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GIRL NEWSFLASH: Girls don’t really (have to) hate each other

June 6, 2011

Every once in a while I read something that really pisses me off. This time it was this piece by Kate Carraway called Why Girls Hate Each Other on Viceland. It’s basically a two-page rambling rant on this self-destructive kind of friendship that women with profoundly low self-esteem can sometimes have with each other. It’s extremely breathless and all over the place, but I’m pretty sure the point she’s trying to make is that this is the kind of relationship all women have with each other and that this is some sort of extremely enlightening explanation for why women are the way we are.

Her entire article describes a type of girl. The type of girl that reads that article and goes, “yup. She’s right. We really do hate each other. Girls who don’t realize this are so naive. Isn’t that sad?”

Now, those friendships exist, and those women exist. I’ve been in that friendship and I’ve been that woman. I’m pretty sure any girl around my age has had at least one of those relationships (and possibly still does). The Love-Hate Friendship is kind of like a rite of passage.

But it’s not ubiquitous as the author implies it is, and women as a whole are nothing like her description says we are. This is not what every woman’s life is like. And if it is, it’s because she chose it for herself and she surrounds herself with people like her, when she really doesn’t have to.

I think that the only points in that article I agree with are 1) that things are really not good for women in today’s world, no matter what we’d like to think, 2) the author’s own admission that her piece is sexist and 3) that girls judge each other.

Other than that, she’s full of shit.

  • No, girls do not want to be the only one who gets to fuck. Women might see each other as sexual competitors on a very basic level, just as men do, but contrary to what Kate Carraway would have you believe, we don’t spend our lives trying or wanting to be THE ONE GIRL that every guy wants. I think we’re more concerned with staying happy with THE ONE MAN we’ve chosen to have in our lives and hey, if our friends are getting all kinds of laid, good for them.
  • You can stay friends with your guy friends after they become coupled. Some of your guy friends might be going out with Kate Carraway or her friends, but many of them will end up with reasonable girls who don’t mind if their men spend time with you, as long as you respect their relationship. It’s not a given, but it’s more than possible.
  •  It is possible for women who aren’t nerds or lesbians to be happy with their bodies. Really. I’m not the best person to be preaching this at this point, but I know a ton of girls who proudly acknowledge that they feel good in their own skin. The rest of us applaud it, not resent it. We’re allowed to love our bodies.
  •  Just as we’re allowed to change them. It’s not anti-feminist to want to be at a healthy weight. When I was sixty pounds overweight and started to take steps to change that, every single girl in my life except for one was fully supportive of it. None of the others felt any kind of threatened, and every time I tell them about reaching a fitness or weight loss milestone, they are genuinely happy for me, and proud of me.
  • Girls can just hang out, and don’t have to talk or shop, either. If you read this blog, you’ll know how much I love sports. And many of my girlfriends… love sports, too. In fact, about 90 per cent of the people I watch my sports with are girls. No shopping involved on those nights. I’m also really into food, as you may have guessed. Much of my food adventures and misadventures happen with girls, and those nights are about the food. Of course, there are times when you do want to shop and talk and bond, but no girl I know feels obligated to do this because “those are the rules.”
  • I can and have been my worst self with my girlfriends. And all of them save one are still here. I guess we’re not worse at communicating than Carraway’s super WASPy parents. The only kind of girl love that morphs into hate are the kinds of friendships she’s talking about in the article. Like I said, I’ve been there, I’ve been that girl, and it is surprisingly easy to avoid if it’s not something you ever want again. You grow out of it.
  • It’s pretty true that girls judge each other pretty harshly, but the thing is… it’s not just girls that judge girls. It’s people that judge people. Guys judge each other. Guys judge us way more harshly than we judge each other. I don’t need you to look like Jessica Alba to be my friend, but I know many a guy who needs you to look like her before he’ll consider going out with you. One time I tweeted something about how many men women kiss by the time they’re married, and more men passed judgement on women who kissed or slept with a certain number of people than women did. I have very few girlfriends that judge my choice not to sleep around, but guy friends do ask me if I’m a prude. Girlfriends never feel judged by my choices, either, but other guy friends have used my choice as validation for their own judgement of women.

After I read that article, I took a good long look at my life.

I have a lot of female friends. All of them are beautiful (really). All of them are smart (I wouldn’t associate with them otherwise). All of them are varying degrees of successful. I don’t resent any of them, and to the best of my knowledge, none of them resent me, either. They let me hang out with their boyfriends/husbands/fiancés alone, too, and no, it’s not because they think I’m unattractive. I have no Love-Hate Friendships in my life right now.

I also took a good long look at me.

Literally. After I got out of the shower, I stood in front of my hallway mirror for a good 20 minutes, trying to figure out if I’m “fucking repulsed by myself” as Carraway puts it, and whether that has any bearing on my relationships with women.

Turns out I’m not. Bit of a surprise, considering my body image issues have been extensively documented right here on this blog, right? I found myself far more frustrated by my inability to properly execute a roundhouse kick in Saturday’s class than I was by the way that I look in the mirror. It’s a work in progress, but I wouldn’t change my body for anyone else’s, and I especially don’t sit around wishing I had any of my friends’ bodies, faces, clothes or lives. Or their men.

