The B word

Deb Britt debbritt at
Mon Jun 17 10:25:03 EST 1996

In article <42872F5965 at>, JFRUGOLI at BIO.TAMU.EDU ("Julia
Frugoli") wrote:

> OK, since it's being tossed around, I'll put my 25 cents in on this one 
> too, with some qualifications.
> The word "bitchy", which has been applied to most women at one time or 
> another, strikes me as having several levels of meaning and so whether 
> or not it's a good quality depends on how it's used.
> If bitchy means a women is forthright about what she wants, 
> straightforward in her dealings, and doesn't back down just because 
> someone else wants something too, then bitchy is a good quality.  In 
> this case it's usually being applied by people who've never seen a woman 
> handle power in this way.
> That being said, I've met women who are just plain mean, difficult to 
> work with no matter what, and even sneaky, who wear the label "bitch" 
> with pride. They like being able to hurt people just by opening their 
> mouths.  They don't seem to understand that the same steamroller 
> behavior that's being labeled "bitch" in them is labeled "bastard" in 
> men, and nobody wants to work for or with either gender of the above for 
> very long.  In this case, being bitchy is not a good thing.
> Like gay people reclaiming words that have been used to hurt (dike, fag, 
> and such) for their own, women can reclaim bitch when it's used in the 
> first way.  When it's used in the second way, an examination of whether 
> one respects other human beings as such is in order.
> Waiting for the Northern blot to wash,
> Julia Frugoli
> Dartmouth College

I was reading the posts in this thread and trying to formulate a response,
but Julia has framed it so nicely that I will just second her post.  In my
opinion, it is important at times to be straightforward, even assertive in
offering your views.  However, there is no excuse for rudeness and
intolerance, from women or men.  I have met women who took pride in their
"bitchiness", who didn't realize how immature they sounded when they opened
their mouths.  The best way to handle power is not to dominate your
co-workers, but make them feel that their opinions count, that the group is
working toward a common goal, and that they have a leader they can respect
and who respects them.


Deborah Britt, Ph.D.
Medical Oncology
RI Hospital/Brown University

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