Putting the Resting Bitch to Sleep
The term “Resting Bitch Face” first appeared in 2013. It has been closely linked to pop culture and made its debut in a YouTube video on the internet. As the name suggests, the Resting “Bitch” Face is more commonly associated with women than men. The Oxford English Dictionary defines “Resting Bitch” as follows:
bitch face n. slang (derogatory and often offensive) (typically with reference to a woman) a sullen or scowling facial expression; (also in resting bitch face, abbreviated rbf) such an expression considered the natural or habitual cast of a person's features in repose. Often (and earliest) used as a general term of abuse.
The root of the word comes from the Old Norse word “bikkja” most commonly used as a troublesome woman, whereas in modern Norwegian “bikkja” means dog (of either sex). In the English language today, the word bitch can be referred to a female dog or an unpleasant woman. It is commonly linked to a woman’s facial expression. Therefore, the term is called resting “bitch” face as the word “bitch” is most commonly used to describe an unpleasant woman in modern English.
The behavioral researchers, Jason Rogers and Abbe Macbeth, with the help of the international research firm Noldus Information Technology, decided to examine the Resting Bitch Face. They created a “Face Reader” that examines people's emotions and an expression based on eight basic human emotions: happiness, sadness, anger, fear, surprise, disgust, contempt, and “neutral.” What they found out is that the “Resting Bitch Face” is, in fact, real. When a person has a cold seeming facial expression, people are more likely to perceive them as “bitchy.” They are more likely to pay attention to their facial expression rather than what they actually say.
What was even more shocking was the fact that the “Resting Bitch Face” is equally common in men and women, although people associate the expression with women.
The misogynist undertone that lingers in the term is, therefore, more closely related to a societal issue underlined by the expectation that women are expected to smile more than men.
Hibou sat down with four students in their 20’s, two boys and two girls, and asked them a single question. What is the resting bitch face to you?
The resting bitch face is a social construct, forged by the patriarchy and given wings by the public. It all boils down to the societal pressure on women to “smile more.” Women with ideas and opinions are, of course, intolerable.