‘Are You A Bitch?’

Look at this bitch.

I receive the title question probably once a month from an acquaintance, even more so when I’ve gone through a particularly introduction-heavy period (college orientation, new job, etcetera). I fancy myself as an overall nice person to most people, so this bums be out quite a bit.

Whenever I begin a friendship with new people, particularly women, there’s that initial period where you try to gauge their thoughts and feelings on everything so you can ensure as little offending possible (or maybe that’s just me and my paranoia), so I just assume we had hit it off from the beginning. But then, after a few hangouts–less if this is at a party and we’re both drunk–they will invariably turn to me, take an inhale of a cigarette or a sip of a drink, raise the eyebrows and say, “You know, I thought you were going to be a total bitch before I met you!”

Oh, okay. Uh, how does one even respond to that? “Oh, thanks for the thought but nope! Just your garden variety lame not mean person!” Usually, I just change the topic as quickly as possible but on occasion, I have asked (often later on in the friendship) about it because I’m curious about what exactly makes me so bitchtastic. I think I’m entitled to know if I radiate “bitch,” right?

Wrong–well, at least at first. Most people, upon first questioning, have told me that they were, uh, joking and that I don’t seem like anything negative and they’re sorry they brought it up. I let it go until we’ve had a few more beers, at which point I’ll ask the question again to a slightly more receptive audience.

So what exactly makes a person come off as a “bitch” when you first meet her? Is it a facial expression? A mannerism? A perfume? Does “bitch” have a scent?

For the record, I wear Clinique Bitchy Heart.

According to some I questioned further, it is the way I hold myself and my voice. Others have said it was that they had seen me get heated in discussions during class. One said it was because I scolded a guy on set; sure, he had just made six consecutive transphobic jokes, in front of an actress whose father was transgender no less, then proceeded to make a rape joke, but I was the wet blanket bitch of the matter.

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    • LaLa

      Yep. I always get the “When we first met I totally thought you were a bitch!” thing. When I ask why the answer was always that I seemed to friendly(?). I actually had one girl tell me, “Well you’re just so friendly and out-going. It’s like you think you’re life is better than everyone.”

      • http://www.facebook.com/sameurysm Samantha Escobar

        The way you spell everything correctly makes me feel insecure about my own spelling. You make it seem like you think your spelling is better than everyone. HOW DARE YOU?

        (But seriously, high five to unintentional Bitchville residency!)

    • Elevator_from_Duh_Shining

      Ugh, I hate how women who are assertive and opinionated are automatically bitches. I think this assumption is a large part of what encourages many women to “reclaim” the word. If being a bitch means that you stand up against oppression and speak your mind, then being a bitch is a pretty honorable thing to be.

      • patapongirl

        It’s not the assertive and opinionated aspects that some women labelled as “bitch”, it’s the lack of respect and concerns for other people and ASSUMING it’s means confidence and strength.

        Don’t confuse them.

      • Samantha_Escobar

        I’ve tried to reclaim the word and I’m sure I overuse it, but it still has that certain amount of sting when people use it in a serious way, you know? Just like the way that “slut,” despite being an idiotic, derogatory and outdated term, still hurts if somebody throws it at you. It’s alarming that words have that sort of power even when they’re so clearly ridiculous.

        Nevertheless, I 100% agree: if that’s what a bitch is, I’m a-okay to have it associated with my name. :)

    • bucket

      I call dudes bitches when they’re being giant wimps/whiney douchebags. And that’s generally how I’d define a lady bitch as well lol. I guess I use the word in a fairly androgynous way.

      • Samantha_Escobar

        Hahaha I think when guys–or anybody over 12 and under 70, for that matter–are being douchebags, I usually use the word “tool.” There needs to be a harsh, all-encompassing term that can be used for anybody and doesn’t pertain to any particular gender or its gentalia…

    • http://twitter.com/margaretbarreca Margaret M. Barreca

      People have said that to me many, many times. Whenever I ask why once we’re friends they say it’s because I seemed standoffish. The thing is, I’m just really shy….so my shyness and inability to strike up a normal conversation has given people the standoffish bitch impression. My ex-boyfriend even told me that when he saw me in the class where we met, he thought I was the silent judgy bitch in the corner because I never spoke and just sat there. When I told him I was dying to make friends with people in the class but was too scared, he was super surprised. Now as I get older and more outgoing, if someone calls me a bitch because I’m opinionated and not afraid to speak my mind, even if they mean it in a derogatory way I’m going to take it as a compliment. Just like Elevator_from_Duh-Shining said…if it means that I’m a strong woman, and some poor guy (or girl) can’t handle it, that’s fine by me. I think it’s pretty cool, and definitely better than being called a bitch because I’m the shy mouse in the corner wishing I could make friends but too afraid and shy to do so.

      • Samantha_Escobar

        Shyness has and always will be mistaken for some form of standoffishness; I think it stems from people’s innate fear of rejection and, if a person doesn’t speak to you first or isn’t super receptive immediately, it feels sort of like rejection. Which is fucking ridiculous because some people are just shy or naturally quiet.

        Hey, I’m really really stoked you have such a strong and awesome mindset. If people can’t handle it, that’s on them and has zero bearing on who you are.

