Bitch, Dyke, or Slut: What, I have to choose?

Disclaimer: Real rates and names not used.

At the beginning of this year I was in a participating in a period of instruction with several other students, most of them fresh-faced booters, 20 years of age and under. I recall one day that a new set of instructors was introduced to us. Two female First Class Petty Officers came to the front of the class.

“Good Morning, I’m GM1 Jackson and this is OS1 Whitner.” Says GM1 indicating the both of them. “We’ll be your instructors for this course. Before we begin we’d like to lay down some ground rules.”

They went on to state the standard rules; no phones, no food, when breaks were allowed, etc. Everything was normal and uninteresting until they came to share a little about themselves, and ended with the following:

“There are three types of women in the Navy” OS1 says seriously while eyeballing the class “Bitches, lesbians, and whores.”

“We’re not the last two.” finishes GM1. They both smile.

At this point in time I was just newly out of the closet but not really open about it. I honestly didn’t know how to take that statement. I am a lesbian, so what does that mean? When I was in the closet and married which one was I then? Did they perceive me as Bitch because I was presenting myself as straight? Or did it not count because I was in the closet, so I was just lesbian? Both? Is that really the only way it can possibly be?

Who the hell were these First Classes spouting off such bullshit in front of junior Sailors in the first place? A major problem I see every day is that if a woman doesn’t present herself as a bitch, she may be pushed aside or overlooked. And here we have two LPO’s telling all these booters, male and female, the only way not to be classified as the other two is to be a bitch. What is that 18 year old female recruit going to think when these two ol’ salty sea dogs, these role models, tell them that?

Strong male leader? Assertive and an asset to the command.

Strong female leader? Bitch.

And it’s not only happening in the Navy.

Looking at that last one, before women are even entering the military they’re already being subjected to the line of thinking that they have to fall into one of these three categories. This is detrimental and debilitating to how females are going to express themselves in roles of leadership and teamwork. They’re doomed from the start of the military service! The ones who are less assertive will quietly hide away hoping no one will think them any of the three, while ones who believe that to succeed they have to be a ‘bitch’ and stomp all over everyone.

There have been so many cases where aggression , active or passive, has been taken out against women for being any of the three. She’s a slut so she won’t really mind getting raped again right? She’s gay so a good raping should fix that! She’s a bitch? Rape her into submission!

Ladies! You don’t have to be either three to be successful in the service! And if you are either three (sexually liberated, lesbian, or assertive) then that’s ok too! We just need to take away the negative connotations from each and the assumption that you have to be one!

And we need to stop saying such stupid shit to impressionable new sailors. Using these words with such negative connotations is undermining the authority of the women in leadership positions by insinuating they’re only there because they slept their way to that position or stomped everyone in their way there. Trying to push women into this categories demeans them and gives predators the shitty excuse they need to belittle, rape, assault,  and yes, dehumanize women.

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About feministsailor

Lots of shitty sexist things happen to me in the Navy! So I’d like to tell you about it. Also, I curse like a Sailor. Sorry if that offends you.
This entry was posted in Herstory, Researched and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Bitch, Dyke, or Slut: What, I have to choose?

  1. emmawolf says:

    I love this post. Actually, it makes me want to throw up, except for your hopeful note at the end.

    • Well you can certainly know that I will never put that sort of image forward in front of our sailors, and I’m trying to get everyone else to cut crap like that out too :). Hope is the first step!

  2. You really put that well. I think it’s possible to be a pleasant person and still an assertive leader, a lot should depend on your ability to influence other people. A more direct approach is one associated with stronger personalities, which has just come to be associated with negative words like, “He/she’s an asshole, a jerk, a hard-ass.” Or gender specific, “He’s a dick.” or “She’s a bitch.” But leadership isn’t a popularity contest. You can be an asshole if you know your job and are proficient. It’s like a mentor told me once, “You can be an asshole or an idiot; but you can’t be both.” Because we all know that lovable idiot who screws up but is nice to people and can get helped out of his or her mess from time to time.

    A good counter question would be well what kind of men are in the military? Only dicks, gays, or man-whores? It sounds silly when put that way.

    My last comment… being a lesbian has nothing to do with leadership at all. Your sexual preference has nothing to do with how well or poorly you do your job.

    • I gotcha. When I was an engineer our LPO was a hardass, but fair. He would drive us to the limit, and I for one respected him for it. I eventually was next in line after him, and I got the same respect for putting forth the same work ethic for most of my people, except for one or two who would call me a bitch behind my back.

      And of course I agree with your last statement, as I feel I’ve done fairly well at being a leader, without being a ‘bitch’

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