There's been much discussion this week at the Jezebel canteen of about Lord of the Flies-ish sisterhoods and insidious female competitiveness. Shere Hite, the author behind the groundbreaking 1976 female sexuality study The Hite Report is jumping into the lady in-fighting fray with a new book called The Hite Report on Women Loving Women. (Note to Shere: perhaps consider a new title for the second printing? 'Cause right now your book sounds like it's about Lezebels. Misleading!) In a column appearing in our beloved Daily Mail today, Hite talks about sister-sister and mother-daughter dynamics, women in the workplace, and female friendships. Her results show that while the feminist movement allegedly encouraged feelings of sisterhood and inclusion, at the end of the day, it's every bitch for herself.
Hite's research shows that there is still a stigma attached to being born with a vagina. "In my experience, girls have to fight for love within a family in a way boys never, or rarely, do...One little girl is often considered cute, a nice decoration. But more than that? Well..." This is partially what causes sisters to fight — they're battling for a share of limited affection. Once they're out of the original hotbed of familial discontent, sisters tend to get along better.
More interesting is Hite's conclusion that women who are well-kept are actually less secure than their messier counterparts. "The message she is communicating by spending so much time grooming herself is that she is searching for approval," she writes. Though women continue to constantly judge each other based on appearance.
Married and single women have trouble staying friends, Hite has found, because most women will drop their sisters like a hot potato the second a man comes along. Didn't Tionna Smalls teach us that already?
For mothers and daughters, the last bastion of control is over hairstyle. "Often, the mother cares for the daughter's hair as a last outpouring of acceptable caressing, and so wants to be able to control how it looks as a means of having some power over her daughter, or perhaps because of their own frustration with the denial of intimacy." (See: Chase, Angela for a dramatic reenactment of this phenomenon.)
Finally, Hite discusses women in the workplace. She finds that female bosses feel the need to assert their superiority over women underlings for fear that their assistants will start yapping about their menstrual cycles. One female boss told Hite, "I have to keep on top of [my female secretaries] all the time. I even have to scream at them sometimes, because they just don't hop to it like they would if I were a man.They are capable of being efficient, but they start to think I am 'just a friend' when I'm too nice or understanding. One even tells me when she has her period, and the other tells me about the fights she has with her boyfriend."
Hm. It sounds like the only conclusion to draw from Hite's findings is that the worst misogynists just might be other women. Happy Thursday!
Why are women their own worst ENEMIES? [Daily Mail]