The Artwork of Michael Divine

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On the Subject of Bitches

June 6th, 2013

Kali, detail

I think it’s interesting that when a man in charge is frank with his opinions, curt with his commands, and really sorta abrupt no-nonsense getting it done he is considered to be someone who knows how to lead and, quite often, is well-respected. He may not always even be the nicest guy yet something about him seems to command respect. In part, perhaps, it’s the fact that he’s intelligent, level-headed, and knows what he wants and, though he might even be a bit headstrong, he really does know how to do it. He may not even be the clearest and most honest person in every corner of his life but when it comes to work, he knows what he wants and how to get it and people seem to respect that.

Put a woman in his place, though, and people call her a bitch, if not to her face then behind her back.

When a woman is the one in charge – issuing commands and getting shit done (because that’s how you have to do it sometimes) – and knows what she wants and is intelligent, level-headed, and gets shit done… people have a hard time just accepting her as she is and instead cast this derogatory opinion of her.

I see it everywhere. In this community it’s really quite prevalent. Whenever a woman is forward and/or considered headstrong and/or non-nonsense and takes-no-shit – she’s often considered a bitch.

Plain and simple: that’s sexism. It’s a simple minded view of the world. To be honest, I have a lot of respect for my female friends who just go get shit done and lead. It’s not an easy thing to do and it challenges most men’s ideas of power.

See, it’s a funny paradox that gets created: women are told that they should be strong, powerful goddesses. They can just reach out and “manifest” they want. However, when they decide to be the one in charge… well… It seems to challenge these men who are supposedly so in touch with themselves. It’s a deeply ingrained belief system. While we have moved past the general ‘woman should stay home with the kids thing’ and beyond ‘women should always wear a bra’ we still have this issue, however subtle, with women in charge.

“That women just told me what to do in a stern no-nonsense kind of way! Christ! What a bitch!”

Why?

Because she told you what to do in a stern no-nonsense kind of way and now your man panties are in a bunch because you don’t feel like you’re in charge?

I interviewed some lady friends of mine recently… I am blessed to be friends with some wonderful and powerful women. I find them incredibly attractive. But then, I find people who know what they want and how to get it to be, in general, very attractive and the kind of people I want in my life.

Here are some thoughts on this subject from some women I know:

AB: “Now that I am in a role of more ‘authority’ I have experienced [this sexism] quite a bit. [My partner] can say the same thing I do and he is a strong leader and everyone loves him. Me – bitch. Until we (men and women!) uncover these attitudes and beliefs we will never be in truth with one another.”

KJ: “Oh… Wait… So there’s a chance I might not be as ‘bitchy and … radically self entitled’ as they said I am? I thought I was just looking out and being self reliant and responsible… That’s okay right? or wait, no..?

“I’ve seen it, and have been the recipient of it before… From ‘conscious’ dudes in our ‘community’. Honestly… it has made it challenging to feel community support, and instead, invokes feelings of shame and isolation, for being truthful and speaking it.

“Though I feel nervous publicly sharing this – and sorry if this sounds bitchy – it’s a place where I’ve been confused for some time.. especially upon immersing into this tribe (a more appropriate word than community in my opinion) When I didn’t assert myself, out of shyness and respect for others, it was labeled as unattractive or acquiescence. Then when I stopped being a doormat, grew a spine, and stood up for myself, while still being mindful about other’s feelings, I got the “bitchy and demanding” name tag by guys that I have seen walk all over people because they expected respect based on their popularity, status, etc. Okay, so I feel I deserve to be treated with respect. Does that alone make me entitled or demanding? Maybe so but I believe everyone deserves to be treated with respect. So is that really just me being bitchy and self entitled when I feel that everyone else deserves the same kindness that I expect, and that I get upset when I feel disrespected or see a fellow person being denied respect? Really, I feel sometimes like neither way of being is okay to others, and feels like an inner psychosis.. Catch 22, what to do? WTF? I’m glad to hear that maybe my feelings are valid and that maybe I’m not just the crazy bitch.”

AL: “I struggle with this. I get a reflection that I am cold/sharp/ unfriendly when people first meet me. I think they approach me when i’m super busy with lots of people around, or on my way to a gig or something, and then I get that label. Also I feel like less men are attracted to me or more intimidated by me and see me as less “feminine.” I want to be even more outspoken and expressive in the future while retaining and magnifying my femininity…what to do….”

EG: “This absolutely true… as a manager/leader in an industry that is completely male dominated, I frequently get this label. How to balance the masculine energy I am surrounded by with my own femininity has been challenging…”

As EG notes, it’s not easy balancing the seemingly more outspoken and forward masculine that one can be with the supposedly softer feminine. Before, we get caught up in gender and such, understand that masculine and feminine are just words – they are not male and female but are yin and yang – two sides of coin and opposite ends of a spectrum. They are present in all things and all people.

Men, over the years, have allowed each other a bit of wiggle room on that ‘male’ spectrum. There are words like ‘metrosexual’ and men are, in general, are allowed to be what they are, more and more. Personally, I like to paint my nails at festivals (makes them look cleaner) and, besides, I’m an artist – I think it takes a certain amount of male/female balance to be successful at that.

Yet, when women rock a bit farther towards the balance of that spectrum – towards the male/female balance – where they embody the masculine side needs to command at times – they get called ‘bitch’. It scares the men and intimidates the women.

Fuck that.

Let us all just be who we are. Let women lead when they must lead! Get out of the way of the good ideas! Let men lead when they must lead! If a woman counters you, treat her as anyone else: a HUMAN. A PERSON deserving of compassion, respect, and love. If we really are doing this together – and we are, there’s no doubt about that – if we really are making the world a better place TOGETHER – then we need to respect each other AS WE ARE, not as we wish we were.

The Artwork of Michael Divine

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