Big Pussy Energy

At some point over the summer, in the throes of their whirlwind romance, Ariana Grande tweeted about Pete Davidson having a 10-inch dick, and, shortly after, Twitter and the rest of the internet started a roaring brush fire of conversations around something called Big Dick Energy and what exactly that means. Various publications, including Vice and The Verge pumped out articles trying to explain Big Dick Energy (or BDE). It was described as “a self-assurance that radiates from deep within and can be felt for miles.” Or, for those of you who want something more concrete to latch onto, it means “inadvertently seeing yourself in the front-facing camera on your phone and not immediately wanting to die.”

Now that Big Dick Energy seems to be here for the long haul, judging by the steady stream of articles that sling the descriptor about with abandon, my cousin, Sarah, and I decided to sit down together and write this out to try to unpack what is going on. Even just within the last couple weeks, Big Dick Energy has been attributed to celebrities as diverse as Justin Bieber, Paul McCartney, and Celine Dion. Because here’s the thing that stuck out to us: BDE, as per the commonly accepted definitions, can be applied to both men and women. At first we were, like, “Yeah, ladies! Get it! Swing that Big Dick Energy around! Pull it out and slap some dude across the face with your BDE!” But then we realized that once again the patriarchy was throwing some crumbs our way to distract us from asking the most important question:

Why is there no female equivalent??

Try saying the words Big Pussy Energy out loud to yourself right now. Say it again. How weird does that feel? Does your mind conjure up an image when you say that phrase? If it does, we’d bet that for most minds (male or female), it’s not pretty. And whenever shit feels uncomfortable, that’s when we like to dig in and ask questions.

Let’s break this down. BDE is essentially having quiet, non-preening confidence; feeling secure in yourself; knowing you deserve all the good things in life. Humans with BDE need not rely on external validation, since they gain it internally. Why are these characteristics associated with male genitalia? None of these traits are inherently masculine. It’s not about testosterone. We’re not talking about tendencies towards risk-taking, or probability of cardiovascular disease. We’re talking about being confident and at ease in the world. Somehow, having a large penis has become equivalent to that sense of confidence and ease.

That sense of confidence and ease, however, should be equally applicable across genders. The only reason why it’s considered masculine is because society has conditioned women over thousands of years to doubt themselves and to undervalue themselves. We do this because we merely reflect how undervalued we’ve been by the world we live in. We’ve been undervalued by dowries, by disenfranchisement, by corsets and bound feet, by discrimination and denial of reproductive rights, and by 80 cents on the damn dollar even now (54 cents for Latina women, 62 cents for African-American women). How can one have easy confidence when one is fighting to be heard? It’s not that it’s a masculine trait, it’s that women haven’t had the chance to exercise it.

Since women have had to fight so hard for every opportunity, we’re seen instead as hysterical and overemotional, fragile and brittle, embittered and not-at-all chill — all of these being pejoratives for having a deeper set of emotional responses (a good thing) and for being tired and worn out from having only dissatisfying binaries available to us (not a good thing, but understandable). Those women who have somehow managed to exude cool, unfussy aplomb, despite the realities of being a woman, have now earned the coveted designation of possessing BDE. The internet has unanimously agreed that Rihanna and Cate Blanchett, among others, possess BDE. They’ve succeeded in having what society has tried to hammer out of women, and in doing so, has trained us to associate solely with men.

Can you imagine Big Pussy Energy? Try to say it again. When Sarah and I were talking about this topic, both of us struggled just even letting the phrase roll off our tongues. Because big dicks are good, but big pussies are bad. Big dicks are good because apparently, in being a man, you are encouraged to take up as much space as possible. This practice of taking up space can take the form of being the loudest person in a conversation, manspreading on public transit, and also, it seems, having a big dick. Big vaginas, on the other hand, are bad because women are supposed to take up as little space as possible. In conversations, in public transit, and even inside our vaginas. Women shouldn’t have Big Pussy Energy, but instead, like, “Tiny, Tight, Receptive Pussy Energy.” We’re taught to apologize any time we dare take up the space our bodies need. Most of us self-identifying women didn’t sign up for living our lives as a tight, tiny, receptacle for men, which is why it’s been strange to see such universal valorization of this new term, BDE, online this summer. We hoped that we were moving past these outdated assumptions.

What we need to do, instead, is separate the characteristics of what we’re calling Big Dick Energy from any gendered genitalia. We don’t want our confidence to be understood as coming from some invisible dick field jizzing out a cloud of self-assurance. BDE shouldn’t stem from this erroneous masculinization of a non-gendered way of being. If Big Dick Energy shouldn’t exist, then Big Pussy Energy shouldn’t exist either. But what if creating a concept of BPE allows us to celebrate the feminine energy (that exists within all of us, men and women alike) that is too often disregarded in our culture?

So, let’s ask ourselves: What would BPE look like? What would it feel like? Is it something we want to possess? We think so. What if Big Pussy Energy was a way of recognizing and commending being compassionate? Or diplomatic and inclusive, rather than divisive? Or nurturing? Or insightful? How can we use BPE to applaud the feminine, the same way we talk about BDE as a way of applauding (misidentified) masculine traits? Can we use the words “Big” and “Pussy” together to remind ourselves that women can take up space too? Can we repeat them over and over again until it trips off our tongues like a blessing rather than some sort of grotesque horror? Maybe, after all of that, one day we’ll see someone walking down the street, radiating grace, empathy, and self-respect, and we’ll murmur to each other, “Holy shit, dude, that person has some Big Pussy Energy.”

Wanna help us shift this conversation? #bpe