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" I think men can be bitches the same way women can, like real mean jerks who seem to revel a bit in how mean they are, not in some lesser way that really means "pussy," a word which should never be used as an insult because hello, Courbet, etc."

The Grown-Ass Woman’s Guide to: When It’s Okay to Be A Bitch

You’re a grown-ass woman. You have a job and a wonderful network of fun-yet-mature friends and you are sorting stuff out with your brother and you know how to wear a shift dress. So why come you’re about to go full schoolyard bully on the FroYo lady? Oh, she has “an attitude”? She’s “being deliberately bad at her job”? She “strongly suggested you consider the fat- and sugar-free option and then gave you the up-and-downs”? WELL.

Look, I get it. Sometimes people are the worst and all you want to do is fight rude with rude until so much passive aggressive sighing is happening there’s no more air in the room for anyone else to breathe. Cause of death: Rude. And when I say I get it, I mean I getttttt itttttt. Probably my least favourite part of myself is my sheer aptitude for being a bitch. I am GREAT at it! Very cutting. Very awful, when I want to be. When provoked I can produce a bitch-ass comment in seconds, said in a light, breezy tone, like “whoooo, me?” A classic bitch. Maybe because I never got a chance to be one as a chunky, bullied kid, but something in me just loooooves to bitch out.

But, here’s the rub (you knew there was one): this is not a cool thing to do. We are adults and whether we were bitchy schoolyard princesses or lil chubbers who read at recess and swam in a T-shirt, it’s probably time to move past being a capital B biiiiiitch.

….except in the following situations which I have helpfully outlined below.

Some notes on the word bitch
This word rubs a lot of people the wrong way, and I can understand why. Like “shrew” or “harpy” or “slut” it is a very gendered insult. To call a woman a bitch is to suggest they’re worse than a dog… because they’re a female dog. Gross, right? The image conjured is yappy, frantic, out of control. Since this is usually applied exactly when a woman is attempting to assert some authority or control, it’s pretty clear that it functions the same way as the above words: to silence, shame, and condemn women for the same kind of behaviour men are celebrated for. (Think about it: calling a man a bitch suggests he’s being a weak lil baby, not a wild animal that needs to be tamed.) THAT BEING SAID, I’m more for equalizing the insult than abolishing it. I think men can be bitches the same way women can, like real mean jerks who seem to revel a bit in how mean they are, not in some lesser way that really means “pussy,” a word which should never be used as an insult because hello, Courbet, etc. Plus, there can be power in being a bitch. And I like that. Bitches get shit done.

Times when you are going to want to be a bitch, but you can’t.
Whenever your mother says anything at all about your clothes or body in any tone of voice. When someone in the service industry is really bad at their job but clearly trying, they’re just bad at it and they can’t help it. When someone more successful (but, you’re pretty sure, less likeable and maybe less talented and very possibly just generally worse as a person) wins some kind of very public award and you’re like “hiiii what about meeeeeee.” When you’ve just met someone and can’t tell if they’re rude or shy (insider tip: probably shy!). When you’re meeting that same person a second time and it’s like “k but are you rude?” (insider tip: shyness does not go away after one meeting!). When an elderly relative doesn’t understand what you do for a living so presumes you’re unemployed and tells everyone at Christmas dinner. When someone younger than you acts all weird and shitty (remember how insecure it felt to be that age?). When you’ve met someone over and over and over and they still say “nice to meet you” every. single. time. When the pizza guy says they “can’t” do extra, extra cheese (can’t or WON’T, PHILIP). When someone spills wine/pop/an open jar of mustard they were casually carrying for some reason and ruins a dress you really really love. This is the worst one, maybe, but accidents happen and things are only things and you can go home and be a bit bitchy about this person to your roommate if you want, I won’t tell.

The phrase “witch with a B in front” needs more widespread use amongst a younger demographic, can you help me?
Don’t be a bitch. You can.

Appropriate Bitch-uations
I present to you, in full, a comprehensive list re: when it’s completely okay to be a bitch:
1) Dealing with racists, misogynists, or homo/transphobes. These guys are the worst and I’m sure Jesus would say to be nice to them too, but I’m not Jesus and never will be, bitch away my friends.
2) Fifteen minutes into a phone call with a Roger’s customer service representative.
3) When you are the boss and people are not respecting that and you’ve tried a few other tactics but it’s clearly time to go Full Bitch. (This is also known as “being a hard-ass” but where’s the fun in that?)
4) The first day of your period. Free pass for anything not legally considered a crime. Anyone who disagrees with me on this is welcome to come fight me on the third Monday of any month. I will not mourn your death.
5) In a Truth Circle with your closest buddies. Got some snark inside just crying to be freeee? Tell your nearest and dearest, laugh a little, move on. That’s why they call it a bitch fest.
6) Almost no other times.

Feeling yourself wanting to unleash a snarky comment or cutting jab? Thiiiis close to finally telling Brenda from work how sad her skirts make you? Probably don’t do it. Probably almost never do it. The real answer about when to be a bitch is to try not to be one, I’m afraid. Sorry, guys! Not to be a bitch, but being a bitch is not the way forward. Sure, it’s harder work to be nice and forgiving and to let things roll off your back, but let’s remember who’s the reeeeaaal bitch here: LIFE.

Follow Monica on Twitter: @monicaheisey

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