One good scandal deserves another, and frenemies are always there to watch us fall. Why are women still so mean to each other?
Words by Shelley-Marie Phillips
Put it in the book. We all remember that infamous line and fuchsia book of bitching, shrill echoes of “do not trust her” ringing in our ears. Gretchen Wieners told Cady Heron to write it down, and she did. Except the book isn’t Pritt-sticked photos and sharpie scribbled insults anymore.
The burn book is online, and everyone gets a read.
It comes to no shock to most of us that girls are mean to each other. I say girls, and not women, because sometimes it feels like we never got to that point. Growing up, it’s a sad rite of passage that we’re either friends with a mean girl, or we are the mean girl. As adults, not much has changed except for the fact that we choose to keep these people around.
We’re no longer separated by parents or teachers, and we sip cocktails with them at boujee bars while they coo over their latest relationship. We’re kind of happy for them. If our frenemy can have all the things we want, why can’t we have them too? Sometimes bitchiness is masked in humour and jealousy is hidden by the newest Kylie lip kit, but no amount of KoKo K can cover loose lips and bad mouthing. These days, the worst behaviour comes out in screenshots and receipts, transactions of cattiness being held hostage for a rainy day.
For one reason or another, we just have an axe to grind with one another. Really, it’s nothing personal, but it definitely seems that way. Sometimes a frenemy serves a purpose of providing healthy competition, spurring us on enough to want to succeed. Other times, frenemies act and feel like a friend. They send us heart emojis and like our Instagram photos, but we get the feeling that they don’t really like us that much, and we don’t really like them.
We don’t know why, but we keep them around.
It used to be about who had the best party bags, then it became about winning the race to the first kiss and other firsts that should never be the winning ticket to popularity.
As young women, it’s still about boys and who has the best of everything, but it’s also about seeming like better people.
It’s also about the humblebrag and one-upping each other but providing enough obligatory support that every backhanded compliment seems like it’s well intended.
We know we should support other women, and we try our hardest, but for some reason, this particular woman doesn’t bring out the best in us. We’ve been told this all along, but not everyone has to like us, and not everyone will.
We’ve all been a little juvenile in our time and most of us are can plead guilty to ‘fake liking’ someone, either to keep the peace of our social circles or because some part of us never outgrew our bad habits.
Is it a simple case of warfare, keeping our friends close and enemies closer?
With social media slurs, slutshaming and name calling, the frenemy can go from zero to Regina George in seconds. Read all about it, she’s dishing the dirt.
It starts with “Have you heard?”, “She’s gone too far” and ends in an insult shaped with a smile. The frenemy feeds off scandal and gossip, snacking on the latest dish.
But somehow, we profit from that woman. Even in a toxic, ill tempered friendship, each person profits from one another without serving any real, long lasting benefit.
Maybe we’re keeping them around to serve a future purpose, or maybe we can’t cut the tie. Maybe it’s guilt, because we know we’ve been a bitch on occasion too.
Like all things bad for us, a good gossip is a quick release but it takes a while to burn off the artificial sweetness of forced friendship. Maybe its time to go cold turkey, a tried and tested method of breaking any habit.
Why do we do it? Maybe we know developing relationships is worth our while, for whatever reason, even when the other person isn’t all that nice. It’s a small price to pay, isn’t it?
Maybe we have to do the tough thing and admit to ourselves we’re as bad as one another and say a short, sweet goodbye. After all, cold turkey starts with cleaning ourselves up and throwing away temptation. We can be better than this, and we can be nicer.