I was speaking to someone a few days ago and she mentioned that she only enjoys the company of men, and doesn’t really have any female friends. It really reminded me of things that my female friends have said in the past about being close to other women, and how “women are so bitchy”, that it “can get too competitive when you’re close with them” and that “men are more straightforward.”
An analogy in the public eye that comes to mind was the response to Angelina Jolie getting together with Brad Pitt. The media coverage that ensued outed Jolie as a woman who ‘steals men’, and her identity as a dangerous untrustworthy womb-buster was sealed when the media perpetuated the message that Jolie is a famous female who doesn’t have any female friends.
I really wondered where the want to push other women away comes from? As usual, I thought of portrayals of gender in the mainstream media and it brought me back to the power of gender stereotyping.
In films, women are portrayed as neurotic creatures, obsessed by men and constantly on the hunt to lock men down to marriage and children, like boars hunting for truffles. There’s actually a test relating to this, the Bechdel Test, used by feminist theorists to track if a film has substantial gender bias (a film passes the Bechdel Test if it features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man (can you think of one? Only Ruby Sparks came to mind for me)).
Countless films and TV shows, from the apparently feminist ‘Sex and the City’ to ‘He’s Just Not That Into You’ echo the idea that all women are just baby-poppin’ Godzillas obsessed about how they look, how much they buy, who they’re dating, and how they’re never going to find a man. Advertising with the feminist Beyonce appearing semi-naked with pushed-out hips in a tiny bikini pushes the idea that no matter how successful a woman is in regards to her career, or how intelligent she is, women still have to publicly take their clothes off and sell their sex appeal.
I think this has a huge impact on how women view other women, and instead of embracing and recognizing our mutual gifts, we push each other away in self-defense – feeling that other women are a threat to our own heterosexual female identity, that one woman is more attractive than the other, that a woman might steal your man.
This is a really unhealthy way of thinking and feeling and women should never be made to connect with each other in this way. To say women are “bitchy” or men are more “straightforward” is hugely reductive and dismisses our many and varied identities.
Have you ever heard a female friend say something like this?