real life

Kim, Bette, Laurina, Jo-Beth... The bitching is out of control. So why are we enjoying it so much?

Bette Midler’s not happy with Kim Kardashian for taking off her clothes.

Kim Kardashian’s not happy with Bette Midler for being a ‘fake friend’. Also, for being like, really old.

Miley Cyrus got involved. Pink’s not impressed. It’s complicated.

Over on MKR, two brunettes are glowering at each other across an overly made-up table. They’re having a ‘throwdown’ about who’s deliberately giving low scores to stay in the competition. Fingers are being wagged in faces, ‘dagger stares’ abound.

In the Jungle, a couple of women just went head to head over breast implants, and in Melbourne, six intensely privileged “Housewives” are screeching “Get f**ked,” at each other over cocktails.

bette midler, Kim kardashian
Lauren, Kim and Laurina have all been involved this week.

It’s ugly. It’s mean. And apparently, we can’t get enough.

An account of the sledging fest between Kim and Bette has been the most-read story on Mamamia this week. Other sites’ numbers would doubtless reflect the same.

TV programmers and magazine editors have long known that nothing shifts units like women being horrible to each other.

“Cat-fights” and “feuds” and “bitch-fests” – all of that fodder is good for business. Because apparently, women love conflict.

Which is kind of surprising. Because statistically, women are much more likely to avoid conflict than men.


Women have their differences, but their relationships extend beyond bitching. Are you a fan of Girls? Listen to The Binge with Rosie Waterland, here. Post continues after video… 

Of course, we can’t define an entire gender in stereotypes, but for many, many women, it rings true. “I hate confrontation,” is a line much more readily offered by women than men.

I am one of those women. I do hate confrontation, am made deeply uneasy by conflict. It makes me uncomfortable in my very soul when I feel bad blood flowing around me. Other people’s conflict makes me itchy. My own makes me positively vomitous.

It’s a thing that you just know about yourself, and as you get older, you work your way around it. You realise that everyone liking you is an impossibility, so you drop that approval-seeking grovel.  You know that operating at a certain professional level involves having difficult conversations, so you learn to deal with them.

For me, that’s been with a plan, a deep breath and a ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’ attitude.

A wise friend once told me that every conversation you are dreading is very, very rarely as awful as you think it’s going to be. And she’s right. Most of the time.

So, confrontation gets better. But sniping and bitching and screaming and finger-wagging? That still makes my stomach churn.

Does that mean you don’t always tell everyone exactly what’s on your mind, all the time? Yup. Is that a Bad Thing? Nope. Honesty, as an excuse for cruelty, is overrated.

I would no more watch 50 minutes of a scrum of women criticising each other’s hair, clothes, partner and children (hello, Real Housewives) than I would kick back and watch a cock fight.

bette midler, Kim kardashian
Hello, Real Housewives? (Image: Screenshot via Foxtel/Arena)

But I’m clearly not the target market of almost every show on TV, because the notion that women just can’t get along is the founding tenant of many a TV show. Think about it: The scheming, demanding boss, the smug mum, the competitive friends, the horrendous mother-in-law, the traitorous vamp who will steal your man… they are all well-worn female stereotypes who will guarantee you one thing: Drama.

Perhaps women love watching women face off because they’re saying all the things we are too afraid to.

Perhaps we love reading about women saying hurtful things to each other because we’re just happy they’re not saying them about us.

Perhaps women have swallowed the myth that aggression is the path to success and we inherently understand that these women will get all the things that they desire.

Perhaps we sense that there are only so many spaces for women in the spotlight, so we relate to the competition of sledging it out to stay under the warm glare of attention.

Whatever it is, the appeal of the Bitch is going nowhere. And it’s not helpful.

Because I hate to break it to the outside world, but women can get along.

When inspired women work together, they can get a hell of a lot done. I only have to glance around my 90 per cent female workplace to see that.

It’s not all like this. Women can get along. Women can inspire each other. Post continues after video…

When mothers support each other, families are happier.

When female friends have your back, there is no greater support.

And while it’s 100 per cent encouraged to disagree with another woman’s choice (let’s say, to take off her clothes for a mirror selfie), taking pleasure in the following internet pile-on is beneath us.

Take ’em off or keep ’em on Kim, but please, keep yourself nice.

It’s time to rise above The Bitch, bitches.

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