I Was Fifty One Percent Bitch, In Case You Were Wondering

9 Jul

 

So there’s this quiz that I’ve seen circulating on my Facebook feed. It’s charmingly titled “How Bitchy Are You?” and features a series of questions meant to determine your bitchiness quotient (presented in the form of a percentage, so, I mean, SCIENCE).

And like I just want to straight up say that I’m all for marginalized groups reclaiming slurs as their own. I’m so down with that! If a woman wants to call herself a bitch, that’s cool. I personally am trying to back away from using the word bitch for various reasons, but I’m not going to police other women for using it, especially when they’re applying it to themselves in what they feel is a positive manner.

BUT (for reals don’t pretend you didn’t know there was a but coming). BUT. Let’s take a look-see shall we at the ways in which the quiz quantifies bitchiness. Let’s ALSO talk a little bit about how these behaviours would be perceived if we saw them being acted out by men.

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I’m preeeetty sympathetic to telemarketers because back in ye olde days when I was still in university, I worked in this weird little basement call centre where we would try to convince alumni to donate us more money. So in general I try to be pretty kind and patient when dealing with people trying to sell me shit over the phone. But for reals some of them can be really hard to get rid of, even once you’ve politely declined their offer. So I don’t think that getting a bit forceful while trying to get a telemarketer off the phone is being bitchy.

If a dude did this, we would call him assertive.

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You mean, have I ever disciplined a pet because, FOR EXAMPLE, they wantonly peed on my favourite black wool coat? Yes. Yes I have done that. As my mother likes to say, disciplining your child (or in this case a pet) is a form of loving them. If I just let these things slide, my cat would pee all over everything that I love and then shred my couch. So yeah, I will totally let a pet know if their behaviour is out of line.

If a dude did this? Like if he told his dog not to jump all over you? You would call him a good pet owner.

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OH YOU COMPLAINED ABOUT TRAFFIC? GAWD, YOU BITCH.

If a dude did this it would be called “making conversation.”

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Heaven forbid you expect timely service at a place where you are PAYING TO BE SERVED FOOD. And let’s be real, I am all about treating people in the service industry well because I know from personal experience that they get crap thrown at them all the time. But, like, expecting a server to come check on you after they’ve given you the menu and left you alone for a period of time? That is not outside the realm of appropriate expectations.

If a dude went to talk to the manager in order to speed things up and ease the hangry pains his table-mates are experiencing, he would be hailed as a FOOD HERO.

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Yeah, teaching your kid that it’s fine to be pushed around by others because “life isn’t fair” is totally legit. Sometimes you’ll get bullied, kid, because life just isn’t fair and pretty much you should just be a doormat and let people treat you however they want. Also talk about betraying your kids’ trust – as a parent you are there to make your kid feel safe as they figure out how to navigate this fucked up thing we call “life.” Teaching them that sometimes other kids are going to treat them badly and you’ll just stand there and do nothing is a really awful message to send them.

If a dude stood up for his kid at the playground, he would be hailed as King of the Dads.

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This is the one that really makes me see red. Because, you know, nothing says “bitch” like setting boundaries with strangers WHILE YOU ARE CLEARLY OCCUPIED WITH YOUR PHONE. Seriously, though, it says a LOT about our society that a woman is bitchy if she isn’t willing to stop what she’s doing and fake interest in a boring conversation with a stranger.

Also, what is up with people – DUDES SPECIFICALLY – who think it’s cool to interrupt a woman while her attention is happily engaged elsewhere? I can’t even count the number of times dudes have interrupted me while I’m reading in some public place to strike up a conversation with me. LIKE, DO YOU NOT SEE MY BOOK. I AM READING THIS BOOK. IT IS AN ACTIVITY THAT I ENJOY, WHICH IS WHY I’M DOING IT. IF I WANTED TO HAVE CONVERSATIONS WITH STRANGE DUDES I’M SURE I COULD ARRANGE THAT ON MY OWN. But no, women obviously only ever read books as a way to lure men. Actually, state secret: women can’t even really read. We just stare at the words and pretend to be smart in hopes that some man will walk by and decide we’re baby-making material.

