You’ve heard it before, but girls can be competitive with one another. I discussed an aspect of this in my post from February of last year.
Quite a while ago, I read a magazine interview of a celebrity – I could be wrong, but I remember it being Halle Berry. She said that as she’s gotten older, she’s enjoyed her female friendships more because they’ve lost the competitiveness that those friendships had in her 20s and early 30s. When I read this, my first reaction was to get defensive, but a part of me knew what she was talking about.
I think her statement corroborates what I said in that Feb ’10 post: that most of this competitiveness is mate competition. After all, by the time you’re 40 like Halle, most women have found mates, and if they haven’t, most single men aren’t looking for their age bracket. My attitude at the time that I blogged was not to fight the competitiveness because it makes sense and is justified.
But two things happened recently that made me rethink this attitude. The first was that I heard an NPR interview with Norah Vincent, a woman who posed as a man for a year. She said that she was struck most by the brotherhood men feel when they meet – that in that first handshake there’s a lot of trust and camaraderie in their shared maleness. It’s true that I don’t feel that with women.
It simply could be that women just operate differently and we don’t trust one another until given reason to – a process that may not take very long at all and signifies that women do achieve a feeling of sisterhood, too. But it is certainly true that when meeting women in an environment where each of us could be finding a mate, I am still focused on: 1) seeming the more desirable/attractive; 2) building a potential romantic relationship more than a friendship with the other woman. The only time these 2 don’t apply is when I’m not remotely interested in or attracted to the guys we’re around, and perhaps she and I could bond in our shared dissatisfaction.
It is instructive that whenever I am introduced to another girl in front of guys, I am very self-conscious about seeming nice, warm, and open instead of catty, disinterested, and competitive. Clearly a part of me must be those things, or else I wouldn’t be trying so hard to hide it!
The other side of the story is that it has nothing to do with competition, and it’s just more fun to flirt with a guy than it is to try to get to know a girl! I already have girlfriends; what I don’t have is a boyfriend.
Yet, wouldn’t it be nice if women enjoyed that same camaraderie Vincent speaks of? It would be comforting.
The other thing that happened that has changed my perspective occurred when my friend Gillian and I were preparing for the Lady Gaga concert. I was scantily clad like a good Little Monster, and Gillian looked at me and very convincingly said, “You look really good.” Her ego had no problem complimenting my attractiveness, while mine, in the past, has. Throughout the Gaga concert, Gillian remarked about other people who also looked really good. And I kinda realized that night that other women being attractive doesn’t depreciate my attractiveness. Would it really hurt me to tell my friends when they looked good? How did I become someone who feels threatened by attractive friends?
The answer is insecurity. Doesn’t everything just boil down to insecurity? I didn’t want to concede that my friends were attractive if I didn’t feel like I was.