Feminism | Posted by Ria D on 12/17/2012

Does It Make Me A Bitch To Turn Him Down?

In the midst of last year’s prom frenzy, as I was pulling my car out of the parking lot and waiting in line to leave, one of my friends popped into my car for a chat. He was irate: “Have you heard about Alex?” Before I got the chance to respond, he was off on a rant about how two guys had asked her to prom and she had said no to both of them, which of course makes her a gigantic bitch. He quickly figured out he was ranting to the wrong person because I set him straight: just because Alex turned both guys down, it didn’t make her any less of a good person. He argued with me about how both guys made such a big effort for her, so she should have at least said yes to one of them.

“Did she say that she even wanted to go to prom in the first place?” I tersely asked. “Maybe she simply doesn’t feel like going. Either that or she was uncomfortable going with guys she probably doesn’t like. Exercising her right to say no doesn’t make her a giant bitch.” At that point I told him to get out my car, and less than subtly hinted that I myself chose not to go to prom with a date, so I guessed I was a raging bitch as well.

I’ve always thought that grandiose public proposals were icky unless the two people involved are dating. There’s a weird element of pressure placed on the girl to say yes if she’s asked in a really public way. Yes, the guy decides to plan a big romantic gesture and puts himself out there in front of everyone, but there shouldn’t be this assumption that his actions will guarantee him a date. Just because a guy tries, it doesn’t mean that he deserves a response. If a guy pays for your date, society dictates that you, at the least, owe him a goodnight kiss. If a random guy starts to chat you up on the subway, society dictates that you, as a female, are required to respond because ignoring him makes you a stone cold bitch. If a guy goes all out to ask you to prom, society dictates that you publically say yes. What everyone needs to realize is that girls “owe” nothing at all to men who “make the effort” or “put themselves out there.” Her decisions are her decisions alone.

Turning him down – or “friendzoning” him – shouldn’t be a big deal. She doesn’t reciprocate your feelings. So what? Friends are exactly that – platonic friends. The mere idea that a girl entered into a friendship just to be friends can’t be THAT foreign. I’ve “friendzoned” many a guy before, and I feel no remorse. End of story. I owe him no explanation.

In the case that the girl doesn’t want to go with the guy to prom, it takes a lot of courage on her part to turn him down in front of everyone. Not to mention that not all girls want to date guys – some girls are gay and would rather go to prom with other girls. Turning him down marks her as a “huge bitch,” a label she doesn’t deserve in any way. Yes, rejecting him will hurt his feelings, but doesn’t every girl deserve the chance to make the decision that she wants to make?

More often than not, the girl feels forced to say, “yes” because she doesn’t want to seem “unfriendly.” This brings me back to a conversation I had last year in my Spanish class – I made the point that I thought public proposals, while cute for passing onlookers, place undue pressure on the person being asked. A senior girl jumped in to say that she herself had been publicly asked to homecoming earlier that year by a guy whom she barely knew. She had no idea he liked her and felt pressured by everyone watching to say yes. She later had to turn him down in private, which, due to the rumor mill, still had her labeled a “bitch.”

Our culture expects girls to be obliging and apologetic, even if we wants to act in our own best interest. Girls who choose to say no–to prom, to boys, or to anything else–should owe no explanation to anybody but themselves.

This post was previously published on SPARK

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  • Elise Grum @ at 1:17 pm, December 17th, 2012

    I don’t think the girl should be labled like that for turning down the guys. It is her choice whether she wants to go to prom in the first place, let alone with a date. If she doesn’t feel comfortable going to a dance with a boy, even after him going out of his way to ask her, she should not feel like she has to.

  • Elise Grum @ at 1:21 pm, December 17th, 2012

    This connects to the Japanese court journals because Sei Shonagon said “I hate the sight of ben in their cups”, referring to people who are intoxicated. She says how she has seen very good people behave like fools while intoxicated, but this just proves that just because you act dumb sometimes or do something that someone else doesn’t approve of, does not mean you are a bad person. You can be a smart and respected person and still have a few drinks every now and then, just like a girl can be a very sweet girl and say no to a boy who asks her to a dance.

  • Marissa Humphrey @ at 6:31 pm, December 17th, 2012

    The connection I found between this article and The Japanese Court Journals relates to the first story, “The Diary of Murasaki Shikibu.” The woman felt like she could not say what she wanted to say because the other ladies would criticize her and not understand where she was coming from. I believe that is how the girl that was asked to prom in front of everyone felt when she had turned the guy down. Everyone labeled her as a “bitch” when in reality she was just making her own decision that she felt was best for her. This is very similar to the lady in the Japanese Court Journal. She says, “…most cling to their own opinion.” This exactly describes the audience that the girl from the article, ” Does it make me a bitch to turn him down,” faced.

  • Elise Grum @ at 7:52 am, December 18th, 2012

    I agree with Marissa Humphrey’s comment about how it relates to the Japanese Court Journals. People will always stick with their own opinion and judge other people for what they do or say.

  • Matt Epstein @ at 1:34 pm, December 18th, 2012

    I agree, just becauase you don’t agree doesn’t mean your a bitch.

