Just Give Up

Erin Campbell Watson

This week, because I have a column and because I can, I’m going to write a column about something that bothers me. It has to do with love because it is related to the ways in which girls sabotage and ruin other girls relationships, personal lives, and even attempts at friendship, because they believe they are advancing mens’ opinions of them. I spend too much of my time wondering why most girls I know seem to work so hard to sabotage others around them while firmly affixing smiles on their faces.
I have been bothered by the sense of compliance girls feel in groups, when they pick an absent frienmey to subtly attack or exclude, and the ability girls have to casually dismiss the ways in which they hurt other girls, as if other girls are less than people, and the men they are trying to please are worth the scorn and disgust they will face from the rest of Girl World.
Madeline Albright famously stated that she believes there is a “special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” And while I don’t know if I’d stick them right down there in the ninth circle with Judas and all the other traitors, I do know that I wouldn’t be above letting them hang out in the seventh with those guys who were eating at each others’ brains. Pathologically, that’s pretty much what we do to each other. I know a lot of women who would probably enjoy the opportunity to finally scratch out the best features of their most detested frienemies.
Probably the closest thing to a girl in the animal kingdom is a hyena. The evident similarities are represented quite nicely in the Lindsay Lohan flick, “Mean Girls,” which features a scene comparing high school girls to rampaging jungle animals. I’ve learned that this classification doesn’t really go away — it just becomes more poignant. It also switches social stratums. It seems that by the time girls reach college age, most of them have become exhausted by the constant struggle for survival that they have imposed upon each other, and they are willing to occasionally treat other girls as if they were real people. Many girls, probably those who believe that they spent their high school years unnecessarily traumatically being victimized by girls who learned more quickly how to blow-dry their hair without turning it into a triangle, are kind of yearning for their turn to be at the top of the food chain.
It is, seemingly, this vindictive desire that brings out the hyena behavior. These girls band together, sort of like a pack of scavenging, blood-thirsty animals, in order to take down the stronger animals, by whom they feel personally victimized. This ends up producing a scene similar to the one in “The Lion King,” when the hyenas corner Simba in their lair and sing that creepy song. Those hyenas are pissed, and even though Simba didn’t do anything to them, and is actually just trying to be their friend, he does have a cuter face and a potential girlfriend, which is unacceptable as far as they are concerned.
In all honesty, I don’t really get it. Girls spend hours, probably days, of their time, bitching about the men they are sleeping with. Many of them also spend plenty of time bitching about men they are not sleeping with, but perhaps wish they were. They also spend a fair amount of their time bitching about other girls they don’t like, and girls they think are sluts — these are generally girls who are sleeping with the men they want to. There’s also bitching about girls they think are bitches, which is generally just a safe way of designating girls who are actually prettier than they are, and deserve to be hated for something, over which no one has any control, and girls they think are ugly — maybe these girls are actually ugly, but it’s kind of meaningless at this point. Lastly, we bitch about girls who do not fit into any of these categories. These are generally girls whom no one doing the bitching is actually friends with, but they can always unanimously agree that they like these girls, and wish they were friends. These friendships will never happen.
This is what I will never understand — girls clearly have enough to complain about, so why complain about each other? I will never understand why girls believe it is necessary to set up so many obstacles toward friendship, and toward each other’s happiness. Why must girls attempt to pull all other girls, and sometimes men too, down to their miserable level? Why not protect each other from the confusion all girls feel when approaching relationships, and even friendships?
Girls attempt to draw a distinction between those they like and those they don’t with the simple use of a demeaning word. Slut is a pretty loosely used term, in Girl World, as far as I can tell. It seems that girls have begun to use it as a term of endearment amongst friends, which is confusing for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that this word has been used to cause a lot of pain to a lot of women, but also because it makes it difficult to determine who the real sluts are.
As far as I can tell, these “slut” girls who have casually, and usually drunkenly, hooked up with your boyfriend, hooked up with a boy who you recently finished dating, hooked up with a boy whom you have been discretely or ambiguously seeing for at least a little while, or on and off, or hooked up with a boy in whom you have specifically expressed interest several times. In any case, whether or not these are truly girls of compromised morality, they are certainly awful friends, and in this case, it’s probably okay to pretend to be mildly interested in being around them for about a week, and then shake them loose. After the clean break, it’s probably okay to start calling her a slut in social situations.
Unfortunately, everyone else probably will be at this point anyway, which is the tragedy of the way girls sabotage each other and themselves in order to appear at the top of the imaginary food chain. I’m not attempting to offend anyone, or to call anyone out, I’m simply lamenting the fact that even though girls supposedly experience a sense of emotional maturity that is years beyond boys’, this seems to come at the expense of the way they treat each other. I am simply suggesting that if we all acted our age, our lives and probably also our love lives would be a whole lot easier.