Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mean Girls

Women (and men, perhaps) of the blogosphere, do you ever find it more difficult to cultivate friendships with women than you do with men? I do.

The reasons are mostly obvious, the most apparent being women are more competitive with each other for men, jobs, accolades, looks, wealth, etc. Do you agree?

I will freely admit that I am violently competitive and have been since the day I was born. Playing sports in middle school and acting in high school really helped me to work through my competitive nature, but since college (where I mostly hid out and allowed my self-esteem to be destroyed by an arrogant ignoramous) I've found there's really no where for my competitiveness to go - no filter, no scapegoat.

Am I too abrasive, too raw, and judgmental? (Is it me?) I try my best not to be a bitch. I am opinionated and wouldn't have it any other way. There are just some women no matter how hard I try that will feel compelled to cut me down, make me feel uncomfortable, and tell me my behavior is inappropriate. I don't really feel that anyone (with minor exceptions - my mom, my boyfriend) should be able to tell me that I'm out of line. What do you think? Do you allow your friends to chide you on what they consider to be crude behavior?

In the company of men I am simply more myself, and not so obsessed with seeming "fair," or "appropriate," and not nearly as competitive. Please don't get me wrong: I really like women. I find them to be intelligent, emotional, beautiful creatures and I am blessed that I have friendships with a few women--and these ladies I trust. But it's not easy to find that kind of a connection. Not easy at all.


Rutila said...

I used to find your comments true, but now not so much. I think it has to do with expanding one's social circle: there are men and women who are equally my best buds and men and women equally whom I don't get along with at all. I stopped making blanket gender assumptions in college and now find myself with a mixed-sex bag of incredible buddies.

Snobber said...

You're right, Sherry. I think it probably has more to do with the person than his or her sex. I find that it happens *more often* in my relationships with women, which is why I made the delineation.

Alison said...

Dear Jessica,

I was pleased (relieved, even?) to read this post. It's not a novel idea to say that girls are (more often than not) catty, insecure, selfish. It's not new, no, but it is, for me, still constantly surprising. And it doesn't stop the more educated, the more successful, the more independent you (and the women around you) become.

Maybe it's rooted at the core in how women communicate with each other - we bond by gossiping, and the best, juiciest gossip is the stuff that puts other girls down. Doesn't it make you feel better to know that Sally might have a great career, but she can't keep a boyfriend? Jane might have bigger boobs than I do, but she's not as smart as I am? The little bits of negative gossip ("I heard he cheated on her") tear down the women we envy the most into manageable adversaries. And that's why you can walk out of an all-girl dinner feeling, for a fleeting, petty moment, better about yourself.

What's so interesting is that all girls use "insecurity" as a sword - "she's insecure" is the worst verbal girl-on-girl crime there is. But obviously (transparently, pathetically) it's a shield, because if we weren't insecure, we wouldn't have to put her down. (Have you ever noticed the only people you consistently say nice things about are your ugly friends?)

When we're with men, we're not allowed to talk this kind of shit about people we know. Gossip is not tolerated for very long, or received very well. With men, we talk about movies, we talk about politics, we talk about...I don't know, farts, whatever, it's not always substantive or highbrow, but it's not exclusively about specific people we mutually know. This may also be why keeping in touch with male friends is sometimes easier - you can meet a man for lunch long after your everyday lives no longer run parallel and still have plenty to talk about. But when you lose your gossip circle, you start to run out of things to say to your once-close girlfriends.

Unless, of course, you can write long rambling gender-biased posts on their blogs.

Snobber said...


Wow, thanks for your insightful comment. I think you're correct - women do use gossip as a way to relate and bond to each other. What better way to get someone on your side than by talking shit about another girl you both despise? Of course you're absolutely right that it always comes back to bite you in the ass. Men use other things to bond over: video games, alcohol, fishing (this is so gender biased and i'm mostly kidding) but no they rarely gossip. If they do it's usually one off color remark and that's it. Women just go on and on. The question is: how do we stop talking shit?

Emily said...

Great post. I understand where you are coming from.

To address your last question, above - "How do we stop talking shit?": Isn't it an issue of developing self-awareness and confidence?

Don't we need to spend our energies creating lives for ourselves that are fulfilling, lives that we can be proud of? I think when we know who we are and what makes us special, unequivocally or as much as we are able, we will be able to love and appreciate other people who are going through their own journey, no matter where they are on that path. I would hope that the competition drops when we are secure enough to realize that life's not about the competition.

But I truly don't think it's possible without a concentrated effort toward believing in ourselves.

Snobber said...

Yes, absolutely, confidence is the problem. But boy, cultivating it is easier said than done. Especially when you realize this at 25, and not, you know, 8.