Maybe I’m just writing this rant because I secretly hate Kate Carraway because of her writing career. Or maybe Kate Carraway just needs new friends.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. jon Gasco permalink
    June 6, 2011 5:54 pm

    hmm … I guess we’re off of hockey? 😉

    • theactivestick permalink*
      June 6, 2011 10:07 pm

      Not at all. But I use this space to express my thoughts on things I feel really strongly about, and that article REALLY rubbed me the wrong way.

  2. June 6, 2011 5:59 pm

    Great rebuttal to what I thought (because I’m not a woman) was an interesting viewpoint. I have three sisters and a wife, so I’ve spent my fair share of time surrounded by women, and Carraway’s article seemed like a caricature of, as you mention, immaturity.

    Perhaps you’re one of the lucky ones, or you’ve just grown up, I don’t know. I konw that with all of my friendships, commonality is the key. Things like food, sports, movies and music are great equalizers; they also build the foundation of solid friendships. But I don’t think we have many “good” friends that spend time with us that don’t share similar interests in these things. And maybe that’s Carraway’s problem. She surrounds herself with people that share her viewpoints, and who act like her, thereby perpetuating her situation.

    Anyhow, I think that the more mature, self-reliant and independant a woman is, the less likely she’ll reflect the attitudes or issues Carraway writes about. Kudos to you for writing a very nice counter-piece. Cheers.

    • theactivestick permalink*
      June 6, 2011 10:11 pm

      Thanks so much, C!

      It’s just that I’ve grown up. Very recently, too.

      I have been guilty of what she describes, but that was a very, very, small percentage of my friendships, and I think other women’s patience and maturity were a big inspiration as I grew out of it.

      I now know the red flags. It’s not that hard to avoid such things.

      Thanks again for your thoughtful comment!

      • June 7, 2011 2:58 pm

        Thanks TAS! FYI, this is the reason you got a follow from Mrs P after all. She can’t see the comments though, so hopefully she’ll be able to soon and can pitch in her two cents!

        I know the Carraway article made her really made and that she really enjoyed this rebuttal. She is a very honest person and is the kind of woman that has several very healthy and open friendships. Some that she’s been cultivating for years and others that are fairly new, but you know what? She’s 30, happily married and has two beautiful children, and doesn’t have time for bullshit. So maybe that’s the real reason?

  3. June 6, 2011 6:32 pm

    Brilliant. I love you.

    I had pondered writing a post on a similar topic, this phenomenon of women who drop each other like hot potatoes. Like being so close, and then…nothing? I too have been there, but not in a very, very long time. My girls are my sisters, and their men are my brothers. I wouldn’t have any friends who don’t feel the same way. Carraway needs new friends. And more love, as my kids would say.

    Thanks for another great piece.

    • theactivestick permalink*
      June 6, 2011 10:12 pm

      Thanks, V. You’re the best. I often wish you lived here, so that when an article like that happens, we can go grab a coffee and talk about it. I always value your insight on interpersonal relationships.

  4. AngusMcCracken permalink
    June 6, 2011 6:44 pm

    You’re awesome. That is all. 🙂

    • theactivestick permalink*
      June 6, 2011 10:13 pm

      Thanks, Andrew 🙂

  5. SensDew19 permalink
    June 6, 2011 8:26 pm

    Another great read! It’s amazing how people continue to sort others in categories, like all girls have the same thinking or set rules to follow. I’ve been blessed to have some unbelievable friends who dont necessarily share the same interests, beliefs or opinions as myself but that never mattered. All I’ve ever felt from them and towards them is love and appreciation and support because they accepted me for who I am with no compromises and were as happy for my successes as I was for them. Never for a second did I feel the need to be jealous or hate them and like you said, unless you choose to become that kind of person this will never be part of who you are.

    Again bravo on a very well written piece

    • theactivestick permalink*
      June 6, 2011 10:13 pm

      Very glad to hear it, and thank you so much, darlin!

  6. smalrus permalink
    June 7, 2011 10:08 am

    I think it’s more about the judgmental nature of people than it has to do anything with gender. I was talking to a classmate yesterday and we had this full on conversation relating different aspects of our personal lives and I think he could have been completely judgmental about my situation and vice versa, but he wasn’t. And yet, I’m sure that I’ve other classmates where I’m sure they might be more judgmental, so I don’t really discuss such personal issues.

    Sounds more like Kate Carraway has been socialized to hate other girls and be judgmental of them, more than she buys into the fact that people are people, each with their own faults. Maybe Kate Carraway should listen to more Depeche Mode instead and get over herself.

    • theactivestick permalink*
      June 7, 2011 10:17 am

      Exactly. It’s a judgers gonna judge kind of thing. You learn to filter.

    • June 7, 2011 2:54 pm

      Everyone should listen to more Depeche Mode, as a general rule. I feel very strongly about this. 😉

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