Also, if a dude did this, he would again be called assertive and if the stranger was a woman everyone would roll their eyes over how pathetic and needy she was.

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NO, DON’T CALMLY TELL SOMEONE “EXCUSE ME THERE IS A LINE.” THAT IS TOO BITCHY. JUST LET PEOPLE WALK ALL OVER YOU. A WOMAN SHOULD ALWAYS BE PASSIVE AND SWEET AND LET EVERYONE ELSE DO WHATEVER THEY WANT. IN FACT, SPEAKING OF WANTS, A WOMAN SHOULD NEVER HAVE THEM UNLESS THEY’RE SOMETHING LIKE “I WANT TO MAKE MY HUSBAND A STEAK AND THEN GIVE HIM A BLOWJOB.” THAT IS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE WANT FOR A WOMAN TO HAVE.

If a dude did this, everyone else in the line would thank him for saving them from entitled jerks who cut into lines.

Look. Bitch is an oppressive term that’s used to silence and belittle women. It’s a word used to gaslight women who dare to stand up for themselves. It’s one thing to say, “haha yeah I’m a tough bitch and I love it,” and totally another to say that a woman (and let’s just be clear here, this quiz is obviously aimed at women and I’ve only seen women sharing it) who doesn’t want to engage in conversation with boring strangers at the airport is a bitch. And I guess a lot of the people sharing this quiz think it’s cute to be like, “aw yeah look at me I’m 63% bitch,” but the fact is that this quiz says some pretty shitty things about how women are expected to behave.

So if you want to call yourself a bitch, then go ahead and own that shit. But let’s seriously think about the ways that this word impacts other women. Because it’s one thing to embrace the word for yourself, and a whole other ballgame when you start perpetuating shit that calls women bitchy for complaining about traffic.

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29 Responses to “I Was Fifty One Percent Bitch, In Case You Were Wondering”

  1. Beth Caplin July 9, 2014 at 10:24 pm #

    “Seriously, though, it says a LOT about our society that a woman is bitchy if she isn’t willing to stop what she’s doing and fake interest in a boring conversation with a stranger.

    Also, what is up with people – DUDES SPECIFICALLY – who think it’s cool to interrupt a woman while her attention is happily engaged elsewhere?”

    Yes. Thank you. This has happened to me more times than I can count, and I hate it, yet I’ve never actually had the guts to say “Do you mind? I’m in the middle of something.”

    I will not fake niceness for anyone (especially a man) who tells me to smile, however. It is always for their benefit, never mine.

    Now that makes me wonder, what do you think of the phrase “resting bitch face”?

    • mandaray July 9, 2014 at 11:28 pm #

      For years I have wondered why reading a book is like putting a flashing red light on top of your head that screams: “PLEASE TALK TO ME.” This used to happen to me all the time at work on my (precious few) breaks, often with men I had no desire to talk to. Often they’d also take my reading as silent agreement that I was OK with them sitting UNCOMFORTABLY CLOSE to me, and then making small talk on top of it. The “icebreaker” used was either the traditional “What are you reading?” which annoyed me because, hey, the title is ON THE BOOK; or them choosing to make fun of what I was reading. (Cover have a woman on the front? Oh, it must be a romance. How trashy. Cover have LITERALLY ANYTHING ELSE on the front? Oh, you must have a romance slipped between the pages so everyone thinks you’re really reading something smart.)

  2. 30fatsingle July 9, 2014 at 10:48 pm #

    You make some very valid/interesting points and given a lot of food for thought. Women being called things like “slut” infuriates me, but I never thought about the whole bitch thing much. Also I just wanted to say that I had the exact same job in university (but only for one semester).

