Queen

1 Nov

I stayed up way later than I should have, the night that the nominations for the Stopies awards were announced.  Secretly, I was hoping that my podcast, the one that I co-host and that I enjoy making with Ophelie would somehow have attracted enough attention to warrant being nominated for one of the many awards being given away by the crew of the Stopcast.  I got there just in time to hear who was all nominated and to hear which award I, personally, was being nominated for:  “Biggest Drama Queen.”

At first, it started out being something that I was proud of.  I even came on the show after the nominations were announced and talked a little bit about how happy I was to be nominated and how I couldn’t wait to beat out the other nominees for the grand prize.  I woke up the next morning and immediately spammed my Twitter feed with requests for people to vote for me as the “Biggest Drama Queen” and it was all fun and fancy free – at least for a little while.

The next day, I got into a scuffle with some people that I went to high school with, over on the Facebook page for our 10 year high school reunion.  There were a couple of women I went to school with who were upset about the fact that they couldn’t bring their children to the festivities, which would be taking place on a Saturday night at a swanky hotel in the city.  I made a comment that I couldn’t imagine why any parent would want to bring their child to such an event and that it isn’t the job of the organizers or us to entertain their children or to change things around so that the accommodations could be more to their liking.

Needless to say, this led to strings of trolling and some pretty nasty remarks about my lifestyle or my character.  I left the group, when I sensed things were taking a turn for the worse and only re-joined a few days later, at the request of the woman who was moderating the page and who was basically organizing the event.  Afterwards, people were reflecting on the sad state of some of our former classmates and I felt the need to apologize for my part in how things went down.  At that point, one of the guys I went to high school with chimed in with, “You haven’t changed since high school.  You’re still just a confrontational drama queen.”

There were those words again:  “drama queen.”  You are a drama queen.  Not even that I am a drama queen, but that I have always been a drama queen.  This implies that nothing has changed and that I have been something potentially negative all this time.  From then on, it stopped being funny.  It stopped being something to be proud of.  Instead, it became something that I began to obsess over.  I immediately texted my best friend, who I have known and loved since junior high.  I asked her, “Was I a confrontational drama queen in high school?”  She replied, “Um, kinda.”  Clearly, she was not my target audience. I didn’t really want to hear anything even remotely biased or subjective, so I took myself to the only factual and honest resource that I could think of:  Wikipedia.

Entering the words “drama queen” into their search engine brings up various forms of entertainment and interestingly enough, Histrionic Personality Disorder, or HPD.  The definition reads a little something like this:

Histrionic personality disorder (HPD) is defined by the American Psychiatric Association as a personality disorder characterized by a pattern of excessive emotionality and attention-seeking, including an excessive need for approval and inappropriately seductive behavior, usually beginning in early adulthood. These individuals are lively, dramatic, vivacious, enthusiastic, and flirtatious.

Well, this isn’t looking good for me.

Like any sane person who tries to self-diagnose via the Internet, I immediately began to get sucked into the various definitions of a histrionic personality and finding ways that this disorder seemed to be a perfect explanation for the way that I am.  Before I knew it, I had at least a dozen tabs open, full of home remedies, acronyms for how to describe people with this disorder, examples of histrionic personalities throughout history, differential diagnoses – you name it.  I was going into histrionics just reading about the possibility that I could be histrionic.  I had to take a step back for a moment and then it hit me.  I started to view things from an entirely different angle.

When you’re a woman, you’re not allowed to just “be.”  If you’re emotional, you’re hysterical.  If you’re assertive, you’re a bitch.  If you enjoy sex, you’re a whore.  If you swear, you’re uncouth.  If you get ahead in life, someone helped you get there.  Being a woman means being forced to operate in extremes.  You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t.  It’s very hard to find a middle ground in anything, as a woman.  To me, phrases like “drama queen” or “slut” are really easy for people to turn to, when they can’t find other ways to label you or judge you.  How many times have you met someone who has described their most recent ex-boyfriend or girlfriend as simply being “crazy?”  What does that mean exactly?  Were they boiling your house pets in water on the stove?  Were they throwing pebbles at your window in the middle of the night, in a misguided attempt to wake you up and read you poetry?  Crazy could mean any number of things, but when you hear the word “crazy” your mind usually goes in one direction and it’s usually not in a positive one.

