THE B*TCH FACTOR
She stands out from other women, most notably for the strength of her personality and her knowledge of her own worth. She is determined, dynamic, fierce and passionate. Whether by her looks, lifestyle or talent, she displays confidence in what she believes and the actions she takes.
And, chances are, she’s been labelled a “b*tch”.
Let’s say that again… “b*tch”.
What a word. See how it kind of explodes on your lips?
The tone is important – if you put all your effort into the “bi” part and mix it with appropriate scorn and loathing, the end result is something quite unique, remarkably scornful and, when applied appropriately, can be deeply satisfying.
It’s unfair to men that no similar word exists in the lexicon for them. What can you call a guy? A jerk? A bastard? A prick? The last one is pretty nasty, but unfortunately, I end up judging the person who uses it rather than the person it’s aimed at.
None of these words really encompass what “b*tch” can achieve.
I’ve heard some women on television call a man “a rat” with quite good effect. But it seems you need to have the right personality to pull it off. I can’t imagine a quiet but effective “you rat”. But if you want to use “b*tch”, the possibilities are endless.
WHAT’S A B*TCH ANYWAY?
For decades, the term b*tch has been applied to strong, confident women as a derogatory term – used mainly by those who feel threatened by the power of a fearless woman to achieve her goals without asking permission.
Let’s face it: there are ‘good girls’ and there are ‘bad girls’. Good girls conform and please. Good girls follow rules set by others and their farthest aim in life is to stay in their own lane. They might act out here and there, but they expend most of their energy in being satisfactory and keeping the approval of others.
It seems that possessing any one of the following personality traits could see you wrongly labelled a b*tch:
You are honest.
If you state your mind without holding back, you’re probably labelled a b*tch. Being honest without care for the consequences, will almost certainly see you labelled as such.
You are confident.
You exude tons of confidence. You know you are awesome and you like everyone around you to know as well.
You don’t need approval.
You don’t really care what others think of you. You will say and do what you want to, regardless of others’ opinions.
You get what you want.
When women are working to get what they want, they are considered selfish. It has been seen time and time again, with career-minded women who are considered as such because they are ambitious and tough in the office.
You are assertive.
If you’re assertive, you’re most likely put into this box. You know what you want and you’re not afraid to get it. You will speak up in meetings, tell your friends what you think, and send food back to the kitchen if it’s not as you ordered.
You don’t apologise.
To be strong willed means that you are not sorry for the way you act. You’re comfortable with others feeling offended and, as long as you’re true to yourself, you’re not going to apologise for it.
You don’t hold back.
You get to show all of you. You are not afraid to hold back your opinions, hold back doing what you want, or hold back on having fun. It means living your life to the fullest with a no holds barred attitude.
Ultimately, true confidence comes from within and this quality drives a so-called b*tch. Today’s modern woman listens to her inner voice. She trusts herself and her decisions. She lives unapologetically and by her own standards, goes against the grain, and bucks conformity and social expectations in order to build her strength (and reputation).
THE WORKPLACE B*TCH
Right now, hundreds of Australia’s most successful business leaders are focused on their work. They’re negotiating deals, driving hard bargains and demanding results. They may even by denying promotions, dressing down sales executives for failing to meet quotas, or sternly notifying an assistant that it’s time to clear out their desk.
They’re doing all of this without the slightest fear of being called a b*tch. Why? Because they’re men of course.
For the twenty female CEOs rounding out the Fortune 500 – and for the countless other women battling it out in the business world – daily interactions aren’t so easy.
They’re stalked by a nagging fear, one that dilutes ambitions, slows progress and ultimately sabotages the success they’ve already attained. Because, as much as women want to be thought of as smart, assertive and worthy of respect, we certainly don’t want to be thought of as a b*tch.
Or do we? After all, the term “b*tch” is really just a rhetorical tool for turning confidence, dignity and power into things that are unseemly. It’s a personal attack that’s used to make any woman who seeks or displays these characteristics into something ugly, fearful, even bestial. It’s short, it’s used to keep us in our place and out of the old boys’ club.
The hope expressed by so many is that if we can get rid of the word, we will encourage strong-minded girls to be leaders in business and the community.
Women and girls who wield power often fly in the face of a feminine stereotype. The use of power can mean that someone else isn’t getting to use their power. Let’s not forget that competition is everywhere – it’s in the workplace, the community, in the classroom and on the playground. And, one way to get a female to drop her power is to call her a b*tch.
When I think about it, there are lots of other ‘B’ words we can encourage women to be: be balanced, be buoyant in the face of resilience, maintain your professional behaviour, dare to be brilliant because you know you can be, be brave in the face of criticism, be bold because your track record says a lot about you, and befriend others who can sponsor you and your success.
Or, perhaps it’s time we just flipped the script and stopped letting the label hold us back. Maybe we need to toss out the endless stream of business tips for female leaders and replaced them with one golden rule – be a b*tch.
After all, when I think of women who are in very powerful roles and who have achieved a great deal of success. Women like Oprah, Sheryl Sandberg, Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, Angelina Jolie, Madonna and Kylie; I know that they have never let a little ‘B’ word stand in their way.
Words Jayne Flaherty