Do Women Really Hate Other Women? #EliminateGirlHate

women-hating-womenA depressing number of studies show that, unlike men, women will often dislike one another for no logical reason. Females are quick to make negative assumptions, and less likely to become friends with someone who could be perceived as a sexual rival. The same studies also note that men (very predictably) don’t suffer from this particular problem. So what’s really going on here? Why are girls so mean to each other? And why do we all just blindly accept all this as normal?

Women dole out snarky remarks, icy side glances and back-handed compliments, while the guys carry on with their seemingly bottomless supply of team spirit. Men have kinship and bromance, while women seem locked in an eternal Alien vs. Predator style arch-rivalry. It has gotten so bad that many of us have foregone female friendships altogether in favor of “being one of the guys.”

What’s Wrong With Just Being One of the Guys?

The Social Issues Research Center study on friendship found that an overwhelming number of women did not consider themselves to be “typical girls” and preferred to be friends with guys. “In our female only focus groups a distinctive theme emerging was how women prefer to be seen as one of the lads,” the study reported, “Indeed, many of the women, perhaps inadvertently, reinforced the stereotype of ‘other’ women (i.e. not them) as being bitchy and back stabbing.” Let us just emphasize the “inadvertently reinforced the stereotype” part here. Although it has become normal for girls to say that they can’t relate to other women and that they get along better with guys, what if this is just subconsciously buying into the idea that being a girl is basically bad, while being a guy is good?

Think about the way guys talk, especially the way they insult each other, “Stop being such a pussy / stop being such a little bitch and grow some balls / you throw like a girl.” Now think about the way girls insult each other: whore, slut, cunt etc. Do you notice anything strange about this? “The worst thing you can call a girl is a girl,” writes author Jessica Valenti, “The worst thing you can call a guy is a girl. Being a girl is the ultimate insult.” So of course, on a subconscious level it makes sense that most women would want to be “one of the guys” when being one of the girls means being worse somehow.

Besides, “the backstabbing girlfriend” stereotype is so ingrained in our culture, that our brain’s natural Confirmation Bias does the rest of the leg work. Confirmation Bias works on a subconscious level so that we tend to notice only the things that confirm our beliefs, and ignore anything that might contradict them.  If you honestly believe that “girls are all drama”, from a psychological standpoint you are more likely to notice instances of girl drama, and disregard instances of girls being easy going and friendly.

Why Do We All Just Accept Women Hating Women As Normal?

girl-hate-women-hating-womenIt her TED X Youth talk, Caroline Heldman suggests that a process she calls self objectification might be to blame. “[Self-objectification] lowers your ability to get along with other women,” she explains, “We engage in female competition. We see male attention as the holy grail of our existence by-and-large and so we compete with other women for our own self-esteem because we see it as this cherished finite resource. So we go into parties and we know where we are in the pretty girl pecking order and when another woman is valued for being a sex object, it actually makes us feel bad about ourselves.” So we call her a slut or a bitch and pretend that she is somehow less of a person than we are.

The Birth of Women Hating Women

Of all the insults directed at women, slut is probably the most common. But what’s so terrible about being slutty anyway? Why is it so bad that a woman has more sexual partners than you? Or that her skirt is shorter than yours? Why do so many of us care so much about what other women do with their bodies?

The reason is quite simple. Habit. Traditionally, the only bargaining power women ever had lay in their sexuality. For most of recorded history women couldn’t work, couldn’t get an education, couldn’t vote, couldn’t produce works of art unless they took on a male alias, they could barely go outside without a male chaperone. Without a man to support her, a woman was almost guaranteed to end up homeless or worse. Short of becoming a prostitute, there was literally no other way for a woman to survive but to get married. And so, it kind of made sense that “slutty” women would be kind of terrifying. By potentially luring away their husbands, slutty girls posed a very real threat to a married woman’s future. And nothing stirs the flames of human hatred quite as swiftly as fear. And thus girl-hate was born.

But that was then, and this is now. There is nearly a century separating women from those sad days. Women no longer need a man just to qualify for a normal and financially stable life. But it turns out, as a culture we still haven’t quite adjusted to this paradigm shift. The idea of women hating women has become absorbed into the status quo.

Just think of all the Disney princesses we grew up watching. From Ariel to Cinderella, not a single one ever had a female friend. In fact, if there were other women present in the movie, they were either villains or rivals. “There is only one princess in the Disney tales, one girl who gets to be exalted,” explains Peggy Orenstein, author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter, “Princesses may confide in a sympathetic mouse or teacup, but they do not have girlfriends…princesses avoid female bonding. Their goals are to be saved by a prince, get married, and be taken care of the rest of their lives.”

