‘You have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it OK for guys to call you sluts and whores.’
Tina Fey, Mean Girls
Women of today face many threats; the assault on abortion rights (globally 67,000 women die each year due to complications related to illegal abortions), domestic violence (the biggest killer of women, over any other single cause), and the redundancy rates which have devastated the UK (7.7% female directors have lost their jobs compared to 3.6% of male directors).
Despite these shocking statistics, perhaps the biggest concern for women of today is other women. This kind of girl on girl crime is more similar to Mean Girls than to what Susan Faludi anticipated whilst writing her widely talked about ‘Backlash: the Undeclared War against American Women’. These days it’s its a common and widespread phenomenon, with even Germaine Greer attacking Michelle Obama on not her views or behaviour, but for her appearance. Is there anything forward-thinking or feminist in criticising another woman on her dress choice? No, there isn’t, Germaine. Do we see male politicians ripping into others on wardrobe malfunctions? Of course not. We don’t overhear groups of men shaming themselves and each other with bitching in the toilets on night out. We wouldn’t be likely to see a man give another man the once over before declaring to his friends ‘Cor, he needs his roots done’.
Sadly, today’s society already makes it all too easy to judge women, without them turning on each other. Just open a copy of Heat magazine and you’ll be assaulted with images of ‘imperfect’ women, with their ‘flaws’ highlighted by circles of shame, and bitchily captioned. Shouldn’t we perhaps band together, listen to The Eurythmics and toss our hair defiantly before acknowledging that without collective action, equal pay isn’t going to happen until 2067?
Another group of women just as likely to suffer from the judgement of their sisters on a par with girls with wobbly thighs are women who have affairs – or more to the point, women who enable men to have affairs. If a celebrity affair hits the papers, the woman involved will be portrayed in one of two ways: either the home-wrecking harpy, or wet-rag victim type – depending on how the editor is feeling that day. Remind yourself of the David Beckham and Rebecca Loo’s scandal in 2004; and you will notice that married Mr.Beckham has been forgiven by all, including the media, and single Rebecca Loos is still branded the ‘other woman’. Perhaps some blame her for tempting poor David, without entertaining the possibility that his behaviour was just as bad, or even worse. Maybe we should focus on the fact that two women a week are killed by a current or previous male partner, instead of supporting misogyny in this way.
Women are divided on many issues; from the more serious concerns such as the pro-choice and pro-life debate, to the frothy ‘Team Jen’ vs ‘Team Angelina’ debacle. Personally, I believe that all women can be split into two categories. There are ‘girls’ girls’, and there are women who say that they ‘just don’t get on with other girls’. Perhaps the latter is you, or you know women like this. My own suspicion is all women have the potential to be both. Whichever you are just don’t be mean, girls.