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Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women

3.37  ·  Rating details ·  4,710 ratings  ·  352 reviews
No one better understands the desire to be bad than Elizabeth Wurtzel. Bitch is a brilliant tract on the history of manipulative female behavior. By looking at woman who derive their power from their sexuality, Wurtzel offers a trenchant cultural critique of contemporary gender relations. Beginning with Delilah, the first woman to supposedly bring a great man down (latter ...more
Paperback, 436 pages
Published May 18th 1999 by Anchor (first published 1998)
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 ·  4,710 ratings  ·  352 reviews

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Anita Smith
Jul 13, 2008 rated it did not like it
I finished reading Bitch last night, and it was a total letdown. Which is such a shame because it had such great potential and started out so strong. I thought it was going to be a book about how women throughout history have been mislabeled as "bitches"- women like Joan of Arc, Marie Antoinette, Martha Stewart, the like- and how they were quickly branded as "bitches" when they were just trying to live their lives and do their thing- like men do, only women are identified as being "assertive" an ...more
Lily Kauffman
Killed a cockroach with it and then threw it away.
Jun 13, 2007 rated it really liked it
Despite this book's many shortcomings, I loved it. Wurtzel is a complete narcissist, and she wrote this book while addicted to Ritalin, and it shows in the book's wild, rambling nature. But, despite the disorganization, I enjoyed her tribute to difficult women who refused to be selfless and submissive, many of whom I really admire (Madonna and Anne Sexton in particular). Granted, many of her subjects weren't exactly good role models, but you have to agree that society punishes women with these q ...more
Sep 04, 2012 rated it did not like it
So okay, I need to tell you right now and upfront, I couldn't finish this and am giving it a one star rating based on one section of the book that lasts a page.

When I first started reading this book, I found Wurtzel's narrative voice to be a little confusing. She was all over the place, but then you get use to it. I have to say, that Wurtzel's look at the how Amy Fisher thing was very good. Not that I spend any time thinking about Amy Fisher, but Wurzel does really bring a good new light to it.
Jan 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
I think it's easy to dismiss this book as some coke-head nonsense. Crazy bitch ranting about stuff that pisses her off. But as a non-coke-addicted peer in age group and relative socioeconomic status, I have to say she hits the mark. If you take the trouble to follow her, it's relevant.
I read the reviews here before picking this up, so I was prepared for the stream of consciousness blogish ranting that comprised the primary style of this book. She didn't always get her facts straight and made as
Aug 23, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: bitches, and the men who love them
It doesn't matter if this book was written on a wild coke bender three months past deadline. It's soulful, urgent, insightful and practically jumps off the page and chokes you to death with hyperbole that, being somewhat hyperbolic myself, I find endearing rather than annoying. The Hillary Clinton and Amy Fisher chapters stand out in my mind as particularly powerful and insightful. This book is less "in praise" of difficult women than an inquiry into why it is so very difficult to live your life ...more
Feb 03, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2011
I wanted to like "Bitch". I really did. The biggest problem with Wurtzel's book is that it gives up on its premise halfway through. It promises to dig in and give a hard cold look at why women get labeled "bitches", and she never follows through with it. She starts off strong with an analysis of the Delilah/Sampson bibilical story, but in the next chapter she devotes nearly 75 pages to Amy Fisher, who while certainly a victim, isn't anyone's idea of a bitch. She's a 13 year old girl who got swin ...more
I'll just go right ahead and join the army of reviewers who really wanted to like this book. I mean, you get called a bitch enough times in your life, you're bound to want to read a book praising bitches, right? Right.

It's a pity this book didn't provide what the cover advertised.

Wurtzel isn't praising "difficult women" so much as she's romanticizing mental illness, depression, and abusive relationships. I could survive the first two, kind of. I didn't LIKE it, but at least part of me felt that
Dana Jerman
Apr 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: feminist-canon
I love this book. The arguments are all over pop culture, but enough is noted about waves of feminism that this text is very accessible, and could be incorporated in a classroom quite easily.
Ira Therebel
Jan 18, 2014 rated it did not like it
I am actually someone who does call myself a feminist. Not one of the people who refuse to do so because they "believe in equality", think that men are the real victims of society or because they don't like what some radical said in the 70's. But I disliked the book even though I hoped to like it. Giving it a bigger rating would be rating it for what I hoped it would be, not what it really was.