Though feminism has brought women a long way from the rigid gender norms of times gone by, girl-hate has managed to fly under the radar. In large part, this is because as a culture, we’re still teaching girls that the greatest thing they have to offer the world is their sexuality. Every Disney princess had only one hand to play – only one thing that saved her from a miserable life: Her beauty and the prince that found it irresistible. If your value as a human being is measured by where you fall on the “hotness” scale, your insecurity is going to overshadow any possibility of friendship or compassion towards another woman, especially if you feel she is more attractive than you. It is impossible to be friends with a person that you feel takes away from your perceived value as a human. Until we can figure out how to think of ourselves as more than an assortment of body parts of varying degrees of attractiveness, girl-hate will remain one of the last challenges facing women today. With that in mind, we created the below 5 step manifesto for getting rid of girl-hate once and for all! We hope that you will join us by spreading the word to #eliminategirlhate!

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Eliminate Girl Hate! A 5 Step Manifesto for Spreading Love

women-hating-women-girl-gang

1. I will wear what I want, eat what I want and sleep with who I want, and I will let other girls do the same. What another girl chooses to do with her vagina is none of my business.

2. I will stop calling people “pussies” and telling them to “grow some balls.” I will stop equating femininity with weakness.

3. I hereby promise to stop using the expression “real women” to only refer to “curvy women.” All women are real women, no matter their shape and size. I will no longer buy into the idea that there is one right way to be a girl.

4. I will stop looking for reasons to hate the girls I meet. I will stop seeing other women as competition and feel threatened by their confidence.

5. I will no longer mistake self-comparison for “inspiration.” Another woman’s beauty is not a measure of my own self worth.

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Natalia Borecka

Natalia is the editor in chief and publisher of Lone Wolf Magazine. She founded the publication in 2012.

15 Comments
  1. Nice article, but it has a little flaw. It’s this “grow balls” “dont act like pussy” thing. Cause here, in my country, there is absolutely the same problem and it is in almost everycountry i can imagine with girl hate. On the other hand, these are hardly some serious insults. I know them, we all know them, yet we dont use them that often and are very rare. From this point, girl have no need to feel bad for being girls and get away from girl stereotype, yet they act absolutely the same as you describe.

    And now maybe im under this confirmation bias, but let me introduce you my observation. I tend to stick with girls and their groups for about 3 years. I was almost only in these female-only groups when i got out and all of them act the same. With no obvious reasons, after some time, they got in the this state that actually has no english expression, but lets call it “submarine syndrome”. This is referencing to the study that was made on people staying for a long time in small group of people. In such groups, people gets sick of others, even their great friend, for no reason. Girls seems to have more problems with such situations than men. So in these groups i’ve been meant that in this three year period, all friends become plotting against some of the group girl member when at the end. Surprisingly, this was NOT something that would break the group and they always refered to each other as “good friends”.

    Yet there is another study, where it was shown that women can plot incredibly complex plans how to get a man or backstab opponent woman, when men are more straightforward in this. So the question is, if it really is not somehow natural behaviour. I agree with your rules and they would definitely help, but i still think, thes goes deeper and its not a matter of sociaty views, but matter of psychical attitude to solve problems and approaching them (and to the confirmation bias, we can easily transfer this to the “Why men gets higher job position then women” and “Why men tend to fight and act aggressivly when problem occures” topics)

  2. Its not biological, bc i have grow to be resentful of other women over the years i did not start out that way, i would say it too till i was post 24 to finally decide most women were a certain way. I had to learn it and it did not come with my hormones or biology, the thing that turned me against other women was that i was horrified at the indirect aggression because i believe in getting things out in the open and being honest. Also the way women constantly monitor each others bodies and how they objectify each other etc, im gender non conforming and this has got in my way a lot, the girl land screening.

    Not all women are like it though, it tends to be the most stereotypical ones and also the mother types too, i think its linked to women who are more ingrained in the female role somehow and it is likely due to dependency on men and fear other women will take that away from them, and also this false idea that there are limited amounts of good men. In reality there are no fully good anyones, all have faults, but still the notion of ideal men and women existing persist, and for women they compete to not be left with the not so good men or end up having no one to be with at all.

    Also some women are sick of all the pressure to be fashion accessories and the caretakers of others, so they may resent other women who do it better as it makes them lok bad and they will resent women who are opting out of it because they wish they could but cant.

    Now i find myself side glancing and its something i never did when i was in my prime, and i dont find i just do it to younger women, sometimes i feel compelled to just do it because it angers me that women get more social privilege based on certain things etc from both sexes.

    If it was just biological reproductive competition, women would not police those who are doing things that put them out of the league so much. Like for example women who are not “making the effort” would be just off the radar, women out of sight to men would not get any of womens nastiness, but they still do and this shows something more then just envy is going on.

  3. Guys are called pussies because feminine guys are generally not attractive to girls.
    The equivalent for girls would be calling them manly. Just because girl is an insult for guys doesn’t mean it has to be for girls, this analysis was very poorly thought out, it got stumped once it neglected to flip the situation based on gender.

