Monday, May 24, 2010

Beauty Or The Beast?

Women, I think, more than men, tend to be territorial. While men may have classically been the hunters and warriors, you better bet that while the women stayed home and cleaned cave, sweet cave and cooked and watched the hairy little kids that they had to protect their fair share from the saber-tooth tigers of lore. In fact, in a poll taken asking who tends to be more territorial, men or women, 7 out of 10 answered in the affirmative for women, in one case, with the answer "...Women are like tigers guarding their kill." And so, the vestigial feeling remains in all women-- but what happens when the instinct in women is raised by another woman? While half of us is groomed from the cradle to be sugar and spice and everything nice and sweet, the other half is still thinking, "Bitch, get close enough, and I will sink my teeth as far as they can get into your eyes like grapes."

Is this really any surprise? In 2003, the FBI conducted a statistics report which showed that assault by women had risen 41% since 1992, in contrast to a 4.3% increase among boys. I myself, if this blog's content is any proof, am much more of a lover than a fighter, and yet, I'm not ashamed to admit that around the same time as this census, I was involved in two locker room fights in high school. And won. And if girls are willing to fight like cats and dogs over things like a bathroom stall to change in before gym class, how driven do you think we really are to fight over things we really want? Grown-ass women come to tooth and claw over discount Prada at sample sales in the sterile and soothing atmosphere of Barney's. And that's just Prada.

Like the sort of marks that wild animals leave to assert their presence in nature, women leave subtle clues for other women to see when they're marking out their territory. (Guys, prepare to have the lid blown way off.) Facebook provides a sort of "soft" surface to scratch on-- among especially younger girls and women, it provides a place to publicly stake out your claim. Women may post numerous items on a guy's page to send off a "taken" message to other women, or to undermine others. If you really want to get all scientific about it, check out the timestamps on recurring poster's entries. Chances are, if there's a man-stomping-ground fight brewing, there will be a rapid retaliation time between two women's messages on one wall. She posted yesterday? The other will post today. It's a not-so-silent waiting game until one gives up or gives in. Or, just resorts to less public forms of communication.

Women, unlike men, are tactile creatures. We touch things to find out more about them. Watch a woman shop, and you'll soon realize this. In person, women tend to stake out their interest the way they know best-- through touch. If another woman is constantly putting her hands on the arm or shoulder or back of a man, she might as well have branded "TAKEN!" across his forehead for other women to read. Here is a classic example of this, along with some advice for women how to handle a situation like this. The number one response? Be nice, and if that doesn't work, just walk away.

Listen for name-dropping. Does someone's name in particular keep coming up? Bingo. People naturally want to talk about what they're excited about. Is someone in the conversation coming back with responses like, "Oh, that's so funny-- Andre went to Mexico for vacation last year, too!" Five minutes later, it'll be, "Well, the other day, Andre said..." Women, as you may have noticed, cannot keep our traps shut. So if we can talk about you, we will. And if we can talk about you in context with other people so that they know that we're all over your shit? Even better. Let the gossip begin.

And then there's just women's intuition. We know when someone's creepin'. We usually can sniff out pretty quickly who they're creepin' with. It's not like we're "snooping" or "being nosey"-- the best way that I can explain it is that most women have the ability to look at another woman and go, "Huh. Yup. She's totally his type, and you know what? She's been coming around a lot more recently. Hmm. Gotcha." If you really want to see how and what women think of Other Women, I highly suggest the movie "The Women" (the 2008 version). Women just know other women. We get them in the way that you guys generally tend to understand anything that has a motor. We know what she means when she says cryptic things to her friends. We know when she's trying to make us jealous. We know why she is taking 500 photos of you and her, or the life around you and her. And we know what those song lyrics really mean. In an ideal world, you'd be able to use the two women that you're seeing to understand the other, because chances are, they know each other far better than you do. In this world, unless you have huge vat of mud and a large inflatable pool on hand-- don't.

There's ladies, and then there's not-so ladies. So how does a "lady" deal with a situation without her fists?

