Truth Behind The "Mean" Attitude Of Girls You Should Know

Mean became a fashionable prefix to women ever since the 2004 teen drama Mean Girls achieved iconic status. But what is the reason behind this?

By Monalisa Murmu
Truth Behind The "Mean" Attitude Of Girls You Should Know

Women are basically mean; generalizing much?

As a woman trying to make a case for fellow women, I'm inclined to dismiss the discussion saying, it's all just a silly generalization. But I'd have to be downright stubborn if I didn't accept that generalizations exist for a reason. Just like we’d say men are messy. Or that they leave the wet towel on the bed. Every damn time! So you know there’s no escaping the fact that there might be some truth to the age-old belief about women being mean, rude and bitchy. And if you’re vehemently nodding your head right now, you’ve probably experienced some of that mean behavior first hand. Maybe at work or at the club or even on Tinder (not that Tinder behavior is an accurate yardstick for good social behavior). You might have just met this girl and she seemed all cute and warm in the beginning, and then one day you asked her out because it seemed like the most natural next step for you. And she snapped out of nowhere. And completely flipped into this mean monster that made you want to pluck your hair out wondering what is up with women! And then the worse happened. You told yourself that this is what women do for fun. Women are mean because they like being mean! They enjoy breaking your self-esteem into tiny pieces and tossing them up in the air like confetti. Not true at all! Trust me, I’m a woman. And as cryptic as women and their behavior might seem to you, there’s a pattern to this chaos. This article strives to serve the purpose of helping you detect the pattern and learn how to work your way around it, because to understand women best, you need a little help from a woman!

Society conditions women to be mean

1/2 is pretty good. (via @zgardengirl) #womenirl

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I know, I know. ‘Blame it all on the society’ is a common escape route. It doesn’t absolve the individual of their shortcomings. But think about it, every time women have had to march on the streets for their rights to suffrage or for wearing miniskirts or even equal pay at work, what do you think changed in their minds? That for every good thing in life, they have to fight. And that there’s no reward for being nice.

Well-behaved women seldom make history - Laura Thatcher Ulrich

American historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Laurel Thatcher Ulrich definitely makes a point for a specific kind of mean and badly behaved women; the kinds who made history and changed the world. But the problems for women are far from being completely solved. And that’s one reason women continue to be mean. The tendency to defend themselves has crept into places and situations where they aren’t even necessary. When you ask that cute girl out, she should have been thinking, “Oh what a nice guy! He actually wants to take me out on a date, that’s all kinds of sweet behavior”. Instead, her instincts tell her to be suspicious of your intentions. “Ugh what a creep. We’ve only just known each other.” “He’s being nice now, but the moment I drop my guard, he’ll show his true colors.” "Nobody's ever called me cute. Is he lying? He's definitely lying." And the classic, “Men are only after one thing.” And she’s definitely not ready to put it out there so easy. Women have been constantly conditioned to keep their guard up at all times. Generations after generations we’re taught that we’re surrounded by enemies we need to be wary of. And I think we’d all agree that our first instinct towards our enemies is not to be nice.

Mean behavior is a defence mechanism

Picking up from the last point, women being mean is simply a case of a defence mechanism as a reaction to any perceived threat. And you have to agree with me here, it’s not just typical of women; people do this, irrespective of gender. We have all mastered a defense mechanism that helps us stay safe in our cocoon, even though we might sometimes be totally wrong in doing so. For women though, the scare of threats is just a tad bit higher than men. And we bruise easy (not like a peach like Ross, but we do). Not just physically, but emotionally too. We fall deep and we take that much longer to rise from the fall. If you think on top of all this, we’re going to make it easier for others to hurt us, you’re definitely from Mars. But this fear of being hurt and the constant need for looking over our shoulders has made us rely on this defence mechanism. They can’t be mean to you if you’re mean to them first. *Insert that smartass guy-tapping-head meme here* You have your beer and your video games (or trips to Vegas, depending on your preferences) to get over a breakup, we have our methods. Most often than not, that involves shooing away the guy before he’s even dared to ask us out. Being mean is a woman’s way of getting over an “anticipated” break up. Funny, yes. Weird, yes. But true nonetheless.

