Monday, November 17, 2008

In Celebration of Bitchitude

Hat tip to Jo Freeman, aka Joreen, who in the 70s wrote The Bitch Manifesto. I love this manifesto, and reprinted it in the 90s as a xerox booklet which I sent out over the riot grrl zine network. Later I read Jo Freeman's more academic writing and found her to be an academic writer I could admire wholeheartedly; she's right up there with Joanna Russ and Dale Spender. Her books on politics and the history of feminism are incredibly great. I recommend her newest book, We Will Be Heard: Women's Struggles for Political Power in the United States if you are feeling politically inspired by the elections and want to keep your momentum going. On her website, you can read the full text of many of Jo Freeman's articles on women, feminism, law, and politics. I talk about this sort of thing a lot: The Sexual Politics of Interpersonal Behavior; it is so nice to read it written up formally and coherently. Take a look!

I greatly respect that Freeman acknowledges her pseudonymous younger self, and her fierce & harsh manifesto, and doesn't keep that side of her life in the closet.

Jo Freeman

The Bitch Manifesto still inspires me. Here's part of its beginning:

Bitches have some or all of the following characteristics.

1) Personality. Bitches are aggressive, assertive, domineering, overbearing, strong-minded, spiteful, hostile, direct, blunt, candid, obnoxious, thick-skinned, hard-headed, vicious, dogmatic, competent, competitive, pushy, loud-mouthed, independent, stubborn, demanding, manipulative, egoistic, driven, achieving, overwhelming, threatening, scary, ambitious, tough, brassy, masculine, boisterous, and turbulent. Among other things. A Bitch occupies a lot of psychological space. You always know she is around. A Bitch takes shit from no one. You may not like her, but you cannot ignore her.

2) Physical. Bitches are big, tall, strong, large, loud, brash, harsh, awkward, clumsy, sprawling, strident, ugly. Bitches move their bodies freely rather than restrain, refine and confine their motions in the proper feminine manner. They clomp up stairs, stride when they walk and don't worry about where they put their legs when they sit. They have loud voices and often use them. Bitches are not pretty.

3) Orientation. Bitches seek their identity strictly thru themselves and what they do. They are subjects, not objects. They may have a relationship with a person or organization, but they never marry anyone or anything; man, mansion, or movement. Thus Bitches prefer to plan their own lives rather than live from day to day, action to action, or person to person. They are independent cusses and believe they are capable of doing anything they damn well want to. If something gets in their way; well, that's why they become Bitches. If they are professionally inclined, they will seek careers and have no fear of competing with anyone. If not professionally inclined, they still seek self-expression and self-actualization. Whatever they do, they want an active role and are frequently perceived as domineering. Often they do dominate other people when roles are not available to them which more creatively sublimate their energies and utilize their capabilities. More often they are accused of domineering when doing what would be considered natural by a man.

It's nice to read this, to remember & honor my own bitchy moments for what they often are: strength. I think it's good for all of us to honor our bitchiest sisters. Go ahead and think of the most annoying bitch you know. Measure her up to Freeman's manifesto and consider what in her is admirable and powerful. It's a good thing to keep in mind when you might be tempted to tear someone down. There's nothing wrong with being a nice person; I strive for it myself -- and still, for me, Bitchy is Beautiful and Bitchy is Powerful.

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14 comments:

barbarabaker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
barbarabaker said...

I myself am a very passive person and when I try to be bitchy it comes off as being a whiner...a pathetic, annoying whiner. I do however have a friend that has always had the "bitchiness" down to a tee. I admire her for her strong will to do what she feels is best no matter who she walks over to get it. She has people at her fingertips and the respect pouring at her feet.

I was never one to argue, stand up for myself nor fight for what I think is right...I just sort of let things happen and deal with it. Boy, do I wish I could be like my friend most times!

Great post, I also admire your skill for writing because I can't even do that, everytime I've tried to be myself, to speak my mind and act "bitchy" so to speak, my readers start fading off. As you can tell, I'm just not cut out for being "true" to myself!!!

