Last Friday I was told I’m scary.
In the basement of CGS, following an hour-long, professor-instituted debate on the morality of surveillance drones, a girl looked me in the eye and said she couldn’t argue well against me because I am scary.
I don’t know how I feel about this. On the one hand, I’m a proud supporter of female power who paints the wings of her eyeliner sharp enough to kill a man. And I love debate—really love it—love watching my prescribed enemies squirm under the weight of my insurmountable arguments.
But scary? Yeah, I argue—a lot—but I also baked weekly cookies for my friends way back when I had regular access to flour and an oven. I bought Pepto and the movie Amélie when my roommate showed up at noon with tear streaks and a massive hangover. I sent my best friend a well-written valentine, for fuck’s sake. And paid for stamps!
Do I really want to be remembered as that scary bitch who made several other college freshmen quiver in their Ugg boots on a cold February morning? Scary Sheridan—is that an alliteration I’ll be able to live with on my deathbed?
Searching for comfort on this issue, I was reminded of the wise words of Tina Fey, who used some of her 2008 SNL airtime to defend the then-likely presidential candidacy of Hillary Clinton.
“And maybe what bothers me the most is that people say that Hillary is a bitch. Let me say something about that: yeah. She is. So am I, and [gestures to Amy Poehler] so is this one. You know what? Bitches get stuff done . . . Bitch is the new black!”
I think I agree. I think being tough and smart and hard can be really, really cool.
(And word reclamation is a wonderful thing, but that is a discussion for another day.)
But who’s to say that softness and toughness are mutually exclusive? I love being a total scary bitch sometimes, but I also love quiet communal movie nights in the middle of winter. I love the comfortable silence between lifelong friends, and I love hosting screaming matches about the true meaning of 500 Days of Summer. I am soft to the people I love, and I would tear apart anyone who hurt them. And I am not the only one.
We are walking contradictions, every one of us. And that is not necessarily a bad thing. We are human. Consistency is stagnant. It has nothing to do with us.
Maybe I should mention that I apologized to the girl for being scary. Maybe I should mention that we laughed about it together as we left the building. Maybe, hopefully, the conflicting sides of ourselves will never be resolved. They keep the tides turning, the days spinning, our hearts beating. More than anything else, they keep us human.