So, real-talk, we are ALWAYS excited to hear what iconic feminist Gloria Steinem has to say about basically every subject under the sun. But, of course, we are always particularly on pins and needles to hear Steinem talk about the subject that made her a household name: gender equality.
Recently, Steinem sat down with Cosmopolitan Editor-in-Chief Joanna Coles, and in the course of the conversation, the subject came up of women who experience backlash because they are strong and assertive.
“If you don’t play a submissive role, if you don’t do what you’re supposed to do, you get to be a ‘loud black woman’ or ‘bitchy white woman,'” Steinem explained.
When Cosmopolitan asked Steinem “How do you push back against that?” Steinem had a straight-up brilliant response.
“The best thing I’ve ever thought of to say when somebody calls you a bitch is ‘Thank you,'” Steinem told Cosmopolitan. ” I mean, it totally disarms them. They don’t know what to do. [Actress and activist] Marlo Thomas always used to say that for a man to be called aggressive, he had to take over your business, but for a woman to be called aggressive, she had to only put you on hold. It’s just a terrible double standard. We have to call them on it. If you call them on it, it changes people’s heads.”
We love everything about Steinem’s response. By thanking someone for name calling, one is able to flip the script and change the conversation and instead of speaking to the insult itself, speaking to the message behind the offensive word. The person throwing around the b-word is using the term to recognize a woman’s strength, and they are most likely using the word because they are threatened by that power. To thank someone for a b-bomb is, yes, to disarm them, but also to force them to explore why it is that they’re threatened by a woman wielding power.
The entire Cosmopolitan interview is well worth a read, you can check it out over here. Thank you Gloria Steinem, for educating and empowering us on the regular.
(Image via Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com.)