You call me a Bitch…like it’s a bad thing…

27 years ago, in the Chicago Airport, I wanted to get home to my 6 month old son. My X and I were on a layover gone bad. The ticket agent informed us that we were not leaving any time soon since the plane to Pittsburgh was indeterminately delayed. This was not the answer I wanted to hear. I needed to get home to Landon.

I instinctively pulled myself up to my full 5-feet-10-inch height and leaned over the counter, closing the distance between myself and this unsuspecting man’s face. I informed him, in a dangerously quiet voice, tears in my eyes, that I had a son I needed to get home to and I WOULD be leaving soon. Very soon. And he was going to make it happen.

He did. He found a flight that got us home late that evening. Maybe he was glad to get me out of there. Maybe he was a dad and understood my panic. Either way he sent me home.

My X, Landon’s father, called me a Bitch for speaking to the ticket agent that way. I was infuriated by his lack of support that expressed itself in his name calling. I was also a bit ashamed of myself for acting badly to that nice man behind the ticket counter.

Two years later, when our son had a febrile seizure, the doctors insisted on doing a spinal tap. Hearing Landon’s terrified screams from the procedure room, as he was being held down by a team of nurses, I got-in-the face of another man, the doctor. Holding his white jacket lapels–mostly to steady my weak knees, I breathlessly asked if the spinal tap was absolutely necessary. He said it was. My X later told me I was (again) being a Bitch.

I did not intentionally try to be the B word. I knew the rule; If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all. People wouldn’t like me if I was not nice. I was clearly aware, thanks to my moms early training, that it was my job to keep everyone happy-especially her. So I learned the act of pleasantness.

Clarissa Pinkola Estes, author of one of my favorite books, Women Who Run with the Wolves, tells the story of being asked why she had to get so loud and angry when something negatively impacted her. She responded along the lines of, “Well, you don’t hear me when I am quiet.”

Why does an assertive woman get called a bitch? Why is standing my ground considered bitchiness?

When I reached my mid 30’s something began to change inside of me. I stopped feeling guilty for my edginess. In fact, I rather began to enjoy it. I liked speaking up, even if the other person didn’t like what I said. I didn’t stop being kind. I did stop being nice. There is a difference.

Several years into this transformation my X, once again, called me a Bitch. I don’t remember for what. I do remember thanking him for the compliment; explaining that I had been working very hard to develop this skill and I was glad he had noticed.

The world needs more bitchy women.

: )




Patricia Boswell

10 comments on “You call me a Bitch…like it’s a bad thing…

    • Welcome to the team Colleen : ) I look forward to women everywhere not cringing with this name but knowing they asserted themselves fairly and squarely.

  1. Hello Patricia,

    I found your blog some time ago and have to say I read and very much look forward to your insight and balanced approach and response to life.

    Like you, I have been called a Bitch and even posted, in veiled terms, on my blog in a post called A Warm Spring Breeze, about my professional experience and response to this word / accusation. I struggle with how it makes me feel and the inevitable internalization of it, despite my permission, and the actions that I find myself taking in response and the feelings of inadequacy that result.

    I appreciate your insight and the differentiation that you draw between being nice and kind. It will be something that I continue to think of, I am sure.

    Your post gives me hope that a sense of self-acceptance is possible, at least eventually. And also that I am not a lone voice when stating how this term impacts me and am not the only one struggling to reconcile my upbringing, with my need to be true to myself and my drive to live up to my full potential in all areas of my life.

    Thank you for sharing,

    • Thanks so much for your comment and I look forward to taking a look at your blog and post on your own bitchiness. I really understand the mixed reaction to being called a bitch. If I am called a bitch for my assertiveness and speaking up for myself than so be it. Let’s reclaim the word for ourselves and refuse to be offended.

  2. As a woman, who is strong and independent , I find you to be a disgrace to strong women everywhere. Being a bitch to get your way doesn’t make you an amazing woman. It makes you seem pretentious and abrasive. My biggest concern is your children in this whole matter though. If you truly cared for your children as much as you say you do, you wouldn’t publicly bash their father. When you go that far out of your way to bash your ex, it seems like you are over compensating for something you did wrong.

    • Wow I guess you really didn’t like the post. I think you have just pointed out the difference between bitchiness and meanness. Bitchy is assertive, meanness is name calling.

      I appreciate your concern for my kids. I too did not want to come off as bashing my X. I wrote and rewrote this post for 4 months to try to accomplish this. I settled with a memoir style of writing that simply tells the story, the data, with no bias’s attached. I checked with my daughter regarding this post, she liked it, in fact she put it on her Facebook page.

      This is a great conversation, I’d like to hear from others what you think.

  3. Annonymous,
    Your words are a bit harsh for I sense that there was an abundance of caring for the children. It was that motherly caring that stimulated the “Bitch”! The ” never come between a mother bear and her cub!” Syndrome is happening here.
    Patricia,Thanks for the insite.

  4. I disagree with the anonymous. You are not bashing your ex-husband. I feel that he called you a “Bitch” because he was embarrassed by the scene you were causing. He had to lash back at you by trying to make you feel terrible about yourself. Bad ex-husband>>>>>
    I do hate when people make scenes but I understand they are coming from a place of fear.
    If your ex-husband was the right man for you, he might have comforted. He could have politely taken you away from your terror with care.

    I guess being in health care you sometimes are put into these situations. We try to comfort the person by understanding there fear. You can speak quietly and get the point across..

    I understand you wanting to protect your children. The first time my daughter had surgery, the surgeon asked me if anyone had adverse affects to being put under. I stood dumbfounded staring at him. I didn’t know if anyone on the sperm donors side had any adverse affects. I said no and put my total trust in him. I wandered around the waiting room pacing and filling up with anxiety. My child like your children are our world. We must protect them no matter what. If they cry we fix it.etc etc etc……

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *