With The Bachelor upon us once again, I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that the catfight is about to come back into the media vogue. Big call, I know. Sometimes I just get a hunch about these things.
For reasons that I wish I didn’t understand, there are few things more attention-grabbing than a woman-against-woman showdown. While I’m sure various evolutionary psychologists could write (and likely have written) numerous theses and treatises on the subject, the catfight is one piece of our Homo sapiens history that we should’ve left in the caves.
And yet, it persists.
I came across a [hideous] joke recently.
Everyone says the world would be better off if it was run by women. Sure, maybe there wouldn't be violence and territorial conquests fueled by male testosterone. But instead, we'd have a bunch of jealous countries that aren't talking to each other.
Behold, the brilliance of random internet dudebro wit. Thank God for anonymous forums in the bowels of the internet.
Sarcasm aside, the joke does illustrate one key point. The jealous woman is at the heart of the catfight trope. Insecure and threatened, she lashes out at the person she believes most likely to be a danger to her – another woman. While in its purest form the catfight is generally over the attention of a man, it can also be inspired by power struggles, professional advancement, or anything else women are encouraged to fight over.
The most salient question – and also the one that is most often obscured in catfight situations – is: who really benefits when two women fight? The simple answer? Men.
There’s the obvious – two women fighting over one man – and the not so obvious – two professional women subtly shading each other while consciously or subconsciously pandering to their male colleagues. Whatever the situation, there’s one thing you can be certain of – when the catfight is over, the loser will almost always be female.
Which is, of course, the point. It’s hardly an accident that women have been conditioned to compete with and mistrust each other. While we’re busy ripping each other’s throats out, tricked into believing that our battles are fuelled by scarcity – of power, of romantic partners, of resources, of whatever – the guys can simply sit back and watch it all unfold.
It’s time that we stopped playing the game.
It’s time we stopped allowing ourselves to be conquered through division. To be ridiculed and undermined and reduced to a tired old stereotype.
It’s no great surprise that male groups are described in terms of canine pack dynamics, while women are singled out as scrapping cats. If we’re going to be reduced to squalling felines, then at least we should band together.
Imagine how many puppies we could collectively send whimpering with a simple swat to the nose.