    1. Natalia Borecka says:

      Thanks for your feedback! “Stop being so manly” is not a common insult for anyone, and it’s unclear what that even means? Stop talking in a deep voice? Be less assertive? Less physically strong? In this world being manly is considered too much of a good thing for that to be insulting to a woman (this is why girls like to call themselves tomboys, it’s basically like say I’m a manly girl). If anything it’s a compliment. Women are far more likely to say “stop being such a bitch, or a pussy.” Which brings us back to the issue at hand: Why is it that men and women are far more likely to use “female gendered” insults to demean each other?

      1. Natalia,

        It appears that you are trapped in the never ending ping-pong game of the dominant discourse of polar opposites. I’ll spare littering my take on that here, opting to instead point where it has already been laid out in a much more concise fashion than I have the capability for:

        http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/feminism-gender/

        Scroll down to [3.1.2 NORMATIVITY ARGUMENT] which will point you in the direction of a brief introduction to Judith Butler’s work. She is a philosopher/gender theorist at UC Berkely.

  4. Just Some Guy says:

    After seeing my kids born, it occurred to me that a vagina can (and regularly does) take a murderous beating and snaps right back. Testicles, on the other hand, can’t withstand the slightest trauma. Ergo, the missus and I have taken to calling each other testicles when we’re being wimpy.

  5. Although I do not try to hate anyone and stereotype other females (I usually dislike somebody because of ugly attitudes), and I don’t really demonize other people for their sexual prowess or sexuality, it is hard to get along with other women because they are unwilling or unaware of how to to view other women outside of their clique as something other than losers or competition. There will always be people that you’ll dislike, but for girls it just seems to come naturally while the guys mostly get along smoothly. I don’t have many female friends, even less that are not older than I am, because of this fact… although that’s not to say that guys are completely void of drama or competition (as I have experienced many a time), they’re just quicker to get it over with, and I think that’s also a huge reason why they tend to get along so well. We women tend to hold it in instead of just vocalize our concerns. Anyway I get the feeling that girl hate will always be around, but we can at least try to deter it.

  6. This one is quite simple.

    Alpha males & alpha females & we would all like to think we are.

    Put ten men in a awiting room & within a short while they will have sized each other up & found a place within the male pecking order. All done without talking.

    If a man catches another mans gaze they both simply nod at each other & look away.

    Its something men have that is very primal, a way of placing one self with in a group with out the need for a potentially dangerous confrontation.

    Women have never had to ‘fight’ to prove their breeding ‘potential’ & as such never had the need to develop such skills.

    Most like to think we have developed far beyond our primal selves, those are the ones who will struggle the most with same sex interactions.

  7. And yet another feminist blames women’s faults on men. First of all we are a sexual dimorphic species and as such women do have less physical strenght than a man. That is because testosterone increases muscle mass. So throw as a girl is an insult just for men. Second the reason why having multiple partners decreases your desirability by men is because because without a paternity test a man has no confidence is his baby. Also a key that opens many doors is desirable a lock opened by many keys has no value. About why women hate each other is because of herd mentality. They often do things they hate just to be part of the group. Men have a pack mentality and asociate with men that have similar beliefs goals etc. the peer pressure is much lighter.

  8. Thank you for this article I have received a lot of female hate in my life even jealousy from girls I thought was my friend and what found interesting it was always because I could do something better then them,or because of male attention part of me has given up on finding real female friends but I hope I’m wrong and they are still out there.

    1. They are most definitely out there, don’t give up hope! Certainly, there are women whose insecurities makes it impossible to be happy for anyone else who has something they want, but that’s why you have to seek out friendships with women that come from a place of positivity to start with. Mature, accomplished women who’ll stand with you, who want to see you succeed, who see in you a mirror not a nemesis. I believe it with my whole heart, and I’m cheering for you!

  9. Women do not really like each other. I get hateful sidelong glances on the street from competitive women. Women in a chat room I frequent frequently attack other women and suck up to the guys for the attention they garner. The insufferable female mods act like you’re out to get them. Women in this way suck, and suck hard. I am surprised nobody got the memo yet about the patriarchy and how it lays us against each other. I dislike women when they act so immature and brainwashed but I can understand some don’t understand the way this world works. Women will dump you as a friend when a guy comes along then return when he’s out the door again.

  10. Ashley R Nave says:

    That tells me for a good example if there are mean women out especially not related to you by blood, in some cases I could recall back when watching the movie Matilda based Roald Dahi’s novel about a girl who was born with extraordinary abilities, it was written by his imagination or pretend/make believe. It is possible to learn to become more aware that you can always learn to be your own friend when no one else is around. It just seems that even the most kindest people are the ones who are mistreated or treated wrongfully even hated for no reason at all. Sometimes even as an adult it feels that way. I think it would be kind of cool if someone were born with extraordinary abilities and not think of it.

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