manners or regard for others; consideration and the like. The absence of parental instruction concerning these dimensions of social life, in my experience -- as much as the double-standard applied to boy vs. girl children -- is what often contributes to the negative evaluations of young children's behavior. I glory in little girls' spunk, but I am repulsed when they exhibit no signs of ever having been introduced to the respect-engendering social constraints of the super-ego.

    ReplyDelete

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