Bitchy women and a sexist society: the chicken or the egg?

Feminism, women’s rights, the gender pay gap. Incredibly important issues. As a female, as a parent and as a reasonable member of society, they matter to me. And yet on a particular day this week, six different incidents made me question my own feelings on these emotive topics.

The women

Picture the scene. You are happily making conversation with a female you don’t know particularly well. Passing the time of day, making small talk. Because you are both polite, reasonable people.

Then, when you are mid-sentence, another female walks up and interrupts to talk to the person you are with.

“I am going to interrupt…”

Yes, you are. But why? Because what you have to say is more important? Because you are more important? Because you were never taught manners? Or because your friend is talking to somebody else and you don’t like it?

Shortly afterwards, still in the same spot. Another female comes and stands directly in front of you with her back to you. Joining the conversation that you are no longer part of. You either stand within an inch of her back, move to try to join the conversation or walk away.

Later, you are running along the pavement towards two women from the ‘friendly’ local running club who have just finished their run. They see you, look you up and down and go out of their way to make sure you can’t get past on the (perfectly wide) pavement, forcing you onto the road.

The men

The same day, three remarkably similar situations.

Standing alone in a crowd of people. A man walks up to you to pass the time of day. Because, you know, it can be pretty awkward when everybody knows each other and you are alone.

Another male goes out of his way to include you in a group situation. To save you from the humiliation of being the only one that nobody speaks to.

And on the same running route, two males from the same running club move over to run in single file so you can get past. Recognising a fellow runner and saying “hi” as they go by.

Who am I?

I am nobody. But I am somebody.

I will not pretend to be a delicate little flower, bothered by bitchy women. But I am somebody. I am not their friend, nor will I ever be. Because I choose my friends carefully, gravitating towards strong women who build each other up instead of making each other feel small.

I am not a large business owner. But I could be.

I will not pretend to be an employer, recruiting for a high-powered, well paid job. But I could be. And if I was, which of the people I encountered that day would I employ? The women, who would disrupt my workplace with bitchy arguments, rudeness and petty backstabbing? Or the men, who treated me like a human being?

Do women behave like this because we are discriminated against and treated badly? Or are we, in fact, our own worst enemy?

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  1. Growing up most of my friends were boys. Firstly because I was never a fan of playing with dolls and secondly, there was never any bullshit!
    No politics about who was going to play with who. Just playing on our bikes etc.

    I have hated working in offices full of women as they bitch about someone as they go off to the loo. You just know that the next time you go out of the room it will be about you.
    As for the women who didn’t move for you well that’s awful. I would have had one of two responses: either stop dead in my tracks and make them walk around me (which I tend to do quite a bit) Or, make them feel uncomfortable by saying a Chery “hello.”
    Good on the men though.

    1. Yes, I feel the same about the bitchy behaviour behind people’s backs. Spending all day bitching about someone and then going out with them after work that night because they’re friends. I don’t understand the logic. If you don’t like someone, don’t waste your time on them – either by talking about them or being with them more than you have to be.

  2. Well said! It starts at a young age too- my son started school last year and all the boys in his class get on well. Yes there are the occasional falling outs but it’s quickly forgotten about. My twin daughter’s started school in September and already one of their classmates has told one of the other girls (who has the most beautiful curly hair) that she looks a mess and should go home to sort her hair out…

    1. Ugh, it’s disgusting isn’t it? And children are learning that behaviour from somewhere. I know it happens with kids, but you do hope that they will grow out of it. I hope I am teaching my children to be kind and support other people, it is something that really concerns me.

  3. Love this. Really interesting take to think over too. Sorry you’ve had these experiences though. What I will add, from a guys pov, is that this has happened to me too (with gender reversed) I think it’s not necessarily a women “issue” but a society problem. Admittedly I’ve experienced it from women too but probably in equal quantities. I think some people are their own worst enemies and create a sense of self deserving that allows them to segregate and isolate others.

  4. Felt sad reading this Nat. All so true, since Meme started school I’ve found myself more and more in these awkward moments with other women. I’ve never felt more excluded in my life. Great post x

  5. Interesting point of view. I’ve never really thought about it, but I do often feel awkward in the company of other women. I was never very good with chatting to people in the school playground. I just about managed it when my daughter was in year 6 – after 12 years as a parent at the same school!
    (I’m not particularly good at chatting to men either though.)

  6. This is so refreshing to read. And it beings it home, some people are just horrible, and some people aren’t. It’s as simple as that! I’ve had women call me trash and hate me instantly on twitter because I’m male. If I’d changed my twitter handle and photo they’d react differently and have respect for me, despite my words being the same. So who’s in the wrong there?

    Thanks for writing this!

  7. I have definitely found this and it’s the main reason I hate to work with women, it’s not easy! I find working in a mainly male workplace much easier and you don’t need to think about all the little nasty comments that women can make.

  8. I totally get what you mean. It’s only since having kids that I spend more time with women than men, and I’ve had some really horrendous experiences with bitchy cliques, thankfully balanced out by the fab ladies like you xxx

    1. Sorry to hear that Maz. You are one of the supportive ones, especially when it comes to blogging. It’s always lovely to see you, even when it’s been years we pick up where we left off which is always brilliant.

  9. I would like to hope that you were just unlucky with your encounters but I am afraid I also find generally women to be a lot more unkind than men. I can imagine you being so polite and kind that you just let the woman interrupt you without saying anything which can also be a female trait. You should make sure she knew you are important and that she cannot just rudely interrupt. I hope my running group were friendly towards you and didn’t make you feel uncomfortable when you briefly met. I did feel awkward to leave you when I was called for the pre-race group photo x

    1. Ahh not at all, your running group were lovely. I chatted to a couple of them on the run actually. And I know what you mean about letting them know that they can’t interrupt, but to be honest I can’t be arsed. Walking away and being done with it suits me.

  10. Definitely food for thought there, although I’m not sure it’s purely a gender issue. I’ve always found social encounters difficult whether it’s women or men. When I was younger my friends were mostly boys and later on in life I have very few friends that I have taken years to build relationships with. I can’t stand gossip or bitchiness, and I’m always willing to stick up for the outsider.

    1. That’s good to hear, it’s always reassuring when there is someone like you who will stick up for an outsider who is struggling within a group situation.

  11. Hi Nat, I hate to label things, preferring to see people and situations for what they are, but you do have a point. You’ve only got to stand back at the school gate to see witness what you have described. If you were a big business owner or a headhunter and they knew it, I bet they would have treated you differently. People like that are sad individuals that don’t deserve the time of day, unfortunately, they will probably never realise that… I’m not sure if people behave that way because of any ‘valid’ reason, it’s probably hardwired in their DNA.

  12. I have had these experiences myself where men were more respectful towards me while the women gossiped about each other behind one another’s backs. It’s appalling because we should be building each other up, not tearing each other down. #MondayStumble

  13. This is exactly why, in our house, we live by one rule (some days better than others of course) and that rule is to be kind. The rule of kindness won’t allow for such behaviors and hopefully, if seen or observed, will nip them in the bud. Kindness is inclusive. Kindness cares. Sorry for these situations. They are all too rampant in our society, no matter the gender… Oy! #mondaystumble xoxo

  14. Women are pitted against women – or at least we have been in the past. Historically, we had to see each other as competitors but now we don’t. We don’t have to ‘fight’ over men – and we can’t be bothered to either! Bitching gets you nowhere – you wont shine more by lessening someone elses glow x