Stop Calling Me That: On Calling Strong Women Rude Names

We have all either seen it or been a part of it. There’s a girl with ambition. She’s got actual concrete plans about what she wants to do with her life. Her resume is probably on point. She’s decisive and in control and it should be awe-worthy.

Except... then it happens. Maybe after she’s handed out a list of things to do, maybe it’s after she’s been named president of a club. She starts getting called names: b*tch, psycho, bossy—all sorts of names that are meant to undermine how strong and determined she is.

It’s easy to think that it won’t bother her, because she’s just so determined and empowered in her ways. Trust me, though, when I say it does. You get called a b*tch enough times that you stop doing the things that made people call you that in the first place. She might still have those ambitions, sure, but they’re probably going to get pursued with half as much heart.

When men and boys are determined and assertive, they become admirable. They are heroes, and worthy of admiration. How often have you heard of a man being made fun of because he has aspirations? How many times have their achievements been brought down instead of commended? None. Absolutely none. Men are celebrated where women are ignored, regardless of the environment.

The worst part is that it’s not actually men calling women these names. Well, it is, but not nearly as much. It’s women calling women names. We spend so much time talking about #GirlBosses and admirable celebrities, and yet every determined woman in our work environment is beaten down as some form of learned culture. It goes beyond insulting women that we see on television and talking about people behind their back—it’s something we do to everyone, right in front of their face.

I’ve been there. Hundreds of times, I’ve been there. I’ve been the girl being called a b*tch and I’ve been the one calling other girls the same. Depends on the day, really. But no matter what side I’m on, I never leave it feeling anything but worse than when I started. It’s so incredibly and overwhelmingly easy to look at a woman and throw rude names at her because she’s so intimidating in how fiercely determined she is. I get it, I do.

The more successful she is, the less successful you are in comparison. The more she packs things onto her resume, the less likely you become to get picked for a job over her. It makes sense, on a logical level.

Still, be kind. Be kind even though everything is telling you to not be. Those who work hard succeed—your success is not dependent on hers. Just because she is amazing does not mean that you are not. Be gentle, and be kind.