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The number of times someone has told me “before I met you I thought you were a bitch” is surprisingly high. The number of times I have just been straight-up called a bitch is also fairly high. As someone who is well aware of their Resting Bitch Face (RBF), I think it is understandable that people are initially put off by my presence before they really get to know me. However, what I don’t think is understandable is calling a woman a bitch simply because she is doing her job.
I have had to quit a couple of jobs because someone has called me a bitch. Some people might think that I can’t handle being called names and that this somehow makes me weak, but I don’t think it’s worth sticking around an environment where people think they can call me whatever they want. And I am sure that someone out there has a legitimate reason to call me a bitch. I don’t claim to be a perfect person. I am, however, a hard worker and a rule-follower. While me being a bad person might lead someone to swear at me, I don’t really think my lack of smile should result in a name that extreme.
And this bitch-calling situation is not something that I alone experience. Most women who do their job well have been called some sort of nasty name, bitch being just one example. I remember telling someone last year at one of my jobs that they needed to follow a rule or else I would report them, and they called me a bitch under their breath. Is it really under their breath if I can still hear them, though? Either way, they really did not try to cover up the fact that they thought I was the worst person in the world at that time.
So, naturally, out of frustration, I called my mom to complain about the way I am treated when I work. She heard my complaints and told me, unfortunately, that this was just a common occurrence for women. She had many stories in her back pocket, too. Obviously, I knew this well before I called my mom, but it just stings when you hear something out loud that you wish wasn’t true. I know that this article isn’t going to save women from being called a bitch. I recognize that I am a middle-class white woman and my experiences of being called a bitch can’t be compared to or speak for everyone else’s experience. I can, however, advocate that we start to think about what it really means when we call a woman a bitch.
I have called people a bitch before, like many others probably have. Often, when we have a negative impression of someone, we instantly react to their presence with the need to label them as something. If we work to change our mindset, however, to realize that bitch is often used on women who are simply doing their job and living their life, we might be able to take a step back from the word altogether. There is a very big difference between a woman who asks you to put a mask on and a woman who punches you in the throat for no reason, but the same title of “bitch” is used for both scenarios.
While we all have our reasons to call someone a bad name, I hope they are actual reasons, not just inconveniences in your life. And to the women who have been called a bitch when they really didn’t deserve it (I am probably talking to most women now), I hope you know your worth. You’re going to get called a bitch at some point in your life. While this name calling won’t naturally disappear, just know that being called a bitch often means that you told someone the correct thing, and they just don’t want to hear it.
I am not asking for pity from people because I was called a bitch a handful of times. I really don’t think that is going to accomplish anything. I do, however, hope that this made you think about who you’re calling names and why. We can’t always stop “bitch” from coming out of people’s mouths, but we can notice that more often than not the reason for this has more to do with how people react to inconveniences involving women and less to do with who women really are.
And to the women who have been called bitch, whether to their face or behind their back, take it as a compliment. If we won’t be given the recognition we deserve for doing our jobs and doing them well, we might as well start cheering ourselves on. Remember to do no harm, but also take no shit.