Friday, November 04, 2005

The babe, the bitch and the bimbo

"What's the difference between a slut and a bitch?" he asked, eyes twinkling.

"I don't know," I shrugged wearily. "What?"

"A slut sleeps with everyone. A bitch sleeps with everyone but you."

"Hardi har har."

It was late and I really wasn't in the mood. The extreme misogyny of this place was getting to me. When we moved from from the protected environs of the the training centre to the "floor", otherwise known as the cesspit, we suddenly found ourselves labelled "fresh meat". The more attractive ones would get lascivious invitations over the internal messaging system:

"You've been on the floor for a month. It's time you spread your legs for all the guys." And that was mild. Some girls succumbed to depression and could be found weeping in the toilets. One, gave in her resignation, before the harrassment was investigated and put a stop to.

There were several ways of dealing with these guys. One could evolve into a babe or a bitch. For the bimbo, these jibes were like water off crystal. Nothing penetrated that haze of deliberate stupidity.

The babe exuded a quiet strength. She never got drawn into trading obscenities with the other reporters or giving tit for tat. She managed to hold herself aloof without giving offence (a very delicate task, as male journalists have fragile egos). She was intelligent and professional and built up her contact base pretty quickly. She never traded on her good looks to get her out of work but she did use all her assets to get her the best stories. Naturally, not everyone liked her but they respected her. In our office, at least, she was very, very rare.

The bitch gave as good as she got. She would laugh at the men, hold them up to ridicule, if they tried to mess with her. Extremely aggressive, she was an ace reporter who stepped on anyone she had to, to get what she wanted. It was not a good idea to encroach on her territory, because you found yourself with a formidable rival who would train a laser gun, and make like a Dalek from Dr Who: "Exterminate, Exterminate". Once the male reporters cottoned on to her type, they usually gave her a wide berth.

The bimbo was not necessarily dumb. She just had her brain on suspend mode, because she was not too concerned about the job. It was merely a stepping stone to her real object - a nice fat businessman or politician with loads of moolah. She was necessarily shunned by both the babes and the bitches, who saw her as a disgrace, embodying the worst female stereotypes of stupidity and helplessness. My favourite bimbo story, one that had passed into apocrypha, was one about a TV3 newscaster who had come to my newspaper on attachment. The girl had been sent to interview the Sime Darby head honcho, and such an important interview required careful preparation. Her mind cheerfully empty, she simply asked the questions already prepared for her by the editors. These questions, mind you, had already been faxed to the chairman and his PR machinery had drafted the answers. All went smoothly until the "journalist" decided to try her hand at ad-libbing, towards the end. Convinced that she would make a fantastic impression, if she asked a really "hard" question, she fluttered her eyelashes and fired the following salvo: "So Tan Sri, when does Sime Darby think of getting listed?" His mouth fell open and a few minutes later a call was put through to my office:


You have to understand, asking Sime Darby when it was thinking of getting listed was like asking Jack Welch, if General Electric had any plans of going public. It was the kind of obvious mistake that called for colossal ignorance. Long eyelashes notwithstanding, she failed to make an impression.

So what's the difference between a babe, a bitch and a bimbo? I don't know really. Ask me tomorrow.


stretch td said...

Still hard to be a woman's in a man's world.

Jenn said...

It's everyone's world Stretch. It's just hard to be a woman in an extreme patriarchy. But of course, you can turn the system against them. When a man thinks with his small head, he is usually pretty easy to manipulate. You just gotta keep your head and press the right buttons.

stretch td said...

Jenn -- you have that right. A beautiful woman can use her sexuality in her favor. I've seen smart beautiful women who could play the bimbo so that their male counterparts underestimate them. When the guys are least prepared, she'll blow them out of the water.

~Lil Nance ;> said...

I think men and women can do the same thing... women are just a little better at it... ya know playing the bimbo!! Hahahha, just kidding!!

Jenn: Another GREAT post!!

Jenn said...

Thanks Nance. I write for you. And Stretch. My lil audience of two.

Stretch, despite what I said, I dislike playing the bimbo. You're not allowed to think or have an opinion (unless it's about shopping) or understand anything. For crying out loud, how do they LIVE?

stretch td said...

There is a difference between 'being' a bimbo and playing the role.

~Lil Nance ;> said...

Playing the role will still get you in trouble... and on top of that... I don't like the way people treat you, I would much rather have them know I am smart and that I can comprehend what they are saying... Like, DUH!!!

But to each their own, I don't judge either way!


Berlinbound said...

Good writing ...

Jenn said...

Thanks Berlinbound. Feel free to stop by again. And good luck in Cologne.