Women hating on other women: I hate this topic. It really bugs me when people talk about how mean other women are to each other. I don’t even like writing about it, but it is has been on my radar lately and the subject keeps coming up.
For example, Gwyneth Paltrow is getting tons of hate backlash for her statements about her life as a mom. When she talked about her conscious uncoupling, the barbs were flying! I saw it mentioned on Good Morning America that Gwyneth reported most of her haters are other other women.
Women distrusting other women friendships came up at a playdate a few days ago too. One of the moms said this about her 9-year-old, “I tell my daughter to not have a best friend. I tell her to have friends and keep things positive but to never have a best friend. Girls are just too mean.” Another mom chimed in “Yes, women are the worst. “
I decided to take a poll. I called one of my best friends and she reported that a girlfriend (a bestie) in middle school took salt and burned the word “BITCH” into her grass after they had had a fight. Ouch!
So I thought back to my girlfriend betrayals over the years, and here is what I came up with:
- I had a friend in middle school who talked me into writing an anonymous love letter to a guy as a joke. I didn’t figure out until after I sent it that it was mean. She just stood there shaking her head in innocence after people got upset. (Not smart on my part).
- I once gave a girl I was mad at in middle school a cookie that I found in an open package under the bleachers. I only told her it was a found/dirty cookie after she ate it. I was actually mad at her for “stealing” my best friend and I did that instead. (I think I was in 7th grade). She is now on my Facebook, so I should probably make amends at this point…
- I worked with a woman in my early 20s who I thought was a best friend and confidante. Turned out, she was telling everyone in the company everything I said about them to push me out of the way. I had no idea she was a spy and saying I said terrible things until everyone in the company started hating me. When I finally figured it out, she screamed, “This company isn’t big enough for the both of us and I won’t have you here!” (I can be slow to figure things like that out…LOL!)
From The Therapy Couch
As a therapist, my woman clients who thought that way about women usually had an early formative relationship that hurt them terribly. Trust was a challenge. Instead of facing these trust issues, it can seem easier to make sweeping generalizations and just stay away from intimate relationships.
Another client had those beliefs about other women, but when we pieced things together we realized that she didn’t have good discernment skills. She tended to connect with other women who showed signs of being untrustworthy or mean up front. This client wasn’t tuning in that these kind of people did not deserve her friendship efforts.
I just don’t believe that all women are like this. I think it is rare and another mean stereotype about females, not unlike other negative generalizations (bitch, slut, snob). It is easy to take a few negative experiences and see all future experiences through that lens. People tend to do this about all sorts of bad experiences.
Personally, I am so glad that I have had so many great friendships with other women. In fact, I found some wonderful research on how friendships with other women are instrumental in countering severe stress. My female friendships/ relationships are filled with laughter, support, encouragement and love. My connections with my close group of women are a source of strength and enjoyment. Sure, there might be a few girls out there who are stuck in a rut and saying things behind my back. One of the great things about not being in school anymore is that you usually don’t have to hear about it.
As I was wrapping up this blog entry, I called one last girlfriend to get her opinion. When she answered the phone she was crying. “Oh my God,” she said. “I am so glad you called. I have had the worst morning.” My point exactly.
Call To Action: What are your opinions about the “mean girl” stereotype? What were your worst experiences with this kind of female? How has it affected your ability to trust and form friendships with other women?
Cherilynn Veland is a therapist living in Chicago.
She also blogs about home, work, life and love
Picture from Wikipedia.