Manuscript Monday: “Bitch”
Readers! Welcome to a new feature on the blog I’m calling Manuscript Monday. It’s a chance for you to get a preview of my book during the editing process as well as an opportunity for me to hold my procrastinatin’ ass accountable to the three of you who are still reading my blog on a regular basis. Enjoy!
I can’t remember the moment I was labeled bitch for the first time, but it sure wasn’t in the blogosphere of 2008. It was well before the blogosphere, let alone the World Wide Web, even existed. The first time I was called a bitch, the home computer of choice was a Vic 20, capable of playing Pong and calculating to eight decimal points but not much else.
Boys called me bitch. Girls called me bitch. I remain, as always, an equal opportunity threat.
What they call rage, I recognize as power. The constant challenge is to prevent this force from turning within, for those who keep their truths to themselves self-destruct at an alarming rate. Lady Lazarus may have had nine times to die, but Sylvia Plath didn’t.
Honesty is a weapon. It threatens the dominant, it questions authority, and it upends embedded systems, even systems as relatively benign as the typical suburban high school, which is why I couldn’t get a date until I was eighteen.
Male honesty is intrepid. Female honesty is hostile.
Medusa and Medea. The Sirens. Salome, rewarded for her sensuality with John the Baptist’s head on a platter (a mistake—she should have demanded his saintly balls). Eve and the sweet-tasting apple. Delilah and her lover’s soft hair. Madonna once said, “I’m tough and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay.” OKAY!
Assertive men are admired. Assertive women are unpleasant, unattractive, unsympathetic. As Barack Obama said to Hillary Clinton: “you’re likeable enough.”
Some feminist softies tried to divert our attention with a celebration of something called the “uppity woman.” Derived, perhaps, from the legendary Laurel Thatcher Ulrich quote that “well behaved women rarely make history.” I like this idea, but not as much as I like the word BITCH. The word tears out of your mouth like a dog ripping the flesh off a bone—and not just any dog, either. A female one.
A briskly selling gift item over the winter holidays of 2007 was a nutcracker in the shape of Hillary Clinton’s pantsuited thighs. Between her legs was the fulcrum of her power, her Cunt as Destroyer. How obvious could you get?
By the way, a lot of feminists get very upset when anyone, male or female, uses the word “cunt.” I have also been tut-tutted for using “bitch,” though by now most folks agree that the B-word, when used by women, has a similar defanging effect as when gay folks call themselves “queer.” I have trouble explaining this nuance to my young son, however, who knows I had an essay published in Bitch magazine but is surprised when I ask him not to share this information with anybody.