Bikini photo sabotage isn’t proof that women are bitchy

Louise McCudden

2373824 224x300 Bikini photo sabotage isnt proof that women are bitchyThere’s a saying that there are two kinds of women; those who make life easier for other women, and those who make life harder. Like any good saying, there are times when it feels true. But there’s an alienating premise to it. It assumes that it’s the responsibility of women to navigate – not challenge, but navigate – patriarchal pressures. It assumes that misogyny, with all its evils, is our fault.

There’s a race to the bottom on self-esteem. We are not supposed to like ourselves. And we get plenty of help in learning to hate ourselves.

Enormous sections of the popular media that women and girls consume every day demands (as a basic minimum) that we be virginal, sexual, confident, coy, available, unattainable, feminine, banter-appreciating, deep-throating, classy, popular yet grateful for all attention. We must be permanently fertile birthing models with whom men can have endless, consequence-free unprotected sex, without ever becoming a single mother or having an abortion, and we must do it all whilst staying thin, baking cookies, and never getting wrinkles. In other words, anyone in possession of a vagina is, as an unfortunate consequence of being an actual person, a worthless failure before she even gets out of bed in the morning.

Why am I talking about this? Because once again, women are being told what bitches we are. A survey by MyMemory is claiming that one in four women has committed “bikini photo sabotage,” i.e. putting unflattering pictures of ‘friends’ in bikinis on social media, knowing the ‘friend’ will be upset. This is evidence of women all being cows, right? I mean, that’s clearly what we’re supposed to think of the research. It proves that women are all jealous cows who hate each other. It proves women are just holding ourselves back. It’s convenient that women are all bitches, because that proves sexual inequality has nothing to do with misogyny or – God forbid – men. It’s just that women sabotage each other.

Never mind that MyMemory seem to have omitted the figures showing how many men upload pictures of ‘friends’ with punch bowls on their heads, penises drawn on their cheeks, and the England flag tattooed on their buttocks as they vomit into a bin. You think women are competitive bitches? Look at Chris Brown and Drake. Look at drunken Arsenal and Spurs fans. Look at the men in urinals surreptitiously measuring their willies. Look at casino banking, look at war. Men are hardly all beacons of solidarity.

We live in a society which incessantly and obsessively promotes competition. It’s no surprise that loads of us – male, female, trans – indulge in Schadenfreude more than is healthy. But women and girls have a specific frustration, because are we blamed, almost from birth, for hating ourselves in the way we are taught to, and at the same time we are told, almost from birth, that all the things we are blamed for are – although still our fault – just an inevitable part of life.

Browse a glossy magazine at random. I once read an article called How to Stop Your Man Cheating, warning that earning more than a man can make him feel the need to cheat on you. It was followed by a tip that if he gets a promotion at work he may cheat because he’s on a testosterone high. If you’re too needy, he will cheat to put distance between you. If you’re too distant, he will cheat because he doesn’t feel loved. If you’re too available he will get comfortable and cheat. If you’re boring in bed he will cheat. Women are taught that it isn’t reasonable to expect men to treat them like human beings, and that it’s our fault when they don’t.

So when we walk down a street and get harassed, when we go a nightclub and get our private parts grabbed, when we share a cab with a man who can’t tell the difference between wanting sex with us and being entitled to it? That stuff is our responsibility to deal with. But it’s unreasonable to be angry about it.

Well I am angry. I’m sick of minor, natural things being used to blame women for the way sexism treats us. Next time you feel like calling a woman a bitch, imagine this. Imagine if men were expected to protect women’s egos like we’re expected to mollycoddle men’s. Imagine if men got called names – names that counted, like “bitch” – for being mean to other men. Imagine if calling a man “sexist” was as harsh as calling a woman “slut.”

Victim-blaming always leads down the same rotten rabbit hole in the end; people on the knife edge of it up doing the dirty work of their lazy oppressors. So when I read that one in four women likes to occasionally shame other women, it doesn’t surprise me. Not because women are biologically determined to be jealous little bitches, but because, in the dirty maze of all the frustrating bull we are supposed to navigate with magical feminine dexterity, the only person we are allowed to hate for any of it is ourselves. So sorry if there’s a little bit of misdirected rage and resentment between women at times. If you want to see it redirected, whatever your gender, then don’t tell a woman she’s a bitch. Tell patriarchy.

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  • Clarke Pitts

    I get out quite a bit. I live in London not the Outer Hebrides and my hearing is fine. For a Troll Hunter you display some distinctly Troll-esque attributes in your posts.

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