Women’s relationships fall into one of two categories: Competition or Comrade.
There is no in between.
In comradery, there’s no need for war paint or false pretenses. Comradery is raw and honest. We’re in the trenches together.
More often than not, however, women are competitors. We dress up and make up in order to win the best man, the best job, or the best table.
Sun Tzu said, “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” He probably learned this from a woman. We pretend inferiority to encourage false confidence, e.g., “Oh my god, I love your shoes. We should get coffee sometime.”
Just when the enemy is admiring her own stilettos, we turn to a comrade and launch the battle cry, “Can you believe she’s wearing that?” Then, the stare is deployed.
The stare, for those who do not know, is the, “Oops, I didn’t mean for you to catch me looking at you with disdain even though I really did and we both know it” look. Nothing weakens an enemy faster than knowing she’s being discussed behind enemy lines.
Women understand women. They know the longest way around is often the shortest way there. Long before B.H. Liddell Hart, women mastered the indirect approach: In lieu of a full frontal assault, approaching from an unexpected place weakens the enemy, loosening his (or her) hold:
“To defeat the enemy, one must first disrupt his equilibrium. This cannot be an effect of the main attack; it must take place before the main attack is commenced.”
Here’s the thing: Women have learned that by weakening the enemy, you can often force surrender without having to launch a confrontational attack.
It’s not as messy that way.
Which brings us to Freidrich Nietzche. “The best weapon against an enemy is another enemy.”
This is how comrades often bond. You are in my trench. We look at the enemy the same way: What is she doing on this battlefield anyway?
The enemy can easily take down one errant adversary but they have no chance against an entire army. Inevitably, the enemy raises the white flag.
Before an army of competitors assaults my contention that women are not always the kinder, gentler gender, let me point out that science agrees: A Bloomberg Businessweek article, entitled “Why Are Women So ‘Bitchy’ to Each Other?,” offers the results of a study on ‘indirect agression’ by McMaster University psychology professor Tracy Vaillancourt. It was clear that “women did not like their sexy peers. Eighty-five percent of them gave [a scantily clad woman] ‘a critical once-over,’ as Vaillancourt puts it, ‘and then when she left the room, they made derogative comments about her outfit.’”
They defined the enemy, made it clear she wasn’t welcome, and then used her unfit qualities to bond with their comrades.
As for this writer, I’m lucky to have a couple of comrades. Everyone else is behind enemy lines, unless, that is, I decide to bring them into the trenches.