“When a man is assertive, he’s called an alpha-male/boss/winner. When a woman is assertive, she’s called a bitch.”
I have been seeing riffs on this notion for years, and its lack of nuance is pesky for me. To be clear: I have no doubt that the invective is unfairly applied to many appropriately assertive women. No doubt whatsoever. Eighty percent of people suck, and those that do will invariably cop-out to the easy poo fling when upset.
However, this idea as it is presented is an oversimplification in danger of treading over into fantasy. Not all assertive men are viewed positively. Far from it. I’m sorry if this runs counter to the whole, “the world is a patriarchal male wonderland” narrative that some people are trying to construct, but they aren’t. Jerk. Asshole. Shithead. Douchebag. Prick. Dickhead. King Shit of Turd Mountain. Overcompensating for something. Our vernacular is rife with words and expressions used to describe assertive men negatively.
A man who has been called an asshole has no recourse for redemption through an analyses of gender roles and misogyny. Nor should he; he probably is an asshole. His only recourse is to ignore the insult (assuming he decides not to wear it proudly). But what of the women, unlike those inappropriately denigrated that I mentioned earlier, who are behaving poorly and deserve to be called out for it? Must we abandon our cherished vulgarian streak (should we have one) simply in order to protect the supposed sensitivities of the gender?
No, I say!
When appropriately categorized, women are bitches in the same way that men are assholes: the key to the term’s correct application is the subject’s behavior. While it is certainly inappropriate to call a woman a bitch, just because she has been called one does not mean she did not deserve to be called out. Even if she had every reason to be assertive, or even angry, it is important to remember that you can be simultaneously right and incorrect (or correct and wrong, if you prefer). You may have good cause to speak up, but why do you have to be such an asshole about it? Bitch. *Said with Jesse Pinkman intonation*
However, since the word “bitch” has become so loaded with consequence these days, I am perfectly willing to admit it is time to swap it out. So, how about we start calling inappropriately assertive women, “assholes?” This will isolate the offensive behavior as the reason for the negative label, and minimize any claims to victimization by the offending party.
So, in future, please keep in mind that I regard the term, “asshole” to be gender neutral and potentially applicable to all humans.
Gender parity at its best, I’d say.