Why Being A Strong Women Ain’t Got Shit To Do With Being Rude

When I was a young adult starting my life out in the adult world on my own,  I had this notion that rude women and strong women were one and the same. 

A lot of this came from rebellion from my own mother, who while nice and oh, so sweet to everyone else, was pretty damn abusive and toxic to me. If you gave her a minute, she would tell you how she was proud not to be a “bitch”. She was helpful! She was nice! She did what others didn’t!  She would tout about how sweet and caring she was and about just how much other people loved her. To the school, to the Girl Scout troop, to the Band Booster Club, she was an all-around great mom.

But to me, the person it should have mattered to the most, she was not. So when I was trying to formulate the person I wanted to be, I wanted to make sure I was nothing like her. In doing that, I tried to emulate the other women I saw around me who I thought were somehow better, stronger, and smarter than my other frame of reference. These women were the opposite of the goody-two-shoes persona my mother threw on when she had to interact with others. These were the bitches.

But to late teens/early 20s me, these were not the bitches that just ruffled the feathers of the status quo or challenged the standards of the patriarchy. These were the bitches that argued with cashiers and got in shouting matches in the parking lot with other shoppers. These were the bitches that would insist their way was the only way and raise hell when they didn’t get it. These were throwing water across the table, launching the C-word at other women, “what’s mine is mine and what yours should be mine too”, “Let Me Speak To Your Manager” bitches. 

These weren’t strong women like I thought they were. They were the exact opposite of that. These were overgrown children with impulse control issues having temper tantrums. I realized this once I tried this behavior on for myself. And I realized that it felt wrong. It felt gross. It felt like a coat that had been left to mildew in the back of a forgotten car. It was stale and sour and two sizes too small.

The whole being a bitch just for the sake of being rude and getting my way? Just for the sake of being contradictory? It was all wrong. There is nothing strong or impressive about it. Wanting to lash out and be villainous just to prove you are bigger and better than someone else is the opposite of how being a strong woman works. 

Strong women love and care about others. Strong women help others rise, not use them as stepping stones. Strong women don’t use others for punching bags because they can’t accept their own feelings. They certainly don’t use service workers, family members, or even those who can do nothing for them as lower-tiered expendable things. Most of all, strong women help heal the wounds of the world by being true to themselves and wanting the best for everyone. They realize life is not an eye for an eye Battle Royale. They know we are all in this together. We are not in competition. We are all on the same team. 

A large part of my current job has me interacting with different people constantly. The job is small beans in the grand scheme of importance, but it means a lot to me. It gives me something to do, it helps my family, and I’m kind of good at it. (And really, without customer service jobs, how would we get our shit?  We need grocery workers and bank tellers, cooks and waitresses, bus drivers, and mailmen. It’s the little things, right?)

So now as someone in the customer service side of things, I’m excepted to meet the demands of different people and their different emotional dynamics, with a helpful and pleasant attitude. Never have I been more sure that being a strong woman has less to do with being a “bitch” than it has to do with an emotionally and socially aware person. Seeing and experiencing people who proudly flounce their rudeness as a sign of strength up close and personal has been another eye-opening chapter in a lesson I thought I had fully learned. 

Sometimes people are wrong and don’t want to admit it. Sometimes people are just rotten. More often than not, from my experience, the truly rude people are the ones who have it just deep inside them. And if you look hard enough, if you aren’t knocked off your feet by their sharp words and venomous eyes, you can see that their rudeness is leaking out where their cracks are. Instead of attending to the things in their life that wounded them, they only patched them up with the label “bitch” and moved on. Instead of healing, they started using their wounds as name tags and badges of (dis)honor. Instead of trying to be and do better, they decided to just burn the whole town down without them.

Willingly choosing to stay wounded because you like the power trip that comes with being able to use your maladaptive behaviors whenever you want is the opposite of being strong. It is one of the weakest, smallest, most asinine things you can do. There is nothing strong, independent, or smart about trying to make others feel bad about themselves, their lives, or their abilities. Especially if you are doing so just to make yourself feel or seem better. Hurting others to better yourself, even just for a momentary serotonin trip, doesn’t make you a “bad bitch” “that bitch” or any other cool jargon that can be used to identify you a strong woman. It makes you an abusive asshole. 

I’m glad I woke up to that fact. So I know when I sing along with Lizzo and I get to the, “I’m 100% that bitch” part, the “bitch” I’m referencing isn’t the damaged rude one. I know what and who I am. I still feel guilty for that period where I was that misinformed, randomly rude, thinking the world owed me something person. Finding out who we are and who we want to be is not a journey that is regulated to only our early years. It’s a lesson we continue to learn throughout our entire life. We have to adjust it as needed. We learn where our scars are and we learn how to heal so we can treat the surrounding people the exact way we expect to be treated. It might not always work, but that’s ok. We still got to try. And that’s what matters.

Let’s save being a bitch for the right time. Like when we have to bring down the bastards. Then, being a bitch is something else entirely. Then its the good shit.

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