It's Time We End the 'Catty Women' Stereotype

by Mary Katherine
Originally Published: 
Three happy women posing hugged for a photo who thing it's time to end the 'Catty Women' stereotype
Tom Merton/Getty Images

Listen up, sisters.

Today I am jumping right in with a hard truth that matters to all of us, so chug your coffee, force your eyelids open, and focus. Because today, we take on a toxic trope that is damaging as hell to women. And I’m gonna need you awake for this to work.

*finishes coffee*

Let’s go.

The greatest trick the patriarchy ever pulled was convincing women that we don’t like one another. This idea has been hammered into us since grade school (beware the mean girls!), reinforced in the work place (that bitchy boss), and perpetuated in every form of media we could possibly consume. I mean, I can’t even escape the grocery checkout line without being force-fed the narrative that women can’t play nice.

There I am, waiting to pay for groceries, and boom. Fifteen different magazines are stacked at eye level, and every single one features some Hollywood female feud. Never mind that the stories are all garbage. Although that’s true, it’s not the point. The issue is the painfully overt double standard at play, here.

Can somebody—anybody—tell me what the derogatory male equivalent of a cat fight is?

Spoiler alert: there’s not one.

Which is weird, right? Disagreeing isn’t an inherently female behavior. Men argue and hash things out all the time. The difference is that when they do, nobody mocks them with the imagery of kittens clawing and hissing at one another.

When men argue, it’s a healthy debate. When women argue, meow! It’s a cat fight.

Ladies, I don’t know about you, but I am sick of this trivializing trope, the double standard it perpetuates, and the fact we accept it as normal. If I could rip one tool out of the patriarchy’s belt and toss it in the dumpster fire that was 2017, it would be this one. For too many reasons to list here, but I’ll offer a few:

First of all, the “catty woman” label is used to discount valid female anger. Women aren’t allowed to have interrelational speedbumps without being painted as petty. This forces us to mask legitimate problems in order to avoid unfair judgment. This is not a thing that men have to deal with.

Secondly, it convinces women in the workforce that they should view each other as competition–instead of allies. According to Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg, “The biggest enemy of women, we’re warned, is a powerful woman. If you approach one for advice, instead of opening a door, she’ll shut the door before you can even get your foot in…But statistically that isn’t true.”

Look around. I’ve hyperlinked the heck out of this article with actual scientific studies that disprove the catty women narrative. The facts are out there–but the trope continues to exist. Sisters, it’s time that we ask ourselves why.

Why is it that this scientifically refutable narrative continues to survive?

I’ll tell you why. This is a lie that is intended to divide us. To keep us from advancing. If women distrust one another, the community remains fractured. Our power is lost.

And sadly, it’s working.

I spent my entire young adulthood distrusting women, until I joined a professional team comprised almost entirely of women. I thought they would be incorrigible, but I was so wrong. They are strong and sharp-minded. They are competitive as hell, but they don’t eat each other alive. We have our disagreements, but they aren’t freaking cat fights. Like iron sharpening iron, these fierce females have made me a stronger person. And honestly, I’ve never felt more supported in my life. Because women working well together isn’t rare at all — it’s the norm.

Contrary to what Papa Patriarchy would have us believe, we actually like each other. We even enjoy helping each other. If we get a chance professionally, we are more likely to pull one another up than push each other down.

Do you hear the words coming out of my mouth?

Women. Aren’t. Catty.

They’re freaking awesome.

So, can we stop accepting this stereotype? Can we stop perpetuating it? The patriarchy doesn’t need any help, sisters. Raise your voice and let the world know that this whole “catty women” phenomenon is #FakeNews.

It’s tired and it needs to be put to bed.

The sooner the better.

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