The focus of today’s blog-post is Abusive behaviour, Bullying/Harassment and
the practice of Social Shamming girls, women, femmes and female-perceived people by other women. Allow me to introduce the most prominent and most misogynistic Feminine Writing Trope in the History of Art and Media, The Alpha Bitch.
Connotation: A narcissistic bully who uses abusive behaviour such as emotional and/or physical harassment to dominate and control others.
- Heternormative Crusader
- Popular or High/Favourable Social Status – Even though she (and it’s always a she) is a terrible human being, The Alpha Bitch will have a never ending circle of friends that flit in and out on regular rotation like a seasonal wardrobe. Possible reasons are family wealth and family social connections but it could simply be just because she’s conventionally attractive (usually by Western Society Standards)
- Self-Absorbed aka “It’s All About Me” – Everything has to be done her way, her opinions are always right and her needs and wants are always more important.
- Negative Reinforcement Behaviour – Emotional manipulation and/or harassment are her weapons of choice for keeping those lower on the social totem pole in line (bonus points if she refers to them as lowly peons or peasants). Any female character that does not comply with her standard of beauty or her opinions how a female character should behave, then that female will be subjected to social shaming and humiliation. However, some Alpha Bitches will bully other females they perceive as weaker than themselves simply because they can.
- Superficial and Narcissistic – Excessive value in physical beauty and appearance.
- One of the many tactics used by an Alpha Bitch is seduction, so the unfortunate implication here is that it is wrong for a woman to be confident in her sexuality, otherwise they are a scheming back-stabbing slut.
Problematic Narrative Elements:
- The Alpha Bitch is a stereotype and therefore lazy writing and, out of all the lazy female characterisation stereotypes to pick, it’s the with the one most Unfortunate Implications and most Misogynistic Double Standards. Nearly all writers can do better than this.
- The Alpha Bitch stereotype is loosely based on the incorrect and outdated stereotype of how Wolves socially interact. Adam Ruins Everything have tackled this subject with regards to Alpha Males, but to be honest it’s the same thing. There’s also the case study of what happened with a troop of baboons when all the Alpha Male baboons died.
- Traits such as confidence, assertiveness, social connections, organisation, time-management (all useful and necessary requirements for leadership) are what make men bosses but women bitches. The Alpha Bitch stereotype promotes the idea that girls, women, femmes and female-perceived people can not be leaders or be trusted with positions of power in reality.
- When the Alpha Bitch is the antagonist of the narrative, The Cool Loser is the protagonist. The Cool Loser (by mainstream media standards) is typically someone who is just as attractive as the Alpha Bitch, but wears glasses, or something else equally stupid and transparent.
- The Alpha Bitch must have a romantic interest, she couldn’t possibly be her own self-contained person, The vast majority of Alpha Bitch’s “Zany Schemes” are about stealing or acquiring a love interest. The Alpha Bitch’s male of choice is usually the Cool Loser’s Love Interest. This never results in a Not So Different moment, but instead it usually results in a Stupid Pointless Love Triangle.
When writers engage in the overdone narrative of The Alpha Bitch VS The Cool Loser, the motivation/prize is generally always a man’s affections. It never occurs to these writers that, despite the obvious fact that Alpha Bitch and Cool Loser are very different people, it might be believable that these two characters have the same priorities, but not believable that they have same romantic preferences. It’s Patriarchy Fantasy Material to have two women fight over one man, most women aren’t interested in such childish behaviour. Heaven forbid the media portray a woman (even an “evil” one) who has more important things to worry about than a romantic relationship.
The Alpha Bitch reinforces a lot of The Patriarchy’s worldviews of women, such as women being only valued as decoration, instead of person with her own goals or agency. One of the key character traits of an Alpha Bitch is her beauty, sure it’s Narcissism at it’s most damaging and extreme, but a lot of narratives justify this in-universe.
An example of this is when the Cool Loser under goes a usually Unnecessary Make-Over, once the make-over is complete, she is
now “worthy” of taking on Alpha Bitch and Love Interest will surely notice her instead. You know, because only Beautiful Women can do The Right Thing and “Ugly” Women just shouldn’t exist.
It also implies the Cool Loser isn’t “worthy” of the male Romantic Interest unless she’s beautiful, and The Cool Loser must conform to society’s expected level of beauty (going against pretty much everything the character supposedly stands for or represents. The idea that the male Romantic Interest shouldn’t just accept her for who she is from the get go is rarely acknowledged or addressed. It’s especially jarring as the Cool Loser character is always expected to accept the male Romantic Interest just the way he is, reinforcing the message that mediocre or ugly men are acceptable but “ugly” women aren’t.
The most important (and perhaps the scariest) part in all of this is that The Alpha Bitch isn’t just confined to the Media. These narcissistic bullies are in our classrooms (kindergarten to year 12 High School), our workplaces (Nursing and Teaching suffer the most with 71% of harassment cases of women harassing other women) and in our homes (Mothers With Narcissistic Personality Disorder). When you live in a society that only values and appreciates a female because of how they appear, I suppose competition and bullying by women against women is going to happen, but who really gains from this? It’s certainly not girls, women, femmes and female-perceived people.
As long as Women continue to invest in an impossible-to-obtain social status that ultimately does more harm than good, as long as women continue to judge their status and sense of self-worth in comparison to another woman’s looks, as long as Women continue to buy into and go along with sexual objectification, Women and Feminists are always going to be a house divided.
Now I know some women who don’t think they need feminism, but I suspect that’s because they misunderstand what Feminism is about. Feminism is about giving Women and Men the same rights and responsibilities, the same pay for the same job, the same opportunities for everything life has to offer. The ability for a woman choose what she wants to do with her life because it’s what she wants and it makes her happy and she doesn’t have to feel ashamed or guilty about it. Women are allies, not the enemy, and our media should reflect that.
Bullying Statistics – Adult Bullying
Bullying Statistics – Why do people bully?
Wise Geek – What Is Emotional Abuse?
Alfie Kohn – The Case Against Competition
Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression In Girls by Rachel Simmons: Kobo or Amazon
Characteristics of Narcissistic Personality Disorder
TV Tropes – Alpha Bitch
TV Tropes – The Breakfast Club
TV Tropes – The Sliding Scale of Gender Inequality
Caroline Heldman: The Sexy Lie
Sexual Objectification: What It Is, Why It’s Damaging, And How We Change It
Cameron Russel: Looks Aren’t Everything, Trust Me I’m a Model
TV Tropes – I’m Not Pretty
Jezebel – Why Women don’t say “I’m Pretty”
Jezebel – #LiesToldByFemales Perfectly Illustrates Gender Bullshit