When Women Get Catty

Author: Kristina Cappuccilli

Up until now, all of my blogs have been centered on the idea of dating and relationships and how to navigate our way around the sharp turns and unforeseen obstacles that we all face sooner or later. I’ve pretty much fallen in love with the topic. And while I have several thousand other opinions to write on the subject (no exaggeration), there is this other issue that keeps begging for my attention. It’s like I have two metaphorical devils on my shoulder and I only make time to satisfy one. It’s about time I pencil in room for Devil #2.

The issue is regarding an epidemic. Make no mistake about it, this thing is contagious and WILL infect you upon contact. You see it everywhere. From the sandbox at recess to homeroom in high school; from a weekend of bar-hopping to a week-long stretch of tiny office cubicles. It’s been plaguing the modern world shamelessly and it seems as if there is no way to stop it. Tearing apart relationships, causing constant paranoia, lowering self-esteem and influencing the manner in which we value others. You guessed it—the disease I’m referring to is cattiness, and it takes form in the shape of a woman.

Enough with the overwrought dramatics (I like to use them too much sometimes). But on a serious note, the term “catty” is defined as an adjective: “slyly malicious; spiteful: a catty gossip.” Synonyms include words like “mean, nasty, malevolent; bitchy.” Yes, Dictionary.com said “bitchy.” Judging by the meaning of the word itself, it seems crazy and irrational for a woman to want to emulate these characteristics. I mean, maybe I’m the lunatic, but why would the average female aspire to be an outright bitch to other females at an incessant and, often times, obsessive rate?

Think about how many hours you’ve spent gossiping about other women. Women you’re related to, women you’re friends with, women you see on the red carpet, women you see roaming the mall, women you’ve never even met yet—we’re all guilty of it, myself included. It’s as if we’re in constant competition within our gender to have the most style, work at the best company, have the hottest bod on the beach, date the sweetest boyfriend in the world, rock the perfect hair-do, associate with the most fabulous friends; all of which are impossible to attain and maintain if we’re preoccupied with girls we don’t even know. We live in a generation of Mean Girls (I know you love the movie, but go with me on this) that encourages rivalry and a “survival of the fittest” attitude. We’re ruthless, conniving, and smart enough to smile through it all in order to appear as charming as we seem. How did we turn from a gender united under common ground to a dissonant society of aggressive Plastics?

I’m not sure how it started, but I do know one thing—it’s an ugly cycle. I wish I could document how many times I’ve ordered a new pair of killer heels (or any clothing for that matter), gone out to the bar with my girls, and been shot dirty look after dirty look from strangers I pass throughout the night. Why are women silently scorned for dressing well? Moreover, why are women silently scorned for doing anything well? Promotions, weight loss, budding relationships—they’re all accomplishments that women manipulate into reasons to hate each other. I would even go so far as to say that from a general perspective, women celebrate the failures of other women so much so that it creates this constant warzone. We’re hypothetically dodging bullets, aiming weapons, and taking cover everywhere we coexist—college, work, bars, subway cars, and pool parties.

It’s absolute madness, and I’ll never understand it.

Let’s experiment for a second. Imagine if, for one day, men behaved this way. Imagine if a man woke up in the morning and the first thing he did was log onto his Facebook to make fun of his girlfriend’s ex. Imagine if a man went to the gym and focused more on the speed of the dude running alongside him rather than the calories he’s burning. Imagine if a man walked down the street and silently laughed to himself SLASH tweeted about the tragically styled outfit of a random passerby. Imagine if a man spent more time at work purposely making the new guy feel unwelcome rather than completing a project that’s due by lunch. Imagine if a man hooked up with a woman a year ago and still wanted to dig needles into a Voodoo doll that looked like her current boyfriend, because he was THAT jealous. Imagine if a man engaged in a WWIII-like feud for reasons he couldn’t even recall and replied, “I just don’t like the way he looks at me.”. Just imagine! How differently would we view men? How many rooms with padded walls would need to be used to contain them all? How could we ever date one?

WAKE UP LADIES! Men deal with these versions of ourselves on a sickeningly daily basis. I don’t care if you’re too proud to admit it in public (refer to my blog about “When You’re Picking The Wrong Battles), because at one point or another, you have committed (or will commit) one or more of these gender-specific, non-violent crimes in your lifetime. We don’t do it like the men when it comes to associating with members of the same sex. Men sure as hell don’t have all the answers, but they’re miles ahead of us when it comes to this stuff. When women are faced with a conflict involving another woman, we tend to hold grudges, harp on the negative, and constantly dredge up the past. Whereas, when men have beef with another guy, they fight it out right then and there, look toward improvement, and move forward—with or without person. This is far from Einstein material, so why can’t we seem to learn our lessons? And more intriguing than this, why are men able to?

