I once read an article about how to be a badass. A well-meaning friend sent it to me, so I went in without caution. If a friend hadn’t sent me that article, I would have realised sooner what I was reading. (Better yet, I would never have read it at all.) As it was, it took me until I hit this line: ‘You can’t be a badass if you aren’t a man.’
This confused me. How had I, a woman, lived my life as something of a badass? How had all the other badass women I knew and admired managed it? I had to know. I jumped to the comments to question the author and present myself as evidence to the contrary.
I know, I know. What, did I think I was going to get a coherent answer? An admission that he was just kidding? I lived in hope. After all, my friend (a man, obviously) had sent me that article! And, in my naivety, I didn’t think anybody really believed that only men can be badass. I mean, that’s clearly a ridiculous statement. This was just some big misunderstanding, or he was making a shit joke, or something.
But he was not joking. He was Very Serious Indeed. Instead of addressing my concerns, which presumably he had no answer for, he simply declared that I looked like a man in a wig. His only way to justify my badassery, I assume. A few of his followers (the poor, witless souls) jumped in too. Apparently a dog in a wig would look better than me. ‘My kind’ was the least attractive, the most repulsive, and if I became fat I’d make them puke.
Imagine having the ability to make loathsome men puke on command. It’s not at the top of my superpower list, but I’d take it in a pinch. In case you’re interested, number one is understanding every language. Number two is shooting lightning from my fingertips. But I digress.
Being badass isn’t, as some men – according to that article – believe, about punching people when you can’t settle an argument or refusing to cook your own dinner or, perhaps the most baffling claim of all, possessing the most delicate of human organs, the testicles.
Being badass isn’t about trying to become someone you’re not, trying to live up to an idealised version of what society says you should be, as so many guys have been duped into thinking (but let’s not open that toxic can of men right now). It’s about having the confidence and courage to be yourself, whole-heartedly and without reservation, even when others say you can’t, you shouldn’t, that’s weird.
It’s the art of doing things even when you’re afraid – of getting it wrong, of doing it alone, of failing completely and embarrassingly – just because it’s something you want to do. It’s doing what you want without caring what others, especially complete strangers, will think of you.
Women are at a disadvantage here, because we’re brought up being told – and shown – that we’re supposed to be meek and subservient, to always put everyone else’s needs before our own, to be polite and kind, even to the undeserving and no matter the situation.
Confidence isn’t on the agenda and self-esteem must be quashed immediately, if not sooner, lest we become fully fledged people who know what we think, say what we feel, and act how we want. So, sure, being a badass is tougher for women. It’s not something we’re supposed to want and pretty much everything in life steers us away from it.
But that’s why when we manage it? We’re way more badass than the most badass of men.