Pseudo-Scientific American The Daily Mail is featuring “research” claiming that young women are manipulative, cunning super villains who will stop at nothing and step on anyone in the pursuit of male attention. In fact, women “aren’t above using dirty tricks such as gossip and spreading rumours to get a man, according to research.” According to research! Way to drop the mic, DM.
Dr. Tracy Vaillancourt doesn’t provide many details or, you know, science, when talking about her findings, but reports that “women routinely use ‘indirect aggression’ including criticising a competitor’s appearance, spreading rumours about their sexual behaviour and social exclusion.” Yeah, sometimes. That’s called being a catty bitch and those people suck.
Vaillancourt found that:
52 per cent of 15 year old girls use indirect aggression over all other forms, compared with one in five boys of the same age. As well as reducing the risk of physical danger to themselves, the aggressor can also make it appear as if there was ‘no intention to hurt at all….[F]emales typically direct this aggression at other females, and the victimisation of other increases in relation to mating motives.
52% of just all 15-year-olds? Did Vaillancourt talk to every 15-year-old girl in the world?
Dr. Vaillancourt came to conclusion that the cuntery–used as a tool to get men to pick you over all the other fine young options out there–is apparently very effective. Cool, Dr. Vaillancourt has figured out that teenage girls can be manipulative assholes. Somebody get this woman a Nobel Prize!
It’d be easy to run a story saying that young women are all bitches and knock down the competition in a nuanced, manipulative game of Whack-A-Mole until they’re the last mole standing and a man comes to swoop them up. In fact, The DM had no trouble doing exactly that. But not only is this misleading (the numbers are vague and mostly amount to stereotypical generalizations), it’s a wholly incomplete picture of what’s going on. Saying that young women are manipulative con artists and pretending it’s an evolutionary mandate is irresponsible. Young women don’t exist in a vacuum. Let’s take a second to look at the factors that might make young women act the way that this study proves some young women act.
The overwhelming message sent to young women (besides that they are inadequate) is that life is a competition—specifically a competition with other women. Friends are frenemies, and male attention is power.
Just take a look at this advertisement that Joanna saw on Facebook last night:
Are you freaking kidding me? Washing your face is now an opportunity to upstage someone. But of course it is, because every interaction is a competition. The idea that women exist in competition with each other is everywhere.
Of course young women are being conniving and manipulating. When you tell impressionable young girls over and over again that their value is determined by male attention and that other women stand in the way of their value increasing, they will react.
This messaging exists to keep women from thinking they can establish real value and female-oriented communities, and robs young girls of much needed support. Maybe the most manipulative girl gets the guy, but she doesn’t win. Pseudo scientific articles like the one published in The Daily Mail perpetuate this message, without accepting any responsibility for doing so.
Photo: Mean Girls