Why Millennial Women Don't Fear the Term "Bitch"

Today, as I pull out my Kate Spade planner to quickly move around my DIY wedding floral arranging class so I can attend my “Emerging Generation” awards ceremony, I feel a certain satisfaction in the balancing act I have managed to conquer. I am, like most millennial women, overbooked, overwhelmed, and usually overdressed, but I’m doing it. As a leader in a rapidly growing web development company in San Diego, my days are often filled with numbers, strategy meetings, and constant technical chatter. However, my nights are very different. As I leave my high rise office building each day, I drive about 30 minutes east towards the mountains, where my ever-loving cowboy and our two dogs await. Once home, I immediately switch to “housewife” mode, because there’s this innate part of me that loves cooking each night and adores a clean house with fresh cut flowers. I’m not trying to fit into a stereotype and I’m not trying to be something I’m not. The intelligent, well-read woman in me loves the “Home Decor” section of Pinterest as much as I love The Wall Street Journal and Simon Sinek, and that’s OK.

I have encountered many women from different generations who are confused by my mixing of the roles. Women I’ve talked to actually seem offended that I don’t agree with their linear view of “womanhood”, and think less of me because so. We’ve come so far for women’s roles in the workplace and home life, and yet, I can still be looked down upon because I chose to spend an extra year finishing a Harvard degree in Corporate Finance rather than getting married right away. In my personal experience, this often has a lot to do with individual religious beliefs, and the stigma that comes along with those. To me, there are more than just the two roles mentioned earlier. Women have so many option these days, why must we only choose between June Cleaver and Hilary Clinton? I feel that it is the woman’s duty to create whichever role that suits her best, whether that be one end of the spectrum, or a healthy balance in-between. 

So how does one manage being an empowered, accomplished female in a world of stereotypes and hurdles?

I’ve been told more often than not that I am “bitchy” or “stubborn”, but I have always viewed it more of an “accomplish more, apologize less” attitude rather than the former. One of my favorite books, Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO, talks a lot about how women often dilute ambition, slow progress and sabotage success out of the fear of being categorized as “bitches”. But in reality, “bitch” is really just a rhetorical tool for turning confidence, dignity and power into things that are unseemly. It’s a personal attack that’s used to make any woman who displays these characteristics into something unbecoming. 

As women, the fear of the “bitch” label is strong and pervasive to the point that it alters the way we communicate, how we speak, and how we’re treated. There’s a time and a place to apologize. Saying “I’m sorry” for being in someone’s way when they need to get to the elevator? That’s too much. Each time we use these phrases in unnecessary ways, we weaken our own voices. Say what you mean and what you want. Don’t apologize for it or water it down out of fear of being called a bitch. When you say what you mean, you’ll be heard, understood, and respected. 

Not everyone is a fan of people who are straightforward. The fact is, a lot of people are not comfortable with finding your voice and speaking with clarity. There are those, especially in older generations, that are more comfortable with biting their tongue in order to save a little face. I’ve experienced disapproval at my choice to work in a demanding position instead of a job that sets me up better to be a stay at home mom. This generational gap creates tension between empowered millennial women and their more “traditional” elders. However, as someone who has worked her ass off for what she has, why should I be looked down upon for my desire to be successful and independent, just because it’s not the way past generations were raised?

 I work hard because I enjoy utilizing my skills and talents and I have an unwavering desire to learn. But to be honest (and isn’t that the point of this post?), I like nice things, and nice things cost money. One of my favorite women, the legendary Diana Ross, said “Just because I have my standards, they think I’m a bitch”. If you don’t have a core set of principles to guide you, it’s hard to reach any level of success. Set your standards and stick to them. Whether that be standards for living, relationships, religion and everything in between, you made those choices for a reason. Stand behind them and don’t let anyone else criticize your principles just because they don’t match up with theirs. 

Women are often held back by the three following hurdles; fear of failure, family matters, and an inferiority complex. Because of this, out of the Fortune 500 companies, women run only 4%. Only when we can find a way to stop watering down our statements and asserting ourself appropriately, will we finally be able to stand up to those who doubt us or challenge our goals and dreams. When you put your heart and soul into what you do, no matter what that may be, don’t allow anyone to waste your time by not supporting your choices. If you’re going to be labeled a “bitch” for being strong and empowered, than you be the absolute baddest bitch you can be.

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