Just like every other woman out there, I’ve been called a “bitch” on more than a few occasions. There have, admittedly, been times when I was actually acting like a bitch and deserved the name calling. By that I mean I was acting like what the insult “bitch” should mean: rude, bratty, kind of snobby, and probably a little mean. We all have our bitchy moments where we’re saying something nasty about a friend or gossiping about something we shouldn’t be talking about or judging someone we have no right to judge – and in those times, maybe we deserve the, “Hey, stop being such a bitch” comments that we might get.
But the word “bitch” is thrown at women far more often than it should be, and for reasons that are actually not so legitimate as the ones above. In many cases, women are told they’re being a bitch when actually, they’re acting the way a man would act. They’re told they’re being a bitch when they reject someone, even if it’s polite. The word “bitch” is used to mean many, many things, and so many of them are things you do not have to be sorry for.
Feminist activist Gloria Steinem reminded us of this when she was asked how to respond when a man calls you a bitch. She said, “The best thing I’ve ever thought of to say when somebody calls you a bitch is ‘Thank you.’ I mean, it totally disarms them. They don’t know what to do. Marlo Thomas always used to say that for a man to be called aggressive, he had to take over your business, but for a woman to be called aggressive, she had to only put you on hold. It’s just a terrible double standard. We have to call them on it. If you call them on it, it changes people’s heads.”
Yasss queen! This is so true. So, the next time someone calls you a bitch, don’t be upset (unless you’re really doing something rude, then you should maybe apologize) – thank them for their “insult.” Why? Because here are the 12 things someone REALLY means when they call you a bitch:
1. That you’re acting like a boss.
Let me explain: when a man acts like a boss (as in an actual boss at work), no one bats an eye. If a man is your boss and he is assertive and not afraid to tell you what to do, everyone just thinks he’s doing his job. But if a woman does it? Even if she’s in a higher up position, someone is bound to role their eyes and mutter something like, “Jeeze, why does she have to act like such a bitch about it?” Please. You don’t need to be timid and say “please” and “um” and “I’m sorry, maybe I’m wrong, but I just want to say…” every two minutes. Here’s a Washington Post article that totally nails what I’m trying to say.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with being assertive at work and whenever you’re taking charge in life. And if someone wants to call you a bitch for that, just thank them. Because honestly, in that context, it’s a compliment.
2. That you’re speaking your mind and they don’t know how to deal with it.
I often hear a woman being called a bitch after she says what she really thinks without apologizing for it first (i.e. “I’m sorry, but can I just say….” or “I’m sorry, but I have to say this…”). Women are called a bitch when they say what they really think or they express an opinion that is different than what the person calling them a bitch thinks. When men speak their mind, it’s considered normal – in fact, when men don’t speak their mind, they are often asked, “Why are you acting like such a little bitch, bro?” But when a girl does it? She’s called a bitch. Which literally doesn’t make sense.
3. That you’re defending yourself (or someone else) and they know you’re right so it’s making them feel uncomfortable.
I have great parents, so I was always told to stand up for myself. It took me a very long time to get to the point where I could do that, though, because for years, I watched stronger girls than me get torn down for defending themselves or someone else. If you have the gall to talk back to someone being rude or to tell someone to be quiet when they’re acting mean, and you’re a woman, that person will likely sneer some kind of “bitch” insult at you. Why? Because they probably know you’re right and they don’t know what else to do with themselves.
4. That you’ve rejected them and they now feel sad.
This is unfortunately pretty standard in online dating. A guy reaches out to you with a disgusting “compliment,” you tell him off, and he types a bunch of angry words about what a bitch you are. Or maybe a guy reaches out, seems nice, you politely decline his advances, and then he turns around and calls you a bitch. Why does this happen? Because there are a lot of people (men AND women) out there with very fragile little egos who can’t handle the fact that not everyone is dying to make out with them. This also happens because they feel hurt (which is normal when being rejected) and have to lash out to feel better (which is immature).
