Lecture Four: The Bitch/Jerk
September 28, 2011
What is Feminism?
My feminism is a political analysis and practice that I use to fight against
oppression and privilege.
This definition can be different for everyone, there is no specific and concrete
Motivations for the Bitch Character
There are differences for why characters are “bitches” in literature written by
males, and literature written by females.
- In male writing, there is often no explanation for why someone is a bitch (it is a
- In female writing, the bitch is often motivated by something (“devious self-
centered gains, combined with, in some cases a distinct lack of self-worth”)
The “bitch” has become a stereotype in mass media and is has become a
“Recipe” for the Bitch (in Literature, Media)
She is usually the antithesis of the heroine. Typically a secondary character (a
sister, mother, friend ect)
Literary Canon - term used to refer to a group of literature that is considered to
be the most important of a particular time and place.
- Most likely, these are white, male authors.
- Where are the other voices?
- Who determines which of the authors are considered to be the canon?
Types of Bitches
The Childhood Bitch
These are not necessarily children, but “bitches” from stories and fairytales that
children will read. Contemporary fairytales are modified versions of originals. The original stories
are more physically violent, while the modern ones are more sexualized.
Lessons learnt from this bitch
- do not aspire for autonomy (free will, liberation, independence)
- beware of all powerful women, especially ones older than adolescents
- be the “good girl”
- do not be over-sexualized
- do not try and channel a male role
- avoid at all costs the fate of the old spinster (living alone, unmarried, no
children. Believed to be miserable).
Autonomy - the morality of individual self-rule, politics of self-definity, knowledge
achieved by individual reason. Free from ruling powers of religion, government,
parents, the rich, corporations, the patriarchy
The Terrible Mother
Although she may be adequate in all other aspects of life (attractive, successful,
athletic, healthy), she is believed to be a bad person or inadequate woman
because she has not embraced motherhood in the way that she is expected to.
A woman who has rejected motherhood. By avoiding this they are believed to be
unsuccessful careerists, at least until they find a mate and begin having children.
A woman who is considered to be overly sexual, and therefore does not conform
with societal expectations that women should be more modest.
This may refer to any woman who is sexually empowered, or who is comfortable
with their sexuality. It is not just about someone who dresses a certain way, or
acts in a certain way.
This usually has an ambiguous connotation in literature.
- The evil destroyers, malicious, manipulative witch intent on causing harm
- The “mystical” witches; such as medicine women (intelligent, lots of knowledge)
Why these women are considered bitches They do not follow the traditional female roles of society
- the idea that all women should be good mothers and bear children
- the idea that women should be married and faithful
- they have knowledge that typically men have (considered to be dangerous or
“Women authors tend to depict ‘fallen’ women not as evil manipulators... but as
victims of a patriarch that places value on women’s sexuality but little value on
the woman herself..” A