• Mon, Oct 28 - 2:00 pm ET

Young Women Are Manipulative Villains, Says Science


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:

frenemy 2

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

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  • Joanna Rafael

    Boys NEVER EVER do anything cruel or gossipy because they are biologically programmed to be awesome and hunt sabertooth tigers, while women are programmed to guard their own virginities and kill each other. That’s what science is.

    • blh

      Boys are plenty cruel just in a different way. Girls ARE bitchy to each other. I absolutely detest other women most of the time.

    • Joanna Rafael

      Other women are actually really cool.

    • Julia Sonenshein

      Yeah women are the worst!

  • CMJ

    When do we think the MRA’s are going to arrive?


    • Julia Sonenshein


    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      I think I’m gonna make some popcorn for that!

  • Fabel

    And the ~indirect~ aggression thing couldn’t POSSIBLY be a side effect of a culture that teaches girls & women to always be nice?

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      THIS. And women who aren’t are just called straight up bitches. Either that or they’re just “one of the guys.” GAG.

  • Evelyn

    Pseudo Scientific American? Does this mean that us Brits can now pretend the Daily Fail isn’t one of our own hate rags? Please don’t feel I am trying to demand credit for them on behalf of the UK, you are welcome to them.

    It’s strange that every underhanded and manipulative thing they claim women do is remarkably like their shoddy reporting. Spreading malicious (and often poorly researched or willfully misinterpreted) gossip, criticising appearance and criticising sexual behaviour … is the Daily Mail written by the very 15 year old girls it seeks to villify?

    • Julia Sonenshein

      You have official permission to pretend that the Daily Mail isn’t British.

    • Muggle

      Considering how many stories the Daily Mail runs about events in the US, I guess we might as well claim it.

  • sdafd

    The Daily Mail is run by guys who obviously went for the hot girl over the nice girl and now they have a problem with ALL women because their dating experience proved that ALL girls are cruel, cold, heartless sluts.

  • Jurassic_Babe

    Sweet sassy molassy is this irresponsible reporting. I’m talking about The Gloss, not the Daily Mail. Dr. Tracy Vallencort did not write the article you linked to. Her findings were covered by the Daily Mail. Also, it took all of 2 seconds to google her and find out that her area of research interest is bullying prevention, and that her research about aggression in adolescents is probably a crucial part of understanding what interventions are needed to prevent bullying. Also, all people regardless of gender show aggression towards others, especially in adolescence. Her findings are just saying that girls are more likely to use covert aggression, meaning boys are more overt (physical) in their aggression. She is not saying that this is BECAUSE girls or boys are a certain way. Girls are more typically socialized to be “sweet” which means they probably need to seek more subversive outlets for aggression. This study is descriptive and not making causal claims. In short, don’t write about science anymore until you at least learn about causation vs. correlation and basic sampling techniques.

    • Julia Sonenshein

      Yeah she seems awful.