“Some say, it’s in a woman’s nature to be jealous of another woman but a woman who knows her true self-worth can never be jealous of another. Not every woman has the habit of hating other women.” – Ikeke Nkem
All of us have guilty pleasures that we may not want to admit too. For some of us it may have to do with eating junk food, or buying trashy gossip magazines or maybe watching the same bad movie over and over until we can recite almost every line word for word. I could go on but you get the picture. My guilty pleasure is the Real Housewives of New York City. For those of you who have never seen any of the Real Housewives braches on Bravo they are real women (but not necessarily housewives) who are usually wealthy and usually have strong personalities. Bravo puts these women together, throws some alcohol at them, requires that they interact with each other and then points a camera at them. The result of all of this is that the women are usually gossiping about each other, trying to make someone feel left out, then confronting each other and sometimes full out fighting. It is ridiculous and uncomfortable…and I love it. I know I probably shouldn’t but that’s why it’s a guilty pleasure. Also, I think when you grow up in a small town in Iowa where folks are very nice and not confrontational at all you sometimes crave anything that is the opposite.
Another reason why I watch the show is for Bethenny Frankel. Back in 2008 a couple of friends told me about the new show on Bravo and how their favorite was this woman who wasn’t actually a housewife, she wasn’t even married and she wasn’t wealthy either. I asked why she was even on the show and they said they weren’t sure but she was very honest and she had the best one-liners. After the first episode I was hooked. I watched as Bethenny went from being a chef to coming up with the Skinny Girl Margarita while on camera and then started the Skinny Girl empire and left the Real Housewives for her own spinoff show.
When Bethenny left in the housewives in 2010 I stopped watching but when she came back last year I did my best to resist but I just couldn’t. It was great to have Bethenny back and to catch up with the other ladies who are still on the show, and to have Carole Radziwill join the cast who is quickly starting to tie with B as my favorite. This current season has been especially tense and it is mostly because of one man who is currently engaged to Countess Luann De Lesseps (another housewife) but had dated both Ramona and Sonja (also housewives). I’m not sure why Luann even wanted to date a man who had dated two of her cast mates. I have to think she knew what she was getting into, but it didn’t stop her from going full steam ahead and getting engaged after only knowing the guy for two months. She was flying high for about a week and a half before somebody sent pictures to Bethenny of this man making out with another woman. Bethenny showed these to Luann, on camera of course (because that’s good TV), and after confronting him about it and hearing his side Luann decided to stay with him. I’m not sure what reason you give that excuses away making out with someone for over an hour in a crowded New York bar…actually, I don’t have anything witty to say about this, I actually found the fact that she took him back to be very sad.
As sad as I was the thing that upset me the most was that she seemed to get more upset with Bethenny who told her about the make out, and also upset with the other ladies who had gone out with this guy prior to her even meeting him. These ladies did nothing to Luann. They really didn’t. So why was Luann directing her anger at them? I mean, maybe these ladies haven’t always been that great to her, but at least they’ve never put a ring on her finger and then made out with somebody else. At least I don’t think they have. So, why does it seem that for some women, like in Luann’s situation, that it is easier to give anger to another woman then to a man (especially when that man really deserves it)?
It isn’t just housewives that do this. Have you ever been at a party when a gorgeous woman walks through the door and then you start to hear a small group of women behind you tear her down in hushed voices that aren’t that hushed? I have. As a woman, have you ever been introduced to a group of people and had that one woman that after looking you up and down became an ice queen? I have. Have you ever been at a bar and seen a woman getting lots of attention from men while every other woman is staring daggers at her? I have.
I have seen all of this and much more. I have been victim to it, and, I hate to admit it, but I have also been a perpetrator of it as well. I have misplaced my anger, anxiety and insecurities on women who did not deserve it, and now that I am aware of it I have to question why this continues to happen and what impact it has on my gender.
After doing some research on the topic there were some recurring themes for why this “Mean Girl” mentality still exists. The first one is around the pressure women feel to fit a certain standard of beauty. I have often felt this pressure myself and instead of dealing with my insecurities with my weight and looks I would decide to be mean to anyone that I felt was thinner or prettier. So wrong.
The next theme was around competitiveness in getting attention, and for heterosexual women there especially seems to be a lot of competition for male attention. Ever seen The Bachelor? The whole premise of the show is that women will compete for one man’s attention (and we are entertained by this!). I read an interesting study on how in olden times this competitiveness was almost a necessity for a woman’s survival. Back when women were dependent on their husbands for their income, security, safety and even social status then there was a definite incentive to compete for either the best potential husband, or just any potential husband. It seems that this behavior has continued and women are still competing for their potential partner. The question I have is why? Women don’t need men for any of these things. At least not anymore they don’t (not in the U.S.).
Although I have only talked about competitiveness when it comes to gaining male attention, the competitiveness can expand to multiple areas. There can be competitiveness in the workplace which can often stem from women feeling like there are only so many spots for them, especially in more male-dominated fields. There also seems to be competitiveness when it comes to parenting as well. I read an article about a country music singer who had recently posted a picture of some baby food she had purchased on Instagram and got a ton of flack for it from her followers who thought it was wrong that the woman wasn’t breast feeding or making her own baby food.
I do need to say that although this mean girl-ness is especially highlighted in the media (Real Housewives, the Bachelor, etc.) that doesn’t mean that all women are mean to each other or compete with each other, however, there is still enough of this mentality out there and for those women who still subscribe to this type of thinking I am sending you my plea that this meanness needs to stop. We need to stop competing with each other. We need to stop taking our anger out on each other.
Who cares if somebody prettier than you walks into the room? You don’t know her story and you don’t know what she’s been through. Who cares if the guys at the bar are giving their attention to somebody else? You’re not really mad at that woman, you’re mad at those guys and you’re probably even more mad at yourself. Also, please stop competing with your female co-workers, even if you work for an organization that does have a limited number of seats at the table for women it’s not okay, in fact, it makes us weaker and nothing will ever change unless we support each other.