*** If I were to win; what I'd do with my prize is share it with three other families that have really been there for my family and. I think that it feels great to give something so spectacular to someone very unsuspecting. Trust me, my friends would never think that we would be able to do something like this since we (my family) never have money to buy a simple little birthday card.

Here's my site too: http://www.momfor4.blogspot.com

-barbarabaker :)

christine said...

This is per your request for the HP contest. I like what I've seen of your blog.

This particular post reminds me of a saying I heard from somewhere: "You say Bitch like it was bad or something." (or something along that line.)

I see a whole lot of myself in the third category - Orientation. I do lots of things that are, or have been, considered male territory and enjoy every minute of it!! My mother and sister are two others that I would classify as 'bitches' as well. Mom was very forceful, her way or the highway. My sister follows in the same footsteps. (She'd swat me if she ever heard that she's just like mom!!)

I hang out at several sites, one I'm going to keep private. The one I'm going to link to is the one that alerted me to this contest: http://www.dailykos.com/

christine said...

PS. I forgot to say how I would 'share the magic'. I would give it to the Salvation Army of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. They lost their facility to the Floods of this past June 12-15. Despite having lost lots, they continued to provide help to the community during the time of crisis and during clean up. They have been helping in some way since the Floods began.

Only-Child said...

I only wish that I would have read this when I was in high school or even in my early twenties. All the times I’ve been described in one word loud, I could have easily pointed where I was heading in my life and how my voice was going to get me there. Even now as I have just turned thirty reading those words lets me know that even as a late bloomer there is no reason for me to be ashamed of my outspokenness; sometimes saying the thing that everyone at the table is thinking but being the only one with the balls to do it. I don’t know if the Bitch Manifesto is still in print, but I’m sure with a few clicks on my computer I should be able to track one down. It could be just what I need to give myself the confidence to live my life in my thirties much unlike what my parents envisioned for me, and instead exactly how I have them envisioned for myself.

Hell, if I wish that I would have read your post only a few days ago before the Holidays and all the questions of when or if I will ever get married and all the questions of “Don’t you want babies” came in. It’s almost like now that I’m thirty everyone is watching my ovaries shrivel before their very eyes. I can only say thank you now, that yes I only found your blog because of the contest, but if I can say in the most un-sucking up way I know how; I am glad to have found a blog that offers not only a feminist view, but incorporates a lot of the things that I love and enjoy about the internet and the space I take up in it.

I would share the magic by sharing with a family who shared their family and home with me in high school when I had no one else to lean on. This family of 7 is lead by an amazing mother who home schools 3 of the 5 children and there is only one computer for the family to share; one that is only upgraded piece by piece. The laptops would only be one small token of repayment for their generosity but a token none the less.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/32605485@N02/3071413906/




http://www.only-childsyndrome.com

Thank you.

meg said...

I just found your site and saw this amazing contest going on! yea for contests during the holidays! It's a tight year in our household this year as the hubs was recently laid off from the job that brought us down here last december, while i was 9 months pregnant! (talking about bitchiness at it's height!)

and so i thought I'd enter and try my luck... who knows... :)

I read through the past 15 or so posts and this one really stood out to me. There is a difference between being a bitch and acting like a bitch in my mind. being a bitch means that you are taking the necessary control to get 'it' done. acting like a bitch means you have nothing good to say, nothing good to do and you are being selfish. (in short). there is a fine line between the two - and it all comes down to attitude. you can go the mean-bitch route or the bitch who's getting it done for the betterment of the situation/team/etc.
I remember someone telling me that Bitch meant - Babe In Total Control of Herself... and to me, that's a good thing. It doesn't mean you are a feminist - it doesn't mean that you are anti-chivalry. It means that you know better to rely on other people for getting what needs to be done, done. I can't help but think of that song from the 90s called BITCH... it was a perfect explination and your blog reminded me that it's ok to be a bitch and to remember that it's just part of standing up for yourself and what you believe in.