I asked my shrink about this today, if she thought that I was a drama queen and she helped me elaborate a bit more on the subject.  Drama queens do what they do for the attention, for the rush.  I have been in conflicts where I have felt that adrenaline rush and let me tell you that I did not enjoy it.  I did not enjoy the way that my hands shook violently and that I was so cold from anxiety that I couldn’t stop shivering, no matter how high I turned the heat on in my apartment or how many blankets I wrapped around myself.  I did not enjoy the feeling of my stomach being wrapped around and around like a wet towel, so tightly that I could not even sit because of how uncomfortable it made me feel.  I have experienced that surge of adrenaline, that feeling of fight or flight and it has never been something that I have wished or willed upon myself.

Don’t get me wrong, I do not avoid conflict.  To me, there is no such thing as avoiding conflict.  There is such a thing as avoiding resolution and that’s what avoiding conflict is, to me.  I don’t shy away from an opportunity to defend myself or to stand up for someone else.  I don’t let people walk all over me.  I say what’s on my mind and I try to do the right thing.  It may not always go down like that, but that’s typically my intention.  I didn’t do that nearly enough in high school and I regret it, to this day.  I was the doormat.  I was the wallflower.  I took it – all the jokes, all the bullying, all the judgment, and I didn’t say or do anything to defend myself.  As I got older, I realized that I could have done something all along and so that’s why I am as outspoken as I am today.  I know how it feels, to feel like you don’t exist because you do not have a voice and you cannot bring yourself to use it.  So, if being silent means I don’t exist, then I will be as loud as I can to prove to myself and to anyone else that I do.

If standing up for myself, laughing as loudly as I can at a hilarious joke, or knowing what I want in life and not letting anyone get in the way of that and not settling for less makes me a drama queen, then I will be your drama queen.  I don’t feel these are qualities that anyone, much less a woman should be ashamed of.  We have become so afraid of rocking the boat and breaking the mold that we have to slap a label on someone who would dare to do otherwise.  It’s easier for people to digest that way.  It’s easier for people to understand, for them to figure you out and possibly dismiss you if they can throw a tag like that on you, as if to explain why are you the way you are in two or three little words.  Well, I for one am not having it.

If I were truly a drama queen, I would have had so many opportunities with which to indulge in this kind of behavior that I have completely missed out on.  I could have stormed up to people I don’t care for at the WoWInsider party and gave them a piece of my mind.  I could have called a meeting with Beru to berate her for her alleged cattiness and how she spent so much time misunderstanding me.  I could have thrown a shit fit when I woke up to a handful of strange men in my hotel room, courtesy of Ophelie.  Were I a true drama queen, those would have been prime opportunities to lose my damn mind and to soak up as much attention as I possibly could have.  Did I do that?  No, I did not.  Instead, I stayed with the people I came with at the pool party and networked with those that I truly wanted to be around.  Beru and I had a lovely conversation in the lobby at the Hilton and I feel like we started on the path towards making amends.  I had a hearty laugh at the strange men in our hotel room, a situation which Ophelie seemed to be more distraught or embarassed over than I was.

We can choose to take the labels that we are given at face value, or we can choose to adapt them to ourselves, to make them fit us.  I may not have gone into this situation with that mindset, but it is where I am right now.  And I can’t think of any other place, mentally or emotionally that I would rather be.

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13 Responses to “Queen”

  1. Zse November 1, 2011 at 8:07 am #

    You have very strong opinions about things and are not afraid of expressing them. I don’t think that makes you a ‘drama queen’ so much as it makes you seem self confident and firm in your own beliefs. Of course, and you addressed this well, strong opinionated women will get labelled a bitch or a drama queen (even by other women) instead of being viewed as having a valid opinion.

