we still give the label ‘bitch’ too much power

Despite our best efforts as women to take back the term ‘bitch’ and take away its power from the men who have thrown it at us for millennia, it is still a powerful word.

We saw proof of this last week when AOC clapped back at Rep. Yoho R-FL for his labeling of her as ‘dangerous,’ ‘out of her mind,’ ‘crazy,’ and then, finally, a ‘fucking bitch.’

And then, in his apology, he claimed that he couldn’t be a misogynist because, you see, he has a wife and a daughter. Those things apparently automatically make a man 0% misogynist.

I wasn’t aware that was a thing, but okay. Perhaps all those men who beat their wives are really just feminists and we’re misinterpreting the whole thing, Rep Yoho?

Lots of shitty men exist. And lots of those shitty men have wives and/or daughters. Neither of those achievements exempts those shitty men from having to be respectful to other human beings.

This is like saying ‘I have that one black friend, so I can’t be a racist.’ Of course you can, Bill. The fact that you just have one black friend is probably the first red flag.

So, to men who think that the simple act of being married is somehow meaningful to women, and somehow should reassure us that you are not a threat, an asshole, a misogynist, or somehow automatically on our side, just know that its actually quite meaningless.

Literally any heterosexual couple can get married with almost nothing to prevent said union and it says absolutely nothing about the character and values of either of those people. Our president is married, yet he advocated for grabbing women ‘by the pussy.’ Bill Cosby was married, yet he is accused of raping potentially dozens of women over his career. And the list goes on.

Men throughout human existence have victimized, oppressed, and systematically targeted women and many, if not most, of those men were also married. Statistically, many also probably had daughters.

Anyway, this post is not about Rep Yoho’s misogyny as much as it is about women and labels. Specifically, how we allow ourselves to react, how we use labels against each other, and how that works against us when men think its still okay in 2020 to call us a ‘fucking bitch.’

What if, in addition to informing Rep Yoho that his wife and daughter were not qualifiers of his character, AOC had also said, ‘And henceforth, women will be updating the definition of the word bitch to describe the sheer power, tenacity, and accomplishment inherent to all women, so that, should you ever feel the need to call someone a bitch again, you’ll understand when we say ‘Thank you!’

How many of us call our friends ‘bitch’ as a term of endearment? Right? Like its a label we are proud to own and bestow on those we respect. But then, we also turn around and use it to refer to ‘that bitch at work.’ Or ‘some bitch’ on the subway. Or whatever.

As women, I can tell we very much want to take away the power that the term holds over us, but we continue to give it that power ourselves when we use it in the same way men do when referring to us pejoratively.

Let’s decide what we want here, okay? I’m fully behind making ‘bitch’ synonymous with a woman who goes after what she wants, loves fiercely, is intensely loyal to those she values, and draws firm fucking boundaries that she does not compromise on.

I’m fully behind ‘bitch’ being synonymous with a woman who doesn’t quit when she gets told ‘no,’ but uses it as a catalyst to grow. ‘Bitch’ might also mean a woman who knows her worth and isn’t going to do your emotional labor for you.

And so on.

Think about your friends that you greet this way. Why do you feel compelled to share this label with them in a positive light? It might be that the values or characteristics in them you respect are what you want to see all women foster and achieve. And by recognizing that ‘bitch’ inside her, you’re showing her respect, in this way.

What if, collectively, all women came to consensus that this is a term of respect? Can you imagine the kind of unity and power created by simply all of us deciding that ‘bitch’ is syn0nymous with someone who is respected, accomplished, amazing, intelligent, assertive, tenacious, and worthy?

Utopian dreams aside, maybe its time to start policing our words more closely, in terms of the context in which we use them and the intent behind them, in order to create a world where our daughters need not worry about a boy calling them a bitch, because its actually quite a compliment.

I’ve known enough shitty people in my life to know that people that think I’m a bitch have 100% overlap with people who are uncomfortable with my strong boundaries and expectations that they be responsible for themselves. So, anyone who has ever called me a bitch, I’m fully okay with that.

And anyone who will one day call me a bitch, I’m also fully in favor of that label. I try hard to earn it. It means I must be doing something right. πŸ˜‰ And for some triggered white man in FL to call AOC a bitch, she must really fucking intimidate him.

the COVID19 pandemic has made unpaid labor even more burdensome for women

this week, a colleague of mine in my day job made the remark that she conducted a consult on a complex clinical test with a healthcare provider, a woman, who was “lovely, sheltering in place, homeschooling a child, dealing with a preschooler meltdown, and nursing an infant, while her husband is also WFH. Yet she stayed on for the full hour. Serious mommy-multi tasking!”

to which i replied, “I think the COVID19 pandemic has further highlighted the inherent ‘quiet strength’ of women, and our ability to manage organized chaos on a daily basis πŸ˜‰ now, if we can only figure out how to get financially compensated for all that lol”

it is absolutely no new thing to women, all over the world, that we do more work than men. more tasks, more daily chores, more child-related things, more home-related things, and even in our jobs, if measured on par with our male counterparts, studies have found that we still do more ‘stuff’ in the way of work and work-related tasks.