  • Molly Severson @ at 8:04 pm, December 18th, 2012

    I agree with both marissa and elise. people will always judge and go on with their own views. the truth doesn’t matter in peoples eyes.

  • Anna Hlavackova @ at 8:54 pm, December 18th, 2012

    Every time someone steps out of the crowd and do something that other people don’t do, it makes a huge fuss. It starts with dying your hair green or being fan of Justin Bieber and it applies on dating rules as well. The society tells us, that we should laugh at Justin Bieber just like most of the people around us does. Some people would deny the fact that they actually listen to his music, some people would admit it in public. And that wouldn’t stay without response. Because it is something the crowd doesn’t do. It is the same with turning a boy down. The society tells us to say yes, and only some girls will find the courage to say no. And people would naturally talk more about those who said no than those who said yes. Because stories with “bad ending” will always be more popular. Girls are bound by social convictions and stepping out of that safe path is like jumping in the middle of mine field.
    Lady Sei Shonagon decided not to live at home, faithfully serving her husband, as people expected her to do. She left to live at the Palace instead, she decided not to follow the “unwritten rules” just like every girl that turns a boy down does. That is the similarity I see between this article and the Court Journals

  • Mohan Sharma @ at 8:59 pm, December 18th, 2012

    i related this to the story in the japanese court called “The Diary of Murasaki Shikibu”. the women did not want to put her opinion out there because she was afraid that others would critize her for what she said. this is also true today in our society. people get critizied for stating there opinions and they shouldnt because we have a right to speak our minds and say what we want to say. due to the fact that people get critized for there opinions, this might not happen. we need to stop critizing everything so that people can feel comfortable to talk more.

  • Greg Hall @ at 10:11 pm, December 18th, 2012

    I feel as any sort of label is expected in our modern society because things have changed so much in the past. Yes it is most certainly obvious how different things are for “traditional” roles of the different genders. We live in a generation that has been building up the independence of the female population as well as the norms of society. Generations ago it would be unheard of for a woman to have this sort of involvement in the communitity.Much like in the Court Journals, women wish to have a larger part of society. But Im not saying its a bad thing, but at the same time, it cannot be helped. I’m all for equality and i think its great that man and women-kind are striving for it. But in the sad reality is that there cannot be absolute equality because somebody will always be complainging about something, labeling it as “Unequal”. We can only hope for the best and try to make things work out for the satisfaction of everybody, To find the middle ground, so to say.

  • Greg Hall @ at 10:16 pm, December 18th, 2012

    I agree with Elise’s comment about how a girl shouldn’t be labeled just for turning something down because it could go both ways. Everybody has the right to make decisions on their own. And just because one doesnt do what is expected of them, doesnt mean that anybody is given the right to label the person.

  • Angel DeBaca @ at 11:05 am, December 19th, 2012

    I think that the girl had every right to say no. She is the one that would have to spend her prom with some boy that she doesnt want to spend that time with. Maybe she didnt want to go to prom in the first place. If she did want to go to prom it is her choice on who she goes with. Just because some guy asks her publicly or romanticly doesnyt mean she has to tell him yes. When he thought of that idea he should have known that there was a chance that he could get rejected. It isnt anyone elses business if she goes to prom with him or not. By saying no i dont think she was trying to hurt his feelings or be a “bitch”. She doesnt have to do anything. She could have had someone else in mind. I know i wouldnt want to spend my prom with someone i didnt want to be there with. That is just awkward and it is not fair to her that she got that reputation just because she said she wouldnt go to prom with him doesnt mean shes a bad person. She doesnt deserve to be harrassed about it. Women often just say yes because they feel they have to say yes so they arn’t judged. This relates to Japense Court Journals because the Journals pretty much say that women act how they they think society thinks they should act rather than what they want or what is best for them.

  • Lindsay Wright @ at 12:47 pm, December 19th, 2012

    The connection I found between this article and the Japanese court journals is that in her diary lady murasaki criticizes Sei shonagon for pursuing her interests. The girl that turned him down for prom did what made her happy and yet she got criticized just like Sei shonagon.

  • Kody Dunlap @ at 3:47 pm, December 19th, 2012

    I do not believe any girl should have to say “yes” to any given guy that asks her out or sparks a conversation. While this does take a lot of nerve on the guys part; the guy should not automatically expect the girl to be willing or responsive. Females have just the same rights as guys do. In today’s society men and women are treated equally under law and in life. Therefore girls have the same right to say no as guys do to ask.

  • Kody Dunlap @ at 3:50 pm, December 19th, 2012

    This article ties into the Japanese Court Trial journals because in that reading the women feels she has to choose her words carefully. In order for her to speak freely she would have to think a great deal in order to avoid criticism. She felt pressure from the other females on basically every comment she made. In that way she had to think a lot before she spoke.

  • Kody Dunlap @ at 3:50 pm, December 19th, 2012

    I agree with Elise Grum’s opinion on the matter. People will be people regardless of the judgement they take for it. And that is indeed the way it should be.

  • Amanda Anastasia @ at 7:25 pm, December 23rd, 2012

    Great post! The attitude of ‘owing’ men our attention stems into a lot of social behaviors like street harassment which often times result in unnecessary, derogatory comments toward women.

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