The Bitch Within
“Oh my God, Becky. Look at her Butt….” Sir Mix-A-Lot’s rap song, ‘Baby got Back’ begins with a dreadful, yet familiar female trait, the tendency to put other women down.
Why do women do this to each other? What makes us so competitive that we can instantly turn from Snow White into Cruella de Vil? Are we insecure about our own abilities? Jealous that we may be usurped? Or perhaps still angry that Cindy took the lead role in the high school play when it was clearly ours. Ahem.
Did Catty Start with Cavemen?
According to some theories, cattiness goes back to cavemen days. On one hand it was in our best interest to form groups (clicks) so that we had full support when it came to cleaning, cooking and childrearing while our cavemen husbands were off hunting lions. However, even if we had a strong cave click, we still didn’t trust certain cavewomen to keep their paws off the men who hadn’t yet evolved to monogamy. In order to defend ourselves we would turn the clicks against suspicious women, by using the best weapon we had-our mouth.
“Her mammoth tooth hairpiece is sooooo last ice age.”
“I heard Sally doesn’t know how to use fire yet….”
Even with fire and Bosch appliances I cannot say we’ve outgrown our inner cavewoman. I try to be good and empathetic, I do…. however, when feeling threatened amongst my cavewomen clicks, competition gets the better of me and dangerous words fly. If only we came into the world with filters attached to our lips.
Clambakes = Catty
A few weekends ago my friends and I headed to a socialite party with champagne and caviar. The party was, what my good friend Mazz called, “a clambake” otherwise referred to as a 70% women ratio. It is well known that strange women do not befriend other women at socialite parties. Instead, they look each other up and down assessing attire and boob size in order to rank the competition.
“So, who do you know here?” asked one woman, rubbing her large breasts up against my side in case I had doubts of their buoyancy. “It cannot be Chad—because I’ve known him for yeeeeaaaars…..and you were never mentioned.”
Another one paraded by and commented, “Ohhh, I like your dress—but isn’t it on sale now at Barney’s?”
I looked at my girlfriends who were being attacked in their own corner and knew we were outnumbered by the cave click. RETREAT! We quickly left and forced a taxi to take us to a “less desirable” neighborhood, hoping it would actually be more so.
We headed to the bowels of the outer mission, safely in a non-socialite zone. Last time I had worn heels this far from home I was assumed to be a prostitute…by other women.
“You are wearing hooker shoes!” one girl in flat sandals had shouted.
“Yeah-you look like a whore,” shouted another.
I was stuck in a case of fashionista reverse racism. I wanted to yell that my shoes cost more than a year’s worth of blowjobs. I was dying to tell them that they couldn’t get any even if they paid-who would take a girl wearing ‘Happy Jesus Sandals’? But I relented….My thoughts alone indicated that I was at risk of becoming a socialite girl with a bad cycle of fashion insults. Plus, if they were going to confuse Manolos with prostitution then they were clearly the ones at a loss. I instead perfected a stiletto catwalk strut to show them I was cool….until I tripped and fell over a pothole, limbs flailing. Now with skinned knees, no one would mistake me for a hooker. Injuries somehow unite us all.
Self Righteous Demons
Safely in the dive bar, my friends and I noted the people and décor around us. Baggy clothes, tired faces and a hint of patchouli lingered in the air. It was such a welcome relief. However, after previous attacks by socialites and sandal wearers, I was on the defense.
“Well at least we know we are the most attractive ones here,” I may have accidentally muttered…head waving to a girl that arrived in her pajama pants.
My statement hung open in the air unable to be retracted….I had just completed my metamorphosis to “socialite girl.”
“Umm…..wow. What happened to Esalen Heidi-embracer of all humankind?” said one friend.
“Ick. Now you are ‘Marina Girl’ worried about getting dirty.” Remarked another shaking her head. They were clearly disappointed.
Yes, it happened to me. In self-protection I had attempted to put myself above others. Instead of looking for common threads that bonded us, I was seeking ways to separate.
When confronted with ‘socialite girl’ tendencies in the past, I forced myself into the opposite direction. One time I volunteered with refugees and learned about the trials of women coming to this country to work. Another time I took a roadtrip and bonded with soldiers and real prostitutes. And of course-I’ve spent my fair share of hours reading dark poetry in Beatnik cafes talking to beret wearers. Everytime I did a trip outside of myself, I connected deeply with the people around me and forgot judgment. Apparently another such time was upon me. Either that a new filter for my brain waves.
As humans we are deeply flawed. However, the beautiful are aware of their ugly tendencies and self-correct to make positive change. It’s an ongoing battle to improve ourselves, but the rewards of appreciating humankind are well worth it. And if we radiate goodness, perhaps no one will call us a prostitute even if we are wearing 5 inch heels outside of the “Hungry-I” club on Broadway.