Girls are taught from an early age to assert themselves when they feel like they're being pushed around, and this is a lesson that sticks for both emotional and physical pushing and shoving, as well as leads to the phenomenon of cat-fights. The Catch-22 is this: If you actually assert yourself and your emotions and express your displeasure by saying something like, "Hey, I know what you're doing to me, and I don't like it and the way it makes me feel, AT ALL," you're in jeopardy as coming off as "needy," "overbearing," "controlling," "trying to change" someone, and yes, my favorite-- "a crazy bitch." However, this is the way that your mother and your public school education taught you how to communicate in. It's unfortunate that some men and other women couldn't give less of a fuck that approaching a problem head-on and distinctly is not considered the ideal way to communicate. You may be thinking, "What? You're crazy. No way. I want open and honest communication, all the time!" Well. Let's put ourselves in two scenarios, shall we?

Scenario One: You're a guy, and you've been engaging in some seedy and slightly sleazy behavior behind the back of a girl who you consider normally very sweet. But hey, whatever, right? Until one afternoon when she looks you dead in the eye and says, "Look, I like you a lot, and I think we have a pretty good time together, but I know what you're doing, and it makes me feel like shit. Did you ever think about how this makes me feel?" OH SHIT. Caught red-handed. So, what do you do? If you're even a half-way decent guy, you come clean and apologize and actually start doing right by her. But we all know, even in the most contrite individual, part of you is going "BITCH. You ruined all my good fun. And because of what? Feelings? Puh-lease. There are wild oats to be sown!" Because believe it or not, women have that same thought-process, too.

Which brings us to scenario two: You're another female roommate or coworker, when, one morning, your other female roomie/coworker approaches you and says, "Look, I love sharing meals with you, but I've noticed recently that you aren't contributing to the food supply, and, in fact, are eating some of mine. I wouldn't mind so much, but money's a little tight for me right now, and it's hard to do the grocery shopping for one person, let alone two." This is another situation where as the equal-opportunity snacker, you know you're to blame, but at the same time, you can't help but feeling a little self-righteous. So you generally come back with something like this as a retort: "Sorry, but I didn't see your name on that food." And then, for good measure, add in, "And could you clean your expired food out of the fridge? It's taking up space." Passive-aggressive female defense at its best.

Basically, with this first option, you're trying to assert yourself the best way you know how, but unfortunately, our society has stressed the ideal of the "sweet" girl to the point where many women are torn between the hard choice of feeling like if they express themselves, they'll lose a close relationship, or if they don't, they'll get continually steam-rolled. So, what to do? Pick another option?

Then there's the ultimatum-- "You can't have it both ways-- choose." Not a favorite. It backs people into corners and makes them do the one thing that all the previous behavior has shown an aversion to-- picking one option and sticking with it. Feminists would tell you ultimatums are an enlightened woman's friend. Men would tell you you're starting to sound like their mother. And women don't listen to ultimatums.

And then there's our third option, otherwise known as "The Girl Next Door." It balances a healthy dose of looking the other way with still being sweet to all involved. AKA: no bitching at him, no sinking your teeth into her eyeballs or fist into her jaw if you meet her, and crying only to your friends and pillow at night. Most men would probably tell you that they prefer this option. Most women, myself included, will tell you it's a recipe for pretty much one thing: an unhappy woman.

There are some people who can raise "The Girl Next Door" approach to kind of a cosmic and Karmic ideal, which involves realizing that The Other Woman is not all to blame, and, in fact, another wounded party involved; that the man in this situation is the one that has orchestrated this all; and that maybe there are reasons for him doing the things he does. There's lots of forgiveness and Zen-ness involved in this approach. I am not quite that good of a person. You can strive for it, but it's hella hard.

So, what is a girl to do if her locker room fighting days are past, and all forms of communication seem to be moot? Will an eloquent "This is how I feel" conversation ever truly give the satisfaction of a good right hook, or are women always doomed to be silent about certain things due to the fears of not being the quintessential Perfect Girl? You may say that you want the truth, but do you really want to handle the repercussions it may have? What do you think? Is there really any way to address these sorts of issues while both being strong yet not being a hard-ass?


1 comment:

  1. Very interesting post! It's really hard to find a balance especially when yo man is being threatened. And you are so right about the Facebook thing; I know a few couples in which the girlfriend comments on every single thing the guy posts, especially if another girl has posted first.