I feel like living proof of the first part of Newton's first law of motion: an object at rest shall remain at rest. Boy, do I need an unbalanced force...
...and I got it in the form of an email that I might have missed, if I didn't check my spam email so carefully.
A few weeks ago, just after my real (not official) birthday, I applied to become a member at this site. I honestly didn't think I'd make it, since I had to offer up my blog as well as a short essay as proof of the quality mentioned.
I knew that if I hadn't made it by the next round of site updates, I hadn't made it. So I kept checking.
Tuesday morning, I pumped my fist as I saw an email from the website in my spam box. When I opened it, I proudly read:
* SAVE THIS MESSAGE FOR FUTURE REFERENCE*
Congratulations! You have just become an official member of Heartless Bitches International: The sauciest, ass-kickingest, fiercest Web site this side of the continental divide! We make NO apologies for who we are, and we take NO prisoners.
Some or all of your comments (from your application) have been added to the pages of Real Life Heartless Bitches
Check and see if you were singled out for "Exemplary Heartless Bitchitude"!
YESSSSSSSSSSSSS! If you want to read most of the application, it's here.
Bless one of my friends, when I told her, she said I was anything but a heartless bitch.
If the phrase is used in a particular way, perhaps. I don't take advantage of others; I'm not a prick tease; I don't say things to take pleasure in someone else's pain - people aren't commodities to me. If that had been what the site was about, I wouldn't have touched it with a barge pole.
But if you read some of the member statements, you'll see something else:
"I'm not going to change for anyone but myself. I refuse to live by anyone else's standards but MINE and MINE alone."
"Define yourself. If you let someone else do it for you, imagine your disappointment when you find out they're wrong."
"Trust your gut. Know what's important to you and don't let anybody fuck with it. And never, never, never give up your power."
"I guess what really makes me a Heartless Bitch, is my uncompromising feelings towards blind faith (which I guess includes blind patriotism), hatred (especially racism), objectifying men, women, animals; laziness especially when it comes to thinking, and superficiality-(not to be confused with politeness)."
And then there's mine, of course:
"Why be a sun god when you can be Hekate or Isis? Strength, creativity, compassion - join the dark side!"
So why call it "Heartless bitches"? How many times has a woman been called a 'bitch' for speaking her mind? For standing up for what she believes in? Called 'heartless' because she won't give way to someone else's requests or needs? She's seen as not nurturing enough, not caring enough, when all she is doing is drawing boundaries.
Fuck that. To quote Christina Aguilera:
So, what, am I not supposed to have an opinion?
Should I keep quiet just because I'm a woman?
Call me a 'bitch' 'cause I speak what's on my mind
Guess it's easier for you to swallow if I sat and smiled
This is for my girls all around the world (Around the world)
Who have come across a man that don't respect your worth
Thinkin' all women should be seen not heard
So what do we do girls? shout louder!
Lettin 'em know we're gonna stand our ground (Stand our ground)
So lift your hands high and wave 'em proud
Take a deep breath and say it loud
Never can, never will
Can't hold us down
So, what, am I not supposed to say what I'm saying -
Are you offended with the message I'm bringin'?
Call me whatever 'cause your words don't mean a thing
Guess you ain't even man enough to handle what I sing
I'm fascinated by how uncomfortable my pleasure in being a member of this group made some of my friends - both male and female. It was almost as if I'd betrayed them by not remaining the warm and fuzzy friend that they know and love.
But I'm not sure they understand that I can *be* that warm, fuzzy and caring friend if and *only* if I'm in touch with my dark side: the side that could put a gun to the temple of a Taliban warrior and pull the trigger without flinching; the side that can tear a strip off someone in anger; the part that wishes natural selection would eliminate various members of the human race; the part fascinated by the darker side of human nature. That dark side of me doesn't negate the light but *completes* it, balances it - gives it depth. Embracing the darkness gives the light texture, endowing it with a far more interesting quality - think of an eclipse.
Not acknowledging all aspects of ourselves means that nothing we do is real. It means that we are forever at the mercy of someone else's rules, someone else's approval and that we are constantly lying about who we are. I'm not saying we need to act on it - remember, most eclipses aren't total -but we need to be conversant with those sides of ourselves; otherwise we never act consciously, and those repressed/ignored sides control us rather than the other way round.
Now, I'm not saying EVERY strong opinion/dislike is indicative of problems with shadow. For example, I'm anti-death penalty for various reasons - but I *can listen to* the arguments FOR the death penalty without feeling threatened or unduly upset. I used to be pro death penalty and have thought about, understand the passion on and am happy to HEAR both sides. Yes, I have a strong opinion, but it's integrated. Ditto my very orthodox Catholic friend, John Ferris (who deserves an entry of his own), who disagrees with me very strongly on many things, but actually *listens* and remains unthreatened by my counterarguments. He has even said he learns a great deal from them. So do I - we have the BEST conversations; ones I think evangelicals would refer to as 'anointed'.
On the other hand, if one looks at those who follow rules most rigidly and are most threatened by challenge, we often find gaping holes in their integrity and an unsettling *amorality*. Taking a look at the Newman Society, they follow liturgical rules to the letter and parrot Catholic teaching on everything endlessly. You don't have to look too closely to see the breathtaking callousness/nastiness with which they treat other people, priests and laity alike, until they need to use them to achieve their own ends. Look at the 'love and light and no darkness'/'we don't believe in status' evangelicals, and you'll find plenty of anger, competitiveness and jockeying for position. Religious people may attack secular society for being selfish, but I've never seen narcissism on this scale outside religion. Denying it and driving it underground takes a natural regard for self, which might otherwise integrate itself into a healthy personality, hardens it, and turns it into narcissism.
Frankly, I'd rather be a heartless bitch. Moral rigidity is never a real position...as noted by others, it is an exoskeleton created to contain internal chaos. But exoskeletons, hard as they seem, are brittle (and crunch nicely underfoot, says the HB in me). They will never have the strength and flexibility of an endoskeleton.
True strength and support always starts from within.
And all that leaves aside the gifts of the dark side: depth, real power, authenticity, soul, a touch of wildness and mystery, the ability to laugh at yourself and stand up for others. We all need to go there and cheer eachother on as we do.
*Grins ruefully at self* This morning, I realised I could have put this all so much more simply: we're like orange juice cartons. The concentrate - with its richness and flavour - is at the bottom...very often, we can be a little thin, without so much flavour, at the top.
To have full richness and flavour all the way through, we need to remember to shake before opening.