Last week, my two best friends and I went out in a bar we'd never usually go to and were immediately reminded why not. Walking in there was like that scene in the Wasp Factory. You know... with the maggots. It looked OK from the outside and then suddenly, we got in, and there were eight million stockbrokers swarming all over us, trying to buy us a drink (read: have sex with us).
One particularly awful man named Stefan took a shine to one of my friends and would not leave us alone. So I was rude to him. He wasn't used to women being rude to him. He called me a cock block. I told him I resented the assumption that I was the only thing standing between his cock and my best friend. His face, dripping sweat and resembling a spit-roasted pig's, contorted. I had stumped him. He leaned towards me so I could smell his stagnant breath and said,
"Why are you so bitter?"
Ah, the eternal question. Why am I so bitter? Because that's what this is, isn't it, this woman-not-wanting-you-to-invade-her-evening thing? Just an outrageous dose of bitterness.
But, the lightbulbs come on!, Stefan had heard a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down - hmmm, something sweet... Could he buy me a pornstar martini? An amaretto sour? Would it soften the blow if he paid me some attention as well, bitter old bitch that I am? What about a -
Nah not really, I'm good. But touch my backside again Stefan, babes, and I will find some way of ensuring that you never procreate.
It's not just men in bars who tell me I'm bitter. Women do it too. I was called 'pointlessly critical and bitter' this week because I wrote a blog post about makeup free selfies. Sorry, you're right. Questioning feminine beauty ideals is pointless and bitter and twisted; what was I thinking? Sometimes my bitterness actually impairs my better judgement and makes me hope we can one day smash the patriarchy. Silly old me. As you were.
Men's Rights Activists tell me I'm bitter all the time. I'm bitter because I question their assumption that anything I've achieved has been because men want to have sex with me. I'm bitter because I don't enjoy being sexually assaulted on my way to work. I'm bitter because they relentlessly bully women like me, and I speak out against it. I'm bitter because I'm not quiet.
When I am not being bitter, I am being hysterical. When men get upset about something, they're sensitive. But women? Well, we're hysterical. We need to calm down. Take a deep breath. Because he probably didn't mean it. The trouble is you're just so bitter that you don't see it was all in jest. Could you take a joke, for once?
There are different words for what women like me are. Slowly, people seem to be realising that 'right' is one of them. But for every person who opens their eyes a tiny crack and sees that women are constantly societally marginalised, there is a stranger lying in wait, ready to call me sweetie, and then a slut, or a slag, when I pick him up on it. Which is why 'tired' is another word. I'm tired of being called all of these names. I'm exhausted by this daily batting away of basic patriarchy. When am I going to get a rest from it?
I'm sick of the fact that because I am female, I am public property. I'm done with being dissected because I talk about that. And if you can't think of another word for what women like me are, you call us bitter. You expect it to sting and you expect us to shut our mouths and stop caring about ourselves, and each other, and our rights.
Unfortunately for you, all you really do is put us in a category with all the other wonderful bitter things in this world. So what happens when you group a bunch of outspoken feminists together with gin and dark chocolate? Watch this space, sweetie.