Are women are born to be bitchy?

A recent academic study has found that women can feel threatened by an attractive peer and as a result their reaction towards a woman they consider a threat, can range from a simple sneer and eyebrow raise, to horrible comments. The report by psychologist Tracy Vaillancourt, from the University of Ottawa and Dr Aanchal Sharma of McMaster University in Canada concluded that when women are bitchy, we are simply following our primeval instinct and attempting to survive by destroying the competition.

Last week Angelina Jolie told US Marie Claire, that she didn’t really have many female friends and India Knight wrote in her Sunday Times column about how we women don’t generally don’t trust woman who don’t have girlfriends. Which of course is true. I have always thought of Angelina as one of those attractive women who doesn’t really bond with other women. But for me it’s not based on being jealous of her looks, but more about her potentially being the kind of woman who needs constant male attention and other women may get in the way of that. Like I know anything about her, see, now I’m being bitchy!!

Maybe this is the problem, women make judgements about other women based on nothing other than instinct and what they see online and it happens in real life, as well as the media.

Has social networking made us more bitchy than ever before, as there are more forums for snooping and gaining access to peoples lives, therefore opening us all up to criticism? Perhaps that’s the problem with being ‘friends’ with people, who pre-social networking, would have simply remained acquaintances. One meeting a party and you receive a Facebook friend request, which it seems rude not to accept and before you know it you have access to all their photos. Hello, TMI, I’m not sure I also need to see pictures of your girls holiday in the Gambia, complete with new ‘beach boyfirends’!! And are all those ‘likes’ and comments about how fab you look really true – I don’t think so!

On a recent road trip with the teen, she took the above snap after we had been driving for four hours, listening to drum and bass! I was grumpy and hot and she uploaded the image straight onto FB, much to the amusment of my friends. I was horrified as it is possibly the most unflattering picture I have ever seen of me, but in the end I just had to laugh and leave my own comment ‘who is that fat nan?’

I refuse to be drawn into the current obsession with using images of myself as some kind of social currency. Scroll down the comments on a teens FB page after they have uploaded pictures of themselves, which have clearly been posed for and possibly even photoshopped and they are all ‘ you are so peng babes,’ OMG how sexy’, ‘ I love your dress’ etc etc. Oh please, read between the lines girls, what they are really saying is ‘ I hate you as you’re really pretty’, or ‘ actually you’re a little bit over weight and that makes me feel so much better’. Or are they simply being nice, who knows?

Twitter also has it’s fair share of not so subtle back biting going on, with (I’d like to say poor old – but I simply can’t) Liz Jones bearing the brunt of quite a few bitchy comments. Ok, she writes about herself all the time, and should be able to take the flack. But it often feels a bit reminiscent of the school playground. One person makes a comment and before you know it you have joined in and are at the back of the crowd, behind the bike sheds, egging the bullies on.

Whether it’s in our genes or not, I think it is simply human nature for women to talk about other women, and find me a woman who doesn’t do it and I’ll find you a woman who doesn’t have many female friends. I am not talking about nasty, hurtful, bitchiness or eliminating the competition, just curious speculation, nosiness and general gossiping. Isn’t that what makes the world go around?

Now I don’t want any horrible bitchy comments about my picture *whispers* ‘God I didn’t think she would look like that, I thought she’d be far more glamorous’!!


  • gillian taylor says:

    There is a button (TECHNICAL TERM!) that you can press to take any photos you absolutely hate off of your profile! I know this because my little darlings always seem to find the most unflattering picture possible of me in family pictures of everyone else looking jolly and loving and me looking like the uninvited fat grump at the party or doing something wildy inappropriate I would rather the wider world didn’t have to witness!!!

  • janet says:

    Hey Jane!
    This really made me laugh – my daughter does the same, also, insists I pose for a photo or two then giggles hysterically at the resulting images (me: lets have a look -OH NO!) Is there a button that can change unflattering double chinned middleaged frump into the gorgeous glamorous person I think I should be? Janet X

  • Rachel says:

    My 15 yr old just did this to me two days ago. It’s terrible and mortifying and takes the utmost willpower for me to not go on some sort of Facebook annihilation war path. I don’t know about whether or not we’re meaner because of social media or not. I do know that it’s allowed people the luxury to express it more openly. Does that mean we’re meaner for it or that we’re just more honest about the meanness we already had to begin with? Yes, I’m guilty of talking about some women. It’s a very interesting phenomenon. And my facebook and what not has absolutely NO images of me except for one, miscolored, unrecognizable one. I refuse to be a part of that and if someone tries to put me in it, I definitely remove it. I’m too paranoid and sensitive to that stuff. You’re so right. It’s totally like it’s brought the schoolyard to life!

  • Helen says:

    Thanks, Jane – you made me laugh too and I so recognise myself!!

  • Jane says:

    Yes Janet, it’s called Photoshop, but who can can be bothered.
    Clearly I have no shame and don’t care what the world thinks of me! I love the way the teens don’t mind us looking hideous but wouldnt dream of posting pic of themelves anything other than gorgeous!!
    J x

  • Romney says:

    Has she realised she’s just posted a picture of her face now and her future face so everyone knows what she’ll look like in a few years time? Ho ho.

  • Jude says:

    Four hours of drum & bass in a confined space and I bet even Angelina’s not at her perkiest! Great article Jane, know what you mean about us women, and I include myself, we do like to talk about each other. But isn’t it just down to women being the emotional ones, and men the physical ones, that makes us deal with things differently? So while we will talk our way through, over and around a problem, men simply offer solutions. And if we have an issue with someone we’ll discuss it with everyone and anyone for hours on end, and then some, but the men will just take it outside and thump each other. And then go inside for a beer. Or is that too simplistic?

  • Sarah says:

    Oh, I would love love love to see Angelin Jolie after 4 hours of drum & bass!

    My husband took a load of photos at my sister’s wedding and when I saw the ones of me I wept (in Cafe Nero, the shame!), who knew I was that vain/deluded/in possesion of a husban who is crap photographer – I’m going for the last option, myself :-)

    I think we are all a weird mixture of empathetic and tribal, so we can be enormously kind to people we know (or feel we partly know in cyberspace) but we tend to pull the drawbridge up if we feel threatened.

  • Bee Sharp says:

    Hilarious, and so true. My favourite blog.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *