In Praise of the Psycho Bitch

Being that the term psycho bitch is usually an embellishment for when a woman raises her voice above a whisper, sometimes it’s difficult for people to truly appreciate what it really means. The psycho bitch is an artist, and perhaps no moment in recent pop culture memory makes that clearer than Rosamund Pike’s portrayal of Amy Dunne in Gone Girl, a woman who fakes her own death to frame her husband for her murder as punishment for his infidelity.

Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes: One of many in the annals of "psycho bitches"
Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes: One of many in the annals of “psycho bitches”
While Pike’s presentation of the castrating, calculating cunt is played to perfection, she is not the first in the long history of the psycho bitch’s presence in our collective consciousness. Apart from your literary heroines of the early twentieth century, among the greats from the 1970s psycho bitches is Leona Helmsley, notoriously dubbed as the Queen of Mean. Known for wearing fur coats and a surly expression, Helmsley owned a series of hotels where her reputation for bitchery augmented tenfold after firing a series of employees for the slightest infraction. The psycho bitch ideal continued to prosper in the 80s as well, what with the likes of Tipper Gore and Nancy Reagan in the mix. Some would even argue that Madonna counted as one, what with her infamous quote, “I’m tough, I’m ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay.”
Helmsley: The Queen of Mean
Helmsley: The Queen of Mean
And then in the 90s came one of the crowning achievements in psycho bitchery, the severing of John Bobbitt’s penis by his wife, Lorena Bobbitt. Bobbitt’s motive for lashing out stemmed from the domestic abuse she had suffered at John’s hand–because, believe it or not, there’s a method to psycho bitch madness.
The aggrieved Bobbitt, post-dick cutting
The aggrieved Bobbitt, post-dick cutting
The psycho bitch representation has been far-reaching not just in reality, but in film as well. Consider the likes of Girl, Interrupted, The Devil Wears Prada and Monster, showcasing the wide spectrum of insanity within the female-specific psychosis. The revival of this portrayal via Gone Girl is telling of the continued desire to watch this prototype in action, perhaps purely for entertainment or perhaps to better understand the why behind her “craziness.” But who amongst us hasn’t wanted to plot vengeance after being wronged? How dangerously have we all teetered on the edge of being psycho bitches in our own lives (men included)? The truth is, this term has been so watered down to apply to even the scantiest revealing of “too much” emotion that we’ve all made ourselves susceptible to being classified as it at any given moment.

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  1. Pingback: Men Who Are Intimidated by Carmela Soprano Types. | Missing a Dick

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