M for Misogyny, M for Mean Women

Sometimes, just sometimes, being mean is totally justified. There are plenty of (“in the words of A.A. Milne” –oh how we love you Chandler!) dill-holes that ask for mean behavior. Women deal with chauvinistic men all too often to even remember to turn down the meanness when around nice men (like you! You’re reading an article trying to understand women, you gotta be nice!) Sorry to be the one to break this to you, but a lot of times men themselves are responsible for bad behavior from women. We might be weird sometimes but we’re not completely lacking in empathy or reasoning. Sometimes we’re mean with people simply because they deserve it. Being ogled at, unfair treatment at work, bad pickup lines and unexplained break ups, are just a part of our everyday lives. It might be news to you, but men can be as mean as women when they want to. Unfortunately, the onus is put on the entire menfolk and women feel the need to be mean to everyone based on –you guessed it –generalizations.

There’s actual science behind women being mean

{4x01} Paris is always a good idea.. 🍒🍃

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Embarrassingly enough, there is scientific backing of the fact that sometimes, women are just plain rude. Professor Tracy Vaillancourt of the University of Ottawa had conducted studies that showed evolution causes women to be naturally prone to aggressive behavior towards people, and especially towards other women. The study even used a “bitchy-behavior scale”, something I can totally picture Blair Waldorf topping. This shady research at least concludes one thing –women are just as aggressive as men. However, it manifests in women differently. Rachel Simmons, author of the book, Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls, explains women as having higher social intelligence than men and their understanding of relationships make them resort to more sinister ways of aggressive behavior.

Women are better at being psychologically manipulative

That is precisely why, when boys fight, there are fists involved, but for women, manipulation, back-biting and snide remarks are the weapons of choice. Women are defter at being psychologically manipulative also because they seek to understand relationships from an emotional point of view. As much as we love being showered with materialistic gifts like flowers, chocolates and diamonds, we’re also constantly tracking your behavior for signs of inauthenticity. So if you’ve been telling your girlfriend that you’re working overtime but really have been sneaking out for soccer nights with your homeboys, she’ll eventually know, and it’s not a sin you can cover with gifts or flowers. Keep doing things like that, and a break up will be inevitable at some point.

Women are...different - Biologically at least

Menciona a tu #BFF 👭

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Since we’re down to scientific proving now, it’s also important not to forget that women are biologically composed different than men. Period and PMS are real. Cramps are real. As are mood swings. If you’ve caught a woman off guard when she’s trying to battle a painful period, it’s neither her fault nor yours if she snaps. Blame it on science –again! Because period days make sure the hormones go crazy and also, on a typical day of period, we start questioning our existence, our purpose on earth and why we’re being period-ically (see what I did there?) subjected to yet another unfair treatment. Besides the emotional havock it wreaks on us, add to it several other additional problems like rowdy pimples on the center of the nose, all sorts of cravings, and you’ll see why this is one bad period (Oops I did it again!) for you to even expect good behavior from her. I’ll admit, it’s not an excuse for bad behavior, and it is as bad as using the woman card where it’s unnecessary; it is biased and creates rift between the two genders when all we really want, all we’re fighting for is equality and justice. But even then, sometimes it’s okay to understand that there are some basic fundamental differences between men and women that need to be acknowledged when trying to analyze their behavior.

Oh thou patriarchal society!

I don’t mean for this to be an article that bashes men. No, that stuff is strictly for pseudo-feminists, and we don’t condone that kind of an attitude here. But since men are the other half of the population, you’ll be frequently featuring on the list of possible causes of womens’ troubles. The patriarchal society for one. For way too long, women have been objectified in a way that no matter what our achievements are work wise, our biggest credential is our physical appearance. And sometimes, this outright sucks! Nevertheless, we’re always trying to fit in. Within that mold created by 5 foot 11 inch, skinny, perfect-skin-perfect-hair models and actresses. We’ve been told that the fairer sex should look a certain way and we’re obeying the rules. We’re trying to please people by conforming to their expectations.

