The “bitch shield” (or “protection shield” in disarmed parlance) is a celebrated PUA concept that women will deploy “false” distasteful personalities in public to deflect male attention. The basic idea was that certain women get hit on so much that they couldn’t be expected to be pleasant in public. In a roundabout kind of way, the idea seeks to rationalize poor female behavior as the result of bad game – as a sort of motivation for men to up their game, essentially promising that a suitably-attractive and well-gamed man will be able to get the icy queen to smile and supplicate to him.
The critics of game have long argued “why would you want to be with a woman who was susceptible to game anyway?” It’s generally a silly concern and a fallacy because most women want and respond well to some combination of confident frame, emotional connection and sound sexual escalation. However, in this case the critics have a point – what do you want with a woman who didn’t just reject you when you weren’t good enough for her, she blew you out with no remorse? We’ll discuss the long-term implications of this phenomenon in a bit.
The “bitch shield” idea recognizes a real phenomenon, that of women treating men “below them” like crap and treating men “above them” like princes. This is not a universal feature of womanhood, but it’s a common enough experience for men that anticipating and fearing it becomes a regular part of male life. When you add the distasteful behavior to the fact that a lot of women are prone to over-value themselves in the sexual marketplace, you’ve got a two-dimensional problem.
The now-defunct blogger Cless Alvein had an excellent post on this issue, making his point by analogizing a hot girl to a rich man:
Let’s go further and assume that you’re of average means, and that this guy has just treated you like dirt. Understandably, you dislike him. One of his friends excuses his behavior. “He’s not really such a bad guy. The obnoxiousness is just an act. That’s just his rich shield. If you can prove your status to him, he’s actually a decent guy.” How would you respond?
If you’re like me, your response would be something like the following: “What? I have to prove my status to this prick? No thanks. ‘Rich shield’ or none, he’s shown himself to be an unlikeable asshole.”
In other words, if she thinks she can treat men like crap if they don’t meet her standards of attractiveness, she isn’t putting on a false front – she’s just a distasteful person, full stop.
Whatever we can say about the morality of the bitch shield, the reality is that it exists in many of today’s women. Women who argue against men using some form of game often threaten men directly with the spectre of bitchy treatment, as in: “If a guy used those creepy pickup techniques on me, I’d slap him/throw my drink at him/insult him/etc.” But the reality is that a gameless man is at much higher risk of being on the receiving end of bitchy behavior, as he offends the female sensibilities in his earnest but highly misguided quest to “just be himself.” And women, running their rationalization hamsters hard to convince everyone they would never fall for game, vastly overestimate the degree to which women can recognize and confront game-aware men in the field.
Women say they have to deploy a surly personality because they get hit on too much, or hit on “by the wrong guys” (which is itself synonymous with a girl’s concept of “getting hit on.”) Girls: if you have to utilize a regular “bitch shield,” one of two things is going on.
- You’re spending more time than the patience of your personality allows in places where people are expected to socialize more than you want to (solution: stop going places where you’re going to get hit on at all)
- You’re spending too much time in environments with people who are sexually incompatible with you (whether above, below or outside your target zone)
The shield winds up being self-defeating. If you are distasteful in public and issue pyrotechnic rejections, only the most confident and ballsy men will dare approach you, and those guys have probably noticed your attitude anyway and slotted you squarely onto the casual-only Ladder 2. Let’s talk about this in more detail.
THE SHIELD OVER THE LONG TERM
A woman who feels justified in deploying the bitch shield poses a serious structural problem for a long-term relationship. No matter how much game a guy employs, he can’t be the alpha-make BMOC all the time. That means there will be some point where he falls below her attraction line of demarcation.
If the woman has shown a willingness to dismiss and belittle inferior suitors, that means there’s a real danger I’LL wind up dismissed and belittled if I break out of whatever expectations she has – if I suddenly become not successful enough, put on a few pounds, don’t read the right books, watch the wrong movies, or God forbid don’t feel like going to Sunday brunch.
Some might spin this as a good thing, in that the man is getting a clear signal that he’s not up to snuff and can correct on it quickly. But this is a hollow comfort – the point of a man’s existence is not to please a woman, and a woman who becomes exceedingly unpleasant at the first signs of dipping value in her man is not one who’s fit for investment in today’s relationship climate.
That’s not to say a normally-pleasant woman can’t get combative and bitchy in a long-term relationship, but a woman who does so in her youth is lining up a lifetime of expectations for the same behavior from the word go.
A NURTURING ATTITUDE MEANS I’LL GET A BREAK WHEN I NEED IT
Let’s look at the counterpart to “bitch shield” behavior. A nurturing woman is one who shows a generally friendly and compassionate demeanor, even (especially) to those of lower status and with less power.
I’ll say it right now: there is something about women being nice to old people, kids and guys they aren’t interested in that makes men feel reassured about their fitness as relationship partners and potential wives. Teachers and nurses have a strong reputation as wife material exactly because of this nurturing vibe that their job depends on.
For the Mad Men fans reading this, recall how quickly Don Draper was smitten with his secretary Megan when he saw her cheery and carefree attitude towards his children, the antithesis of his bitchy and paranoid ex-wife Betty. Megan became Mrs. Draper not long after.You can’t be a bleeding heart and give endlessly to bums and saps, but a sense of personal generosity to the world can really warm a man’s heart.
I believe part of the reason is that a halfway-aware man knows that the pressure is on for him to stay large and in charge in the world, and it’s a real anxiety-inducer for him to consider what might happen to his relationship if he hits some bumps in the road.
If he’s with a nurturing woman, he can trust that if and when he does slip, he’ll get compassionate encouragement instead of negative reinforcement.
By way of real-life example, I recently made the personal and romantic acquaintance of a woman with experience as a schoolteacher, who showed strong signs of a pleasant and easy-going nature. While engaged in some heavy kissing, I bumped my head against the wall. She shifted instantly into a compassionate mode, rubbing my wound and expressing sympathy. Once I assured her I was OK, we went back to the passions of the evening. Her flash of nurturing concern stayed with me and proved to be a real boost to her value in my eyes. It was nice to know that a brief moment of weakness by me actually allowed her to showcase her best side without cutting me down further.