If you’re a gentleman of a certain age and bring a so-young-we-ought-to-look-at-her-ID-twice woman to your local, you are going to get the blues from the rest of the crew next time you come in. And so it was when I greeted my buddy, The Law Professor, with “It was bad enough when you were dating law students, but when did you start dating undergrads?”
The crew laughed and a few others added their smart-ass comments to the mix. One cat who was a semi-regular but whom I’d not met was the lone dissenting voice.
“I don’t see nothing wrong with it” the mid 40’s guy said (it will become clear why I don’t refer to him as a gentleman in a moment.) “The bitch I’m dating now is 25 or 26, and I haven’t dated a bitch over 30 in ten years.”
I bit my tongue. He continued: “Older broads got too much drama, it’s all about their careers, and they’re too fucking difficult. You take an old bitch to dinner someplace and she’s thinking ‘it could have been a nicer restaurant.’ You take a 25 year old bitch to dinner and she’s just grateful not to be eating fucking Ramen noodles.”
Perhaps my mistake was engaging him at all, perhaps it was failing to call him on his woman-hating language, but either way my response was a mistake. “You and I are different” I grossly understated. “I want a woman who is my conversational, emotional, and intellectual equal, and while it is possible in substantively younger women, I find that more frequently in women closer to my own age.”
“Dude, that’s bullshit” he replied, “There’s thousands of years of history that’ll tell you that bitches mature faster than men. It only makes sense to date young bitches, history will tell you that.”
Reclaiming a teeny bit of my spine, I answered “Ignoring the intellectual inconsistency of suggesting that women mature faster than men and therefore younger women are a better suited to be the equal you profess that you don’t seek, your statement is really just more evidence that history, like anything powerful, is exceptionally dangerous when people fail to understand it.”
“Man, I don’t even understand what you just said… but all I’m saying is that young bitches make more sense cause older bitches got that fucking clock ticking, want you to be all perfect for them and they’re just too much damn trouble.”
Finally finding the gumption to address the larger issue I stated “Sir, I am quite sure that nothing I say will change the misogyny that let’s you use the word ‘bitch’ as a pronoun for women, but if we are to continue this conversation and that is a big if because I am not sure it is worth it, I will ask you to not refer to women in that way any longer, or at least not around me.”
We argued for a couple minutes more and every time he used bitch as pronoun for woman he would obnoxiously follow it with “sorry, I mean lady.” Eventually, I no longer wished to be the bigger fool for continuing a conversation with a another fool.
The foul-mouthed-women-hating guy didn’t stay beyond his first round at the bar (but clearly not his first of the night.) After he left, the bartender, a professional friend who wasn’t really paying attention, but like all good bartenders could sense tension, asked me “Dude, Refugee, what was that all about?”
“It’s simple” I said without taking my characteristic deep breath that aids in polite conversation, “If you use ‘bitch’ as pronoun for woman once, I will just assume that you’re a product of a misogynist society that mislead you into thinking it’s ok to do that, and let it slide. If you do it a handful of times, I am going to be rather annoyed but probably let it go. If you do it a dozen times inside a few minutes, I’m probably going to sack-up, call you on it, and stop talking to you because of it.”
I was on my high horse, I knew it, and I was completely ok with it.
After a pregnant silence, the bartender asked me “It’s still ok if we call a specific woman a bitch right, just not the general… I mean you’re not going to have a problem if I say ‘Ann Coulter’s a bitch, right?”
We all laughed a bit, the tension was loosened.
I laughed too, not because I inherently agreed but because at least he choose a hard example for me to defend.
For the record, an earlier version of this post was published before I had an opportunity to finish my edits. The earlier version did not tell the very end of this experience but it did close with some questions for you, gentle readers. I will include them now, just because…
But here are my larger questions:
- No one in polite society would repeatedly refer to any ethnic group by a pejorative slur, nor would people consistently refer to gay men or women by similarly noxious terms. So why is it that people feel comfortable referring to women in that way?
- If someone was consistently referencing any ethnic group that way, I am certain that I would have protested sooner. What does it say about me that I took so long to declare that unacceptable?
- What does it say about my “bar friends” that I was the only person who noticed this as others at least claimed to not have taken note of the language?