  3. Salted Cherry July 9, 2014 at 10:53 pm #

    I haven’t seen this quiz show up on my newsfeed yet, but if it does, I’ll definitely take it. Based on the sample questions you gave, I’ll probably come up 95-100% bitch, and I’ll take it as a compliment. Because according to this quiz being a “bitch” means standing up for yourself and, in response to questions 3 and 4, I don’t know…responding to situations the way a normal person would?

    Oh wait, I forgot. That stuff is yucky men stuffs. Women aren’t supposed to show aggression or express emotions that you wouldn’t equate with unicorns and rainbows. My bad.

  4. ladymigraine July 9, 2014 at 11:00 pm #

    I am embarrassed to admit that I took this damn quiz and didn’t really think anything of those questions you so accurately point out are horrible. I got 43% percent. But you are SO right. So so right. I consider myself a feminist and have been so brainwashed by tabloids and my constant internet use that I didn’t even blink. That is 43% ridic right there. Or 93%.

  5. swo8 July 9, 2014 at 11:32 pm #

    That’s me.
    Leslie

  6. betterwetthandead July 9, 2014 at 11:42 pm #

    I got 46%, and I was raised to be a doormat – I picked a grand total of 1 option that didn’t ignore or avoid conflict. So for one thing the baseline is pretty high, probably because it’s starting with an assumption of bitchiness (I’m tempted to say because ‘obviously all women must be some level of bitchy’). And then the description I get is ‘balanced bitch’ and that I’m ‘not a pushover’… Acquiescing or running away from potential conflict is kind of the definition of pushover, so they’re reinforcing some really bad views on women’s behaviour with that.

    I really hate how bitch is used. For one thing, it’s used in any case where we display assertiveness or autonomy that would be seen as normal or good in a man. But it’s also used to create those annoying no-win dichotomies in some situations: reject someone you’re a bitch, don’t reject and you’re easy or a slut; act like yourself in the workplace and you’re too quiet, underestimating yourself, not ambitious enough and so on, act ‘like a man’ like everyone advises and you’re a bitch. So we get taught to be nice, and then punished for it by having our boundaries invaded – if we stand up for ourselves we’re called bitches, if we don’t then whatever happens is our fault – or being imposed upon, having no say in things, being left out of conversations (you should’ve spoken up vs be quiet/stop talking so much), and so on and so on.

    So I’m good with women reclaiming bitch, but I’m also super happy for it to die, because it’s main purpose right now is controlling women’s behaviour – even when it doesn’t actually matter what we do, because we’re always doing something wrong.

  7. syrbal-labrys July 10, 2014 at 12:23 am #

    LOL…Hey I am apparently a balanced 54%! But yes, the same reservations about how the word is applied to women for stuff men are applauded for doing.

    I actually have mentally screwed with telemarketeers that won’t take ‘no’ for an answer. I don’t call a manager at the restaurant, I simply get up and leave. I routinely growl at children…and gods’ help the man bothering me at an airport bar.

  8. jodiethalegend July 10, 2014 at 1:55 am #

    Oh thank you, I saw this quiz on my FB feed and thought ‘oh here we go, I wonder exactly what behaviour is going to be dismissed as ‘bitchy”, but I didn’t have the energy to look into it further and try to explain what was wrong with it. Seems my instincts were correct. Love your work:)

  9. MarinaSofia July 10, 2014 at 5:01 am #

    I’m almost ashamed to say that I scored 22%, probably as low as it’s possible to get and still be a sentient human. Clearly, I was raised to be a doormat… and clearly that’s why I’m not happy with my life. Wish I could change…

  10. annesquared July 10, 2014 at 5:15 am #

    50/50. Think it’s the blunt INTJ side. I wouldn’t call it “bitchiness” just being direct and to the point. Efficient.😉

  11. randee July 10, 2014 at 5:19 am #

    I love your point, BUT does anyone really take these quizzes? I know Facebook makes it LOOK like people take them. But when it came through my newsfeed that my mom – who isn’t bitchy at all – was. 92% bitchy then I realized what Facebook was up to. My mom would never take that quiz.

