Susie Essman
Photo: Michael Cogliantry
Recently, a male friend told me I was "a great broad." While some women would be offended by such a remark, I took it as a compliment of the highest order. Sort of like being told I'm great in bed by Hugh Hefner. I am a broad and I'm proud of it. I tried to find the origin of the word—etymology is my middle name—and came up with lots of different ones, though none of them sounded right to me. Most said that the word originally meant a woman of uncertain morals. Well, I suppose that depends on whose morality you subscribe to. I'm pretty certain of my morals. I know what they are and what they're not. No uncertainty there. 

According to the Merriam-Essman Dictionary (that would be me), a broad is defined as "a real woman." A woman who can hang with the guys when necessary but is still the best friend her girlfriends could ever wish for. A broad likes to eat and drink and laugh out loud. A broad is not offended by ribald or salty humor. In fact, she can curse with the best of them. A broad knows who and what she is and although some people may say she's crass or unladylike, she knows exactly when and how to use her feminine wiles—and when and how to tell those same people to go shove it. 

A broad isn't a little girl; you know, a grown woman who still comports herself as though she's a frilly 9-year-old on a playground full of boys. She doesn't play a helpless, tragic, waif thing. She's not a fragile, delicate flower that's going to break if you look at her the wrong way. She's not expecting somebody to save or rescue her. She can take care of herself, thank you very much. It's not that she doesn't need or want a man—she frequently does, and she frequently has one—but her happiness and well-being aren't contingent upon having it. She'll go to casinos and play poker, she'll go to saloons and knock 'em back, she'll go to ballgames and scream and shout, and know exactly what she's screaming about.
A broad is good company. She's not touchy about being called a broad. She doesn't spell women, womyn. She doesn't go to women's festivals or Lillith Fair concerts, or wear "I hate men" T-shirts. She doesn't get insulted when you tell her she's got a nice rack or a great ass—especially if she has a nice rack and a great ass—or when you call her a babe, a doll, a chick or a bird, unless you mean it as an insult. And then she'll give it right back to you and you won't know what hit you. A broad has a sense of humor and above all, is able to laugh at herself. 

A broad can be fat or thin, pretty or not so much, but it doesn't matter because a broad knows how to put herself together and make the best of what she's got, and be comfortable with who she is. She likes lipstick and high heels but will wear sweats when the spirit moves her. A broad isn't squeamish and afraid of bodily functions. A broad likes sex and sexiness and is proud of it. A broad likes real men, quiche-eating or not. A broad likes when you disagree with her. She likes a good fight. She likes opinions and arguments and lively discourse.

A broad loves good dirt. Yeah, she can keep a secret and won't betray a confidence but she can still dish with the best of them. Not vicious, mean, spirited gossip but interesting, character-revealing, juicy tidbits. She doesn't talk behind your back so much as cut through the crap and talk to your face. 

A broad likes being a woman, and though she's aware of the sexism out there and yeah, it's annoying and yeah, she'll fight it when and where she can—still, a broad is no victim. She's not sitting by the phone waiting for some man to give her a life, she's living one, in all its emotionally messy splendor. She's not pretending to be anything other than what she is, and she's not kvetching about what might have been or what she doesn't have. She knows that kindness has meaning and that treating people with respect doesn't make you a wimp. She's honest and real and warm, and not because she wants you to like her, rather because she wants to like you. A broad is a whole lot of great things, but most of all, a broad is fun. I really love being a broad. 

Read an excerpt from Susie's book, What Would Susie Say?

Susie Essman has played the sassy Susie Greene for all seven seasons of the critically acclaimed HBO comedy series Curb Your Enthusiasm. She has been a veteran of the world of stand-up comedy for 25 years and has appeared in her own half-hour HBO comedy special and made numerous appearances on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, The View and Crank Yankers. She also has acted in numerous films, most recently co-starring with John Travolta as the voice of Mittens the Cat in the Disney animated movie Bolt. To learn more about her work and her book, check out

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