In late October 2005, The Tyra
Banks Show contacted Natalie, the Head Bitch, (on very short notice) to appear on an episode about
women who are called or who call themselves “bitches.” Natalie would have been unable to appear
herself, so they asked her to suggest a couple of members of HBI who would do a
good job standing up for the views expressed in the Heartless Manifesto. I was one of the members she urged to answer
the call. The show as described to me
would have explored the different connotations of the word “bitch” in modern
America; the producer I spoke to was eager to present the positive ideal of the
bitch that HBI stands for and contrast it with the negative character traits
that are often called “bitchy.” The
producer emailed me a few questions about what sort of woman I consider a bitch
to be and what I like about them; she was interested enough to schedule a short
phone interview with me. In the end
they didn’t invite me to appear on the show, but I wasn’t too surprised: I’m a bit old for their target demographic
and not particularly photogenic, and my personality is too subdued for a TV
talk show. I enjoyed answering her
questions, however, and Natalie asked me to write up my replies more coherently
to be posted as a testimonial by one of the men in HBI.
TB: What sort of woman do you
consider a bitch to be?
Heartless Bitches are independent
women who are called "bitch" because they think for themselves, say
what they think, and live for themselves.
In common speech there are other types of bitches as well, the
manipulative grasping types who are self-absorbed and shallow, and the
spiteful, rotten backbiting types (the type I think of as the bitch in the
manger). I admire women who declare
proudly that they are Heartless Bitches; it makes some people think about the
implications of lumping together all women who aren't noodle-spined passive
dependents under the same term, and it ticks off others. I admire Heartless Bitches (not the other
kinds) because they're full-fledged people.
They live the way I think men and women both should live--independent,
honest, forthright, and equal.
TB: Why do men love bitches?
Who wants a manipulative mind-fuck? Who wants a constant battle of wills with a
contumacious gold-digger? Who wants to
dance with a limp rag doll? I respect
myself and expect my friends to respect me, and I only become close friends
with people who respect themselves as well.
That goes doubly so for romance.
As for why other men love other kinds
of bitches, it beats me. Maybe they
like the attention or don't have enough excitement and turmoil in their lives,
or maybe they think they have too much money and want to get rid of it.
TB: Why do men date bitches?
Do you go out of your way to date them?
I don't date these days (I'm very
busy), but yes, I prefer to date women who would agree with the Heartless
Manifesto--or, rather, I'm only attracted by and large to women who act like
they would: Who treat me with respect
and make it clear in their behavior that they expect the same from me, who
think for themselves and can discuss things calmly without trying to pull any
punches or manipulate me with cutesy behavior, and who quite rightly respect
themselves and don't need a man to complete them. In general I've always preferred women older than 25 (which was
not so good for me when I was growing up but quite nice now that I'm over 25
myself), because too many women younger than 25 haven't really grown up
yet. The same is true of many young
men, of course, and it was certainly true of me.
By the same token, I can't stand
"nice guys," the clingy sad-sacks who try to manipulate women into
romance by pretending to be sensitive "true friends" of women, then
complain about the worthlessness of all these women who take them at their
words as just friends. Yech. The false choice of nice guys versus
assholes is just as bad as saying all women who aren't stereotypical nice girls
(passive, dependent, yielding, looking for a mate to complete them) are bitches
(in the negative sense). I prefer the
company of men and women who are none of the above--fully-fledged people. Of course, in saying this I fully admit I
wasn't a fully-fledged person myself until life kicked some sense into me in my
late twenties; before then I didn't set boundaries for myself and didn't
respect other's boundaries as well as I should have, nor did I think about the
consequences of my actions nearly well enough (though I always took
responsibility for my stupid mistakes and eventually learned from them).
TB: Why and when did you join HBI? And how has HBI enriched your life?
I was a long-time devoted reader from
1997, very soon after the site was launched; I only joined in 2000. Their dissection of the nice guy persona was
perfect and made fully conscious for me the sort of behavior I dislike in too
many men. I wasn't a "nice
guy" myself and certainly didn't think of myself as one, but I had a few
streaks of that sort of behavior. I
would get mad at women for rejecting me without owning up to the fact that I
wasn't forthright enough in asking them out or making a pass at them. And this is something men
should be forthright about.
It would be great if women felt free to ask men out, but many women
aren’t comfortable doing so, so no matter how unfair it might seem to timid
young men torn apart by attraction and apprehension, it’s usually up to the man
to take the active role in approaching a woman, asking her out, and making the
first move. There’s nothing shameful in
being attracted to a woman, but learning how to express your attraction with
dignity and without forcing your personality (or your tongue and innards!) into
an exotic pretzel takes time, and “nice guys” are often the ones who wimp out
of this necessary part of growing up.
Mind you, this was mixed up with the
fact that I had dated a couple of markedly manipulative women. Thinking back on it now, I’m aghast at the
treatment I allowed them to get away with.
(One of them devoted our second dinner date to describing in detail what
a passel of losers her ex-boyfriends had been.
Just imagine! One of them was a
professional photographer a decade older who worked long hours and preferred to
relax at home with her after work. Not
at all the vibrant bon vivant she had imagined him to be. After tormenting him for far too long, she
broke up with him and presented him with a number of books on co-dependency so
he’d learn what was what. Then she
treated me to a detailed narrative of their varied sexual failings. And I put up with that! Worse than that, I asked her out on a third
date.) The basic problem was that I
pursued women who were not a certain type (submissive, retiring, and
self-effacing, or shallow, mercenary, and crassly over-beautified), rather than
thinking more positively about what I did want.
In any case, focusing on their deep
flaws allowed me to overlook the places where I was at fault (and my own fault
for pursuing them in spite of pretty bloody obvious danger signs). When I read "What's Wrong with Nice
Guys" on HBI, it didn't allow me to ignore my own behavior. More than that, I was too pliant towards
browbeating and manipulation in general and a bit mealy-mouthed until the times
I'd overreact and rip sarcastically into people. The responses on HBI to negative letters were a perfect model for
standing up for yourself with poise and wit, insulting enough when need be but
refusing to buy into any crap that was thrown at you. I didn't see any reason to join until 1999 or so, when I realized
there was a discussion board, and then I hesitated because I wasn't sure I'd be
able to hold my own. Finally I joined
when I realized that was stupid--if I couldn't hold my own, then I'd learn how
to only by joining and taking my licks.
Turns out I could hold my own from quite early on, and posting on the
board has polished my writing style, my argument skills, and my ability to turn
a witty phrase. It's also made me many
TB: And finally, have you ever dated
anyone from HBI?
No, since I don't date over the
Internet. (And what odds’ll you lay me
that that made me too cold a fish to put on hot daytime TV?)