Those of you watching Netflix‘s smash-hit Selling Sunset (and, if you aren’t, what, pray, have you been doing?), will have come across celebrity real estate agent Christine Quinn.
Quinn, 31, is the standout star of the show. Crowning moments include a ‘casual’ engagement party the theme of which was ‘sexual Phantom Of The Opera’ and inventing the new power move of tossing one’s ponytail in disdain while spiralling across the office on a swivel chair.
However, Christine’s real forte is telling it how it is, for which she has been declared the series’s ‘bitch’, a title she regards with pride.
Celebrity real estate agent Christine Quinn, 31, is the star of new Netflix smash-hit Selling Sunset
‘I don’t feel like that’s a bad word,’ she recently said. ‘I embrace it.
‘It stands for someone who knows what they want and speaks their mind. So many people don’t. If I get labelled a bitch because I speak my mind, then, yeah, I guess I’m a bitch.’
Cue a collective standing ovation from legions of fellow bitches, myself included.
Call me a bitch, and I hear ‘feminist’, ‘frank’, ‘a woman who goes after what she wants and is not prepared to apologise’.
I was a bitch when I refused to play second-fiddle to the boyfriend who demanded I give up my (rather more dazzling) career to become mother to his children.
I was a bitch when I confronted a female boss about the fact she had lied to my face. And I’ll be a bitch to my dying day.
In a world of play-safe people-pleasing and virtue-signalling blandness, the bitch has never been more necessary.
The word ‘bitch’ has been used to condemn any woman with the guts to stand up for herself since the 15th century. And many still object to it.
Look back to December 2018, when 300 academics wrote to the British Film Industry to object to its use of the term in the title of a film festival; or earlier this year when 30,000 people signed a petition calling on the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) to change its definition of ‘woman’, which includes ‘bitch’ as a synonym.
Regardless — like Christine — a growing number of us are reclaiming the word. To quote one of the OED’s editors, Eleanor Maier, pejorative senses now exist alongside ‘a more neutral and positive use to refer to any woman or girl, or as a form of address’. Bitches are everywhere.
We hear the term in songs, films, TV shows, and in streets and playgrounds. The word appears on mugs, T-shirts, birthday cards, and Instagram and Twitter memes.
To be someone’s bitch is to be their BFF — best friend forever. Britney Spears has made it her calling card, warbling: ‘It’s Britney, bitch’, just as RuPaul’s Drag Race salutation is ‘Good morning, bitches!’
Christine’s forte is plain speaking, for which she’s been declared the series’s ‘bitch’. She embraces the word and says it stands for someone who speaks their mind. Hannah Betts (pictured) says legions of fellow bitches, herself included, applaud her for speaking up
There are basic bitches and bad bitches, even ‘perfect bitches’, as rapper Kanye once described wife Kim Kardashian.
Even millennials are getting in on the act. Twenty-something journalist Rebecca Reid caused a storm for shushing a man who was talking over her on Good Morning Britain.
The reaction to a woman telling a fellow TV guest to shut up so she could have her say inspired Reid to write a book, The Power Of Rude (out today).
In it, she urges women to be assertive — to stop worrying about being polite, or that they’re saying the wrong thing.
Instead, she says, ‘women should reclaim the word rude and use it to our advantage’.
In fact, she’s not the first to say this. In 1998, Elizabeth Wurtzel wrote Bitch: In Praise Of Difficult Women as her follow-up book to Prozac Nation.
Wurtzel hailed Hillary Clinton, among others, as bitches, announcing: ‘I intend to do what I want to do and be whom I want to be and answer only to myself: that is, quite simply, the bitch philosophy.’
To be a bitch is to be sassy, a woman who calls a spade a spade, who refuses to be circumscribed or co-opted.
It is to cut through the banal insistence on female niceness. And if people — men especially — find it threatening, too bad.
Hannah argues a bitch is ‘a woman who goes after what she wants and is not prepared to apologise’. Pictured: Quinn in glamorous photos which she posted on her instagram account
The solution isn’t to compromise our clout, but to own it.
I’m with feminist activist Gloria Steinem, recently celebrated in TV series Mrs America and immortalised on the big screen this month in new film The Glorias.
She proposed we thank those who deem us bitches. ‘The best thing I’ve ever thought of to say when somebody calls you a bitch is ‘Thank you’,’ she has said.
It’s no coincidence that the years in which ‘bitch’ was used as a weapon to put women back in their box were the decades in which they were coming into their political power.
‘Bitch’ was deployed as a widespread term of abuse from the Twenties onwards, as the suffrage movement was finally making headway in securing the vote.
It spread like a rash in Thirties and Forties films as women were making forays into the workplace, be it Vivien Leigh’s irrepressible Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With The Wind or Bette Davis in pretty much everything.
Bitch fever returned in the Seventies and Eighties as feminism took hold, from Jackie Collins’s 1979 novel The Bitch to her sister Joan Collins’s glorious star turn as Alexis in Dynasty, as sharply spoken as she was sharply dressed.
When the series first aired, Collins was an exotic older woman who had earned her own authority.
And, indeed, we only truly come into our bitchdom when we are longer in the tooth.
Compare Dame Joan’s wry mock-bitchery when I interviewed her a few years ago. Weary of fending off questions about her husband being 32 years her junior, she announced: ‘If he dies, he dies!’ causing us both to cackle bitchily with laughter.
At 49, I can’t bear people who are gratuitously unpleasant — availing themselves of stupid, scattergun nastiness like some pantomime villain.
Done properly, bitchdom is selective, strategic, refusing to be walked over; cutting through the insipid axiom that the fair sex make nice.
My boyfriend argues that I am bad on the outside, good on the inside, which is by far the better way to be.
What he means is that while, on the surface, I spend my time swearing, swaggering and scoffing, behind the scenes, I’m checking in on people, sending care packages and out- godmothering godmothers.
Christine Quinn is much the same. On the one hand, she calls time on her colleague’s feigned niceness, and tells a client who asks about a cooker: ‘Bitch, you don’t even cook!’
On the other, even her enemies describe her as a ‘teddy bear’, tearing up about being bullied in childhood, defending friends to the death, and said to be a sweetheart to the crew.
Let us celebrate Quinn as the poster girl for a brave new world of womanhood that dispenses with the fakery and the fawning in favour of bluntness with bravura.
Life’s too short to be mealy-mouthed. We get one shot at this: let’s make it bitchily brilliant.