I can't remember the last time anyone has called me a name. Maybe it was all that chemo. I've been called a great deal of things in my life. Mostly variations of my maiden name, because of that "Itsy Bitsy Teeny-Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" song. The superintendent of my old school district used to call me 'Teeny-Weeny" way back before all of his sexual harassment troubles, but it didn't bother me.
I'm a bossy, opinionated, assertive sort of person. I speak up for myself. I argue if I think something isn't right. I don't sit back and let things go, not if I can make them better. I'm not rude, I just like to speak my mind. And I like being this way.
If I were a man, people wouldn't even blink an eye at me. But the world at large isn't as accepting of such behavior in women, especially in Texas. Women in Texas are supposed to look pretty and keep their mouths shut, I found out when I went to college. What a culture shock from the East Coast where I went to high school! I wasn't willing to fit into the rigid mold that was the standard Texas Woman of the 80s, and so I started to hear the b-word quite a bit. And it used to bother me. How unfair to be called a name for being yourself, for being assertive!
It bothered me right into my 30s. Then I one day I noticed that the people who called me that particular name wanted something from me. They wanted me to get defensive, to become angry to be distracted. If they could push that button, then they were vindicated in their opinions, no matter what. Also, some men in particular, would call me that with the expectation that I would become more pliable to their wishes in order to show that I was not the b-word. Manipulation, pure and simple. That got me thinking--maybe the problem wasn't about me.
After all, if I was okay with my assertive, independent self, why would I care what those people thought? I thought all of the smart, independent, assertive women out there who were called that same word. If being called a b*tch was the price that I needed to pay to be myself, I would pay it. I started to embrace the b-word as a badge of merit, and it lost it's power over me.
Because I resemble that remark.
While I recuperate from my latest step in my efforts to be cancer-free(a hysterectomy/oophrectomy), I'm borrowing a prompt from Kat Bouska's Writer's Worshop. Go check her out!!
2. The last time someone called you a name.