One of the blogs that I like to keep tabs on for potential source material is called My Views on Gender and Art. It’s a sweet blog with lots of fun media to check out. Recently she posted an article called Short Skirts Magically Turn Women Into Bitches and I think this article may have unlocked the secret to the universe so bear with me.
The article is written by a male gender studies professor (tangentially related but awesome) and right away he offers us a truism to chew on.
“sisterhood is easier in winter.”
when the weather is cold… and my students are in sweaters and jeans, there’s considerably less intra-female hostility in my classrooms than when the weather turns warm.
Every woman knows exactly what he’s talking about. When your boyfriend drops by your house after class you want him to find you on the couch with Brittany Murphy from Clueless and thanking his lucky stars for you.
Not painting your toenails with Vanessa Hudgens.
But why? Why do we, the women, spend so much energy policing what other women are wearing? Starring and murmuring as Vanexxxa walks in “Who does she think she is?” “What a slut.” Or my favorite, “This is school, not a nightclub.”
We suspect that women who appear sexually available are not perceived as ‘‘safe” friends — they are expected to be mate poachers and they likely devalue a person’s mate value (guilty by association).
The researchers deduct:
women are threatened by, disapprove of, and punish women who appear and/or act promiscuous.
Did everybody catch that? We prefer modest girls as friends because we’re concerned that the mini-skirt wearers are boyfriend-stealers.
This is the point in the article where Hugo Schayzer (the professor) becomes sexier than Ryan Gosling.
This “myth of male weakness” outsources men’s sexual self-control to women. For decades now, junk science has foisted the “caveman mystique” onto us, insisting that testosterone, Y chromosomes, and evolution trump the willpower and empathy of even the most well-intentioned dude. We’re hardwired to be promiscuous, hardwired to stare at nubile young women, and hardwired to cheat if given half a chance. Ignoring the reality that women have their own libidos (and their own demonstrable propensity to stray), the male myth advises women to accept men for the perpetual adolescents we are. So women need to control those whom the myth promises are within their power to influence: other women. Women learn to slut-shame and ostracize the miniskirt-wearers whom they see as sexual rivals; men get let off the proverbial hook.
For a long time it has been convenient for the patriarchy to feed the public drivel about how men are incapable of self-control, zombies in the face of possible boobies. Convenient because it meant that we would not expect better from them, but rather police, judge and punish the sirens who tried to pry them away from us.
Bitchiness (at least as defined by this study) is rooted in the same set of beliefs as the requirement in other parts of the world where women wear burqas. We demand that women cover up to protect men from temptation because we don’t believe that men are capable of self-control.
That competitive ‘bitchiness’ towards other women is what fosters in women so much discord, so much body-anxiety, low self-confidence and isolation. Thanks to Hugo now we know better. And maybe, just maybe, we can start holding men accountable for their actions, having trust for other women regardless of what they’re wearing, and start to see some actual change.