The Bitch/Bitch Choice

There are times in which women are put into situations in which they only have two choices: To be a bitch or to be someone's bitch. These are almost always situations in which someone else is (either mindlessly or intentionally) using the woman to his own ends, rather than treating her as a human being with an independent will, agenda and sense of self.

I am a University Chaplain and I see this with my students all the time.

Example: A student of mine is on a club soccer team. She was playing, for fun, like usual, when a male student on her team said to her, "Anne*, you need to work on your hustle." When she politely ignored him he told her, "we need to work on your issues with authority." This guy is her same year in school and is not the team captain. Anne and I cannot fathom what authority this guy thinks that he has over her. Throughout practices and games alike, this young man "teases" (aka, is mean to) Anne. He does it so much that she has considered quitting the team, but does not want to.

This is a classic bitch/bitch situation. Anne feels that by enduring his teasing, she is not standing up for herself, and he therefore acts as though she is "his bitch." But if she were to answer him, she would be confrontational and 'no fun' and so he would be able to call her "a bitch." She handles this balance very gracefully, but soccer is not as much fun for her as it used to be.

I find myself in these situations pretty frequently; when I feel as though my only two options are to let myself be steamrolled or to call someone out (usually publicly). I remember when my college boyfriend would tell me to grab him a beer in front of a group of his friends (not ask me, but tell me). I could either go get the beer or not, but the implications of both were clear.

When my boss shook me a few years ago, when a 24-year-old teaching fellow was rude to me in front of a class a few days ago, when one of my students mocks me in front of a group of his friends; there is such an implicit moment of entitlement on the other person's side that nuance and kindness seem elusive at best, but truly, they feel impossibly out of reach.

Again. I am a Chaplain. I am supposed to live a life of kindness, compassion and empathy.

But I almost always pick being a bitch over being someone's bitch. And I said pick. It's a conscious choice. I pause. I think about it. I breathe. And then I choose being a bitch.

And so, I am called confrontational. I am called confrontational often enough that I wonder if I, on some level, enjoy confrontation. I have thought a lot about this and considered it because I would hate to think that I simply confront people for the thrill of it. Upon much thought, I have come to the conclusion that I actually find confrontation scary and uncomfortable. But I find it necessary. I cannot stand for someone else to define, even for a moment, who I am, to suit his needs. I would not let someone do that in front of me to someone else and so I cannot let it happen to me.

And when someone tries to use me for his own means, I will "confront" them (I put it in quotes because I think we need a new word for it). It is not up to someone else to tell the world who I am. It is not up to someone else to tell me who I am. And when someone else tries to do that, they are attempting to exert an authority over me or my reputation that it is in my power to grant or not. And I say no.

Rejecting these other notions of who I am -- of the girl who will grab the beer, stand being shook, be treated poorly by a teacher or student -- comes at a cost. I am the confrontational girl, or really, I am thought of as a bitch. (I do not think I am either of these things, to be clear.) But maybe by being a bitch in those situations I will make those people think for half a second about their choice, and so someone else will be given more of an option than being someone's bitch or a bitch.

And altruism aside. I would always rather be a bitch than someone's bitch.

*Not her real name.