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Are we all bitches?

Bitching women - never!

There are moments in all of our lives where we will come across bitching in some guise; sharp, sly and hurtful comments that can cut you to the core. Is this a trait only shown in women? Unfortunately I think not – though females do appear to have the upper hand when it comes to frequency and choice of words. I have witnessed bitchiness on many occasions and have been totally amazed at the things I have heard and seen, sadly to the extent that it can often take my breath away.  However, that said, I am lucky in that I have a handful of exceptionally close friends, and I can honestly say for us, bitching is never necessary.

I am also amazed at the way I personally deal with bitchy comments – half of the time I don’t notice them until afterwards when rethinking a scenario, or invariably when someone else points them out to me or when others are offended on my behalf.  Do I do anything about bitchy comments or actions that I do spot? Of course not, I just let them go and do not rise to the bait.  I remain unconvinced this is the right way, has my backbone disappeared for good or is it simply the case that I just can’t be bothered – OR probably more like it – if I do say something, then ultimately I fear I will be the butt of the next round of cutting comments, whether within my hearing range or as soon as I have nipped to the loo.

Recently I was at a very posh formal function.  One of the guests joined us late and as a result had not dressed for the occasion.  This person was someone we had all known for years and was welcomed with open arms by all, but as soon as they were out of earshot the comment started:  ‘Well, can you believe that?  ‘Would you do that?’. ‘What?’ I replied – always quick to catch on. ‘Coming out having made absolutely no effort at all – what do they look like?’…  And so it continued, I just sat there aghast and let them get on with it making no comment at all.  It was totally unnecessary and an awkward moment for many of us there.  I had to smile when someone leaned across and said, ‘Well, I was going to go outside for a ciggie, but I’ll think better of that now’.

And these are people that are my so called friends!

Then I suppose there is the kind of bitchiness, which is said to your face.  I had been on a training course and as part of this we had received some ‘expert’ Pilate training on posture and what impact this can have on your working day.  The trainer confirmed to me the reason I had a bad back was due to the fact that I hadn’t lost my ‘baby’ weight – ‘How old are your children?’ she asked.  I replied rather slowly ‘My boys are 11 and 13’.  ‘Ahh’ she said as if this confirmed everything, ‘Fortunately my body snapped back into shape after mine.  But I’d soooo rather be like you.  It must be sooo wonderful not to give a damn what you look like’…  Well that certainly did touch a nerve and I remember the long and painful walk back to the station to catch my train, my self esteem in tatters. I had actually thought I looked good that day – ouch, ouch and ouch.

There is also that famous phrase:  ‘Don’t tell anyone but…’ This is usually the start of an extremely good bit of gossip at someone’s expense or a rather ruthless character assassination.  One of my extremely good looking friends said to me once, ‘I wish men would appreciate me for my brains, instead of my beauty.  If only I could make myself less attractive…, so tell me, just how do you do it?’  Absolutely astounding and it still astounds me after all these years.

Apparently some sociologists say the reason for bitchiness is biology!  Appearing stronger than other females puts you at the top of the pecking order and most likely to be chosen by the most desirable male – a reason to stop, if ever a reason is required!  Apparently, although we have evolved and are now more sophisticated, especially in the work place vying for promotion against males and for partners in an ever increasingly competitive world, base instincts still apply.  Society expects women to be well behaved, aggression must be veiled and the most lethal criticism couched in ‘nice’ terms, for example ‘It must be lovely having small breasts, clothes must hang so well on you’.  So veiled I smiled and missed it completely – it was my friends who were askance in my defence.  And also more recently the comment, ‘Oh, I do so love being seated next to you – it makes me look so much slimmer’ – a direct hit if ever I have heard one.  Which of course completely threw me off balance for the rest of conference which I suspect was exactly the plan.

Why do you think bitching is the female weapon of choice?  We women are more verbally dexterous than men.  Women use on average, 350 more words in their daily vocabulary, which isn’t a surprise to any of us, really!

Shooting from the lip is our defence and perhaps bitchiness does start in the playground.  Boys will often have physical punch-ups to resolve a disagreement, girls will whisper and snigger and it becomes a game of inclusion and exclusion.  I can still remember my school back stabbing days, or more accurately where I was the victim – my shoes were always the wrong colour and wrong design and just simply enormous. I was always overweight, even back then – some things just don’t change…  The stigma of being sent to ‘coventry’ whilst others discussed my faults and foibles with much laughter is not much fun and still brings back awful memories.  However, I am not sure that this is the only reason I didn’t excel at school – but this may have played its part, however small.

I read recently that what makes bitching so commonplace is that it’s fun!  I think I would have to disagree with this one.  However bitching is one recreational activity we can all enjoy for free.  It’s good for your health too, as mocking laughter lowers the blood pressure and energetic mimicry burns up calories.  It also apparently enhances mental wellbeing.  And the most important thing about bitching, it is much cheaper than therapy!

However I have to say bitching is not for me.  I don’t like it and I don’t do it.  Time with my closest friends is a precious commodity and one I enjoy from every angle. My sides ache from continuous laughter because our time together is about closeness and fun and certainly nothing to do with bitchiness…

So next time you feel the urge to utter something disdainful about your friends, stop and think – next time it could be aimed at you!

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1 Comment »

  1. Sally says:

    This is so true. I never really thought about it before now. If I’m honest I do make the occassional bitchy remark but its never done with malice (at least I don’t think it is).
    :-)

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