To start the book is not about any research, it is all opinion. And those are outdated. Not because of
Feb 24, 2012 rated it it was ok
I'll admit, when I first found this book, I thought it was going to be something different. I was excited to read about women misbehaving badly, the movers and the shakers who have made the world what it is today. Instead, I got a tome of size nine (or smaller) font, that read to me like one woman's gripe about everything that could possibly be wrong with the world. And to me... it felt like one gigantic contradiction. I was never really certain whether or not Ms. Wurtzel was batting for the men ...more
Diann Blakely
Perhaps the less-than-rapturous reception of BITCH had to do with its timing: the proliferation of memoirs was already appearing on various literary pundits’ “Ten Worst Things About the Nineties” lists. Some argued that the form’s renewed popularity proved how pandemic contemporary America’s “culture of narcissism,” to use Christopher Lasch’s phrase, had become. Others point accusingly at a population of readers—and writers—who’ve grown too dimwitted or lazy to bother with fictional constructs l ...more
Addicted to Books
1.75 self centered and I only to be destructive and attract destructive men and that is what life is about Stars

(0.75 stars is given because I think she is intelligent and seems like someone who knows what is doing or talking about or else it is a 2 and I am not going to round it up to 2 stars)

I sometimes wondered why the hell I was reading this book! But I forced myself. I have to say this book is not a complete letdown as they are bits and nuggests of wisdom strewn inside the book.

As I was r
Aug 29, 2012 rated it did not like it
In theory, I should have loved Elizabeth Wurtzel's Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women.

I consider myself a difficult woman—I am a feminist and a human-rights supporter, and I am individual with unique, valid opinions I'm not afraid to voice.

I even have been called a bitch from time to time, and at least some of those times I've deserved it. I own it.

And, hey, who doesn't like praise?

By all accounts, then, I'm three for three. I should have liked this book.

I didn't.

Perhaps it's because I don't
Nov 13, 2007 rated it liked it
Good sweet Jesus this book is... strange. I have read this at least once before and really enjoyed it. Since then I have read more by Wurtzel - specifically More, Now, Again, which basically outlines her breakdown while writing this book.

Reading this for the second (possibly third) time was suddenly eye-opening. The writing is frequently rambling, the references are repetitive, and the arguments are totally incoherent. I'm not entirely sure what ties the book together other than Wurtzel's own ex
Nov 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: feminists, coke heads, feminist cokeheads
Shelves: truetrue
By contrast to Prozac Nation, this book is a coke binge of great ideas about feminism and class and big ideas that was apparently ummm written on a coke binges. I thought it was fascinating and it is de facto responsible for my addiction to (the now defunct... le sigh)
Jacqueline Murray-bonno
Sep 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Read this in college a long time ago and felt like reading it again when I was looking on my bookshelf tonight:-) People are so quick to ascribe labels to women and box us into little corners that make sense to them instead of just celebrate who and what we are as individuals.
Carolyn Gee
Apr 08, 2015 rated it did not like it
pedantic and pretentious.
Eva Bjørbæk
Jan 13, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5* Loved the writing style and her sharp voice. Might have just been the Ritalin she was on when writing it, but damn it was an intense read. I don't agree with all her points, but I really enjoyed reading about her take on feminism. ...more
Mar 06, 2014 rated it did not like it
What? WHAT? What was this waste of time really about? A thoroughly misleading title because where's the praise? (exception Courtney Love. This book is the crappy tabloid of books.

Honestly there were a lot of things I disliked about this book and that made me so disappinted because the title and backcover raised my hopes high.

1.) It rambles. A LOT. (What do I care about Geraldo Riveras career in a book about 'bitches'? Or for that matter what the OJ Simpson trial did FOR Geraldo... boo.)
2.) It do
Apr 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This is the first Elizabeth Wurtzel book I ever read - I think I was 15 or 16 at the time and obsessed with Courtney Love and Riot Grrrl and feminism. I hadn't even heard of Prozac Nation - that chapter of my life was to come later.

