Words are important. Or if they aren’t, I at least need to pretend they are, because I’m an English major, writer, and PR professional, and if words aren’t powerful, I might as well go home and watch TV. So, before we begin, here’s an explication of this blog’s title.
It started with the word “overbearing”,* which, according to the Oxford Pocket Dictionary, means “unpleasantly or arrogantly domineering.” Domination, in general, is not something I’m in favor of.** In my opinion, the whole world would be a better place if we’d all listen to each other more often.
Overbearing, however, is also a polite word for bitchy, at least in the ever-polite Southeast. As in, “Well, she is a little bit…overbearing.” It’s the opposite of nice. People, women especially, who cause trouble, speak up, talk about politics at dinner, yell when angry, don’t back down, or subscribe to Bitch Magazine*** are overbearing.
Here’s the contradiction: How are we all going to be able to listen to each other if we can’t all say what we think? When people shut up because they’re afraid of being overbearing, their voices get lost. Silence is assent. Fear of being overbearing keeps people quiet in the face of domination and injustice. If overbearing really meant having power over, I wouldn’t want to endorse it. But too often, overbearing means willing to question power. Questioning power, I like.
No one has ever called me overbearing for strongly expressing my love for someone’s new shirt, for commenting on the deliciousness of dessert, for blabbing about my plan to fly to CA for vacation, for talking loudly about the weather, or for saying someone’s baby is cute at the top of my lungs – even when I‘m loud and interrupt.**** I’m overbearing when I point out that new shirts might be made in sweatshops, that that candy bar is made with slave chocolate*****, that plane flights warm the globe, that I don’t want to crank the air conditioning up because it tears down mountains in West Virginia, that I don’t plan to have kids because there are enough people on this planet already – even when I’m quiet and speak in turn.
* No, I don’t always put my punctuation inside the quotation marks. That rule doesn’t make sense. Deal with it.
** Unless it’s between consenting adults and involves safewords, in which case, go for it.
*** Do this now.
**** I do all these things. I promise.
***** But Fair Trade chocolate isn’t! Yum.