    I can think of some instances where you’ve said something (on twitter, etc) that I didn’t necessarily agree with but it certainly doesn’t make me think of you as a drama queen. I admire that you stand firmly in your beliefs – its one of the things that makes me see you as strong.

    Own it, girl.

  2. Apple Cider November 1, 2011 at 9:57 am #

    Shorah makes a really good point. It’s interesting though because I did at one time think you were a drama queen but I’ve since moved on from a lot of my old, tired anti-woman thoughts in the past couple of years. I have known actual drama queens, even if they weren’t clinical (Histrionic people tend to have such a predilection for attention seeking that it disrupts their life) and trust me you are not that. When you start prioritizing making a big show of things, scheming and generally disrupting people’s lives for the sake of being the center of attention, that would be the true drama queen moment.

    Being strong-willed, outspoken and even maybe a little snarky or rude sometimes does not mean drama queen but you are right in thinking that it is just another way to slice down women. Being hysterical or catty is how women are torn apart for the same things men do, but we are seen as being that all the time because we don’t beat our chests and use aggression to get our way.

  3. Ratshag November 1, 2011 at 10:31 am #

    “I made a comment that I couldn’t imagine why any parent would want to bring their child to such an event and that it isn’t the job of the organizers or us to entertain their children or to change things around so that the accommodations could be more to their liking.”

    Only reason I can thinks of fer ta bring yer kids ta yer reunion is so as ya can show’em off, like bowlin’ trophies or ogre scalps. As a parent what loves the crapdoodle outta his kid, I sez this thinking be seven degrees of messed up. Some buggers is drama queens here, and it ain’t you.

  4. Big Jimbo November 1, 2011 at 11:51 am #

    Actually, A.Cider, being snarky or rude is very much being a Drama Queen.

    It’s quite possible to disagree, be confrotational and even argue without being snarky or rude. It’s quite possible to be outspoken and strong-willed without being snarky or rude.

    While you can stand by your comments and convictions, when you call someone and “entitled twit” on Twitter, you aren’t doing the right thing. You’re being rude and a drama queen.

    (Edited in the interest of space, per original commenter’s request.)

    • Oestrus November 1, 2011 at 1:43 pm #

      Hi Jimbo,

      I’m not sure if this comment is meant for Cider or myself. Personally, I can’t recall calling someone an entitled twit. I would like to think if I did call someone that that I had a reason for doing so. I can’t say that I’m prone to just randomly selecting people from Twitter to shoot insults at. More importantly, it’s my Twitter feed. If you’re checking my feed for updates and trying to accurately determine my character in 140 letters, I can’t imagine you’re going to get very far.

      Furthermore, if someone is being an entitled twit, we have every right to identify them as such. We can tip toe around the fact that someone is carrying a sense of entitlement or we can say out loud, “You know, we think you’re acting a bit entitled and you need to knock it off.” If that’s what is really happening, why is it so bad to acknowledge it? Is it better to bottle it up and stew about it, then to actually address the situation? I don’t think anyone wins when you do that.

      Or to quote one of my favorite movies, “It’s not kindness. It’s cowardice.”

      • Big Jimbo November 1, 2011 at 2:28 pm #

        It was for both of you…and even a little bit for myself. I say myself because the point was that if you’re being rude to someone when it isn’t necessarily warranted is being a “Drama Queen”, regardless of gender. Of course, when it’s “necessary” to be rude to someone will be very subjective, but it’s arguable that rudeness is never required.

        In regards to the specific example, it wasn’t an attempt to define your character. It was an attempt to point out where (at least at one time) you may have appeared to be a Drama Queen. It wasn’t random and it was quite clear that you had a reason. But it was also rude and offered nothing constructive to the conflict (which could also be described as “avoiding resolution”, if one wanted to call it that).

