The Other “B” Word
When I was a tender lily . . . wait a minute. I was never a tender lily! But I was young once. And when I was all of about twenty-five, some guy at a party (who I thought I might like) referred to be as a “broad.” Well, I never! I started not to like him quite as much, but he unashamedly defended his descriptor. “What!?” he asked. “A broad is great! She’s tough and all woman.” I remained unconvinced at the time, but lately, I’ve been giving Broads some thought.
We’re all about the Bombshell, here, of course. But what about reclaiming the evocative Broad? A Broad is womanly, tough, and perhaps a little larger than life. She’s no one to be messed with. She’s got Bette Davis attitude, if not her eyes. Broad has fallen out of favor in these modern times, much like “ma’am”: I know women who become positively homicidal if they’re addressed as “ma’am”! But I, for one, like it. I may start referring to myself as a Broad, too.
A Broad is nobody’s fool. She knows what she wants, and she unapologetically goes after it. She’s not rude, but neither is she a shrinking violet (hardly). She speaks her mind, usually with a wicked twist of wit. She’s not afraid to be a little daffy, especially when she’s caught up in the pursuit of her dreams or desires: think Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday.
Broads are unafraid in general. They make plenty of mistakes, but they don’t agonize over them: they live and learn. A Broad expects to be seen and heard, and relishes discussions (which could easily be mistaken for arguments, given the passion with which a Broad speaks her mind) with anyone and everyone. She listens as much as she talks, but you’d be forgiven for missing that part, given her rapid-fire responses.
A Broad can be as tough on others as she is on herself, and this is where a bit of temperance might serve her well. However, you might argue that the Broad’s nature cannot be altered, and you might be right. More often than not, Broad is used with a bit of grudging admiration. A Broad isn’t always likeable, but sometimes you just have to give her credit for her strength and single-mindedness.
Who could be considered a Broad today? I think of the late Amy Winehouse: tough, but sadly, also brittle. Joan Cusack (a modern-day Eve Arden) always seems to have a wisecrack at the ready, a hallmark of the Broad. Both Ann Richards and Molly Ivins (and both dearly departed) were the very definition of Broads, and if you’re unfamiliar with them, do yourself a favor and read up: they were amazing!
What do you think? Is a Broad something to aspire to, or is it a word that we should leave in the past?