Click! Go Ahead, Call Me a Bitch

Call me “castanets,” because I’ve had a gazillion “clicks” since I first declared myself a feminist. I was a teen in South Dakota, and after reading Robin Morgan’s Sisterhood Is Powerful in the early 1970s, I’ve been doing a joyous feminist flamenco ever since. But my first “bitch” click came a little later.

Standing in line at the supermarket with my cart of groceries, a man with some crackers and a six-pack of beer cut in front of me without so much as a “May I?” I said, “Excuse me. I’m in line here.”

He looked at me and said, “I’ve only got two things.” I replied, “Sorry.”

His response was a venomous and indignant “Bitch!” as he stormed off.

“Click.” After so many years, I got it. No matter how invisible, polite or accommodating I am, someone’s going to think I’m a bitch anyway, so I might as well embrace my own Inner Bitch and trot her out. There is absolutely no benefit in trying to be a non-bitch.

What is a non-bitch anyway? She is like the unicorn: a myth, a fantasy that some perpetually pre-teen men have dreamed up. A non-bitch is a woman/girl who personifies compliant beauty, who never gives a fella any trouble. She is always nice and understanding, never angry, doesn’t argue, doesn’t protect herself, her property or her views. She is always complimentary, remembers every detail about everything, never hurts feelings intentionally, or even unintentionally, always serves others first, always smiles and does what everyone asks of her or even doesn’t ask of her–like the man in the line who simply cut in front of me–and is polite all the time, with no complaint. I’m sure I’ve left something out, but since I’m a bitch I don’t pretend that I’m perfect.

Of course feminist women and men understand that women are human beings just as men are, warts and all. We understand that bitch is the equivalent of stud in the dog world–a designation of value. Bitches are key to the health and welfare of the world.

The more women who embrace, nay, celebrate their “bitchness,” the less “bitchy” we’ll all seem and the stronger we can all become. It’s poser non-bitches who really need to sign up for their bitch birthright.

Old habits die hard. I admit I’ll still flinch if someone calls me a bitch. But I must remember to be proud that I am not invisible and therefore pleasing to everyone and anyone. And I think of my favorite real-life bitch–my dog and companion, a Dalmatian named Pony. She’s dotted, faithful, loving, valuable, warm, nurturing, intelligent, affectionate–and she’s capable of ripping someone who attacks me or her other loved ones to ribbons. She’s a bitch and, except for the way she sheds and drools, I want to be just like her.

This post is a part of a week-long blog carnival in honor of Feminist Coming Out Day

Photo by Flickr user Jason M Green, under license from Creative Commons 2.0


  1. Yes! This is so well said, thanks!

  2. Dominique Millette says:

    Embrace or eschew, you say? Embrace. Embrace. Embrace!

  3. I have no problem with being called a bitch! I agree, it's just a woman that won't fall down and won't put up with crap from every direction. I guess I first realised how much I wanted to embrace the term bitch when Tina Fey took to Saturday night live Weekend Update to talk about Hillary Clinton for President. Her quotes of 'bitches get stuff done' and 'bitch is the new black' became my new favourite catch phrases whenever anyone expects me to let them walk over me.

  4. Oh. I love it.

  5. yoteech2002 says:

    The best response to someone who calls me a bitch is "Why thank you!" accompanied by a big smile. I have just been complimented! Imagine the world if we all adopt that behavior and response!

  6. Samantha says:

    Great Story, I think the word "bitch", its meaning, and how the meaning changes in the context it is used is so fascinating. I am only 19 studying technical theatre with the majority of my classmates being men (with large ego's, they have to compensate somewhere) So I am a strong woman with a strong-I am not going to let the boys talk over me- kinda gal, and I know in their minds that it makes me a "bitch" because I am making my voice heard and I am being assertive. I used to be really embarrassed and apologetic about it but now I have come own my inner and outer bitch, she gives me the strength to not give in, but stand up for myself and be heard amongst the deeper voices in the room.

  7. Thanks for this! I used to be pretty close to being a non-bitch! Patriarchy trained me well. By used to, I mean all of my life until last year. I was most of the things you listed but I was not myself! I am embracing my bitchyness now, but I still feel the guilt from time to time. I still think, "I used to be so nice!" after sticking up for myself or for others, or just not taking crap. It's a struggle to leave the guilt behind but its voices like yours that empower me to do so.

    What does "click" refer to?

  8. Lindsay Schutz says:

    Up until recently, I was afraid to embrace by innter bitch and speak up for myself, but now I have found my voice and if my friends and family don't like it, tough for them!

  9. I have a male friend who says "Never call a girl a bitch." I finally said to him, you can call me a bitch, lots of people do. He was so taken aback, saying I wasn't a bitch to which I responded "Yes am I, it's ok." So many people find the word offensive, but really it so closely resembles being honest. I mean every time I'm called a bitch it's because I've said something honest and true! I too, used to suffer from non-bitch compliance. Early on in college I decided that I couldn't live my whole life pretending and people will like me for the things I like about me, too.

  10. this is so funny. my husband is a country boy and was raised not to call women bitches. well when hes being a asshole I say so. He eventually told me if i kept it up he'd call me a bitch. I dont take treats well so i kept doing it. He called me a bitch the other day and I just laughed! It was so funny, I didnt see it as a insult at all. (which is good for my marriage). Its also a releif since i had no idea how i'd react. The last time i got called bitch it was from my brothers and i've never taken them seriously.

  11. Alaine Lowell says:

    Great! I agree woman have to stop the compliant act and tell it like it is!

  12. Deborah Yates says:

    Bitch is what I am called on a continuous basis, and have been called a bitch most of my life. (I just turned fifty.) You see… I have feminist parents. I love it, and I love the article.

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