Ms. Understood

 

After a short hiatus from my blogging, I’m back…and I’ve had a few things on my mind.

 

In the last few weeks, I’ve had repeated run-ins with the following words: Bitch, Cat-ish (also known as the “rose-bush”). And last but not least, hostile (times three). Personally, I feel highly offended by these claims. When I react to them, I have been asked to “calm down” and stop acting” as though someone is out to get me.” Needless to say, these sentiments have all been expressed by a variety of guys, ranging from one total stranger, to someone who has been extremely close to me.

 

I wonder why I haven’t taken any of these comments lightly. I haven’t physically or verbally assaulted anyone, I haven’t cursed anybody out or called them names for no reason! I don’t consider myself to fit the “angry black woman” stereotype who is easily irritated, irrational and always out to get someone. In fact, I’m one of the most non-confrontational people you will ever meet, my friends will tell you that! So why the hell do these people think I’m hostile?

 

I’m really not angry with anyone. Ok, maybe a little bit. I don’t think I’m angry with these men as individuals. But I am a little bit angry with the system. Why am I a bitch when I ignore a man who randomly decides to talk to me at a bar in a not-so-polite way? Why am I hostile when I interrogate one of my male friends about the ridiculous ways they choose to talk about women? When I started writing up this entry, I googled the word ‘bitch.’ The very first website which came up was Bitch Magazine which happens to be a feminist commentary on media, pop-culture, news, and everyday things which deserve some kind of critical inquiry. I read a little bit and discovered that a woman is usually a bitch when she:

 

“refuses to ignore the contradictory and sometimes uncomfortable details that constitute the realities of life in an unequivocally gendered world….when it’s being used as an insult, ‘bitch’ is an epithet hurled at women who speak their minds, who have opinions and don’t shy away from expressing them, and who don’t sit and smile uncomfortably if they’re bothered or offended. If being an outspoken woman means being a bitch, we’ll take that as a compliment, thanks.” 

 

I don’t think this insight is particularly novel, we all know that women who make themselves heard all suffer backlash from those who believe women shouldn’t be so verbal. They get called bitches. Think about Wangari Maathai and Martha Karua. I don’t think their names stir up a rosy image of strong women. Their causes for justice and equality are forever being spoiled with talk of them being bitter and out of control.

 

bell hooks writes that “often girls feel deeply cared about as small children, but then find as we develop willpower and independent thought that the world stops affirming us, that we are seen as unlovable” (Communion: The Female Search for Love). The book is more about love and patriarchy, however, I think this is the most disturbing aspect for me: the fact that the men around us stop affirming us as we become more independent and more engaged. Why does this happen? I think it’s a sad day when some of the men in our lives cannot support us when we speak our minds, especially when we speak out against things that bother and/or offend us.

 

I’m not saying that I’m necessarily all down for the term bitch, but I really question why a woman like myself cannot contribute her two-cents or ask questions without being judged hostile or abrasive. I don’t know if that is a bad thing. I guess it comes with the territory. But remember it’s not what they call you, it’s what you answer to.

 

So am I just losing the plot?

 

I think I’m officially Ms. Understood.

 

 

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~ by misswretched on August 22, 2008.

One Response to “Ms. Understood”

  1. you aren’t so miss understood. In fact I think that most women are plagued by those words. You should check this out http://chepchumba.wordpress.com/2008/08/25/angry-black-women/ it describes the same issues raised in your eloquent blog.

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