Can a woman be a diva without being called the b— word?

Nicki Minaj claims she’s not a diva, but she won’t accept anything less than the best.

The New York rapper speaks about double standards in “My Time Now,” a mini-documentary about her rise to fame. In the clip below, she talks about being criticized after walking out of a lackluster photo shoot. She claims that she just wanted to be treated with respect for the hard work that she puts in as a  rapper, and was not trying to be a diva.

“I spend everything I have, every fiber of my being, to give people quality,” Nicki explained. “Is that wrong? Wanting more for myself? Wanting people to treat me with respect? You know what? Next time, they know better.”

Minaj flipped the script and called out the criticism as a double standard.

“When I am assertive, I’m a bitch. When a man is assertive, he’s a boss. No negative connotation behind ‘bossed up,’ but lots of negative connotation being a bitch.”

Why is it that women who know what they want and are firm about their standards are automatically called the b-word? Why it that an assertive man is praise and respected for holding down his own, but a woman who demands quality over quantity is looked down upon and seen as ungrateful? Women have consistently developed and emerged in society; it was not too long ago that women were fighting for their own civil rights, and liberation from Lysol scented kitchens to large workspaces in city buildings. Subservient and subordinate attitudes of the past have been abandoned for independence and leadership.

For women of color, feminist or diva-like qualities have been criticized as overambitious, unrealistic desires: Black women are too picky, too angry, too confident, too strong. This goes for any type of relationship—men, work, family, finances. Women of color with feminist spirits are leaders in these arenas, and traits of independence and control are detested and perceived as over-empowering and bitchy.  The concept of control and power in working or personal relationships has long been attributed to men. They must lead the household, they must control financial situations—they have to be the boss in order to ascertain their masculinity. In conservative societies, this remains the norm. Yet, as liberalism spreads and the number of independent, strong women increases, the question of who can be assertive or not becomes a valid point of inquiry.

A line exists that demarcates between being a diva or a boss, and being bitchy or overly assertive. There is no harm in a woman demanding respect—every individual, regardless of gender, desires appreciation and recognition for their work. This is what upholds morality in our society and protects the integrity of individual interactions between men and women. National beliefs are based on equality, and that includes gender equality, so women naturally have a right to experience the full measure of their assertiveness. But if a woman begins to ask for too much, or over-extends her power to the point where people around her are negatively affected by her actions and she has become a self-fulfilling greedy tyrant, then it may be time to call the bitchiness police.

Do you believe there is a double standard with assertiveness? Is there a fine line between being a diva and being a bitch? Sound off!

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  • Tae

    I really feel the same way as Nicki Minaj on this subject. My friends say that i am the same way, over;y aggressive. I mean i should be able to be a female and just as powerful as anyone else! Just because i know what i want it doesn’t make me a b-word. My friends say that I will never get married because of it. I say that bull shit. If a woman knows what she wants…a man who knows what he wants will find her attractive…

  • On one hand I see where she’s coming from. Some would say that Diddy built his career being a bitch and a diva (in addition to hard work). However, he’s a dude, so those words aren’t used.

    But on the other hand, maybe it’s your attitude and subsequent antics that shape people’s opinion of you. Being “a boss” doesn’t give you carte blanche to run roughshod over folks and cloak it with “I’m being assertive”. And then when you’re called out on your bitchiness (and rightfully so) you cry “It’s just because I’m a woman!”.

    It has nothing to do with assertiveness or passion. You can be assertive, passionate, ambitious, and respected without “laying down the law” on folks and being, well, bitchy. That goes for men AND women.

  • Ms. Opinion

    I am a woman who is intelligent, speaks educated and is assertive. Men who are insecure are not going to like a woman who is like this. I am assertive to a degree and I get called bitch and a feminist by men who are control freaks and do not like woman who have a voice and a mind to think. So yes, there is a double standard if you are a man. A woman is called all kinds of names. So weak men should stay clear of me.