    • http://www.facebook.com/manda.v Manda Vasas

      Girls assume you’re going to be a bitch because you’re so freaking pretty. Every time a woman meets another woman who they think is superior to themselves in some way, the first idea that pops into the head is “I bet that girl is a TOTAL BITCH”, mainly because I think it helps the self-esteem: she might be prettier/smarter/richer than me, but she’s probably such a cunt that no one can even stand her. My mom worked for a company that created/sold/distributed bras and underwear from JC Penny to Victoria Secrets. My mom used to dress the Victoria Secrets models because as distribution manager she had a lot of time on her hands (that’s what happens when you hire the right people to do their jobs…then management doesn’t have to do diddly haha). There was one model that a. was far, FAR, prettier than any of the other models, and b. every single woman that worked with my mom hated. My mom actually FEARED having to work with her the first time because all she heard was how much of a bitch this woman was. Turned out she was super sweet and very funny, and no one had even said two words to her in the time she was modeling for them. Their jealousy had morphed her into this horrid half-woman-half-psychopath that didn’t even exist, all because they hated how pretty she was.

      The most hilarious part about this is how, typically, the women casting another woman off as a “bitch” are the ones being bitches themselves. And also: when was being a female-dog a bad thing? My doggy Miri rules…now I just assume if anyone calls me a bitch they mean I’m acting like Miri and that makes me smile :)

      • http://www.facebook.com/karen.valdivia Karen Valdivia

        “the women casting another woman off as a “bitch” are the ones being bitches themselves” You summarized it perfectly!

        You pointed it out really well: pretty women are catalogued as “bitches” if they are attractive. Doesn’t matter if they are nicer and sweeter than honey and sprinkles, most self-catalogued “average” girls will hate the pretty girl and call her a bitch.

        It has happened to me plenty of times, without even saying “hi”, many girls tought i was a bitch. Therefore, I became “one of the boys” and turns out it only reinforces my bitchy image. Go figure.

      • Samantha_Escobar

        You are too nice to me and too sweet and guhhh, you made me blush. Thank you :D

        I’ve definitely been on the other side of that, wherein I’ve been jealous and whatnot–I didn’t run around calling those women bitches, but I wasn’t very nice. I haven’t been like that in years since I was an idiotic teenager, but still, it’s a mindset I remember having and eventually being aware of how pathetic it was. Trying to get to know everybody regardless of reputation is so important! Especially since reputations are often so off-base.

        Also, yes: FEMALE DOGS ARE AWESOME. They don’t pee on everything the way the male ones I’ve had do…hrmph. :)

    • Yun

      For me, it was quite the opposite. I carried myself in what I believed was a very kind, nice manner for several years, only to have people step all over me, and more than one occasion was told that I looked ‘ditzy’ and ‘dumb’ because I smiled too much.

      It was only when I began losing my baby fat and putting on a more steely face for my office job that people began to respect me a bit more, and then I surprisingly found myself on the other end of the spectrum where people were scared of me before they got to know me. But for me, it was always an issue of power, and I’d rather have other people think of me as a ‘bitch’ first and break down that barrier than be considered ‘ditzy.’

      • Samantha_Escobar

        I wish there wasn’t such a dichotomy and could be more of a balance between the two. Women shouldn’t have to be labeled either “stupid” or “bitchy.” But fuck yes, you deserve respect.

    • Nat

      I think it is better to be called a bitch first, then people change their mind. Because right now I live in a world where people think I am “adorable” and couldn’t intimidate a fly off my soup spoon. It’s aggravating because noone takes me seriously, I usually have a smile on my face, I like to commitment people (only when I mean it) and let people know when I think they are awesome, I’m very outgoing because of this and I get excited VERY easy over anything… exciting. So people think I am a joke. But I don’t particularly want to change the way I act, but I’d love to be taken more seriously. So should I walk around with a frown and not tell someone when I like their shirt? That is just so unlike me, but what is my alternative?
      Honestly, I have no idea.

      • Samantha_Escobar

        Guh, having people not take you seriously enough is also ridiculously frustrating, I’m sure. I remember being called “Save the Whales Girl” in elementary school by both students and teachers in such a patronizing way because I wanted to have a bake sale to benefit some oceanic noise pollution cause–obviously, I didn’t aim that high, but I was like 9. It felt so painful to have people not think I was effective or serious or worth listening to because I was “harmless.” I’m sorry that people don’t take you seriously, as you’re clearly a well-spoken person with dynamic thoughts who deserves to be taken as such.


      Correct, I’m a Babe In Total Control of Herself.

      • Samantha_Escobar

        Woo woo! :)

    • Katie

      People are inclined to think you’re a bitch because you openly admit that you immediately feel the need to defend your territory every time a girl enters your male-dominated friend group. Acting aggressively towards others out of an unjustified, insecure drive for male attention is what defines you as a “bitch.”

      • Samantha_Escobar

        I don’t have a male dominated friend group, darlin’.

    • Katie

      People are inclined to think you’re a bitch because you openly admit that you immediately feel the need to defend your territory every time a girl enters your male-dominated friend group. Acting aggressively towards others out of an unjustified, insecure drive for male attention is what defines you as a “bitch.”