We occasionally get emails from readers about the sexist stuff they’ve encountered in their lives, with questions like “Did I do something wrong here?” or “What the eff is wrong with people?” I just got one last night, and I really wanted to address it, because I know it’s going to seem familiar to lots of harpies.
The reader in question had the misfortune of dealing with a male peer and co-member of a college group dedicated to supporting safe sex on campus who thought that smart-ass remarks about drugging women to avoid that whole sticky “consent” issue were Big Larfs.
To Reader A: I’m sorry you had to deal with the Rape Joke Posse, and that the president of your org didn’t have your back. I think you did exactly the right thing. Any guy who repeatedly defends his right to make rape jokes is NOT an ally, and calling out hateful behavior–especially in a calm, reasoned way, as you did–is praiseworthy. And really freakin’ hard to do. Regardless of what you said to that weasel and his bros, or how you said it, you were going to make them really uncomfortable, and they were going to respond with chest-puffery and DOOD! hi-fives.
And taking the matter to your president was right, too, even though I think she dropped the ball. She may have had her reasons, but given your organization’s mission, I feel like you (and she, and all members) are obligated to shut crap like that down toot-sweet: how can one advocate for reproductive rights–that is, for control over one’s own body–if one turns around and makes light of taking that right away from women, by advocating the use of drugs to rape them? Safe sex doesn’t just mean using a condom. That dude is a hypocrite, and horrible little shit. Self-proclaimed feminists do not joke about raping women, or anyone.
So, your question “when is it okay to Be A Bitch?” As often as you can stomach it. Let me say it again: You. Were. Right. You did the right thing. You might feel horrible about the whole thing, and downtrodden, and devalued, and I don’t blame you if you feel like throwing up your hands now and again. But Being a Bitch was the right and brave thing to do.
You said that your group had a conversation about how to handle this, and split between “Being a Bitch is Important” and “Don’t Make Feminists Look So Bad by Being a Bitch.” You know what camp I’m in. Yours. I don’t know if anything else comes of this episode, but if it does, I hope you’re able to rally and wave that Bitch Flag again.
A, I’m sure you’re not the only one of our readers who has dealt with this sort of thing. Readers, if this is all too familiar to you, can you let us know what you did, and how it turned out? And can we get some Bitch Love up in here, or what?