        It’s not about bottlings things up or tip-toeing around the problem. Nor is it about refraining from speaking out and being strong-willed. It’s about being able to express your points/thoughts/what-have-you without belittling the others involved. It’s the about the difference bewteen calling someone “entitled” and calling them an “entitled twit”.

        Double aside:
        1) If I seem judgemental, I’m really not. That would be hypocritical, because I am also prone to being unnecessarily rude.
        2) You and I both know you’ve expressed a lot more than 140 letters on twitter. 🙂

        (Edited again, per consent of the original commenter.)

        • Oestrus November 1, 2011 at 2:36 pm #

          I think you misunderstand the meaning of a “drama queen.” I think if everyone who was rude to someone they didn’t know was labeled a drama queen for it, we would have a lot more drama queens running around than we actually do. This plays into what Cider and others have talked about. It’s a phrase that people throw around when they can’t come up with a better word or set of words to describe someone or someone’s behavior.

          Is being rude always the right thing to do? No, of course not. That alone doesn’t warrant labeling someone a drama queen, especially if you only see one side of an argument, which is prone to happening on Twitter. You see what we choose to show you. You see what you are able to see, based on who you Follow. I don’t think that gives anyone the ability to say “A-ha! I know the entirety of a situation.” No, you don’t. You know a side of it. You certainly don’t know enough about someone from that one format to presume to call them a drama queen. I don’t care who you are.

  5. noelove November 1, 2011 at 12:06 pm #

    I can identify really well with this post. I was never one to shy away from confrontation but I definitely don’t go searching out for it. I’ve been called drama queen many times in my life, and my nomination for the Stopies too got me thinking. I think the label ‘drama queen’ is a weak way to categorize someone of strong will, which you definitely are.

    As a 3rd time parent, there is no way in HELL that I would want to bring my children to a swanky hotel for a reunion. You were on point about that one. However, when I was a brand new mom, I did have issues separating myself from my son because I felt guilty if I went some where without him. I learned over the years that is not healthy and I do deserve to go out and have a good time without my wee one. Perhaps some of these moms who wanted to bring their kids were feeling that way as well. You getting trolled or the nasty comments are just uncalled for. I’ve found when women do that its because of their own insecurities. Regardless I hope you have a great time at your reunion.

    Also vote O for Biggest Drama Queen for the Stopies! 🙂

    • Oestrus November 1, 2011 at 1:40 pm #

      Hi Noel,

      You were actually one of the people I originally referenced in that last paragraph or two. I remember hearing you introduce yourself to someone at the WoWInsider party and I wanted to say something to you, because you looked great and I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know if you were going to chew me out or if I was welcome to come say hello. So, I opted to walk away and let you have a good time. I know that sounds terribly emo, but I just want to put it out there that I did want to say to hello to you and I’m kind of sorry that I didn’t. I just didn’t know how you felt about me, all jokes aside on Twitter and such. I never knew if you were serious or you thought I was serious or what the deal was.

      Anywho.

      I’m glad you stopped by and that you could also relate to what I was talking about. I think you and I have more in common than we realize or than we admit to and I was glad to see you leave a comment here.

      I can understand what you’re saying about not wanting to be away from a new child in your life, but these moms weren’t coming at it from that angle. They were coming at it more from the “We have children and we expect you to make room for us because of this” angle. It was full of entitlement. It was full of a tone that was meant to purely separate “us” from “them,” (i.e. the parents vs. everyone else who doesn’t have children and could possibly never understand). I love children. I really do. I just don’t think that’s the particular place to love them at.

      Thanks for the voting plug, by the way. I’m still mad you didn’t pass out fliers as promised.

      😉

      • Noel November 1, 2011 at 3:02 pm #

        Oh woman! I totally wanted to find you at any of the parties and give you a big hug. We may totally butt heads on the Internet, but I have a deep and profound respect for you, so of course I would have opened my arms and hugged you, bought you a drink, etc. Did we even make eye contact? I was so smitten with @Ceraphus and his guildies, the New Kids on the Block could have been serenading me and I wouldn’t have noticed.

