Are women ‘Mean Girls?’

H.L. Mencken once described a misogynist as “a man who hates women as much as women hate one another.”

As a long-time member of the female sex, I can attest to the accuracy of the 20th century American journalist’s quote. It’s baffling to consider a man was able to best identify women’s often heinous behavior toward other women.

Despite societal and educational advances that have enabled a more proficient and informed society since Mencken passed away in 1956, logic and reason defy the callous conduct women still preserve toward other women.

Every woman at some point in her life has been the subject of another woman’s unjustified wrath. The lack of love in female-to-female bonding stems from the notion that women feel in constant competition with one another.

In our public roles we learn that for a woman to attain success she must have the exceptional career, the model relationship/marriage and be the ideal mothering figure, all while maintaining an alluring physical appearance. In today’s size-obsessed world, more pressure is weighted on a woman’s attractiveness when comparing her to other women.

What’s even worse is that women are more often the ones who are doing the comparing and putting other women down when they don’t meet the set criteria. In turn, women are perpetuating the very stereotypes that leave most of us unhappy, insecure and exhausted.

I’ve had my fair share of unfriendly female encounters over the years. As I get older I realize drama-prone female relations are not just for juvenile lackeys, but persist on a larger and broader social scale. Ask any woman and they can testify to the detestable glares, the snarky gossip or the just downright appalling behaviors of other women.

There’s no better depiction of catty interactions than what is displayed on reality TV shows. It seems to be a simple equation for an entertaining, unscripted television show: Add a handful or more of fairly self-confident females plus social interactions on a fairly frequent basis and watch the claws come out.

To add to the spectacle, confine a group of women for an extended period of time in a house and ask them to work together. Want to see more ferociousness? Place single women in a winner-take-all position with the prize being a handsome bachelor’s heart (oh, and a ring).

The hit Bravo shows, “The Real Housewives of New York, Orange County, New Jersey, and Atlanta,” serve as prime examples of the treacherous relationship women share with one another. The various shows follow the same set-up, featuring a group of upper class, often wealthy women who are friends or mingle with the same clique. The result is a jumble of jealousy, deceit, sometimes compassion but more often, conflict.

One would presume that with age comes more self-assurance and wisdom that would discourage the need for such juvenile malice, but the ladies from “The Real Housewives” productions prove otherwise. Money, status, success and physical appearance are the prominent causes for most of the woman-on-woman altercations.

For a sex that has struggled to gain equality and respect, it perplexes me that women feel the need to belittle other women based on unfounded malice. I wonder if one day women will stop thinking of one another as competition and start seeing each other as allies working toward a common goal.

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