How I'll share the HP Love...
We're getting a new elementary school in the village as well as a new middle school. I'd love to donate to our small town - it's been a good place (in the year we've lived here) to raise our family and I really believe that it's best to give back and support the community that you are living in/raising your family in. <3

come follow me...my blog is:
Life in the Village http://theeverittfamilyblog.blogspot.com/

Resa Simon said...

This post astounded me because today bitch is used in a very negative light. Domination is more of a man's field than a woman's supposedly.

I however, see myself as a bitch when it comes to my job and my education, because these are very important aspects of my life.

I however am a kind and compassionate personality and that's why I spend alot of time donating and exposing the St. Jude's Children Cancer Research Center, I have a passion for children becuse I cannot yet have my own.

Being bitch for the right causes pushes us further than we can ever imagined. I see women like Condaleeza Rice and Oprah as bitches, just because they had to push harder and be a force to reckon with to get where they are today.

The Bitch as a personality trait works vey well but never without an ending goal or destination, why be a bitch for nothing and that is why we should make it count.

I have never seen the bitch articles befor now and I never though that anyone would write how great of a trait it really is.

Looking at Margaret Thatcher as the female prime minister of England, how much of a bitch she was, is an understatement. I bet she was the most compassionate person with those who were close to her but her job required strong resolve to get things done. We are women but the best us can put our personal feelings aside, and lead better than any man. We have aspects of our emotional Personalities that make us fierce enemies and trusted allies.

I do not permit walking over people because you never know who you will be working with to get things done. However, I do allow putting people who are lazy wonderers with no purpose aside to get where you need to go which is what the 5% among us as a nation do to be rich.

The Bitch is what my friends call me at times because I take no prisoners but that is just me, I use the greatest trait "Bitch" for good causes that bring peace of mind and strength to others.

If we as women stand up for ourselves both in our careers and with our families we will see that getting positive things done takes much less work that being passive and another person's door mat.

If I were to win this contest, I would keep one for myself as the one I had is no longer working I use the cyber cafe on my corner, One I would give to my mom who went back to school to be a nurse, which I am very proud of by the way but she is not computer literate and this will put her in a better position to get there. The others I will Donate to Greeley Elementary School who started their Computer Program for 1-5th Graders but they do not have enough to go around.

Education is important to me and it will be important for the next generation to excel and be prepared for the future in technology and Science.

My Job is to help people and that is what I do for a living. The link I am posting goes to my company's website that shows how we do just that www.metropa.com/rsimon.

Girl-Woman said...

My inner bitch seems to come out at the same time every month. I wonder why? lol

I am passing this on to my lovely bitchy sisters. I mean that in the nicest way possible.

CarolinHouston said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I'm a BITCH! An ex-co-worker called me a bitch numerous times, anyway. Does that count? He's an older man, steeped in 1960s culture, so perhaps he knew about this Bitch Manifesto and meant it as a compliment. :-)

I worked part-time in an all-male department for five years. I worked really hard, did a terrific job, and begged for more work. I watched in dismay as I saw the males in the department give all the work to their less-qualified male buddies.

I hoped that my co-workers would change and then I finally came to my senses. I realized that the only thing that was going to change was ME. I got out.

Now, I'm working on my own as a consultant and continuing to contribute to this group here: Group Study. I like the idea of group study. We're part support group and part nerdy/tekkie geek group.

These days, in my new role as a consultant, when I show my competence and confidence, I'm called a valuable contributor, not a BITCH. Wow! That's so cool.

So, um, I admit that I'm posting because I want to win the HP computers. If I win, I will give the computers to these folks here:

Women's Resource Center.

They could do whatever they want with them, but I'm thinking a good use would be to give them away to women students who can't afford a computer.

At first I thought perhaps they could create a lab for women. But that might not be the best use. The Center already has a homey meeting place with couches and easy chairs and great art where people get together and talk and support each other, sans computers, iPhones, Blackberries, or other devices. It's a lovely, low-tech respite for students who spend most of their time in front of screens and need face-to-face networking.

miriama said...

