A girl I know from school is now the manager of a restaurant chain. We ran into each other in our home town and stopped to have a nice, long chat to catch up. Hanna* has always had a strong personality and an impatience for those who didn’t seem to be at her level. I can remember her being truly horrible to the younger cheerleaders on the squad who couldn’t keep up with her routines. Back in middle and high school, Hanna definitely would’ve been someone who carried a B.I.T.C.H. card proudly.
As we were catching up, I mentioned that I write for a site on women in business. Hanna immediately launched into a tale of workplace drama. It involved her ousting another employee she didn’t get along with by pitting a group of people against the other woman. Basically, Hanna thought that the other girl wasn’t smart or confident enough to manage a shift at their restaurant, even though the woman hadn’t had much time to prove herself. Instead of speaking to the girl or helping her, Hanna instructed various staff members to “test” the woman’s strength by calling in to shifts or making the job harder than it needed to be. She said she wanted to see how the girl would handle pressure.
When the lady had the audacity to complain to a district manager, Hanna’s defense seemed to be, “No one would bat an eye at a man doing the same thing.” Then, Hanna said something that immediately made me think of middle school all over again. “If that makes me a bitch, I don’t care. I’m proud to be a bitch.”
She was making this declaration as if I was supposed to agree with her. She wanted to me to say that being a bitch was completely okay. Or maybe she wanted to hear that she was just behaving how any business person had to, she was just being treated unfairly because she was a woman in power.
The truth was that my friend just sounded like a bad manager to me. It wouldn’t have mattered what her gender was. And her acceptance of the label bitch didn’t seem like a step forward in women’s rights. It seemed like an excuse to act poorly.
If Hanna wanted to take accountability for being unfair to those she works with, that’s fine. If that’s her management style, it’s her choice. I think it’s a sucky one, but it’s her choice.
Photo via Heidi Isern