Women vs. the “Sexy” Woman

kate-upton-GQ In past posts, the phenomenon of competition and hostility among women was discussed. There are many theories on why women seem to dislike and compete with other women, a very popular one being that women are simply born to view other women as competition. Another, as discussed in the book Catfight, is that a competitive atmosphere is created by the gender roles placed on women and the human desire for inclusion.

There is another aspect to the reality of female competition — certain women tend to be excluded and hated more than others. These types of women can have female friends, but often they attract mistrust and ill will by other women. They are what I have dubbed the “Sexy” Woman.

The “Sexy” Woman

The Sexy Woman is a woman who draws attention to her sexuality and sees it one of her more attractive qualities, if not her only attractive quality. She can even be explicit about her desire and ability to draw others — particularly men — to her, with her “assets”. To the Sexy Woman, using what you were born with (or bought) to get ahead in life is no different from using your intelligence, hard work or talent. The Sexy Woman’s looks and body are herself. In other words, she objectifies herself.

As a result, the Sexy Woman is usually very popular with men, in the most basic of ways, and has male friends. With women, she is ignored, at best and notorious, at worst. Given this, she considers men to be more understanding and less hateful than women. She does not go out of her way to be friendly with women, but likes the companionship of men.

Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Beautiful?

The Battle of Women vs. the Sexy Woman is thought to be the classic tale of women being envious of the most beautiful woman. The Sexy Woman too believes that it is her beautiful face and body that cause women to hate her. Yet the situation is much more complex than mere beauty.

The Sexy Woman can be pretty or even beautiful, but it does not seem to be her appearance that cause women to be suspicious of or dislike her. Other women, who are just as “sexy” and good-looking, are loved and admired by their fellow women, and get along with them well. What separates them from the Sexy Woman is their attitude and presentation. Whereas the Sexy Woman calls attention to her sexuality and wants to be known for her attractiveness, other women are less forward about their looks, and do not view them as their most redeeming asset.

Hate It or Love It, or Hate It

The real question is what makes women so uncomfortable with the openness of the Sexy Woman? Why does her willingness to be objectified make women consider her unworthy of a kind word? Maybe her overt sexuality reminds other women of the pressure placed on them to be sexy and conventionally attractive. Maybe she is just another airhead. Or maybe we’ll never know.

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Women + Men = Competition

women-fighting-over-man

What’s a foolproof way to turn women against each other?… Add men.

Women are alternately thought of as the gentler, more cooperative gender and as unnecessarily catty and ruthless; society can hardly decide which one represents women’s true nature. But one area where the competitive side of women can be clearly seen is in their dealings with the opposite sex — dating and relationships.

Why Do Women Compete Over Men?

Women who were once friendly and kind to each other can morph into the greatest of enemies the minute a man becomes involved. The change is so instant and drastic that upon hindsight they wonder what happened and are surprised by their own behavior.

What about the presence of a man causes this reaction in women? The answer is simple, yet complex: women base their self-worth in their value to men and their ability to attract and keep their interest. While some women have an inner sense of self-worth, other women have a fragile sense of self that is based not in themselves, but in what society, and particularly men, think of them.

  • The Rarity Mindset

Some women seem to believe that good men are hard to find so when she finds a suitable man, she is determined to have him. Even if that means she must step on another woman’s toes or ruin a friendship.

With such women, the choice of fighting and possibly hurting another women or not having one good man is simple. The former, of course.

How Women Justify Their Behavior

The most common way in which women justify treating other women badly in the sake of men is by telling themselves that the better woman “won”. In this “survival of the fittest” rationalization, they are the prettier, smarter, and more interesting woman, and that’s why they have won or will win the prize — the man. They tell themselves that it may not be the most pleasant situation, but that’s life, and there’s nothing else to it.

Another common way that women justify their behavior is by not justifying it — they just don’t have an explanation or reason for their behavior and they don’t need one. In most cases, what the truly don’t want is to admit to themselves or other people that they are simply being self-centered and ruthless.

Why Competing Isn’t Worth It

Ultimately, competing over men serves no real purpose. Contrary to the rarity mindset, suitable men can be found everywhere and anywhere — there is no shortage of “good” men. But by competing over men, women tear each other down while simultaneously reassuring and bolstering a man’s ego. Confident that he can have either woman, a man will value neither of them in the long run.  Instead, what is left is two women who will never be friends and yet another story to add to the “catty women” book.

