‘Tell me,’ J.D. Crawford asks, ‘what do you believe defines a bitch? Also, what do people do, say or look like to create certain judgments?’
My reply, yesterday, cheeky-but-serious, was: ‘A bitch is a female who is independent and/or successful and/or a bitch.’
By chance, last night my wife was watching Dangerous Liaisons. Near the end, the Vicomte de Valmont (John Malkovich) says to the Marquise de Merteuil (Glenn Close) that there is nothing ‘a woman enjoys so much as victory over another woman.’
Woman’s cruelty towards woman is something I’ve discussed a few times – see the links below to related posts – and that line snagged my attention. Typing it into Google yields a link to this article: Wicked Women: The Menace Lurking Behind Female Independence, by Margarita Carretero-González & M. Elena Rodríguez-Martín, which uses Mean Girls, Heathers and Dangerous Liaisons to illustrate the cruelty of women towards each other and discuss the impact of a controlling patriarchy – for example, the Marquise explaining ‘her wickedness being a way to survive in a world dominated by men, where women were obliged to be submissive and virtuous’.
It’s a very interesting article. I particularly like this:
History offers lots of examples of women who exert cruelty on their own gender, and these have been transformed into stereotypes of evil, especially if they are somewhat free from male authority. Underlying this apparent independence remains, as we will see, a need to be defined by the relationship with the male.
Witches, spinsters, rich widows who decide not to remarry or unloving stepmothers in control of the power left by an absent father, independent women have traditionally been portrayed as a menace for the order established by patriarchal society.
Coming back to the original question: ‘What do you believe defines a bitch?’
Is it possible that we have created a society where the answer is: ‘A woman is a bitch if she is not fully supportive and unfailingly appreciative of everything that (non-gender-specific) we want and do’?