This post was originally shared on January 14, 2015.
Whoa there, let me finish that for you. Beautiful, Confident, Witty, Gracious, Fearless, Strong, Educated, Thoughtful, Conscious, Grounded, but definitely not now, and not ever a BITCH!
I'll be the first to admit, that against all attempts by my parent's fabulous child rearing and tips for "being a proper lady", I savor the sounds of curse words as they grace my teeth and tongue and escape my mouth. Whether it's the hard consonants sandwiching strong nasal or guttural vowels or feeling like a complete rebel, these words seem to strengthen from the core and release some sort of thrilling high. (Not that I know what that feels like at all, or maybe that one night or semester in college in the woods because all the cool kids were doing it too but wait what? Never, Mom! I promise! )
Now, I hope this hasn't shattered the lovely image of me as this prim and proper lady with mouth of roses and words of rainbows, ponies and meadows pink and perfect with a sunset on the ocean. If you thought I was that person, then you clearly haven't been reading the "write" blog. Ha! See what I did there. I'm not above puns!
I like to think that I'm not as bad as "the others" I hear here in Manhattan. There is a time and a place for profanity, among friends, screaming at the television over a horrible call by the replacement refs that nearly killed our entire season. Not bitter. At. ALL. Or maybe when a rogue cab driver thinks he's driving a drag race instead of 6th Avenue. Even, when someone rushing past to get to work bumps into you spilling your $5.89 triple no-whip latte. All appropriate, however, use sparingly. I'm not ashamed to admit that a part of me cringes when I hear the valley girl favorite "like, replaced with "eff this".
More important than this pleasant and courteous PSA to keep the smack talk to a minimum, is the deeper issue.
If I'm sharing my own personal opinion or reaction or even just a thought, crafted after years of life experiences, education, influences by people who've graced my life with inspiration and guidance, and usually several pro/con lists made in my exploding filing cabinets of a brain, why am I a BITCH?
Just because we have the power to house the difference of opinions, views, morals and beliefs in each and every one of our bodies, we have the power of speech to express those. Most of us, lucky enough to live in the US, have a constitutional law that allows us to freely express ourselves without any government involvement at all, within specific guidelines. But then, what part of this makes it ok to label and judge those who speak their minds, especially when it differs from what's inside ours?
I hear "Oh, she's just a b*tch" or "he's being a d*ck" as an excuse to justify someone's actions and words in ways that they differ from our own. And that's what it is. Just an excuse to continue living in the boxes we put ourselves in.
Now, I know you're thinking. "But I love saying it! It just rolls right off the tongue and sometime's she is just being such a b*tch!"
Then fine, go ahead. This is, by no means a resolution to abolish these terms, but to bring awareness to how we address conflict resolution. We learn on the playground to solve issues with words and to choose them carefully.
Let us take a moment to time travel to a middle school hallway in which my first, and probably only, moments of confrontation and verbal vindication occurred.
After several weeks of harsh, verbal bullying about my pleasantly plump body dressed awkward denim overalls with Airwalks and horribly permed hair, (all pictures have been burned so don't even bother to ask), I had finally had it with my antagonist. The night previous to the "incident", I had shared my concerns with my parents. Their usual pep-talk and words of encouragement to "let it go" (shockingly, people used this before Frozen" hadn't got far and I was in tears over having to return to school the next day. We started to brainstorm ways that I could address the issue face to face and still keep things civil, but nothing felt right. Jokingly, my wise father suggested something a bit more direct. A question I posed to the bully, that will always give me a chuckle until my last breath.
So with my amo in my back pocket, I confidently made my way to the hallways. Of course, I saw the boy as soon as the bell rang and the remarks started coming. Each one rolled off my back as I bit my tongue, rehearsing the one line in my head for proper delivery.
As I approached our lockers I heard, "oh look! It's an earthquake!" to the cackling boys surrounding our lockers. I just smiled and put my things away.
As we approached the classroom, quietly, I turned and sincerely asked, "Did your mother really give birth to you OR did she find you under a rock?"
MIC DROP! WIN! I shut him up.
After his friends stopped laughing at him, he responded with a weak, "Whatever Fatty!" just as our hometown teacher walked by. Double WIN!
Bully got hauled off to the office in tears and a "she started it" which everyone knew was a bunch of bull. Of course, I then had to explain to the guidance counselor, who nearly spit her coffee out, when I told her what I said. She wasn't amused, or even proud, that I took things into my own hands and required both of us to write apology notes to each other for inappropriate behavior. Way to go, public educators dealing with bullys! You nailed it!
My note was as follows:
I apologize for how I acted today in homeroom. I am not sorry for what I said. I chose my words carefully."
Sure, I could have stayed quiet, kept my mouth shut, and allowing him to torment me for the rest of my schooling. Instead, without months of hateful words, but humor and a question, I got him and he stopped.
Looking back, I'm proud of that girl. I'm also a bit proud of that boy. He's grown up and turned out to be a pretty nice guy. I wonder if he remembers any part of that story and only the feeling of pure surprise and astonishment.
It's easy to use hurtful words to express our anger when the harder words just can't form. Sharing how we truly feel is difficult and when anger, judgement fuels our emotions, those curses just seem to help lighten the mood or fill the empty void. Saying "she's a b*tch" is less time consuming than discussing why she feels differently than you do. Maybe that "b*tch" had a reasoning to her actions that you just don't, can't or won't see, but give her the benefit to show her whole self. Usually, those snap decisions about people are made with little to no solid information. We are so quick to pass judgement with nasty words of negativity instead of realizing how hurtful it's become.
Call me an optimist or even crazy to hope that one day we can speak kindly about others and actually mean it. Treat others you want to be treated? Who knew? Maybe you and "the b*tch" like the same TV show, or maybe go to similar spinning classes, hell, maybe you'll even become friends. Too far? Even scarier, what if you're actually "the b*tch"? Terrifying, right? Imagine what it would be like knowing that others liked you as much as you liked them? Or even just tried! I promise it doesn't hurt as much as the years of Botox to remove frown lines. Did I just solve World Peace? Probably not, Girl Scout Cookies are still just once a year.
Of course, it won't be tomorrow, and it's not a resolution I take on lightly, but I choose to believe that the more I view people in a positive light, the more they sparkle and shine. And hey, maybe they'll even surprise you?