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Slut-Shaming

slut-signs

Slut-shaming is the common practice of shaming, condemning, harassing or ridiculing a girl or woman for sexual actions or thoughts. Slut-shaming arises from the continued double standard in expectations for men and women in expressions of sexuality. It is premised on the belief that a woman who engages in sexual behavior at her own will is less than or inferior to a woman who abides by societal expectations of proper sexual behavior for women.

Slut-shaming need not include the word slut or its synonyms– any act of discouraging or insulting a woman for expressing sexuality is slut-shaming. And while the definition of a slut is of a woman who is sexually promiscuous, a woman does not have to engage in sexual behaviors often, or at all, to be slut-shamed. Girls and women are slut-shamed for a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to:

  • Acknowledging sexual feelings
  • Dressing in a manner which is considered provocative
  • Spending time with men who she is not in a formal intimate relationship with
  • Being raped
  • Engaging in any form of intimate behavior with a man or men
  • Being disliked or resented by other girls or women

Women Slut-Shaming Women

Men slut-shame as a way of wielding power and because they can and always have: men can not be slut-shamed as women can be.  Women, however, are also often the perpetrators of slut-shaming. But why do women slut-shame? What could they possibly gain from it?

In many cases, women who slut-shame have internalized societal expectations of female sexual expression and are often afraid of being slut-shamed themselves. They tend to believe that by discouraging sexual behavior in other women they can increase their own worth in the eyes of others, and themselves.

In this way, slut-shaming becomes a way to compete: women gain approval from men and the community at large for their “pure” behavior in comparison to the sluts of society. Even if they engage in private behavior which could be seen as “slutty”, they publicly reinforce the idea that overt female expression of sexuality is simply wrong.

gossiping-womenOther women believe that slut-shaming is necessary to protect women as a whole. They believe that direct expressions of sexuality encourage unwanted advances from men and send messages that a woman may not intend to. They discourage girls and women from blatant shows of sexuality as a response to what they believe are the even more direct expressions of sexuality of men.

But what women who engage in slut-shaming fail to realize, or don’t care to recognize, is that they are encouraging their own oppression. By consciously belittling women for expressing their sexuality in a way which is comfortable to them, they reinforce a system which constrains and polices women’s actions while allowing men a fuller range of expression.  They also support the notion that a woman’s worth is in her sexuality — or lack of it — and that this worth is rare and not assured.

To slut-shamers, slut-shaming may seem innocent or just not so bad, but the effects of slut-shaming are wide-ranging. Women who are slut-shamed feel and can be ostracized, and question themselves and sexuality in general.  They don’t feel open to express themselves sexually in context because they are worried about what others may think or say of them. At the extreme end slut-shaming indirectly encourages rape and forced sexual acts since women are too afraid to report rape for fear of being thought of as a slut or being embarrassed. In sum, slut-shaming negatively affects not just the women who are slut-shamed but all women.

What are your thoughts on slut-shaming? Do you slut-shame?

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When to End a Friendship

friends-holding-hands

Whoever said friends were forever?

Throughout the years I’ve gained many friends, and lost just as many. In some cases it was clear that the friendship was over. However, in most situations, the friendship seemed capable of being saved or worth saving. It seemed like these friendships were just going through a rough time and would get better with time and effort. Ultimately though, these friendships declined, as they were destined to.

These experiences weren’t all negative — one positive aspect is that they allowed me to understand the signs of a dead friendship. When many of these occur, I know it’s time to end the friendship:

1. The friendship is depressing

Friendship isn’t all about having a good time. True friends will stick around through the good and bad, and friends show their worth in life’s unhappiest situations. But if a friend is constantly pulling down instead of uplifting; if I feel worse rather than better after interacting with a certain friend, then it is a sign to let the friendship go.

2. The friend is gossipy

Most people are not fond of gossips, but when the gossip is your friend, what do you do? Some people will remain friends with a person who is known to be a gossip, safe in the idea that the friend would never gossip about them. This is an error: a person who is gossipy will tend to be so about everyone. You shouldn’t wait until the friend gossips about you to turn them loose.

3. The friendship is competitive

Unless you’re in high school it’s time to let go of your competitive friend. A friend who competes and shows envy instead of joy at your achievements is simply not worth it. Why stay in a friendship where you can’t share your greatest moments? A friendship is about reciprocation, not competition.

4. The friend plays the blame game

As with all relationships, friendships are a mutual undertaking and both sides are equally responsible for it. Yet some will blame their friend when things go wrong in the friendship, or outside of the friendship. Instead of realizing that this is a toxic relationship, their friends will take the blame and burden the responsibility. It is much less emotionally draining to simply end the friendship.

5. The friend is really a frenemy

Get rid of any friend whose actions your unsure of or who puts you down.  If you’re not sure whether your friend is a friend or an enemy, don’t worry about figuring it out. Just end the friendship.

6. The friendship is one-sided

Most friendships are not a perfect 50/50 give and take all the time. At times your friend will need you more, at other times you will require their help. But a friendship should not be one-sided in emotional or physical giving and help. Otherwise it’s not a friendship — one-sidedness is one of the most obvious signs of a dead or dying friendship.

Do you know when to end a friendship? What are some of your friendship deal-breakers?

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What’s Wrong With PUA?

pick-up-artists

A short while ago I published a post about PUA, short for Pick-Up Artists, a male seduction community, and my personal experience with a PUA. Since then I’ve received comments and emails on a regular basis which question, or more often, disagree with, my position that PUA is not only manipulative but pathetic.

I’ve responded to most of these comments and questions, but they continue to come in. Some are confused and some simply want further explanation but all wonder the same thing — what’s wrong with PUA? So in the sake of brevity, I’ll detail here why I dislike and disagree with PUA and its methods:

1. PUA is based on manipulation

Pick-Up Artists techniques are pure manipulation: they are designed to coerce women into thinking and doing what they otherwise wouldn’t. PUA techniques are mind games which attempt to overturn the unfair advantage that PUAs believe women have in dating and turn it into an unfair advantage for men.

Some may counter that all forms of courting and dating involve manipulation. However, PUA methods are willful and conscious manipulations — power-play with clear-cut “winners” and “losers”, not simply ways to make oneself more attractive to women. Natural mating rarely involves the same level of deceit.

2. PUA is objectifying

While the male Pick-Up Artist feels more attractive and empowered by his ability to secure his “target”, the target of his manipulations is dehumanized. PUA is also known as “The Game” because PUAs treat their methods and the women they target as nothing more than a game to be won at all costs.

This can be seen in PUA lingo such as “Bait, Hook, Reel, Release” and “Compliance Threshold”, a measure of a woman’s willingness to go along with the PUA’s plans of sexual activity. PUAs don’t see women as humans like them, but pawns in their chess game of ego gratification.

3. PUA is sexist and misogynist

In case it’s not apparent at this point, any dating method founded on the belief that women are difficult to deal and confused, and must be manipulated into agreeing with what they “really” want, is sexist.

Any dating methods which are based on making a woman feel insecure and question her principles is misogynist. And any so-called seduction which refers to women as “targets”, at best, and “bitches” to be broken down, at worst, is misogynist. There is just no way around that.

4.  PUA is about ego and selfishness

Pick-Up Artists claim and try to convince themselves that their techniques are about attaining a mutually beneficial relationship. Yet it is clear by the amount of manipulation and objectification involved that the well-being of women is not a priority. And the self-esteem and satisfaction of male PUAs is a priority, if not the only one.

In other words, if PUA methods were so obviously beneficial to all involved, then why would they require so much trickery?

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Why You Have No Female Friends

no-female-friends

Maybe it’s not them. Maybe it’s you.

Some women effortlessly make friends with other women, while others struggle to find female companionship and instead find themselves at odds with the women they meet. Many of these women conclude that there is just something uniquely intolerable about women that prevents them from getting along with them. Rarely do such women analyze their own behavior in their quest to understand why they lack female friends.

Unfortunately for women who have a hard time with other women, criticizing and finding fault with other women doesn’t improve their situation and usually makes it worse. If you’re one of those women you could benefit from thinking of possible reasons why you have no female friends that has less to do with other women and more to do with yourself:

1. You’re Competitive

If you believe and behave as if women are your competition for men, attention, and resources, you’re probably putting off other women. If you make a habit of coming on to taken men or fighting for the spotlight at work or in social situations, don’t be surprised to you find yourself with few women as friends.

2. You’re Defensive

When you meet a new woman, do you assume the worst? Do you take any commentary directed to you by other women as a personal attack and think they dislike you? If so, you might be being too defensive. And your behavior may become a self-fulfilling prophecy — instead of putting up with your wild assumptions and accusations other women will simply not bother to deal with you.

female-friends-playing3. You’re Self-Righteous

When you assume that others are less morally upright than you are and are otherwise lacking in major aspects, you exude an attitude which serves as a female-repellant. Try to judge the actions of others less and realize there is more than one way to be.

4. You’re Male-Identified

If you support and defend men at the expense of women, you should expect to have few female friends. Other women can sense that you seek the approval of men and view men as the superior gender. No one wants to put up with someone who thinks so little of them.

5. You’re Inconsiderate

To be a friend to anyone, you have to take their feelings and needs into account as well as yours. Friends can help you, but friendship is a two-way street. If you consider your needs above those of others and feel no reluctance about betraying other women, you will find that you’re constantly having trouble with them.

6. You’re Unfriendly

It should go without saying that if you seek friendship you should be receptive to it. If you remain aloof of other people and their advances you send the message that you’re not concerned with having friends. Don’t always wait for women to approach you, but approach them to start a friendship.

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Do Men Like Strong Women?

strong-womanSome men claim there is nothing more attractive to them than a strong, independent, and intelligent woman. They claim that they would choose this type of woman over a weak-minded, easily led woman. Yet women who are described as strong and independent often assert the opposite — their backbone and self-determination causes issues with men and they are eventually passed over for women with less fortitude.

Why the disconnect? Do men actually like strong women or are they only paying lip service to the ideal of a partner who will stand her ground and be on equal footing? My observations indicate that some men like the idea of a strong woman but few can cope with the reality of it.

The strong woman is not only strong, but she is also often opinionated and completely self-sufficient. At first the strong woman is intriguingly attractive to the man who is tired of women who agree with his every word and call for his assistance in every matter. A woman who he can have an intelligent discussion with, who will pay her share of the bills, who can get along with or without him? Sounds like the perfect woman.

But after some time with the strong woman he realizes he’s not all that interested in her strength anymore. He doesn’t want to debate. He’d rather she not always be so quick to question his ideas, ways, and motives. Why is she involved in so many activities, why can’t they spend more quality time together? Why doesn’t she let him handle some things for her or take his advice? Couldn’t she be less direct and more tactful, more caring?

In short, the man feels picked on, neglected, and unnecessary. His idea of a strong woman wasn’t this. He wanted a woman who could take care of herself, but would also take care of him and allow him to take care of her. At least sometimes. Is that too much to ask?

Some men do like strong women, including the opinionated, completely self-sufficient ones. But for every guy who claims to like strong women and does, there is another who truly only likes a woman whose strength of mind and body is equal to her need and desire to nurture and be nurtured.

What are your thoughts? Do men really like strong women?

“I Have No Female Friends”

female-friendsWe’ve all heard it before. Sometimes with regret and a hint of longing, but most often with a sense of pride:

A girl or woman says, “I have no female friends”.

What usually follows is a story detailing how different or better the female friendless-woman is in comparison to others of her gender. Or how she was scorned and rejected by other “catty” women and found solace with the guys.

“I have no female friends” is a method used by women to separate themselves from other women. Whether they’ve been excluded and despised by other women, are unsure of how to relate to them, or simply believe that to be a woman means to be lesser than, the mentality has the same origin: the devaluation of women and femininity.

The most common scenario involves a woman who proudly proclaims she has no girl friends and, in fact, prefers the company of men to that of women. She may given reasons such as not being into “girly” subjects and not being prissy and emotional like other women.

girls-night-outThis sort of woman feels a sense of shame about her gender. This shame is likely caused by either or both of two sources. Past and current discrimination of women and popular notions of women as the “weaker sex” in nearly every avenue of life, or her personal experiences with the devaluation of women. This type of woman has been made to feel that if a person wants to be anyone in life they should strive to be as manly as possible. Anything associated with femininity must be shunned, anything associated with masculinity revered.

Less often, a woman claims with remorse that she has no friends of her own gender. She is usually a woman whose personality, outlook, or interests found her at odds with most women. In this situation, the same dynamic is at play, but in the opposite direction.

Women are competitive and exclusionary of other women for many reasons, but most of these reasons stem from restrictive gender roles placed on women — gender roles largely caused by ideas of women as second place to men.

Women try to live up to these ideals, and as a result become competitive and exclude other women. Women who fail to meet expectations of what it means to be a true, feminine woman –and several of those who exceed these expectations– are ignored or even ostracized by other women.

In either case, the mantra “I have no female friends” does a disservice to all women. Instead of creating an environment where women would be more likely to be friendly with each other, it encourages women to see other women as essentially different, at best, and rivals at worst. Women are placed in opposition to each other and none comes up the greater for it.

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PUA is Pathetic and The Day I Was A Target

pua-objectificationPUA, also known as Pickup Artists, is a seduction community composed of men seeking to learn, teach, and discuss ways to improve social and dating success with women. PUA hit the mainstream with the 2005 book The Game by Neil Strauss.

Supporters and users of PUA methods and its community claim that PUA is helpful. It teaches men who would usually be rejected by women how to approach them successfully. And it provides a way for women who normally would have overlooked these men to see the potential of these men. PUA advocates contend that although PUA is often used by men to get women into bed, it can also result in successful relationships and even marriage and is beneficial to everyone involved.

Not.

PUA’s techniques are less about relationships, dating, or even “harmless fun” and more about manipulation, power play, and self-gratification. The “player” is usually a male who is lacking self-esteem due to being rejected or passed up by attractive women. He sees dating and his “target” (term used for the woman who is sought) as a game to be won. It is little more than vengeance — the man seeks to use manipulative psychological methods to bring the attractive woman down to his “level”.

One of the most talked about PUA techniques is the neg, or negative hit. “Negging” is a method whereby a guy attempts to lower the self-confidence of an extremely attractive woman by complimenting her and shortly thereafter insulting her, or giving her a backhanded compliment — an insult disguised as a compliment (e.g. “You lost 20 pounds? Wonderful! When are you going to lose the rest? or “Nice nails. They look so real.”) The woman, who is used to being praised by men, is thrown off-balance. The “negger” is then given an opportunity to work his “charm”.

Not too long ago I had my own close encounter with the neg when a guy at a local drugstore decided I would become his “target”. What follows is a quick, painless (or painful, if you’re the guy involved), smart way of shutting down an attempted neg.

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Why Women Are Competitive

female-competition

The idea of female competition is almost as old as history itself. The image of the competitive, spiteful woman appears in sacred texts and classical myths, among others. Media and popular culture exploit the “catty women” stereotype and men and women alike confirm its existence.

Are women naturally more competitive and with each other? What causes women to compete? Leora Tanenbaum, in the book Catfight, traces the roots of female competition to three major factors: restrictive and contradictory gender roles, economic and ethnic differences, and desire for inclusion.

1. Restrictive and contradictory gender roles

Both modern and traditional female roles place limiting ideas on what it means to be a woman. These ideas can even be contradictory. For example, it’s important for a woman to be beautiful and stylish. Yet women are made out to be superficial if they pay too much attention to their appearance, or worse, not taken seriously. Another confusing expectation comes with their relationship to the opposite gender. Women are told it’s necessary to find a good man to marry, but also told they shouldn’t rely on men and don’t need one to be complete.

Women feel constrained and confused by these roles yet feel obligated to fulfill them — all of them. Thus a competitive environment is created over who is the most pretty and fashionable, or who is the most successful with men or in their career.

Women’s competitive natures are more personal and underhanded because they are supposed to be the more gentle, sensitive, and people-oriented sex. Given this, girls and women are encouraged to develop themselves in relation to others. So when they do become competitive, their competitions are less direct and upfront than those between men.

2. Economic and cultural/ethnic differences

Differences in class and income, and culture and ethnicity can cause mutual distrust. A white American woman whose is well-off can afford luxuries that a working-class immigrant from South Asia can’t. The two may socialize with different kinds of people, live in different neighborhoods, shop at different stores. They may not feel they have much in common and thus are less likely to work together and support each other.

Women of similar incomes and classes can also become competitive. They will compete over who dresses the best or who has the most intelligent children and the best partner. They can adopt a “Keeping up with the Joneses” mindset that has them seeing each other as rivals instead of allies.

3. Desire for inclusion

People desire to be accepted into their peer groups. In order to form a clear, definite group, members within accentuate their similarities and highlight differences of those outside of their group. This can cause friction between and within groups. Inside the group, women may try to become the “Queen Bee”, go-to woman of her circle and knowingly or unknowingly sabotage other women. She may exclude others because she realizes there is power in exclusion: the one who excludes is safe in the group. Between groups, members may get into disagreements over their differences, perceived or actual. The result of this need to be accepted is conflict and mistrust all around.

What do you think are some causes of female competition? Do you have any experiences with women and competition?

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