I've often heard that "people only swear because their vocabulary is limited." It's also not very polite or ladylike. But I'm completely guilty of using profanity and definitely incorporate curse words into my daily conversations. So, based on my comfort with colorful language I had to stop and think about why I was so shocked and offended by hearing the Diane von Furstenberg use the word "bitch" repeatedly in last night's episode of House of DVF.
Some of us may have tried to get away with saying bitch when we were younger by arguing that it’s the word for a female dog. This is true – and a donkey is also called an ass, hehe – but bitch is also a rude way of describing a woman. And I literally cringe when I hear it sometimes. For one, I think that it’s such a vague way of explaining behavior and a huge generalization of a person. I know I get defensive when someone uses “bitch” towards me so when DVF was using the word so openly with brand ambassador contender Kier last night, I really understood her wanting to fight against it.
A bitch can be a woman who is demanding, unpleasant, difficult, or needlessly mean or rude. But I’d argue with feminists that it’s overused for women who are not well liked or overly assertive. Diane tells Kier: “Many times I have been impressed by your frankness. Yet I still have a feeling you are the bitch of the group.” Um, this seems like more of an observation that she was the odd man out and not getting along with the other girls rather than . Poor Kier…I would have probably lost my mind and burst into tears if a powerful woman like DVF told me I was a bitch. Kier reasons that she is bold, and constantly defending herself against the other girls…that she is a victim. Diane: “But do you think that if I were in the movie and I were to cast you, that I would cast you as the bitch? Probably yes.” What? The fashion icon and mogul then lamented that, “I really feel, you don’t have to be a bitch to be successful,” and “being a bitch is always bad. It can never be good,” followed by, “but what you have to do, is you have to scratch a little and find out why a person is a bitch.” Interesting.
I didn’t go back and count all the times she used “bitch” but I was just so taken aback that such a successful woman would a) have such a limited vocabulary, b) that she could judge and generalize someone’s behavior and diagnose her as something so vague after hardly knowing her, and c) make someone feel so badly about themselves. Could she have said, “You don’t have to be mean/exclusive/entitled/self absorbed/etc.” to get the points across? Maybe. But the more I thought about it, I realized that what bothers me most isn’t that she’s calling someone a bitch, it’s that she’s insinuating that she isn’t one or that she is so far above ever being one.
I bet that if we got to follow Diane’s every move throughout her career (on national television, and in a competition against other women no less) that we may have at times seen her be extremely confident. Or very assertive. Probably bold and most likely unwilling to back down on her aspirations and goals. Maybe we would have seen her character change on her rise to the top of the fashion scene – or even watch her desire for success get in the way of her being kind, generous, and gracious 100% of the time. I doubt she was a “bitch” but I’m sure she at one point or another wasn’t well liked by all and probably came off a bit abrasively and may have exhibited traits that lead to the use and generalization of the word “bitch.”
I’m very fortunate to have worked under and along side some very powerful, creative, and successful women. They are tough, they are confident, they are often ball busters (for lack of a better word). And seeing that didn’t make me think, “Ugh, they are bitches.” It made me think, “Wow, these women get things done and believe in themselves and respect their talents enough to know their worth.” I think it goes without saying that a man doing these things would probably not be called or considered a bitch.
No, you don’t have to be a bitch to be successful as Diane told us all last night. But there is nothing wrong with working hard, putting yourself first, and being competitive to reach your goals. Not everyone is going to be well liked by all – that’s life – and there’s nothing that brings people together more than a common enemy (re: Kier vs. the other remaining contestants on the House of DVF). I just wish that DVF hadn’t used such a negative and vague word. On television. I still respect Diane and her empire but…there are a lot of other things she could have said to describe Kier’s behavior. And now I’ll step off my soap box…