Wow. This brings back memories. I am a woman who has lost her bitch. The bitch that was her best friend and the bitch that was me. So....two bitches. We were wild, crazy, brash, loud, outrageous, fun, insane, and no one could say we blended into the crowd. Then I lost it all. I lost her and myself.

I spiraled down somewhere whiny, crying, soft, pliant and clinging. Now I am in therapy. I hope to get that spunk back. Okay, let's call it what it is: BITCHINESS. Not that lash out crap but the true ME who knows who I am and what I want. And no, my therapy isn't a crutch but the first time in a long time that I have done something for me. JUST ME.

I like your posts and hey, what's with the picture? I like that, too.

If I won the prizes I would like to say I would donate them to the woman's center I send things to. But I have 2 kids, 3 stepkids, a husband and parents. LOL I would see who needs what the most, who would do the most with what I gave them and spread the wealth accordingly.

Here is MY pathetic attempt at blogging: http://miriama59.blogspot.com/

Listen Up, MoFos! said...

Dear Liz:
I remember when I first read this manifesto on your blog. While I agree with the three main posts, I do take exception with two things on there: that bitches are not pretty. According to who??? And pretty by what or whose standards? And that bitches are big. Most women in my family are under 5' 5" (I am just 4' 11") and the bitchiest Bitch I know is my little sister Manuela. She lives her life to the fullest, gives her all to everything she does and to her loved ones. She's currently in Vancouver working on a PhD on Gender Studies and taking care of her 6 month old baby at the same time, no matenity leave, no sitter or nothing. She has always stood up for what was right and just. She founded (yes, really!) the Animal Rights movement in Chile which continues to grow even to this day. And she's beautiful inside and out. I don't know you but I have a feeling, from your writing and tweets that you are also a beautiful Bitchy Bitch!

If I won the HP Giveaway contest, I would keep a laptop and printer and then Share the Magic by giving everything else to the Mission Graduates Tutoring Center. Check this out and you'll see why: http://news.eltecolote.org/news/view_article.html?article_id=211e268f4b161f44aa5501c3a84f15e7

My blog is http://listenupmofos.blogspot.com

SI SE PUEDE!!!

UMR MAYA said...

Growing up, Mom always taught me that the term Bitch was a word of empowerment. She said that men would use the word in order to demoralize a woman. I think by taking power of the word and using it as a word that makes you stronger as a person, it helps demolish the negative side of the word. I can proudly say I am a bitch. I stand up for myself and don't let anyone push me around. I have found this is not something a woman can learn by mimicking someone else. To acquire such bitchiness, a woman has to have been raised under that ideal, been scorned by men, or been through traumatic experiences such as abuse and rape and then become stronger through recovery.
I was raised under the ideal and unfortunately have been through the traumatic experience of rape (and chose to come out with the idea that what doesn't kill you will make you stronger... and it did).

If I win the HP Magic Giveaway, I will use it in my classroom where I teach math to underprivileged children of the inner city. I think by sharing the technology with them, it would make them feel important as well as help them achieve academically in all of their courses.

This is my mom's site. I love her pictures and the simplicity of it. http://www.thelandofmoo.com/

Auriette said...

Many women are proud to call themselves a bitch, but why? In my mind, a bitch is someone who is rude, obnoxious, self-centered, and mean. I applaud a strong woman, but I don't think you have to be obnoxious and mean to be strong or opinionated.

The other thing that bothered me about the manifesto is that you have to be big and ugly to be a bitch. I've known some small, attractive women who are spiteful and argumentative and could rightfully be classified as bitches. Besides, if this manifesto is intending to inspire women to be bitches, why is it excluding a large portion of the class?

By the way, if this post is selected as the winner of the HP Magic Giveaway, I would keep one of the laptops and donate the others to the community theatre where I work. We all have old, slow computers, so these would be a blessing, and the portability would make them useful for our traveling shows. Visit the PLT website at http://www.PensacolaLittleTheatre.com