I went into the office today. My boss was having one of those days and jokingly suggested going out for a drink after work. I took the idea and ran with it, all but pushing her out the door at 5:30.

We ended up at a tasting room downtown. We’d moved through the white wines and on to the reds. We were talking about hiking when a sudden commotion from down the bar made me pause midsentence. A bottle-blond woman was hooting and smacking a bald-shaven man on the arm. “Women are competitive, honey!” she half-shouted, then repeated it louder: “Women are competitive!”

She caught us looking at her and leaned over conspiratorially. “Isn’t that right?” she asked us. “Women are bitches. Women are just bitches.

The man laughed; braying like a horse. My boss and the girl behind the counter smiled reflexively. I didn’t.

I wanted to say something. I wanted to tell her all the ways she was wrong. I wanted to tell the man not to believe her. I wanted to tell her not to believe herself.

I didn’t.

What good would it have done? I would have made it too easy to scoff. I would have looked too earnest. Can’t you take a joke? God.

What a bitch.

So I shut my mouth and complied.

Hands tied. Voice silenced.

Defeated at both ends.

11 Responses to “defeated”

  1. Ugh, this happens way too often. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

    Say it next time, though. Damned if you do feels so much better. If anyone gives you a hard time you can call me and then hand them your cell phone and I’ll back you up, girl.

  2. Goddammit.

    That happens way too often. I feel your pain.

    When I’ve been in similar situations, I’ve tried a few different tactics. The one that seems to have worked the best is to smile back and say, “… Ahhhh, not in my experience.”

    I like to think that’s what Miss Manners would have done. But I don’t know.

    • Oh, nice! I really like that response. I’ll have to memorize it for my arsenal.

    • I do this too. If I’m feeling a little more confrontational I will say, “I am a woman and I am not a bitch,” but that is opening a door to being told you are being a bitch right to your face, which is something that is really hard to do, especially with co-workers and the like.

  3. I hate finding myself in a situation like that. Too damn often. Too awkward. Too ugh.

  4. “Speak for yourself, crazycheeks!”

    This doesnt happen to me very often. Southern California? I dunno. I like the polite response.

  5. damnit! we deal with this ALL the time about getting married. this woman today ASSUMED that i’m a “yes dear” and was all ranting and raving about how independent she was and how she could never give up her independence and how i should see the world and i wanted to explain, “Hey! STFU! I am independent too! Doesn’t mean I can’t find an awesome partner to go through life with on accident, does it?” jeez. fucking bitches. i mean…

  6. Her: “Women are bitches, ammi right?”

    You: “Naw.”

    Or, you can fall back on Tina Fey and just tell her “Well, Bitch is the new black, ammi right?”

    It depends on how feisty you are feeling.

  7. While I get this…I really do, what if that particular woman is the kind of woman who needs to self-validate in this way? What if her brashness is her feminism? Do we as women, deny her that brashness? I mean, I think all the polite responses are excellent and I’m personally cataloging some of these statement. But I’m just asking, “What if?” Would that make remaining silent more tolerable and less teeth-grinding?
    I’m just thinking of all the articles form our respective blogs about women, written by women and it’s clear we’re all so different but still united. What if this lady is just looking for her team?

    OK, I’ll shut up now.

  8. First of all there was booze involved. I see the pleasant reflexive smile of you coworker and the bartender as dismissive. I see this woman as sad and insecure and saying what she thinks she needs to to a man she’s trying to impress. Note how she wasn’t all bitches and ho’s unite when shes sitting with her girlfriends. Immediately I wonder if she has any. As irritated as this comment made you, she is already silently getting exactly what she deserves – a lack of female companionship. However, maybe she wouldnt say such things if she had quality female companionship.

  9. the boss aspect makes everything trickier. I just smile and nod to most things, the fight isn’t worth it in the end. sorry you were in this awkward situation.

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