Self-Righteous Bitch!

Self-Righteous Bitch!

I cannot count the number of times, at school, work, by people I called friends at one stage, I have been called a “bossy bitch.” Sometimes it made me angry, and other times it made me laugh. I recall my mother calling me “wilful” and “bossy” from a young age. I had a mind of my own and decided from around 2 years old what clothes I did not want to wear and it went on from there. I am not sure she meant it as a compliment… Perhaps I’ll ask her now what she felt and meant back then.

The honesty that came with being assertive was something I treasured. The pay-off now is being able to choose who I want in my life. And those that truly believe I am a “self-righteous bitch” stay well away. This inspires me to live a happy, authentic life without regret or guilt.

I discovered “Women Don’t Owe You Pretty” by Florence Given while absorbing the world of feminism and a statement struck a responsive chord: “Refuse to find comfort in other women’s flaws.” The below extract is a defining example.

 

You say “she’s so bossy and intimidating!”

When a woman asserts her boundaries and says “no” to things, she’s not being bossy. She is doing exactly what she has to do to protect her energy and GET. SHIT. DONE. Ask yourself this question: “is she intimidating, or am I intimidated?”.

Is she bossy or is she just acting outside of the submissive-woman stereotype that society has convinced you she needs to be – instruction-taking, submissive, docile? Women are socialized to constantly pander to the needs of everyone else but themselves, and even if we do decide to take care of ourselves, we are encouraged to do it in the form of “retail therapy” or “facials”, still pandering to our appearance instead of our mental health, giving money to products that tell us we exist only to be desired and good looking.

Respect women who set firm boundaries, don’t see it as a threat. She’s worked really fucking hard to get to a point in her life where she has decided to choose her happiness over people-pleasing. When you see women acting outside of their gendered stereotype, remind yourself that there is no one way to be a woman, and tell your internalized misogynist to shut the hell up! Gender roles are socially constructed and we are allowed to behave as closely, or as far away from them, as we wish.

Maybe she’s a “bitch”, or maybe her ability to unapologetically set boundaries makes you uncomfortable, because it forces you to acknowledge that you are a doormat to everyone in your life.

…Maybe.

 

Is She Intimidating, or Am I Intimidated?

The way people treat you is absolutely no reflection of you, your worth or your value.

Anything that anyone ever says to you is, in the words of Dr Thema, “based on a projection of how they feel about themselves and their assumptions of you”. These assumptions will be based on a whole host of biases, from racism, transphobia, homophobia etc and also their own insecurities. This is not to excuse people’s shitty behaviour, but if you can master the art of not internalizing other people’s insecurities (aka not giving a shit what people think or say about you), you will live a much more peaceful, authentic life.

It can be hard to fully accept that what people are saying to you is not a reflection of you, but of them. But we need to get out of the habit of internalizing other people’s insecurities and society’s harmful messaging. To make it less personal, I want you to try to remove yourself and think about how people project themselves, their experiences and their preferences onto art.

The perfect example of projection is how people can interpret the same piece of artwork in many different ways, based on their different lived experiences, tastes and where they’re at in their life. Because art is subjective. Art is a form of human expression, a way of connecting to the people who consume it, a way to open people’s minds, or create something to look at, stimulate and observe thought. Art is usually a reflection of our inner truth and sharing this work can make us feel quite vulnerable. It feels like an extension of ourselves. I used to take criticism so personally for this reason, because my artwork is quite literally an amalgamation of my experiences and personal style, churned out for the world to see in the form of illustrations and essays so other people can learn from my mistakes. It can make us feel very vulnerable and exposed.

But my perspective changed completely when I realized that no matter what anyone says about your art, the art remains the same. It doesn’t actually change! It blew my damn mind. Your perception of it may have changed, but the art itself has stayed the same the whole time.

When people say cruel things, consider what is said, but also who is saying it, and where that criticism might originate, what it might be rooted in.

If I hadn’t learned that people bring their own insecurities and prejudices to their critiques about others, and had instead taken their criticism as objective feedback, I wouldn’t be making art for myself anymore. I’d be a people-pleasing puppet, allowing other people’s inner turmoil to dictate the work I was creating.

When I first started putting out my politically charged artwork on the internet at the age of 17, it felt like I was carving out a piece of my mind and laying it bare for everyone to see on a surgical trolley. I felt vulnerable, uncomfortable and exposed. But only for a second, and that discomfort was worth it. More and more women gradually came forward telling me that they related to the experiences I was discussing, and before I knew it I had created a small community of people wanting to feel empowered, shedding the shame they had been carrying for simply existing in this world. If I didn’t choose to leave my comfort zone and be loud about the things I care about, I wouldn’t be writing this book and I wouldn’t have embarked on the greatest journey of my life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *