What’s the difference between a bitch and a strong woman? No, this isn’t some sort of off-colored joke, it’s a legitimate question. I mean, there doesn’t seem to be much of a difference. Now, by now you’re probably already offended but let me take a minute to backtrack. I’m not saying that all women are bitches, I’m just saying that the women that have the courage to speak their minds on policy and the way things are, usually are remembered as being bitches. That doesn’t make it right and it’s certainly not fair, so it seemed like a fair question.
See, I arrived at this decision after a couple beers and the IMDb page of Katharine Hepburn. I’d heard horror stories of studio politics and even directors that, essentially, refused to work with her. Now, this may not sound like an average night to most, but it’s pretty par for the course as I scrolled through her bio and trivia and personal quotes.
Up until this point, I’d always enjoyed Katharine Hepburn in the work she’d done. She’s absolutely charming alongside Cary Grant in Bringing Up Baby and The Philadelphia Story or alongside Spencer Tracy in Adam’s Rib or The Desk Set. What appreciation I had for the woman going into this grew as I read more and more about her. Her tenacity, her wit, even her politics were incredibly ahead of their time.
Why is it then that, to put it lightly, Katharine Hepburn is considered to be a bitch? I mean, after all, she only did what most of her male co-stars were certainly doing at the time. Then again, time, as a contextual piece, has a funny way of playing tricks on you. Even sorting through all of the stuff I find out about her, not even I can make up my mind. I think she was most likely particular, or stubborn in a word, but she’s certainly got a damning reputation just for being stubborn.
Besides, she had to have been doing something right. I mean, the woman received 4 Best Actress Oscars (better than Meryl Streep) yet Hollywood history has relegated her to the sidelines as yet another cautionary tale of difficult actresses. It’s hard to say if she’d be considered by today’s standards. I mean, she’s no “bathe me every day in only Evian water”, but she would have spoken her mind about the state of women in Hollywood.
In the end, it’s difficult to say why so many famous and/or successful women get dismissed as power hungry or selfish bitches. The title is most certainly undeserved. Especially when it comes to the likes of Katharine Hepburn who straddles that fine line between being a bitch and being honest. The two are so difficult to tell apart these days, but it seems time that we start working on differentiating the two.