Elizabeth Wurtzel – Bitch in Praise of Difficult Women (1998)


If you can work through the fact that this is essentially a diatribe full of huge contradictions, confusing digressions and more pop culture references than and episode of Gilmore Girls, you’ll find that Wurtzel’s book is actually quite an honest and insightful look at women who have traditionally been seen as a “pain in the ass”

The book is a celebration of “improper women”; those who are too selfish, vulgar, violent, or even too beautiful. Wurtzel has no time or place for the traits of the “good girl” – submissive, selfless, and the dreaded “nice” – and insists that to be a “bad girl” means to be completely liberated. Unfortunately society has made life difficult for the bad girls of history and most have led pretty miserable lives (an homage to Sylvia Plath)

This seems to be the root or Wurtzel’s argument but I’m not sure if I’ve even gotten to the bottom of what she’s trying to say. There are points where I had moments of clarity and thought I was following only to have her completely contradict herself in the next chapter. (She hates traditional good girls but saves her greatest praise for the subtle, serene detachment of Grace Kelley and Audrey Hepburn) I guess in a way it made a bit of sense, nothing is as black and white as the “good-girl/bad-girl” or even better “virgin/whore” dichotomy. Being a woman is complicated and many do not fit into these incredibly narrow definitions. It’s a bit unfortunate that Wrutzel could not find her driving point, but I guess on some level it works. This is a difficult read and not for the fait of heart.

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