Whether you like it or not, and despite all the fabulous theories around feminism and patriarchy, women are engaging more than ever in rivalry behaviors that not only hurt themselves. But also diminish their value as human beings. It doesn’t matter if they seem to be the “last cookie in the world”, female rivalry because of men or economic factors only demonstrates character disruptions, and yes, we should stop it!
How do we stop Female rivalry? By stoping relational aggression focused on same-sex peers.
Forms or relational aggression towards another woman and why it can work:
- Withholding positive information about competitors and strategically using negative information. Or gossip to undermine the status and attractiveness of same-sex competitors (Fisher, 2010; Geary, 2019).
- The Usage of social media to spread gossip. Or social manipulation to fight over a would-be “perceived” boyfriend or husband material (White, 2011; Geary, 2019).
- When “done well and judiciously, engaging in gossip can also enhance one’s own status within the group or solidify existing friendships” (Geary, 2019).
- “This form of aggression can be an effective strategy because humans are a highly social species and are dependent on the social support and goodwill of others in their community” (Geary, 2019).
Who is the target of relational aggression?
Girls and women who capture the attention of the opposite sex are often targets of relational aggression. According to Noam Shpancer (2014), “high status and very attractive women need less help and protection from other women and are less motivated to invest in other women (who represent potential competition). Thus, a woman who tries to distinguish or promote herself threatens other women and will encounter hostility.”
Another manipulation tactic is when an attractive and powerful woman who stands out from the crown is on the “house”, threatened women tend to “insisting on standards of equality, uniformity, and sharing for all the women in the group and making these attributes the normative requirements of proper femininity” (Shpancer, 2014).
How do men respond in these contexts?
It depends. But as mentioned by David Geary (2019). Men tend not to be aware and miss the subtleness of this form of aggression, not knowing how to respond to it. More often than they should, the response is withdrawing, which is the goal of relational aggression between women. And this withdrawal in the ultimate analysis normalizes unacceptable behavior.
The more we talk about this and take action, the sooner or later it will disappear. In my last relationship, I faced what is described in this article, and two years after the breakup, it happened again.
The sad part of it is, I can tell that men, most of the time, aren’t aware of what is going on and don’t know how to respond. Or when they do respond, they want to avoid conflict, which leads to sentences like “you are imagining things”, believing in the gossip, dismissing reality. Or any source of uncomfortable feelings.
However, we shouldn’t blame men or take the blame toward ourselves.
Our battle should never be to prove who we are or our veracity.
As women with power, we cannot deal with insecure women. And compete with them because of men or anything else is a waste of time and energy. It is our duty to be responsible for our actions and never enable any hurtful behavior.
More, if you are a powerful and beautiful woman. Don’t let others derogate your character or play by their rules. Don’t downgrade yourself to please others. When we don’t fit the culture, we create our culture.
To conclude, I hope men who will read this article take into consideration these things:
- The competition happens not because of you but only because of the woman you have or had by your side. Her value is the “threat”.
- Ask yourself if you want to lose good relationships and good people from your life because of gossip and made-up stories.
- How many times will you regret not taking action after knowing your partner was genuinely speaking the truth and by your side?
- Setbacks and challenges are inevitable on the path of success for relationships or life in general. Do you want to surround yourself with people who undermine the value of your partner? Or protect your powerful partner because she will add value to your life and everyone knows that?
- Powerful women bring a lot to the table. Bring a lot to their partner’s lives. Therefore it can trigger unconscious fears. Fear of intimacy is one of them. As Robert Firestone and Joyce Catlett (1999) mentioned, fear of intimacy can be reproduced in multiples forms: Withholding affection; becoming paranoid or suspicious of a partner; losing interest sexually; being overly critical of a partner but protecting others; Reacting indifferently or adversely to affection; pushing away partners who can truly love and accept who we are.
I hope this article echoes within your soul. Let’s protect good people and good relationships.
Firestone, W. R., Catlett, J. (1999). Fear of Intimacy. American Psychological Association. USA.
Fisher, M. (2010). Romance is dead: Reflections on today’s dating scene. If romance is dead, what comes next?. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/loves-evolver/201006/romance-is-dead-reflections-todays-dating-scene
Geary, D. (2019). Do Women Fight? Female-female competition in an evolutionary context. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/male-female/201908/do-women-fight
Shpancer, N. (2014). Feminine Foes: New Science Explores Female Competition. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/insight-therapy/201401/feminine-foes-new-science-explores-female-competition
White, D. M. (2011). The Game Theory of Female Competition. Is competition for mates self-defeating? https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/maybe-its-just-me/201102/the-game-theory-female-competition