How does that make women mean?

Now you might ask, how does that make women mean? It does, but not to you this time, rather towards our fellow women. As mentioned earlier, people tend to get aggressive towards perceived threats and this time, due to our feeling of inadequacy, we perceive women who’re better than us as threats. So when you see women at your place of work sitting around gossiping about the new intern, there is one likely explanation: they think she’s better than them in some way. And their tendency to fight in order to secure their position springs into action.

Reverse psychology at play

There is another type of mold women try to fit into. The type that doesn’t express their true feelings because of fear of judgement. Which is why women often resort to all kinds of manipulative behavior to indirectly convey their feelings. I can almost hear you cry out, “Tell me about it!” Being mean could very well be a case of reverse psychology being applied on you. There are tons of women who put up a tough exterior but are screaming for attention on the inside. They’re all “Don’t mess with me”, but really thinking, “Cuddle me!” Plus of course, the current scenario of women having to be strong and independent has further instilled in her the fear of being anything but. And that is why, if she’s affected by you, like maybe a text you’ve written (or that fact that you’ve had a break up over text!) she’d rather act nonchalant about it than admit it, because it makes her feel weak. It will take you a lot of patience to be completely in tune with her thoughts and for her to feel comfortable enough to bare her soul to you. The fear of nasty break ups (and the subsequent weight gain from eating tubs of ice cream) often makes us do exactly the opposite of what we want to do.

Sometimes a mean woman has just had a bad day

- TAG someone who loves her new look 😍💕 @itsmeleighton

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Remember the saying, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about” by Wendy Mass? Sometimes mean behavior is not about periods or hormones or scientific mumbo jumbo. Sometimes it’s just that she’s had a bad day. Maybe she’s just had a break up with her boyfriend of 5 years, maybe her cat just died or maybe she didn’t get that promotion she was giving away everything at work for. If you’re not sure what she’s been up to, don’t jump to conclusions when she’s rude. We all need to give each other some benefit of doubt sometimes. Problem is, in today’s day and age, we’re all living with a tremendous sense of entitlement. We’re always expecting to get more than what we give. Being kind and just letting the other person be can solve a lot of problems a lot of times.

In conclusion, are women actually mean then?

So what is the point we’re trying to make here at the end of it all? Are women just a mean species as a whole? Because they are genetically engineered to be that way? Yes and no. Consider this: If women were naturally mean, why are they the ones chosen to give birth? Carrying a whole extra human inside their body for almost a year is a responsibility people would have probably passed on if they had other better alternatives. And then to go through all that pain to push them out through their unmentionables! But that’s only where their responsibilities begin. Childbirth takes them to this whole other level of sainthood. Something that has created the phrase “mother’s love”. My point is, if women are capable of that kind of love and tenderness, is it fair to generalize them as straight up mean?

Two sides to a story

Of course not! There are always two sides to a story and there are all kinds of people and there are all kinds of women. Some are patient, some restless, some overly ambitious, some homely, and some a mix of everything. Like every other man, the behavior of women, too, depends heavily on how they have been raised, the situations they are in, at home, at school, at work or in relationships. Sometimes they choose to be mean because they see a reason, sometimes they unwittingly do so because of years of conditioning. Some are aware and are constantly trying to keep a check on how they treat others, some go through life like they are a blessing to everyone around. The best way to understand why a particular girl is being mean to you (that cute girl at work, for example), is to first know her as a person. It all comes down to the individual. If you’re aware of her personality traits, you won’t need to read an article or consult a love guru to solve your problem! And now, all that is left is for you to go out there and look at women around you with a renewed perspective. Remember, just a little patience and understanding is all it takes to get past that mean exterior. All the best!