BITCH: In Praise of Difficult Women
By Elizabeth Wurtzel
Anchor, 7th edition
My bitchiest moment occurred in college. My university had inadequate parking for those with physical limitations. Everyday I walked with my books further than what my body could handle. I did it without complaint, at first. Then my professors would eye me as I entered through their classroom doors late. I grew tired of it. Eventually, I thought, Screw it. If they weren’t going to provide handicapped parking spaces, I would make my own.
Behind the wheel of my roadster, I eyed the flat empty grass parallel to the fire lane beside the entrance to the English department building. I shifted my gaze to the clusters of cars around me and the absence of a place to put it in park. I was done with the entire situation. I stepped hard on my gas pedal, rolled my car over the grass and parked up to the door. James Bond would have been proud. I made it to class on time. Thirty minutes in, two male police officers knocked on my professor’s door, interrupted his lecture and asked me to step outside for a moment.
“You can’t park here,” one said. “You have to park somewhere else.”
“Where?” I said politely and waited for an answer, but neither could provide one “Find me a place and I’ll gladly move there. Until then, you’re wasting the money I paid for this class.”
Thus, I sent a letter to the chancellor regarding federal funding requirements, which stated how proper handicap parking is a necessity. The next semester, I had all the parking I needed. It was a moment that would make one of my new favorite authors, Elizabeth Wurtzel, proud.
In her sophomore read, “Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women,” Wurtzel does more than celebrate strong and defiant females throughout the course of history; she builds a temple to them that is long, long overdue. I stumbled upon the book while out with a few friends (two men, go figure) and devoured every letter of her unadulterated literary prose. It reverberates like penetrating slam poetry and, so, unequivocally earned its mention in an article.
A graduate from Harvard, New Yorker journalist and societal critic, Wurtzel is known for her first book, “Prozac Nation.” Published in 1994—and made into a 2001 movie, starring Christina Ricci—her body of work details, as Wurtzel stated once, “a small personal tale of one girl’s mental hell.” Taking a different magnitude, “Bitch” evaluates the behaviors of biblical femme fatales to present-day pretties. It defends their break from societal limitations, which have undervalued and misunderstood them. Public flowers—like Princess Diana, to hard-core train wrecks, a la Courtney Love, among more quarrelsome vixens—run amuck in this seriously thought-provoking work. It’s biting, sharp and has passion that explodes like napalm when Wurtzel delivers the book’s main theme: Female forte and influence has been annexed and misinterpreted by male writers, theologians and scholars since the era of Eve. And it’s time for a reversal.
Best yet, she declares war with her words without apology. Among its authentic arguments and controversies are the defense of Hillary and Bill Clinton’s marriage, O.J. Simpson and Nicole Brown’s relationship, to Amy Fisher and even the Queen of Sheba. Some readers have criticized the suicidal glamorization, which can alienate readers. As EW.com points out, “She identifies with suicidal women like the poets Anne Sexton and Plath.”
Perhaps men everywhere, maybe even some meek women, will hem and haw that this book‘s premise only proclaims another annoying feminist manifesto. I can hear them now, “It’s a page-turner for bra burners!” At the end of the day, it’s an opinion given without truly allowing her words a fair chance at comprehension. Wurtzel’s purposeful message about being fervently difficult is something from which many can learn. It’s ammo—a real bitch for any book collection. And I love my bra.