        I know that we can play up the cattiness with each other on twitter but I never once took it seriously. I think we’re too grown up to really have Internet beef right? I willingly admit that, especially with this post, we have a LOT in common and its difficult at times for two strong, opinionated women who can be catty, to get along. 🙂

        As for the mom angle, ugh, I deal with women like that in real life and I have a hard time relating to them. Its like women who completely lose themselves to their children, change their usernames to ‘momof2boys’ or ‘mommy2bobbyandDanielle’. Its like…really? You had a kid and now you aren’t yourself any more? Ive never once had a user name like that, I’ve always been noelove, or another username on live journal.

        I participated in a lot of family/child centered communities over there and saw so many women who just defined themselves as only mothers, which to me is sad and something I wouldn’t do. And some women who talked about how they could NEVER EVER have anyone on their journal who wasn’t a parent because ‘they just don’t have anything in common’. How do you lose 20 some odd years of your life as soon as you have a baby? You forget what its like to be a NON-parent!? The high horse named entitlement that they road in on needs to be put out to pasture. They give parents a bad name.

        Ha! The flyers! They were wrapped in the Dum-Dums that I was handing out all weekend. 🙂

  6. spinks November 1, 2011 at 1:52 pm #

    ” These individuals are lively, dramatic, vivacious, enthusiastic, and flirtatious”

    So … which of those is a bad thing?

    I hate those personality disorder diagnoses, so often it comes across as psychs just adding a label to a group of fairly common behavioural traits. I don’t really see the problem with bringing children to an evening event, am sure we’ve had kids at family weddings/ parties; just the parents need to make sure the children have had enough sleep during the day and take them home when they are getting tired. I’d be sympathetic with people who thought that anyone organising a 10th anniversaru school reunion might want to take into account that a lot of people will have gotten partners and sprogs in the intervening years, but that’s just my opinion.

    FWIW, I never read you as a drama queen. I think you enjoy provoking discussion/ confrontation but that’s what the internet is for, isn’t it?

    • Oestrus November 1, 2011 at 2:14 pm #

      I can’t help but get giddy when I see YOU, “Spinks” leaving a comment on MY blog. It brings out the fan girl in me.

      Moving on!

      For what it’s worth, the woman organizing the reunion did open up the floor to what people wanted, in the early planning stages. There was talk of having an event during the day, maybe at a park that everyone could bring their children to and have it be more family friendly than a late night social at a fancy hotel. Unfortunately, there weren’t enough people who wanted that. Most of the parents agreed with Noelove, with regards to there being a time and a place to bring your children and this type of shindig not really being one of them. It wasn’t the single folks who said “Ack! No children.” It was the other parents that voted to have it this way.

      I do like to provoke discussion, because it makes me very sad when I see people who are scared to disagree with one another or who are scared to bring up a certain topic for whatever reason. That’s why we are here. I think the blogosphere would be a mighty boring place if we all got along and if we all thought the same things or wanted the same things. I think it’s perfectly healthy and I wish more people weren’t afraid to really go there.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Ophelie November 1, 2011 at 11:31 pm #

    If it’s any reassurance, I’ve known someone with histrionic personality disorder and you don’t give that vibe at all. Personality disorders affect most, if not all, aspects of a persons life, and people with HPD do some pretty extreme things in the name of attention.

    What constitutes a “drama queen” is kind of subjective. What might be exaggeration to one person isn’t necessarily exaggeration to another.

    It depends on context too. Being called a “drama queen” affectionately by your friends doesn’t carry the same meaning as being called one by semi-strangers.

    I wouldn’t pay attention your former high school classmates. Sounds like THEY’RE the ones who haven’t changed. (Either that or they’re proving my theory that spending too much time with toddlers makes a person act like a toddler)

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