5. That you’re not acting the way they thought you would act and they don’t know what to do.
You will often see someone call a woman a bitch because she has just acted in a way he/she has no idea how to respond to. Whether the woman being called a bitch is defending herself, being assertive, taking charge, or just dropping a truth bomb, some people don’t know how to deal. These are people who can’t handle the thought of a woman being a person, someone who doesn’t fit in their nicely wrapped box of what a woman “should” be like. They’re confused, and honestly, you should probably feel sorry for them.
6. That they’re jealous of the powerful self-esteem you possess.
Women are constantly being told to be confident. It is the underlying most important piece of advice in every single advice article ever written. But then when a woman does act confident, and does feel good about herself, most people get totally freaked out. They’re like, “Wait, hold on – she accepted that compliment without saying something bad about herself!” or “Did she seriously just make a move on that guy I’ve been staring at across the room with no intention of approaching? What a bitch!” When a woman isn’t afraid to act powerful, fueled by her awesome sense of self-esteem, many people feel jealous and intimidated, and resort to calling her a bitch. Cool – if that makes me a bitch, then I will proudly call myself a bitch.
7. That they think you’re acting like a feminist.
I know it’s hard to believe, because it’s 2015, but there are still people out there who don’t understand what feminism means. These people think of feminists as crazy, man-hating bra-burners who want women to rule the world while men serve at our feet. I’m sorry that these people can’t differentiate between the basic definition of feminism and the stereotype that surrounds feminism. But I’m not sorry that I am a feminist, and I never will be. So, if you ask someone to stop telling their disgustingly sexist joke and they come back at you with a “bitch” comment, just remember they have a lot to learn.
8. That they feel like you’re being aggressive and assertive.
Men are encouraged to be aggressive, demanding, and assertive. Women are told to be polite and to ask for what we want with a nice smile on our faces and a sweet attitude to go along with it. That’s BS. You can be demanding and aggressive without also being rude – these are very different things. And if someone can’t see that difference, that says a lot more about them than you.
9. That you didn’t say what they wanted you to say and they don’t know how else to respond.
Again, being called a bitch very often comes down to the fact that you said or did something that caught the other person off guard. This is one reason why so many girls are hesitant to tell their friends the truth about certain situations. What do I mean? Think about it: when your friend meets a guy who clearly isn’t into her and she asks if you think he likes her, what are you going to say? What you should say is truthful, helpful advice, but what you often end up saying is some lame excuse for him because you don’t want her to call you a bitch. There are lots of other examples, but basically, sometimes being honest can mean you’re called a bitch.
10. That they don’t understand your shyness.
I’m a shy person, and I’m pretty awkward in social situations. I try to be a real adult, but I don’t always succeed. So, there are plenty of times when I’m feeling shy and uncomfortable, only to be told later on that everyone thought I was being a bitch. Uh, what? Why does silence = bitch? Some people truly don’t understand shyness, and I get that it can be hard if you’re a naturally outgoing person. But try to get to know someone before you start spewing insults. Maybe that girl who was super shy with a case of resting bitch face wasn’t silently judging you – she was just trying to work up the courage to start a conversation.
11. That they feel insecure about themselves and have to tear you down to feel better.
One of the biggest reasons people insult others is because they’re trying to make themselves feel better about what they’re insecure about. A weak man will see a strong woman, and will call her a bitch because he feels insecure around her. A weak, insecure woman will see a confident, powerful woman, and will tear her down by calling her a bitch because they feel inferior. They don’t think they can beat you another way, so they resort to petty words to try and make you feel as low as they do.
12. That they feel intimidated by you.
What all of these above points boil down to is this: Sometimes you’re called a bitch because someone feels intimidated by you. They don’t know what to do with you. They don’t know what to say. They rely on a fallback word like “bitch” because it’s all they can really think of, and they think it sounds mean. But you know what? It’s not always as mean as they think it is. To those people, take Gloria Steinem’s advice, and say, “Thank you.” Because I’d rather be a bitch who isn’t afraid to go after what she wants than a “nice” girl who is waiting for good luck any day.
Which of these do you disagree with? What do you agree with? Why do you call people a bitch? Tell us in the comments.