  12. Amy peppermintsea.com July 10, 2014 at 7:19 am #

    Great points, totally agree, thank you!:-)

  13. butterflyny75 July 10, 2014 at 12:10 pm #

    Haha! I took that and got 58% and thought the same about some of those questions.

  14. theduckandtheowl July 10, 2014 at 1:45 pm #

    Yes!!! Absolutely!!! I actually just wrote a post about this very quiz yesterday and I feel the same way. I loved how you broke it down and analyzed it question by question. Wonderful.
    -Kaitlyn:)

  15. anawnimiss July 10, 2014 at 3:07 pm #

    Awesome. Csn’t wait to see what you think about this: http://www.howmanygoats.com/

  16. earthedangel July 10, 2014 at 4:11 pm #

    What I hate about this, in addition to everything you’ve pointed out, is the reinforcing of bitching=complaining=WOMEN UNREASONABLY SAD! or bitch out=yell at=WOMEN UNREASONABLY ANGRY! Can we stop saying “bitching” except in situations where we’d be equally likely to say “radical, dude”?
    I wasn’t “bitching” about traffic. I was bemoaning it, I was complaining about it, I was commiserating over it.
    I didn’t “bitch” someone out for giving me poor service. I addressed it, I brought it to their attention, I confronted them, I insisted on better service.

  17. Athena July 10, 2014 at 4:36 pm #

    The straw man here is so flimsy a child would be embarrassed to knock it over.

    Reclaiming the word bitch is as empowering as reclaiming the word retarded.

  18. Tempest Rose July 10, 2014 at 7:28 pm #

    I got 78%

    Some of my friends got less than 50% and are bragging about it.

  19. thefemininefeministe July 10, 2014 at 8:23 pm #

    Dudes interrupting, holy crap this happens on the daily where I work. It is mostly older men who just like to insert themselves into private conversations while my friend and I take our breaks and lunches. This one guy walked up while we were talking and literally lifted up the bottom corner of my dress because it was newspaper print. He was like, “I bet you get this all the time! People want to read your dress, huh?” And I was thinking, No, just assholes like you. I’ve always been a doormat type so I have a hard time asserting myself and telling people no.

  20. Leslie Funk July 11, 2014 at 7:30 am #

    I had this little quiz pop up on my Facebook as well… I wonder what the equivalent “male” version would look like? What percent Douche are you? Or perhaps, how much of you is “total asshole” and how much is merely “unobservant male” behavior? My favorite is a cute little survey that predicts the odds of you (the male) getting verbally slapped by a lovely, self respecting woman that by the way, may have scored above 20% on that recent “what percent bitch quiz” that showed up on social media.

  21. Louise July 14, 2014 at 5:48 pm #

    Well said! I dutifully took the quiz when it showed up in my feed too and was annoyed by the questions. As for people interrupting you when you are reading in public, when I use to take the bus I use to read while listening to music to really hammer it home when I wanted to be left alone. Still didn’t always work. I always had to fight the urge to ask the person interrupting me which part of earphones and book tipped them off that I secretly just really wanted to talk to them?

  22. musteryou July 15, 2014 at 6:13 am #

    I got four percent. And so it goes. I’m not rude to telemarketers, I just put down the phone before they can start talking. Life is easy.

  23. Sheckles Goldstein July 19, 2014 at 6:19 am #

    This entire article centers around your whining about “if a dude did this…” without actually providing any evidence. How do you expect to be taken seriously when you make assertions about standards like this without having any idea how to quantify them?

  24. Patsy Gardiner August 14, 2014 at 7:33 pm #

    I just say if a guy calls you a bitch, then you must be doing something right!!!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    […] Facebook about how bitchy you are. (I got 60% in case any one was wondering). Check out blogger, The Belle Jar’s takedown of how obviously sexist the quiz […]

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    […] I Was Fifty One Percent Bitch, In Case You Were Wondering […]

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