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Why I stopped writing bitches

Posted by on April 25, 2014

Some women are just catty, right? They’re manipulative back-stabbing bitches, and we want them to face their comeuppance. When they appear in movies or books, we cheer for them to be taken down, for our heroine to triumph over these mean girls. They’re the women we love to hate.

Maybe all those things are true. Maybe they’re not. But either way, I’m not writing them anymore.

The Problem With Bitches

The trope of the bitch, the woman who exists just to make life miserable for the heroine, perpetuates a pretty nasty belief about women. It puts women in direct competition with each other. It implies that our greatest enemies are other women: they’re going to steal our jobs and our men unless we “defeat” them. It implies that one type of woman is good, and another type is bad. And that’s a pretty damaging belief system.

I hate even using the term “bitches,” honestly, because it’s a sexist term. It implies that this person is a certain kind of woman, an unacceptable woman. I use it so freely in this post because it’s all harmful: the name and the archetype.

I love the movie Legally Blonde. (How can you not?) Part of what makes this movie amazing is the friendship that develops between Elle Woods and Vivian Kensington. The movie sets them up to be rivals, but once they get to know each other, they bond and become allies, realizing that their assumptions about the other were wrong.

Just look how great they are together.  (picture credit IMDB)

Just look at them overcoming their preconceived notions.
(picture credit IMDB)

We need more of that in our media and less manipulation and gossip. Not that we can ever get rid of manipulation and gossip, but can we stop treating it like the norm? Can we stop assuming that every pairing of women is a catfight waiting to happen?

Nico Lang of The Daily Dot wrote an interesting article on this phenomenon a few months ago when Jennifer Lawrence and Lupita Nyong’o were both nominated for the Best Actress Oscar. Lang closes the article by reminding us that “if we destroy women in order to celebrate others, no one comes out on top.”

Bitches vs. Villains

This doesn’t mean that women can’t be villains. Villains have agency and motive; they have goals! Maleficent wanted to be invited to that baby shower, dammit. Ursula wanted to rule the whole freaking ocean. A villain doesn’t exist solely to make life miserable for the heroine; that just happens as a side effect of the villain’s ultimate goals.

Ursula

Not a “bitch.” A villain. (image credit Disney)

So I’m done with ‘em. I’m done with writing women who have no agency of their own. I’m not going to write a woman who only appears in the story to pick on my heroine. I don’t like what their presence implies about how women are with each other. So maybe I’ll give you villains… but I’m not giving you bitches.

3 Responses to Why I stopped writing bitches

  1. Sara

    oh my goodness, this post is so awesome!!! Thanks for taking such a great stand and refusing to write about bitches anymore…I couldn’t agree more, Elia. Also, glad to see another blog post from you. I was missing your posts; I regularly check to see if you put any new ones up ;) That’s because you don’t hear this kind of stuff very often…you rock!!! I can’t wait to see your next erotica novel because your style is the sexiest…

  2. kenya wright

    Too awesome! I’m spreading the word on this!

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