Maybe it’s the thirst for competition within our gender that is embedded in our veins from Kindergarten recess, or perhaps it’s because we’re a more sensitive, emotionally-driven species. Despite the excuses we use and the reasons we fabricate, the whole ordeal, down to its very essence, is absolutely ridiculous. Once upon a time, we were a confident, united group who celebrated each other’s accomplishments. Nowadays, encouragement & camaraderie are replaced with opposition & jealousy. Friendly recognition, flashing a smile across the hallway, and genuine support are all substituted by bitter stares, dirty eye-rolls, and honest resentment. What caused such animosity to exist within our gender? I wish I had the answer. Instead, I’m left with middle fingers, empty apologies, and plain old frustration.

At one point or another, we have to face the facts. We’re a complex breed, us women. We’re not going to like every girl we meet, and not every girl who meets us is guaranteed to fall in love at first sight either. But we have to uphold some sort of dignity when we’re in these predicaments. Scowling at someone because their skirt is adorable won’t make your outfit any cuter. Acting arrogant because of your superior job title won’t make people look up to you. Hating someone because you want their boyfriend won’t make him leave her for you. Projecting your insecurities onto others and using them as the focal point of closet conversation you have with your friends is both unattractive and unbecoming. It’s time we grow up and act our age. The gossiping has to stop. The bad-mouthing has to be put to rest. And if you have nothing nice to say, put the cliché into practice and keep your mouth shut. If that’s not enough of a reason to quit the nonsense, imagine your boyfriend coming home after a long day of work and bitching about the dirty look his ex-best friend gave him two months ago.

That’s right, imagine it.

Kristina Cappuccilli

20-something creative writer turned corporate, armed with big ideas and even bigger dreams. Avid reader, lover of all things musical, incessant blogger. Sucker for movie quotes, feature writing, and a good book. To inspire and be inspired.

15 Comments
  1. I totally agree!! The cattiness has got to stop and I know I’m seriously guilty of it too. It feels so much better to be nice to others and be surrounded by people who are good quality friends. I got rid of a ton of catty, drama-causing frenemies last month and it had such a positive impact on so many areas in my life.

    Great article, Kristina!

    1. Thanks so much! Hopefully more girls read it and feel the same way so this terrible epidemic can finally end! : )

  2. I loved this post! Not only because it’s a topic I feel passionate about, but also because I really like your writing style.

    It’s things like women celebrating each other’s failures that make me wish I was born a male sometimes. I find it so hard to find genuine girl friends because girls just hate me for absolutely no reason (some recent examples are stupid things like I “stole” the guy they like, I’m “too skinny” in their eyes, or my favorite- nasty comments like “Why are you wearing lipstick?” ) Seriously.

    1. Exactly what I mean! Girls come up with a million ridiculous reasons not to like someone just because they feel like it. Most of the time, the reasons aren’t even grounded or valid. Guys handle these situations so much better because they’re either friends, or not friends. None of this frenemy stuff–it’s all toxic!!

      And thank you for the compliment! I appreciate it more than you know : )

    2. @ Rachel…I revisited this post because like you, it is also a subject I could talk about for days.

      I completely relate to what you said because I’ve been there, too. The petty jealousy if their boyfriend/husband looked at me, my body type, and the comments about why I’m wearing makeup or high heels. Some people are simply pathetic and they want to bring you down to feel better about themselves.

      It all stems from insecurity and negativity within them…it’s not about you. This is something I have to remember when I start feeling hurt by comments that have been made. When catty women make bitchy comments about my looks or my clothes or ask me why I’m wearing makeup, I simply try to laugh it off because they are only showing their insecurities.

      Last year I went to a concert with my husband. I was in the ladies room fixing my hair and putting on a bit of lipstick. I had on this cute outfit (skinny jeans and a modest black top with leopard high heels). Well, this woman behind me was literally staring me down for about 10 minutes. She was just giving me this dirty look for no apparent reason. It was crazy! I was uncomfortable, but I smiled sweetly at her. Some people want to hurt and intimidate others. I simply try to ignore them in most situations because they aren’t worth my time.

      I don’t understand the “hater” mentality or catty behavior, because when I see a pretty woman or a woman who takes care of herself, I admire that. I take notes and try to improve myself instead of trying to bring others down.

      There was also another time when I was in a public restroom fixing my hair and applying makeup and this girl was just staring at me the whole time. Then she said, somewhat sarcastically: “Do you think you’re pretty or something?” WTF? I didn’t even know her! But haters gon’ hate. Keep being skinny and wearing lipstick and don’t let anyone make you feel bad about who you are, Rachel!

      1. Melinda,

        Thanks for responding to my comment! Oddly enough, this topic bothered me so much I wrote about it on my blog just last week (you can read it here if you’d like: http://www.lifeunsweetened.com/2013/01/09/when-women-are-monsters)

        I’m learning to get better at just ignoring it and laughing it off, like you said. You’re not alone in this! It doesn’t matter if you’re pretty, skinny, tall, famous, smart.. whatever- there will always be girls who are insecure and catty towards you. I’m glad you have such a great attitude about it!

