Mean Girls

No one says hello to strangers anymore. A small portion of the population does, of course, but for whatever reason, many people think you’re crazy if you smile and toss a greeting in their direction. Here in ‘Murica, many subscribe to the notion that people from the South are nicer than those from the North. People from New York are mean and Miami folks are rude. And of course, Midwesterners are the nicest people in the country, which is 100% accurate.

What happened to us? Have we become less friendly as a society? Should we blame the advent of Smartphones, which have somehow made us dumber and disengaged? I was discussing this with several friends as we conducted our nightly walk around Downtown Miami, searching for single dudes who also like to power walk. I opined that I could say hello to 20 strangers, and half of them would look at me like I was insane. They suggested we conduct an experiment, which really meant that I would say hello to random strangers for the next 20 minutes and see how many people would actually return the favor. After taking bets on the percentage of friendly folks, I started my task of being friendly to people in Miami. I say hello to the first guy that walks by and he smiles and says hello back, appearing pleasantly surprised. I say hello to another man, and he grunts hello, but he still said it. In fact, all the men that I greet actually returned the favor, with the exception of one young gentleman who was engrossed in what I can only assume was Dungeons and Dragons on his iPhone.

Things got interesting when a couple sauntered by and I say “Hello!, and the woman gave me the stink eye and ignored me, which prompted my immediate invisibility from her boo. The experiment didn’t last too much longer, as I realized that none of the women I tried speaking to were remotely friendly, especially when they accompanied by someone from the male species. What started out as a theory that society was no longer keen to saying hola, became a pondering of why women are not so friendly to well, other women.

I could be accused of stretching this theory a bit after a small sample size of women on the street, but I don’t think I’m alone here. After discussing several friends (both men and women), there is a sense that the ladies can tend to be excessively mean towards other women, oftentimes for no apparent reason. This of course, happens with men as well, but you cannot compare it to the vengeance of a woman who just wants to be spiteful. Before I go any further, I want to emphasize that this notion does not apply to my thoughts on all women: so if think I’m generalizing, you’re wrong. In fact, you’re probably one of those women who didn’t say hi to me on the street because the very thought of another woman greeting your significant other scares the crap out of you. Calm down, lady.

So why do women have the tendency to be mean towards one another? Current societal norms have definitely pushed women into an endless competition with other women, where we feel the need to be better than the next. Take for instance, the feature in many magazines where they highlight two celebrities wearing the same ensemble, asking us, “Who Wore It Best?”. As if Cindy Crawford and Oprah can’t wear the same red pantsuit from Givenchy without having one of them praised for rocking it, and the other deemed a copycat. You never see comparisons on Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Wade wearing the same cargo shorts. And don’t you dare declare that you are a fan of both Rihanna AND Beyoncé. One has to be liked, the other, seen as a lesser entertainer. Ladies, we end up being mean for no reason!

In addition to competition, this venom can also be fueled by jealously and insecurity, feelings that millions of women battle with all their lives. Why can’t we all be so secure in ourselves and our relationships, that the notion of a woman saying hello on the street is not viewed as an invite to start Mortal Kombat? I remember a time when I told a friend her boyfriend was cute and she looked like she wanted my body to be seen on the next First 48 episode. I didn’t say I wanted to sleep with the man- I just gave you BOTH a compliment! You should be worried if you ask me what I think of him and I stay silent. But therein lies the problem- so many women are so used to the notion that they must have their defenses up. That we show other women that they won’t take their shit. That we oftentimes can’t even be nice. How sad it is that we’re surprised when other ladies give us compliments, as if we don’t deserve it? I’ll give you another example: while on another jog around the city with one of my girls, a trio of people running in the other direction fly by us. The sole girl in the group yells out “Whoo hoo girls! Don’t stop, you got this.  Look at those bodies! Yeaaaaah!” Why was I grinning so hard after a drive-by compliment? Because one of my fellow ladies tossed it my way! My friend and I were absolutely shocked, but felt pretty dope that this woman was not ashamed to compliment one of her fellow ladies.

So ladies, be nice. Take compliments and dish them out. Stop comparing women to each other, including yourself. Forget about the color of her highlights, don’t concern yourself with the fact that her pants are too tight, or her boobs are bigger than yours. And it’s completely acceptable to say hello to another woman on the street, even if you’re with your husband. Unless she winks at him. Then you have permission to kill them both.


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