First thing’s first, I’m a female. I like being female. I have never aspired to become a man for whatever benefit that might entail. Perhaps it would mean that I’d be up for more promotions in my male-dominated office where the rumor-mongering over the last two and a half years has everyone watching to see who I’m going to “sleep with” next (when I have never, and would never, sleep with anyone there) and has really put a hold on my career. But, rumors or not, I like being a girl. The harassment and monthly inconveniences that come with being a female are mostly outweighed by the other benefits – the better clothes, the better shoes, more acceptable varieties in hairstyles, and the ability to walk around in makeup (or war paint) when I want.
But it is amazing to me, sometimes, the way in which women treat other women. I know men claim that women are bitches. And even to men, we can be. But I think that whatever bitchiness there is that we display to men is NOTHING compared to the bitchiness we inflict on each other. For example, the work situation I mentioned a second ago – all those rumors? Those were started by my own supervisor. A woman. A woman my own age. And even after the part of the company I worked for got acquired, the rumors continued – at least until they hired a new receptionist. Fresh blood. She could take the flak for awhile. Of course then they fired her and it’s all back on me. Whatever. The point is, she hired me because she was forced to. She did not like me (and she’s made that pretty evident since I’ve been there), and in attempt to create a scandal, she made it her mission to make sure everyone knows that I’ve slept with every man in that office. Of course I haven’t. But, people prefer to believe the scandalous. And so, despite the fact that I have been in a relationship with one person or another since I got that job (at least for the most part), I am the office whore. HR doesn’t exist in that world. When we had an HR person, she got fired too. For being an HR person. There’s nothing I can say, and short of quitting (which isn’t an option right now), I have few options.
This bitchiness… this cattiness… it starts early. I don’t think it’s inherited, but I do think it’s conditioned. It starts in school. Kids are cruel in general, but girls especially. Girls hold grudges. They are pretenders. They are dramatic. They make fun of other girls for anything imaginable – the wrong shoes, the wrong brands, that color was SO last week, she has better toys, she doesn’t watch the right TV shows, the list is endless. I can remember my own education career… I was the the tall, lanky, awkward, too-smart girl in elementary school with the thick, frizzy curly hair and glasses. I remember experiencing a lot of torment at the hands of the other girls in my classes. Granted, being excluded from the sixth grade “modeling club” is what I credit for my initial interest in the industry (which I have since made profitable), so I suppose I should thank them. But even still, despite the fact that I have to resist my own urges to laugh at the fact that they never made it that far, I try not to sink as low as they did. The point is, it seems like in every class, in every “clique”, there is one that the group chooses to become sacrificial. It becomes uncool for anyone to have your back. You suffer, your teachers swear that things will get better (and they do… eventually), but that is no consolation for the here and now.
It’s not that it really stops when you’re older. I was twenty-eight when I started working for the boss who hired me to be someone’s girlfriend (I’m not kidding… she told me this). Women are just as catty, but the ante is upped. It’s not just clothes and shoes and toys and tv shows anymore. Now it’s men, attractiveness, dates, kids, marriage, the whole nine yards. If you’re single, other women want to know why. If you’re in a relationship, they’re congratulating you while secretly, behind your back and to each other, they’re reiterating that you are not good enough for him. Or worse, they’re secretly plotting how they could possibly steal him. And if that’s not the case, they’re trying to piggyback off of your good fortune – the pressure is ON. HOOK ME UP!! It’s your duty, after all. And if you refuse? You’re the selfish one. No, it doesn’t stop as you get older. I suppose you just become more equipped to tolerate it.
But that’s the way we interact, I suppose. It’s a reality. We meet each other out, face to face, side by side, we’re “friends,” even if we don’t know each other that well. We pretend to be supportive. We hug. We laugh. We tell each other how good the other person looks, how pretty that outfit is. Secretly, we’re sizing each other up, judging each other, thinking about how much better those shoes would look on our own feet. Taking stock of everything. Most men aren’t observant enough to pick up on this. The ones that do don’t understand it. Men don’t behave this way to each other, from what I can gather from a week’s worth of research after I decided to write about this topic.
Anyway, after the casual meet up, the final course of action is to go home, pick up the phone, and begin spreading the gossip. It’s as if each outing is a fact-finding mission, we get what we can, and then we use it to bring each other down. We are critical. Unsupportive. We have the ladies we trust, our “besties” (god I hate that word, I wanna puke now), everyone else, get the fuck out of the way. “That’s MY man.” “Those are MY shoes.” “She looks so FAT in that dress.” “Oh my GOD did you see her HAIR, WHAT WAS SHE THINKING??!!” “That color looks like SHIT with her complexion.” “Wait, wait shhhh, here’s she comes. Oh my god, (insert girl name here), I haven’t see you in FOREVER!!”
What is the point in all of this? Jealousy? Insecurity? Whatever the cause, it’s a waste of time. I mean, you don’t have to like what someone else is wearing. You don’t have to agree with them. You don’t have to approve of everyone someone else dates, but, you know, at the very least, a little bit of indifference would go a long way. A little bit of “live and let live”. We don’t treat men this way… at least not as severely as we treat other women. It’s like night and day sometimes. I’ve seen it, I know other women have seen it. Gloves off, claws out.
Maybe this is why I prefer befriending men over other women for the most part. That’s not to say I don’t have female friends. I do. A fair amount of them. I’d do anything for them, they are like my sisters. But the level of drama is different in male/female friendships from the level in female/female friendships. There’s less of it. And what drama there is, it’s more easily handled. There’s less emotional involvement. When I fight with my guy friends, we get pissed at each other, we yell about it for a second, then it’s over. Girls? We fucking hold grudges. And those things can last decades if someone doesn’t do something.
And yet we get pissed off if another woman calls us a bitch…