A Series of Personal Definitions – Define: Brat

Sometimes I forget that I use words in ways that many people don’t. I get tripped up in conversation when I use some term in a modified way and people don’t follow my use of twisted context.

An example: the word “brat”.

At this point I pretty much always forget that this has any kind of negative association at all. For me, being bratty is freaking fantastic. My personal definition of a brat is “someone who is awesome and socially subversive”. So…a punk. (My personal ideal of a punk is actually Elvis, which actually makes sense, because the definition of punk (according to freedictionary.com) is “A young person, especially a member of a rebellious counter-culture group.”, which is really a fantastic description of Elvis hitting mainstream media, but that’s beside the point. Or maybe that is the point. Whatever.)

My go-to example of “brattiness” is…Jesus. (Or Ghandi. Or Martin Luther King Jr.)

For three reasons, I think Jesus is an epic, *awesome* brat:

The phrase “turn the other cheek”, is something you’ve probably heard if you’ve grown up in any western culture. It’s touted as this bizarre idea that if someone is going to hit you, you’re somehow a better person for allowing them to continue to beat you.

Something seriously got lost in the translation there, friends, because the actual passage is a lot more detailed. What does it actually say? Well, something along the lines of “If someone goes to strike your left cheek with their right hand, turn the other cheek.”

What does *that* mean?

The situation it’s describing is if somebody tries to backhand you. At the time, there was a lot of meaning in that. Backhanding is not the way that one strikes a person they consider an equal. It’s the way that they strike a person they consider lower in status. It has larger social implications along with the actual act of violence.

What the phrase “turn the other cheek” was originally intended to mean “force your attacker to face you as an equal”. Don’t allow someone to subjugate you in a way that implies you are less of a human than they are.

That’s a mighty different message than the one that Sunday School teachers are probably sending.

It’s also a freaking *awesome* message. That’s the kind of message that I can understand being a rallying cry for thousands of people struggling with persecution.

Another phrase from the bible that doesn’t mean what you probably thought it did: “If someone asks for your shirt, give them your coat as well”.

Which mostly has come to mean “even if you think you’ve given enough, give MORE!” (and in this day and age, it mostly means GIVE EVERYTHING TO THE CHURCH, but that’s politics and power for you.)

Really though, being naked in public was against the law, so if someone made you give them your shirt, you gave them your coat as well, because then in the eyes of the law, they were in the wrong, as they were the person who had created a situation where the law had been broken.

So, when someone asked for your shirt, and you gave them your coat as well, they then had to go to court and defend their actions.


For our third example, we’ll go with the phrase, “if someone asks you to carry their belongings for one mile, walk two.”

It was legal for a Roman soldier to force someone to carry their belongings for one mile, but ONLY for one mile.

So, if a soldier made you carry their stuff, you walk for two miles. This means that the soldier either gets in trouble for breaking the law, or they don’t have their stuff.

It’s not “Go out of your way to do more than is asked of you!” That’s stupid, guilt-tripping bullshit.

It’s “Know the laws, and fight smart. Use the over-confidence of others to gain power for yourself.”

Compare *that* to your modern-day Christianity.




The point is, to me, being a brat is fantastic. It’s not taking the shit that people expect you to take for no apparent reason other than “that’s the way it’s done”. Being a brat means doing what’s best for you, and using the habits of an oppressive system to gain power against it.

Being a brat means fighting with purpose and planning.



Then I remember that to most people being a brat means throwing a temper tantrum if your coffee is done wrong. Or something. (I’m not totally sure of what the meaning of “brat” is to most people, anymore, because the definitions of words change as language evolves, and I’m not sure if this one has changed since I reassigned the definition in my own personal lexicon.)

Ah well. Whatever. That’s what communication is for, right?



Also! I’ve been playing around with the layout. Let me know what you think!


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