and much of this (in fact, the majority of this) is uncompensated work. we are neither paid for it, nor are we often even recognized or thanked for it.

i think perhaps the most striking thing i’ve noticed, in talking with my friends and colleagues who co-habitate with a male partner or spouse during this pandemic and our various stay-at-home and quarantine situations is that most of us are finding ourselves doing even more work during this time that our partners are also at home at least as much as we are.

what this is saying is that, while the men in our lives are home the same amount of time as us, they are still overall doing much less of the total workload domestically, with children, and around the home. and during a time when they are even more present in the home, no less, which is striking because of some of the age-old arguments to why women do more work around the house, such as:

“men spend more overall time at the office working, so that’s why women work more around the house.” sorry, buddy, the last several months have shown that not to be the case now that you’ve been home the same amount of time as us. you’re just not helping us, that’s all.

“women spend more time with their children than men do, so they are better caregivers.” again, no. fathers are shown to be just as effective parents as mothers when they spend time with their kids. yet, overwhelmingly, women are the ones shouldering the majority of the work related to children who have been staying home and even home-schooling during the pandemic.

i thought about this a bit relating to my own situation, and, while i am lucky that i have a partner that spontaneously decides to do dishes because he hates clutter in the sink, and he’s all over taking out the trash, i also shoulder 98% of the burden of raising a teenage son (who is not my partner’s child), because he lives with me full time and i am much more involved in his life than his father is.

and to be fair, his father isn’t a bad father, he’s just busy and less involved in parenting decisions, and, quite frankly, i’ve done what 100% of mothers across the world have done for centuries, which is ‘if you want something done right, just do it yourself.’

its often perceived as easier to just take on more work than it is to get someone else, who isn’t used to doing it, to do it, and do it well. (this is a horrible behavioral trait, i realize, but when there’s something really important, like, say, the life and potential future of a child on the line, i don’t fuck around).

if you want to read more on the data behind why virtually everything in the world is engineered (literally, it is engineered this way, because men are overwhelmingly the engineers doing the engineering) to benefit men, and, in some cases, even, work against women, check out the book Invisible Women, by Caroline Criado Perez.

she examines some super hefty data sets that look at everything from why streets get cleared before sidewalks when it snows (more men drive and more women walk and use public transport, so men who run public works departments have streets cleared first), to the unequal division of unpaid labor and unpaid chores/tasks related to living that women do vs men, to why women received poorer healthcare attention from healthcare providers compared to men.

its such a revelatory book, and, while some of the facts were things i was unaware of, none of them surprised me. businesses set thermostats to temperatures that most women find uncomfortably cold because men are the ones who make the decisions about indoor temperatures, btw. (i experience this at home, with wearing layers of clothes all summer long inside because my husband can’t bear to have the thermostat above 71 inside).

i think that, while this pandemic certainly had some super negative impacts on most of us, it also provided a major social upheaval in quite a few ways, and one of those, i predict, will be women’s voices being significantly louder, as they are raised together to address injustices we’ve continued to experience.

and this will be played out in not just voting patterns, but the number of women who start their own businesses after this, and those who switch career paths instead of going back to employers who do not appreciate us, and demanding better from our partners.

i for one look forward to the shake up, as uncomfortable as major change is, the end result is usually for more desirable than where we started.

let everyone know you’re an actual real life goddess

(if they haven’t already figured it out).

look, witch, you are a goddess. everything about you screams goddess. your spirit, your smile, your heart, your kindness, your wrath, your inner fire, and your ambition.

but are you hiding this goddess from others, or letting her go forth and claim her fucking space in the world?

now, more than ever, we need goddesses to take charge. we need them to be vocal and visible. we need them to be the role models the next generations need in this world.

so here are ways (just some, i’m sure you can think of thousands more) that you and i can both remind others around us that we are goddesses, not to be fucked with:

  • be in love with yourself. nothing is more goddess than knowing that you are just a stone cold fucking fox. nope, don’t even go ‘but what about my [insert flaw].’ fuck that. look at you. you’re smoking hot. and only your opinion here matters.
  • hold your head up. be so fucking proud of who you are and what you’ve accomplished. and what you will accomplish yet. and in a world created to hold you back, no less. you earned it.
  • take up space. goddesses are not mere wisps who cower back into a corner. they stake their claim. they belong here, wherever here is. they triumph over man-spreading and confidently own the space in which they exist.
  • wear whatever the fuck makes you happy. if it makes you feel sexy, wear it. if it makes you feel powerful, wear it. if it makes you feel masculine, wear it. if it makes you feel feminine, wear it. if you want to wear nothing, wear it. point is: you get to make that call.
  • establish strong boundaries. a goddess does only what she wants or feels comfortable with. don’t do anything you don’t want to. don’t go where you don’t want. don’t date someone you don’t like. don’t let others take advantage of you. draw that figurative or literal line in the fucking sand. the word ‘no’ is probably the most magickal word there is.
  • help other goddesses. goddesses, when they combine their power, are unstoppable, like exponentially. but even goddesses sometimes need someone to hold them, reassure them, let them vent, or help them out. goddesses will never win by stepping on each other, but we can conquer literally anything by pulling each other up together.
  • take care of yourself. whether you need to eat better, move more, give yourself a break, get more sleep, or take a damn vacation every once in a while, you have to refill your own cup, goddess. your body is your own literal temple. worship yourself by being accountable to that temple.
  • enjoy the shit out of life. you should not be quieter, smaller, thinner, stronger, less sexual, more sexual, smarter, dumber, or any other thing that is not who you are. you should be seen and heard, in all your glory. do all the things that make you happy and bring you pleasure. redefine what a goddess is.
  • but do be brave. the world has told you what it thinks you should be. but one day, will you look back and be glad that you were her? or will you be glad that you were you?