This book reminds me of a time of relative innocence in my life, but I always knew that I wasn't a typical good girl. I picked this book up because of Courtney Love but ended up by coming away with a much better understanding of "femininity" and the type of woman I wa
Sep 20, 2009 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
 - ̗̀ n i x y o l o g i s t  ̖́-
I loathe to say I wouldn't call myself a feminist, because then people assume that you're ashamed of feminism (I'm not, I just know far too many feminists who give feminism a bad name), but while I'm not going to go out and preach woman's rights, I don't think I have ever agreed with Elizabeth's words more than I do in this book.

From 'Prozac Nation', to 'More, Now, Again: A Memoir of Addiction', Elizabeth has always spoken the truth and it was always right from the heart. I love that she does th
Kate O'Hanlon
I read Bitch when I was in school and it was probably the first 'feminist' text I ever read. I doesn't hold a special place in my heart for that so much as the passionate, somewhat unhinged tone of the book. That said it was a good, if lightweight, intro to feminist ideas. Yhe focus is on social and celebrity issues rather than the political but at least that makes it accessible.

Wurtzel revealed in her second autobiography More, Now, Again: A Memoir of Addiction that she was taking a lot of spee
I LOVED this book. Absolutely loved it. Although I can see it not being everyone's cup of tea.

It reads like an unedited stream of consciousness rant written by a smart, really well-read person who is off her face on coke and ritalin. That is pretty much what it is. Consequently it has a lot of energy and I was sad every time I had to put it down.

She makes some really interesting points and arguments about a lot of different women, some I was aware of, others not so much. I agreed with much of w
Aug 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
By far one of my most favorite books. I describe it as a feminist manifesto.

Written while she was highly addicted to Ritalin and cocaine, you can almost read the addiction on the page. Despite the fact that her manic highs cause her to ramble on about various subjects, at times even straying greatly from her original thought, I thought the book was nothing short of brilliant. I am constantly referencing her thoughts when it comes to pop culture and feminism. I am amazed that she has that much in
Meridith Pushnik
Jun 10, 2009 rated it did not like it
I'm not sure if it's because this book is fifteen years old, but I feel like it's not only outdated, but it's not offering any value as far as feminist prose is concerned. The first 80 pages goes on and on talking about how women in biblical times were oppressed -- to me, this is not new or even enlightening information. I also had a difficult time with Wurtzel's writing style; her use of commas and run-on sentences make it (in my opinion) unreadable. Overall I was disappointed in the content an ...more
Jun 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: womenareamystery
Many correctly criticize this book as disjointed and fragmented, but I loved it and I think it is something that I will read again and again through life. It is impossible to ignore Elizabeth Wurtzel's talent and intelligence, as clearly evidenced in this book. I took a few classes in college and in law school about woman and I think that this book hit on more themes than Gloria Steinem or bell hooks could've ever hoped to do. ...more
Jess Lane
Sep 27, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction, memiors
This book is awful. Maybe if I had read it when it first came out in the 90's and not in 2008, I could have liked it. I am not sure that would have helped. The concept is good, that being a difficult woman is ok, but she picks some of the worse examples of difficult woman. This wouldn't have been that bad if she had made a better argument. Instead she spent the whole book bitching and didn't make any solid arguments before she was moving on to a new rant. ...more
Feb 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this 10 stars, five does not do it justice. I was in a bad relationship with a hateful man. ( not all men are mean, but he was.) I could only read or write if he were out cold from drinking. He was out when I read this. I realized that the famous line from another great book Deloris Claiborne, was true. This Bitch book helped me become one and I was able to leave and move on. This has so many truths in it. Loved it.
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Brought up Jewish, Elizabeth Wurtzel's parents divorced when she was young. As described in Prozac Nation, Wurtzel's depression began at the ages of ten to twelve. She attended Ramaz for high school and was described as an overachiever by her teachers, who expected her to become a nationally famous writer. While an undergraduate at Harvard College, she wrote for The Harvard Crimson and the Dallas ...more

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