Women Who Dislike Other Women

by d

© 2010 NBC Universal, Inc.

I have always felt an affinity for other girls, other women. When watching TV, I always sympathized with the lone girl on the team. I don’t know why, maybe it was just easier for me to identify with someone like me. I’ve never had many friends who were guys, and certainly ALL my close friends have all been female.

So it’s been difficult for me to understand women who don’t get along with other women. To me, it’s like saying, “I’m a fish, but I don’t like water.” I certainly don’t think anyone has an obligation to be friendly with anyone else based purely on something arbitrary like gender, but it still strikes me as very strange to reject your own kind.

On USA Network‘s Royal Pains, Dr. Emily Peck is such a woman. She is a concierge doctor, newly moved to the Hamptons, where the show is set. She is blond and attractive, she is good at her job, though I suspect she’s in it more for the money than wanting to help others.

From the moment she stepped on screen, both my mother and I have loathed her.

I should make it clear that I have no dislike for Anastasia Griffith, who plays Emily. She’s great. It’s the character I can’t stand.

Dr. Peck is aloof. We learned not too long ago that she has intimacy issues, stemming from her parents’ divorce. All well and good. But she’s also very competitive, and appears to have no qualms about stealing patients from the protagonist’s concierge business, HankMed, despite a deepening relationship with the titular Hank.

I’m not the only one who doesn’t like her. Divvya is Hank’s Physician Assistant, and she and Emily have rubbed each other the wrong way from the start. Emily has accused Divvya of being one of those women who hates other women. Divvya was shocked, as this isn’t really in her character–she doesn’t hate all other women. She just hates Emily.

Sometimes a woman keeps her distance from other women because she sees them as a threat, often sexually. If she’s in a male-dominated profession, like medicine, she may not want competition for the advantages often given to women in traditionally male fields; she may like being the only girl in the boys club. Some women are intimidated by other women, particularly if they are surrounded by women who play catty games. Friendship with cliquish backstabbers may seem impossible, or simply undesirable.

There are pros and cons to being a girl who likes to hang with the boys. Men typically don’t play as many games, at least not with their female friends, so it is, in a way, safer. It can be insulation against the frightening dating world–she has guy friends, she doesn’t really need a boyfriend, does she?

On the other hand, she can be seen as a slut. Why is she always with the guys? How is it so easy for her to get along with them? She must be spreading her legs. This isn’t fair, but this judgment seems to pop up far too easily among teenagers.

Do I think Emily Peck is a slut? No. I actually admire her upfront attitude with Hank–she wants to play, not get serious, and she told him so. Maybe I hate that this obnoxious woman gets to be with a good guy like Hank. I’m not ruling that out. But I keep wondering, why on Earth is he with her at all? What’s the appeal? Perhaps I’m just sympathizing with Divvya and Jill, the two primary females on the show, both of whom the audience is set up to like, and who I do, genuinely, like.

We have to give credit to Anastasia Griffith. There’s very little in what Emily Peck says that makes her seem like a terrible person. Sure, she’s a bit ruthless and mostly concerned with her own self-interest, but that doesn’t necessarily make her worthy of hatred. No, Griffith has shaped Peck into someone that other women hate on sight. She’s everyone least favorite colleague, the one who takes the credit and lets you have the risk.

She carries herself with an air of superiority. Her gently hooded eyes and pleasant smile project, “I WILL TRAMPLE YOU TO GET WHAT I WANT, BITCH. And do it with a smile.” I shudder just thinking of it.

Do guys see this message? Certainly Dr. Hank doesn’t at first. In my house, I watch with my parents. My mother keeps repeating, “I hope she doesn’t stick around!” I think my dad is amused by how much we both dislike her. To him, it’s just the plot. To us, it’s the killer creeping up the stairs in a bad horror movie. Our innate sense of justice is triggered: this bitch shouldn’t get to have what she wants. When she does, it riles us to no end.

It’s a real rarity for me to feel this way about anyone. I am rarely moved when watching shows or movies where the villain is obviously a villain. Catty high school girls just don’t do it to me, they’re easy to spot and you know their comeuppance is on its way. But Emily Peck is sly, the menfolk are taking too long to catch on.

I applaud you, Anastasia Griffith. You are embodying That Bitch We All Hate. She will do evil things, the guys will happily agree, and she’ll exchange a false smile with the slack-jawed Divvya. We don’t hate her because she’s a slut. We hate her because she gets away with whatever she’s up to.

One Comment to “Women Who Dislike Other Women”

  1. Every show seems to have one of these. Thankfully, they don’t always stick around. I dislike them, regardless of gender, but I dislike the female characters like this a bit more, simply because it reinforces the idea that the majority of women are like this, and I happen to be a woman so I feel more strongly about injustices such as this. Okay, perhaps injustice is a bit of a strong word…these women are just characters. But, still, you know what I mean. :p

    Some women just automatically see all other women, especially pretty and intelligent ones, as rivals. They don’t have to be in a traditionally male-oriented job, but just women who are used to the fact that no matter what they do, where they go, or whom they interact with they have time and time again got the short end of the stick if they didn’t play dirty.

    I also dislike women on shows (such as The Glades) who can never make up their minds about things and say the most ridiculous nonsense. “I don’t know what I want…Yes, I do!” and then act like they’ve just made a big mistake. This reinforces the idea that all women, or at least the majority of women, are flaky and flighty and don’t know what they want until a man shows them what they want.

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