Today I’m guest blogging over at It’s Not Chick Porn. The topic is agents and how to get one, and I think it’s a pretty helpful article, if you have any interest in such things. Even if you don’t, it’s worth your time to stop by and comment because saying hi gets you a contest entry.
I’m giving away a $40 Amazon Gift Certificate, plus a copy of The Average Girl’s Guide to Getting Laid to the grand prize winner. Two other lucky souls will walk away with their own copies of Guide as well, so definitely stop by. Winners will be announced Wednesday morning.
Okay, the subtitle probably doesn’t mean what you think it means. I’ve been thinking quite a bit this weekend about feminine interpersonal dynamics. Karen posted a link to a letter by Joss Whedon, responding to what happened to Dua Khalil, who was brutally murdered at the end of April in an “honor-killing.” Her crime? Falling in love with a Sunni Muslim boy. If that wasn’t bad enough, when she was dragged from her home by her family members and stoned in the street, instead of helping her, people in the front row recorded it on their camera phones. I have no words for my loathing.
Dionne asked the following questions: “Why would anyone want to gleefully hurt us in such a way? Why do we tear into each other ourselves?”
I thought she meant figuratively, and I responded:
Studies on feminine interpersonal dynamics seem to indicate that women learn passive-aggressive behavior patterns in early childhood. A strong, confident woman who handles her business in a “masculine” way, that is to say directly and perhaps even confrontationally, is often ostracized by her peers. Women are taught it isn’t ladylike to behave in such a way, so they subvert their hostility into catty behaviors that lead to festering jealousies. A group of women, trying to accomplish a project jointly, will likely encounter more petty resentments than a mixed group of male / female colleagues. Furthermore, I would posit that women, as whole, tend to be more uncertain about their own accomplishments, more likely to compare themselves to their female coworkers, than their male colleagues, thus a woman might be more likely to feel threatened by someone else’s success.
To my astonishment, some anonymous person appeared to make a link between what I said and this:
“Within the comments there was post about the passive-agressiveness of the female gender. I really didn’t think belonged here. I was like WTF. But it really made me think because that study and the quoting of it is also about part of the cultural bias. Because it’s a repeat of what I see in the original Daily Mail headline. Women bring it on themselves. See they are passive-agressive and can’t work together.”
How the hell do you get from “women learn passive-aggressive behaviors early on” and “they deserve to be stoned to death! they can’t work together!” I’m gobsmacked at the specious logic involved in such a leap. Perhaps I shouldn’t have answered the question on this thread in particular, but I don’t agree with the conclusions drawn. This anonymous poster goes on to say that working with women can be a nightmare, but it comes down to the individuals involved, not the gender. I think it’s naive to say that gender plays no role in group behavior.
Would you ever find a group straight men sitting around with a Jenny Crusie book, trying to decide just how fat the heroine was in Bet Me? Unlikely. I’m sure you’ve all been part of a circle where everyone was talking about someone who wasn’t there. Maybe the woman’s having marital trouble, got a bad haircut, whatever, but instead of telling her what’s on the table for discussion (her!) when she walks in the door, everyone pins on a bright smile and changes the subject.
It’s bullshit to say there’s no trouble in feminine interpersonal dynamics. There’s such a dichotomy — women are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. If they behave “properly” with subverted hostilities and cattiness and backstabbing, then they’re “typical” women. If they handle their business like men, aggressive, confrontational, open, they often get called bitches, butch, dykes, etc.
I’d love to see a happy medium where women can be strong, confident and direct without sacrificing any perception of femininity. We’re not there yet, but I think we will be soon. Traditional gender roles are currently in flux, and there’s no telling what the future holds. I just cannot accept that what I said is tantamount to saying women deserve to be stoned because they occasionally bicker and gossip. I brought it here because I didn’t want to dishonor Dua’s memory on a thread devoted to her by arguing. Feel free to give me your thoughts on the subject as well. I can handle hearing I’m wrong, if you disagree.