Are women catty?

With "skinny girl" Bethenny Frankel before she made her millions. Now, as bloggers attack her she says she has big problems to go with her big money.The question seems perennial, but yes, darlings, I would have to say many of us are catty. This is a subject that keeps coming up. It seems no matter how young or old you are – or, rich or poor — at some time or another you will have to deal with catty behavior. 

Often it involves undercutting an accomplishment or cutting someone down to size, but it can be subtler. Some women like to blow hot and cold with their friends depending on their moods. They make little hurtful comments that sting when you least expect it. A friend, after all, knows just where to stick the knife.
It seems no one is immune. There have been many articles about how The Real Housewife of New York’s Bethenny Frankel lost her baby weight so quickly and how great she looks. I was amazed at the catty comments some women posted as to how her weight loss is due to “having money,” or that she isn’t all that thin. Now there seems to be controversy about how much money she made selling her Skinnygirl cocktail business. It was obviously millions, but the actual number is her business.
Catty comments are often made about women who look youthful. Ramona Singer, from the same show, is often accused of having had plastic surgery. Her detractors say she looks great at 50, plus because she has money. Pure envy motivates this type of cattiness. Too bad it won’t help those who engage in it get thinner, look younger, or be happier.
For a long time, I didn’t recognize cattiness for what it was. I grew up in New England, where I was encouraged not to think too much of myself. We all were. Conceit and self-involvement were frowned on. I am pleased to say I still have the same darling friends I had in high school, and there is not a cat in group. They are all bright, beautiful, attractive women. We had a few mean girls in high school, but when you have fabulous friends and a few smart older mentors to give you good advice, it is easy to ignore them.
Besides, the mean girls at my school were really “unhappy girls” with issues. They restricted themselves to things like not inviting certain people to parties. Surprise to them! Most people didn’t care or notice; there was always a lot going on any given weekend. And being bitchy did not get you too far.
I see the same dynamic play out on Bravo’s Housewives shows all the time. Teresa Giudice of The Real Housewives of New Jersey — saddled with debts and facing competition from her young sexy sister-in-law — is fighting with everyone. 
It’s easy to see why Teresa feels threatened. She is now the “poor girl” in the group. She has also lost her position as the most “fabulous” to a younger woman. Her fury and frustration has made her thin-skinned and vicious at times.
It’s easy to understand, but still not pleasant to be around.
Almost everyone I know has run into mean girls or catty women. I have been lucky; usually I have been able to just walk away from them. I know some women are not as lucky. An old high school friend was tortured by a grown-up mean girl boss at work. Luckily she has moved on to a new job.
For years, I just never saw them coming. I never knew when or why some women would get confrontational at a party for no reason. The attacks always seemed to come out of nowhere. I was taken aback when some woman wanted to argue for no good reason. Now I know the warning signs and will avoid a hostile person. I will simply refuse to play their game. I just don’t get a charge out of pointless arguing. I have nothing to prove and it makes me a little sad.
I have read many explanations for catty behaviour. Some experts say it is because women are judged by harsh subjective criteria that we can’t control, such as appearance. Others say we compete for the attention of men and it makes women feel threatened. Still others fall back on the old saw that women are treated unfairly in the workplace and elsewhere based on their looks. I am sure there is an element of truth to all of this, but darlings, life isn’t fair and there are no excuses for shoddy behaviour.
When I was younger, I found confrontations came fast and furious from slightly older women. They would attack my clothes, opinions, or even my right to hold an opinion. Mostly these attacks came at social occasions when they perceived I was getting too much attention. I was always surprised because I have never been one to exclude women and have always had many women friends. Sadly, I see younger women I know dealing with the same cat-attacks. My advice is always the same: avoid and ignore. These unhappy mean girls are not worth the stress.
Now that I am older, the hostile remarks are subtler. My main offence seems to be that I have a husband and therefore I am not as vulnerable as those who do not. I am told I will never have to work as hard or “know their reality.” I find this amazing, as these things are said by women who know little of my life. My friends who are single, some with small children, don’t feel the need to attack others. They are successful and happily living their lives. They know we all have challenges and triumphs. If they long for a partner, they know it has nothing to with my marriage or anyone else’s.
My successes and setbacks do not hinge on anyone but me. I am grateful for my friends’ support, but their success does not diminish me or reflect on me. I can be pleased for them because I love them.
I am always startled at how quickly some women draw the battle lines and toss down the gauntlet. It is as if they exist in a perpetual game of Dungeons & Dragons, where one must be labelled friend or foe, and the battle is always in progress. These women will pick on your job, opinions, clothes, weight, shoes, or zodiac sign. They can’t help themselves; envy and unhappiness drives them like drugs drive a junkie. Still others use their friends and acquaintances as an outlet for their bad moods and disappointments. They lash out with barbs and petty behavior when they feel needy or small.
Darlings, so many women are catty because we let them get away with it. We don’t call women on their behaviour often enough. Sadly, catty mothers often raise catty daughters. If a good friend – and I have few who have taken a swipe at me — I let her know privately that if she does it again we will not be friends. Disagreeing is fine, but cattiness is not. I don’t think having different opinion, even a harsh one, or making private observations, is a problem.
Cattiness is distracting. It uses up creative energy. It holds women back and makes us small. Cattiness is undercutting and swiping at person is bitchy and meant to diminish.
Cut catty women — and men — out of your life. Life is too short to deal with their nonsense. If the nasty person in your life is your boss, call in your chits from friends and start looking for new work. Cattiness kills your soul; don’t let it into your life. You should be able to glory in your friendships, not have them get your back up — like a cat.