You might remember the 2005 hit “Girlfight” by Lil Jon and about six one hit wonders. No? Well, it goes:
I don’t fight, I don’t argue, I just hit that chick with a bottle.
I don’t know many women who can say they’ve glassed another women, but I’m sure most of us have at least graphically imagined the scene when a girl (a ‘bitch’) has got all up in yo’ grill. If you didn’t know, women are aggressive. Competitive and aggressive. All of those breakfast Instagram photos and positive Tweets are really just a calm mask to a tumultuous exterior in which we secretly hate each other. It’s evolutionary, and it causes a lot of pain, jealousy and anxiety.
In fact, it’s so engrained into our species to monitor our feminine frenemies that we can smell their hormonal changes. And we take decisive, purposeful steps to ensure that other women get beat down. Ever heard of slut shaming? Yeah, we can be the biggest offenders. A study was done where they sent a conservatively dressed woman into a room of other women, with little to no reaction. They then sent a woman in, by girl terms a “slut”, and the onslaught of direct and indirect bitchiness was horrendous. Heck, I don’t need to tell you. We’ve all seen Mean Girls (in case you weren’t aware, that was the entire lesson of the movie. You GO Glen Coco). We’ve all been mean girls.
Why is it that even our closest female friends can invoke such an animalistic reaction?
The answer is: Sex. And not just sex, but a sex economy in which we artificially manage the stocks by supressing female sexuality. In their article “Cultural Suppression of Female Sexuality” Roy Baumeister and Jean Twenge explained that there are four theories to how we have suppressed female sexuality as a society. One of the contenders is that we, as females, bring this upon ourselves. By being bitches. As they explain, “women will punish other women who make sex too freely available to men” because it is a limited resource that we have to artificially alter the supply of, to ensure men will still marry and impregnate us… no joke. A religious group even created a video called the Economics of Sex encouraging us to keep trading our vaginas for diamond rings and foetuses because of those damn rising divorce rates.
As ridiculous as it is to read it out loud, girls still “punish overly sexual women through informal sanctions such as ostracism and derogatory gossip” (Baumeister & Twenge 2002). Studies also show that we prefer girl friends who haven’t had a lot of sexual partners (even if we have ourselves) and we are almost naturally designed to reject those who appear to be promiscuous.
So what now? Do we create a trust circle and confess our biggest mutinies against our fellow women? How do we fight evolution?
Well we could start by acknowledging where the behaviour has originated from, and then perhaps quit joining in on shaming women for their clothing and lifestyle choices. It’s actually pretty easy. The world isn’t running out of men, sex isn’t a supply that you have to limit based on an imaginary trade-off for commitment, and we don’t need to be fearful of other women. We now have these magical things called birth control and rights. Rights that mean our security isn’t in a partner of the opposite sex, or in birthing a child to ensure our place in society. Let’s all chill out and play nice.
Baumeister, Roy & Twenge, Jean 2002. “Cultural Suppression of Female Sexuality”, Review of General Psychology, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp.166-203.
Shpancer, Noem 2014. “Feminine Foes: New Science Explores Female Competition.” http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/insight-therapy/201401/feminine-foes-new-science-explores-female-competition
Tierney, John 2013. “A cold war fought by women.” http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/19/science/a-cold-war-fought-by-women.html?_r=0