In my talk about the value of friendship, I discuss the ways that gender inequality makes it difficult for men and women to be friends with each other, for men to be friends with men, and for women to be friends with each other. Regarding the latter, I argue that, in a society that values men and masculinity over women and femininity, everyone values men’s opinions more than women’s. Inevitably, then, women are placed into competition with one another for attention from men. Meanwhile, women’s opinions of them have less value and can’t substitute for men’s, so women can’t hold each other up; they must all turn to men for self-esteem.
I’ve previously posted an amazing clip that illustrates this fantastically, from a show called Battle of the Bods. The “Don’t Hate Me ‘Cause I’m Beautiful” trope is also part of this phenomenon. Bryony W. sent in another example: a cover of Woman’s Day featuring a “bikini war.” The cover implies complicity, including the supposed quotation, “My beach body’s better than hers!”
The cover reveals that agents of the media — in this case, whoever decides what stories to include at Women’s Day — actively try to pit women against one another. This idea comes through loud and clear in this compilation of clips, sent to me by Veronica G. Titled “Divas on Divas,” it features female pop stars being asked to comment about each other and being pushed to say mean things:
Here are some more examples.
“Bathing Suits, Ballgowns, and Bickering,” a story in Marie Claire:
“Physicians Recommend It, Women Fight Over It”:
“90% Best Friend, 10% Bitter Enemy, 100% Genuine”:Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.