I have mixed feelings about the word “bitch.” I know it offends some women, and I worry that the moment I use it, some bright spark is going to go, “Oh, so feminists can call themselves bitches, but I can’t?” before cracking his troglodyte knuckles and finger-blasting the comments section into a fine powder.
But “bitch” is also a word that a lot of women have claimed for ourselves. We do it defensively, defiantly, and preemptively, knowing that people are going to slap it on us anyway whenever we’re stuck in a no-win situation. It’s our paladin’s shield. Our … monk’s … handful of snakes? I don’t know what sort of weapon monks use. The point is, those “no-win situations” are a staple of our lives, and “bitch” has become our military strategy against them. For instance …
Most nice girls can remember the very first time they let their inner bitch out. It’s like suddenly discovering you have mutant powers that are both terrifying and awesome.
When I was fifteen years old, I scaled a wall, in a private-school uniform, to rid some asshole boys of their cigarettes and porn. Because when I bitch out, baby, I bitch out hard.
I’d been a total good girl up to that point. But I’d been dealing with a group of particularly nasty bullies for three goddamn years. I’d been groped, followed, assaulted, robbed … the whole gamut of assholery. I’d gone to adults and male friends, and been told, “They only do it because you react. Just ignore them and they’ll stop, eventually.” On the flip side of that coin, I was told, “Ignoring them equals consent; if you don’t stop it, it’s your fault.” And let’s not leave out, “Boys will be boys.” I mean, why did I grow female parts anyway if I didn’t want them grabbed?
After one particularly vicious assault, something suddenly snapped. I realized that no one was going to protect me and stop them. And most importantly, I was going to be wrong no matter what I did. It was my defining “fuck this bullshit” moment, and my body turned green and muscly. I think I might have thrown a car after that. The whole memory is kind of fuzzy.
Anyway, I went after what they valued most, like Vigilante Britney Spears. I didn’t steal anything. I just took the door of their secret smoke shack off its hinges and left, leaving the place wide open for anyone else to come by and raid. But not before making my fatal mistake: I left a handwritten rhyming note behind, confessing my crime. Because if I’m going to turn into a supervillain, I might as well go whole hog.
My badass bullies went crying to their parents. Who then called my parents. Who punished me within an inch of my life.
See, little boys get told that if somebody takes your truck you take it right back, and if a bully punches you, you spin kick their face off. Little girls are told to just ignore rude grabby kids, or that if things get really bad, a bigger boy will appear and protect them … which is what psychologists call “stupid as fuck.” Can you imagine being told your whole childhood you’ve got the wrong genitals to handle conflict? Half of this readership can.
That’s why your college girlfriend slept with your best friend instead of breaking up with you like a goddamn adult. Because after being told her whole life that she couldn’t be trusted to handle conflict, she couldn’t be straight up honest or stand up to you. So she screwed a guy into handling the breakup for her. That, or she’s a literal demon. When you’re dealing with shit, instead of hearing, “I’ve got your back,” you hear “Nice girls don’t fight. Wait for someone to save you!” You’re either going to go look for a bigger asshole to sort your problem, or you’re going to go vigilante.
And speaking of always being wrong …
Nobody likes conflict. Personally, my favorite fight goes like this: “I’m only yelling because you’re crying!” “I’m only crying because you’re yelling!” “Well now you’re cry-yelling! So I’ll yell LOUDER!” Repeat. For hours. Then years. Relationships are fun.
Women have developed an evolutionary superpower in the hysterical cry-yell combo. Our voices keep getting squeakier and less intelligible the longer we keep it up. It’s like an emotional EMP. Not just for the person we’re cry-yelling at … but for us, as we’re doing it. Because as a chick, you quickly learn that while yelling makes you “too aggressive,” once crying gets added in, you risk being labeled “too emotional,” “too weak,” or, my favorite, “manipulative.” When you’re in the middle of actually doing the crying and yelling, your brain just goes into panic mode.
The irony is that women cry for all sorts of reasons that have nothing to do with manipulation or weakness. They’re frustrated, angry, tired, sad, or they’ve just been to yoga. Distilling it down to “weak” or “manipulative” is an insult to logic itself. It’s a child’s attempt at understanding a complex problem by boiling it down to its simplest form. It’s lazy.
If you make showing normal emotions weird for women, you end up with women who feel like they can’t ever be honest with their feelings around you, so they bottle them up until the whole Kingdom turns to ice. Or they end up going to the dark side and burning the whole goddamn thing to the ground. The lesson, to them, is the same: They feel like screaming and crying is the only way to get you to listen.
I’ve discovered through years of internet and meatspace conversations that there’s something guys think is even worse than needy, insecure chicks: independent ones!
Nobody wants to date either needy chicks or independent chicks because both are crazy and definitely bitches … and if I can’t trust BigDickTrollz89 who can I trust?
From a young age, girls are made to feel guilty for being selfish. And I’m not blaming men for this, because women are the worst at guilt tripping the hell out of other women for taking care of themselves. Working mothers are made to feel guilty in a way that working fathers usually aren’t. Daughters are made to feel guilty for not helping out at home in a way sons usually aren’t. Again, it depends on your family, and your family may be awesome. But there are whole social and religious movements dedicating to reminding women that their sole purpose in life is to be supporting characters, serving their menfolk and offspring.
If you’re going to feel guilty every time you do something for yourself, you’re either going to become so needy and insecure that you suck all the oxygen out of your relationships … or so independent that your partner’s stuck having a relationship with your Gmail avatar. Middle grounds are hard to achieve when every conversation about your existence is taken to extremes.
I think most of us have been in relationships where someone’s totally cool with something the first 8,402 times you do it … but number 8,403? All bloody hell breaks lose and they start screaming.
I lost a close friend that way. We’d been friends for over 10 years when I did something I’d done probably a million times before and she lost it at me, and couldn’t believe how terrible I was. I don’t want to get into the details of what I did to piss her off, so let’s just say I owned her in a particularly sick rap battle.
I still remember standing on the sidewalk, in shock, saying, “I’m not mean. I’m stupid!” because I had literally no idea it upset her. I mean, who in their right mind would intentionally do the same stupid thing, over and over again, for years, if they knew it hurt their best friend? How was I supposed to know if she didn’t tell me until the moment it all blew up?
We’ve been trained that we should never ever complain about the small stuff. For good reason: Most of us have had a mother, friend, grandmother, sister, or aunt who has nitpicked and harped and criticized every little thing, no matter how minute, like emotional waterboarding.
I hate it, so I get why you do too! But a lot of women are terrified of turning into harpies, or were shamed last time we pointed out something small, so we swing too hard the other way. We don’t tell you that we hate it when you pick your teeth at the table, or when leave your stuff on the floor, or that your favorite seduction technique involves your own special interpretive dance version of “Copacabana” (honey, there’s only so many times we can watch you flick your tassels).
So we let those things pile up, day after day after day. Until one day we snap and explode, because that one teeny tiny thing is the final snowflake that starts the whole goddamn avalanche. Or, usually after being buried in snow ourselves, we go the other way and criticize everything to keep it from building up. Because nobody wants to be told they’ve been screwing something up over and over again for years.
The last time I let my inner bitch out was Saturday. I was sitting on a bench in the sunshine, eating a takeout box of noodles when a man walked up to me and said, “Ugh! I don’t know how you can eat that shit!”
I said, “Why, thank you, total stranger, for insulting my lunch.”
And he said, “I was only making a joke. How about you try not being a total bitch?”
Ooooh, touche, noodle-hating stranger.
Now raise your hand if you were just about to tell me I should’ve known that he was hitting on me. Because that’s the response I got when I described this exchange to my friends.
We’ve created a nifty little society where women are supposed to always guess what men are really thinking. It’s our job. Did he say you’re ugly? Then he probably thinks you’re cute. Did he tell you that you should give up and quit? He’s probably just trying to motivate you to try harder. Did he grunt and stare at Call Of Duty when you asked if he was hungry? Then he wants you to order pepperoni and banana peppers pizza with cheesy bread from that place he likes, no not that place, you know, the other one.
But you know what the worst thing is? When women accuse you of thinking things you weren’t even thinking. Come on, admit it. You HATE it when we do that. And I don’t blame you.
We accuse you of being angry and upset when you’re just sitting there contemplating “Yakety Sax.” We accuse you of secretly wanting to bang your hot blond coworker when you’re really just lusting after the waitress at the next table over.
We read your minds. And we read them wrong. Then we freak out at you over stuff you weren’t thinking, and suddenly you’re being yelled at for some imaginary crime that only exists in our mind (free tip: Whenever a chick says she dreamed about you doing something bad … run).
It’s almost like it would’ve been better if we counted on you to tell us what you were thinking and never played guessing games.
Hey, I’m not denying that this goes both ways. I’m just telling you why we get so “weird” about the small stuff. I’ve heard every hack comedian question it since I was a little girl, and if they’re truly looking for answers, there it is!
But that’s kind of the thread that binds all of these points, right? Communication? If this article was aimed at couples who truly get each other, the list would be zero entries long. It would just be a thumbs-up emoji with the caption, “Nice job! Too bad you won’t see this caption, because you’ll be boning.”
Then again, what do I know? I’m totally destroying your porn clubhouse while you read this. Suckers.
This first appeared on Cracked.