all the women in my life were witches

Everyone has their own kind of magic. I don’t mean like Harry Potter and wingardium leviosa. I mean like the kind of inner magic that other people can just feel. They can tell that there’s something really exceptional and amazing about you, but can’t always put it into words.

This isn’t charisma and it isn’t charm or beauty. It’s just…magic. It’s your inner energy and will, making itself known and establishing itself in, on, and around you.

My grandmother on my dad’s side had magic that made you feel comforted and loved and cared for. She ran a farmhouse full of kids, cooked for everyone, and kept things tidy. There were always fresh muffins or bread or lemonade in her kitchen. And she had a way of making you feel special, even if you were helping her do chores.

My grandmother on my mom’s side had magic that broke social barriers. She was a microbiologist in the 60s and 70s when women just didn’t do those things. She got her PhD and traveled the world. Grandma’s apartment was full of curiosities and information and science. She inspired you to learn things and never told you that your idea would never work or that you couldn’t be whatever it was you wanted to be that week. She inspired at least one little girl to be strong, passionately pursue her goals, and never care what others thought.

My mom’s magic was togetherness. She managed to bring the family together around the dinner table at the end of every single day. Even if we didn’t want to eat the canned spinach she put on our plate, we were still a family and we learned about each other’s days. We did things together and we learned the value of that contact and family connection.

Plenty of other women in my life had their own magics, as well.

And none of these women considered themselves witches. Indeed, my grandmothers would have panicked at being referred to as such, one being devoutly Catholic and the other a staunch atheist. My mom, tattooed and neon spiky hair in her 70s, would likely smile and embrace it, honestly.

But, to my point, magic is not always flash and spells. Its not a grimoire of incantations or a ritual practiced in secret. Its energy and how we use that energy with our will and intention. And some of us do so without even realizing it.

I have been a healer in one way or another all of my adult life. That is my magic. I have helped people stay physically fit, overcome physical barriers or limitations, and finally, as a clinician, heal from chronic diseases they had given up hope of finding answers.

I rarely take new patients these days, but I believe that its still my duty to contribute to the greater good and health of the people around me.

My own practice is kind of all over the place, really. I can’t call myself only one or two types of witch. I love herbs for their potent healing properties; I love energy concentration; I love divination; I love using my will to concentrate on bringing about the change I want to see; And so many more ways my craft has evolved.

So, here’s to the women in all our lives who were witches, even if they didn’t know it. And to their magic, be it emotional, physical, metaphysical, or any other kind.

it’s finally ok to be a witch

Throughout history, the witch was often a symbol for a woman who lives by her own terms, and embraces or embodies the traits, thoughts, or behaviors that the rest of the social group or society want to embrace, but do not, for fear of stepping outside the normative established culture.

Witches were often very independent women. Witches were women who marched to their own beat. Witches were women who didn’t need men to run their lives. They made their own way.

And they were a threat to a heavily patriarchal society systematically created, built, implemented, and maintained by organized religions, all of which promoted the concept of the one (male) god.

No more divine feminine for you guys. And while we’re at it, let’s burn anyone who disagrees.

Estimates of the number of (mostly) women (but some men and children) who were persecuted and murdered during the witch hunts of history across the world put the total number of deaths between 100,000 and 1 million people.

It wasn’t until the 1950s that the UK even formally and officially de-criminalized witchcraft.

But despite these advances in religious freedoms in the Western world, there are still many societies where the practice of witchcraft remains outlawed. And what constitutes witchcraft can vary widely from place to place.

In the United States, there has been a resurgence of interest and embrace of the Old Ways since the 1940s, with everything from Wicca, to Paganism, to Satanism, to Druidry and beyond finding its way back into the milieu of belief systems and personal practices.

With this explosion of self-expression through religious or spiritual beliefs, we now find ourselves in an era where its totally okay to be a witch (at least, that’s what you want to believe). Some friends of mine that live in certain parts of the US still experience social ostracism, harassment, and even threats for openly practicing their religious beliefs that do not jive with the majority Christian system that persists here.

If you fall into that category, just know that you’re not alone. The beautiful thing ab0ut the Internet these days is that where we lack physical community and fellowship, we can find loads of it virtually.

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