Admit It, We All Have Mean-Girl Tendencies

Let’s get real here: mean-girl culture didn't end in high school and all of us are guilty of participating in it in one way or another. The vitriolic hate we expelled towards Twilight fans? Justin Bieber fans? Have you ever villainized female celebrities? The girlfriends of your celebrity crushes? Were you part of the large amount of hate aimed as Megan Fox, back in the day? Gossiped or even listened to gossip behind another girl's back? Excluded other girls from your friend group?

This type of mean-girl behavior can be classified as female intrasexual competition. Intrasexual competition is the social warfare incurred between women and girls that comes from our inner biological inclinations to compete for mates. From this, the perceived social threats from one another's beauty, desirability and overall attractiveness to the other sex creates interpersonal dynamics. This can include relational aggression, which is the tendency of women to socially damage and fight one another, in indirect ways- primarily through gossiping and cattiness).

It's hard to admit, but the kindling of jealousy and inferiority that just existing as a woman brings can reveal really ugly thoughts and behaviors that can be damaging to yourself and to other women. When we are constantly comparing ourselves, and when we let our insecurities drive how we treat other women, we are continuing this cycle and made complicit to the foundation of mean-girl culture as a whole.

It's college students. It's queer people, it's geeks. It's the workplace. It's in sports. It's sororities. It's artists. It's white girls. It's black girls. It's all girls and whole marginalized identities at that. In fact, in more marginalized groups, intrasexual competition can flourish and be incredibly more hurtful. Within communities of color, intrasexual competition takes on various layers as colorism further stratifies the racial dynamics present, further complicating the nature of intrasexual competition.

There is no magical hand wave to fix this, and society at large is culpable.

But what we can do is be self-aware and examine how we think and subsequently treat other women. It's so easy to play the blame game and feed into the polarizing "us vs them" mentality that is rampant in our culture right now. We need to go forth in a more radically accountable mindset, in which we become accountable for our roles in shaping a kinder, more equitable world. And that includes in our interpersonal lives.