Girl vs. girl: Why do chicks hate each other

Tuesday, July 18, 2006
The movie "Mean Girls" is just one example of the chick-hating trend. (Associated Press)

OK, girls.

You're walking through the mall and spot a gorgeous blonde with perfect hair, skin, name it.

How many of you immediately think: I want to be her friend?

Yeah, didn't think so. For a large segment of the female population, it's more like: I want to be her.

And why not?

Magazine covers, movie plots, even song lyrics promote the girl vs. girl mentality (ever see "Mean Girls" or listen to Saving Jane's "Girl next door"? How about all those Jennifer vs. Angelina headlines?)

Heather, a 29-year-old who lives in Cape Girardeau, said her chick-hating tendencies date back to junior high.

"I'm constantly sizing up other women ... what they are wearing, what their hair looks like," she said. "I think it's because I'm territorial. I don't like other chicks invading my space."

Heather said she's aware that the feelings are often reciprocated. For example, she hated her now best friend when she met her 12 years ago, and the feeling was mutual.

"But then we started talking and we hit it off immediately," Heather said.

In Cape Girardeau and Bollinger counties, 38 percent of all juvenile assault charges filed with police in 2003 were against girls. At Cape Girardeau's Central High School, as much as 80 percent of physical and verbal fights are between girls -- and generally stem from a disagreement over a boy, school officials said.

But there are other reasons girls hate other girls -- from physical attractiveness to brains or a successful career.

"I don't think there's anyone out there who hasn't had a negative feeling about another woman," says Elizabeth McDaniel, a therapist in New York. "You'd be lying to yourself if you didn't acknowledge that."

So what gives? Why are so many women essentially anti-woman?

"Women don't have real authority to direct their anger against men," McDaniel says. "Directing our anger against other women undercuts our power -- we aren't cohesive."

"Psychically, it's clearly insecurity," she says. "This culture doesn't want women to be empowered. By creating conflict between women, you certainly keep them in their place. If you fight amongst yourselves, if you are so broken up and can't unite, you're certainly not going to be able to pose any threat to the majority."

Translation: We live in a world still very much dominated by men, and society praises women who can't sustain relationships with other women. And one needs only to walk past a newsstand to see exactly what McDaniel means.

Ultimately, chick hating is a reflection of our own insecurities. McDaniel believes women are strong enough to transcend it. But we must be prepared to ask ourselves: "What do we dislike about ourselves that causes us to feel a certain way about another human being?"

Staff writer Callie Clark Miller and ASAP freelancer Kathy Ritchie contributed to this report.

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