  3. I both agree and disagree with your wonderfully composed article.
    I can say without hesitation that females can be horridly vicious creatures. They jump at the chance to tear another’s self esteem to shreads, revel in their victory. They offer harsh, unwarranted criticisms and less than genuine smiles. I say “they” and not “we” only because I refuse to participate in that lunacy. It is nothing short of lunacy to suffer the misdirected wrath or jealousy of a female, feel whatever negative feelings are sure to follow, and then subject another to that same cruel behavior. It sickens me and is surely the reason I don’t fair well among large groups of women. I can’t stand ’em!

    Now, on the subject of our male counterparts… I find them to be equally as vindictive, if not more so. While “basketball wifesque” brawls are a rarity for the gender, they are extremely competitive. We know this. but I believe they can be just as conniving as women. I don’t know if this is a recent result of the blurring of gender rol

  4. I’m so upset! I wrote the second half of my response then deleted it by mistake lol… no undo on my phone. I don’t think I can re-type that on this little keyboard.

  5. The best thing to do is treat others the way you want to be treated. All of this cattiest is crazy..All jobs should have very low tolerence policy for cattiest and bullying on the job. That interferes with job performance and the ability to not work under a stressful situation…Focus on doing your job and working as a team is the best cure for crazy people.It sickens me and is surely the reason I don’t deal with the cattiest at work with women…thats their issues and they needs to get over themselves.Coming in contact with this type of behavior is trifflin, and the only reason women do this in the workplace is because you are at work and they know if you go off on them OR put them in their place you just might lose your job. Thats why its trifflin,and of course the ones thats doing the bullying, cattiest knows what they are doing and they take pleasure in doing so…. none of them would have the nerve to pull that crap in a mall, parking lot, outside work hours.Being looked at in a club, or party is nothing compared to pulling crazy crap at work…That is why you see so many people going off on folks, are should I say postal, behind this very thing.People should get a life and leave the bullshyt at home were it belongs.

  6. This is a subject close to my heart…thanks for this brilliant post!

    I’m 28 years old and I’ve been around catty girls/women all my life. I wish we lived in a world where women didn’t treat one another this way.

    I can relate to what’s been said here because I’ve experienced it. I also agree with Rachel above, because I’ve heard the same comments about my weight or my looks or what I was wearing.

    I happen to be a very light-skinned woman. I’m biracial (black/white). It was very difficult growing up in a community where people were racist towards me because I looked different. And for people who might be unaware of this, there is a lot of tension in the Black community when it comes to skin color.

    Some Black women with darker skin have issues with light-skinned women because of the notion that we are perceived as prettier. It also has to do with the way that some dark-skinned girls feel marginalized by society. So I was constantly the victim of catty women who were mad at me because not only was I light-skinned with long hair, but I was thin too.

    I’ve not only experienced jealousy and catty behavior from young women, but also women old enough to be my grandmother. It is ridiculous because I never did anything to them. Some of the women in my own family have been extremely cruel to me, namely my cousin and my aunt. My cousin is a year older than me and very competitive with me. My aunt would always make hurtful comments about me, from the way I combed my hair to the way I sat down.

    And like Rachel said, some women are so hateful to one another that they will always look for something to tear you down. I remember other women calling me fat because I have big hips and saying that my boobs were fake (they’re not), calling me a slut, talking about my hair/clothes/makeup…it goes on.

    It is just really sad. And what I find funny is that some women will deny it. We live in a world that is run by men. We need to start being kinder to one another.

  7. I agree!

    I do wish some women would actually act their age and not their shoe size. forgive me for seeming arrogant, but; am i one of the few women in the planet to actually GET ON with other females?! the last thing i would do is back stab my friends!

    1. @ Shelley…I agree. I would love some good female friends, but it seems rare to find that in today’s world.

      I’m not one of those women who say that men are better, but in my experience, hanging out with guys is slightly less stressful because there is more of a “chill” vibe. There isn’t all the drama that comes with women sometimes. I prefer to hang with females that are cool and easygoing, instead of the ones that constantly gossip and act competitive/catty if a prettier or thinner girl comes around.

      I was very sad to lose a dear female friend many years ago, because she was once a very sweet person. She was just really nice and we always had fun. But when her boyfriend at the time entered the picture, all of that changed. She became this catty, insecure person and she accused me of flirting with him and trying to sleep with him. I would NEVER hurt a friend that way (he was the one flirting with me) but she ended our friendship.

      I envy girls/women who can strike up long-term friendships with other women and who have never experienced cattiness.

      1. too right!

        I mean I find it downright immature that people have to tear each other down! in you have nothing good to say then don’t say anything at all!

  8. Dealing with that currently at the workplace. There’s a particularly woman in my department that doesn’t like me for no particular reason at all. Always complimented her (when I do feel she’s wearing something nice) and gave stuff to her like donuts, cakes and things on her birthday. Other than that, I stay FAR FAR away from her. Today I just overheard her talking smack about me to our VP and our VP said something like “but I realize you gals’ supervisor happen to like her too”… sort of implying she’s telling him to get rid of me.

    Oh well, next week I’m getting everybody (including the VP) bagels, muffins and donuts as a charm offensive. I’m not going to badmouth her. She can keep up with the negativity while I’m handing everybody sweets. Everybody wins.

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