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Study Says: “Women Are Aggressive Toward Sexy Peers”

December 1, 2011

Any study involving female aggression interests me, because I feel that there is plenty unnoticed female aggression that could benefit from scientific inquiry, but why is it that the only studies focus on how women dress?  This study is no exception, conceptualized, supposedly by two women who monitored female comments about women who were dressed in outfits like tank top and mini skirt vs. clothing offering more coverage of the female body.  The results of this survey were then used to describe “female aggression” toward “sexiness” which seems surely the sign of a 20-something’s definition of “sexy” as “fewer clothes.”

Being definitely older than a 20-something, I take issue with the fact that the researchers, for one, defined “sexy” as wearing less clothing.  Then, the idea of female aggression was determined by the number of mean comments women made about the clothing (or lack thereof), and the rude remarks.  Oh, and let’s not forget to include the all-time favorite, being asked if they were afraid to have their boyfriends around these women. After all, what would a scientific study be like without the male fantasy of female jealousy and women fighting over them?  All here in this quasi “study” of some indeterminate “female aggression” as measured by snarky comments.  Gotta love it, don’t you?  The real scientific inquiry at work.

The women were happy to report that the less clothing a woman wore, the less other women were nice to her. There is so much to be aggravated with, pitting women against one another, measuring reactions as “bitchy,” asking about boyfriends, and all the rest.  You can barf any time, but I suggest doing so after reading the so-called study’s author’s comments as well as the news commentators refrains of inappropriate comments described as “sassy,” and less clothing equating to “sexy”:

The harsh reactions of 43 women to a provocatively dressed peer, caught on tape by Canadian researchers, reveal just how sassy women get when they think someone else is sexier.

“I was convinced, having lived a life as a woman, that we’re not as pleasant as some people make us out to be,” said Tracy Vaillancourt, professor of psychology at the University of Ottawa and lead author of the study published in Aggressive Behavior.

Vaillancourt invited 86 women to participate in a study on conflict resolution. But she was really interested in how the women would respond to a young female student entering the room wearing either a T-shirt and khakis or a low-cut top and mini skirt.

When dressed conservatively, the student was barely noticed. But when she dressed sexy, she drew snarky stares and mocking chuckles as she left the room.

“This is not something that sort of happened,” said Vaillancourt, describing the consistently “bitchy” responses. “Ninety-seven percent of the women were inappropriate.”

The inappropriate reactions were scored by 13 blinded raters on a “bitchy behavior” scale from zero to 10. The raters could only see the study subjects – not the female student.

Most of the women were passive-aggressive, making their disapproval known without actually stating it.

“We’re not good at direct confrontation,” said Vaillancourt, describing the silent treatment women are famous for. “By laughing as she gets to door, they’re giving her feedback that they don’t approve.”

The two women who refrained from making judgmental jabs, Vaillancourt said, were “probably checking their BlackBerrys.”

In a second study aimed at uncovering the basis for the “bitchiness,” the researchers showed photographs of the same student dressed conservatively or sexy to 66 different women and asked whether they would let their boyfriends spend time with her. A third photo of the “sexy” student was altered to make her look overweight.

“When she was sexy and thin, they didn’t want their boyfriends anywhere near her,” said Vaillancourt.

Vaillancourt said while most women are guilty of giving attitude to sexy peers, few think about why. One theory for the brazen behavior suggests women ”stifle each other’s sexuality” to level the playing field.

Ah yes, because I am always out to “stifle sexuality” as evidenced by my interest in other women’s attire, much less that around my partner.  Notice the news commentary never questions the concept of “sexy” or sexier by amount of clothing, personality or anything else. (Anyone who only defines sexy as scantily clothed should question why Jack Black is routinely seen as sexy.  Hint:  it has to do with how much he likes women and seems like he would be interested in giving a good time, not his overall lack of clothing.)  I quoted the article listed first below for the big quote above, but also check out how categorized it: “new lows in female cattiness.”  Gotta love those editorials don’t you?  Because we women are all catty bitches right?  Never mind the allusion to animal species in both national news reports:  bitches (dogs) and cattiness (felines), because it’s okay to categorize women as animals.  Never mind that if there was a title of a news article labeling men pigs or snakes, that it would be similar (except that doesn’t happen with male editors).

The new low in this study isn’t evidenced by the women commenting about a tank top, it’s evidenced by the commentary over hhe article and really must more proof that men want women to fight over them.  Well, guys, I think I’ll leave that to the dogs.




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