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Why Women Bully and Belittle Other Women

Updated on February 26, 2018
TessSchlesinger profile image

Tessa Schlesinger developed an interest in human behaviour and ethics while studying anthropology at the University of South Africa in 1975.

"People bully because they want their power back. People bully because they feel powerless, and to get that power, you have to take it from somebody else. And you have to take it from the easy target." Tyra Banks
"People bully because they want their power back. People bully because they feel powerless, and to get that power, you have to take it from somebody else. And you have to take it from the easy target." Tyra Banks | Source

Women Who Bully Other Women

Far from being the loving, flattering, supportive lady she purports herself to be, she can turn in a minute, and show her true colours – the hellion from hell. She’ll quietly undermine you behind your back, turn your friends against you, gives you the silent treatment, and then make sure your previous friends give you the silent treatment as well.

At work, you’ll begin to hear reports of how badly you’re doing on the job, and previously friendly colleagues will begin to pass snide remarks about you in your hearing. From being the shining star, suddenly you begin to feel that you’re slowly being outed, and you don’t know why.

"But there are downsides to being pretty - the main one being that other women hate me for ... my lovely looks. It's not just jealous wives who have frozen me out of their lives. Insecure female bosses have barred me from promotions." Samantha Black
"But there are downsides to being pretty - the main one being that other women hate me for ... my lovely looks. It's not just jealous wives who have frozen me out of their lives. Insecure female bosses have barred me from promotions." Samantha Black | Source

Women Compete With Other Women for Men

While few would be willing to admit it, women compete with other women for men. They compare themselves with their peers in terms of looks, brains, personality, status, and popularity. When another women presents a threat, they will begin the process of undermining that woman or removing her in some way from the playing fields.

This is possibly an evolutionary behaviour as it is noted in chimpanzees as well.

When women compete with other women, they will begin to remove their 'friendship' in subtle ways.

"I was bullied by this one girl who said,"I just want to punch you in the mouth because you're happy." Kristin Chenoweth
"I was bullied by this one girl who said,"I just want to punch you in the mouth because you're happy." Kristin Chenoweth | Source

Bullies are Jealous

Jealousy stems from a sense of not having what you have as well as an attitude of entitlement.

She wants it, and she doesn’t see why she shouldn’t have it. She resents that you have it, and if she can't have it, she's going to punish you in some way for having it.

She may be jealous of your looks, of your popularity, your sense of humour, your sweet nature, your power, your money, your brains, or anything that puts you higher on the pecking order than she is.

You might not even realize she’s jealous.

Normally, you won’t.

That’s because all the while she’s patting you on the back and telling you how fabulous you are, she’s shoving the dagger in your back behind closed doors. She’s telling that man that you fancy that you’re in love with someone else and would never look at him. She’s revealing to your boss that you’re looking for another job. She’s just told your best friend that you secretly believe that she’s not a nice person.

Insecurity on its own does not make someone jealous. It’s the sense of entitlement added to the desire to have what you have that does it. It could also be the sense of entitlement on its own.

70% of Bullying at Work is Women on Women

Bullies Love Power Because It Makes Them Feel Good

In this way, the female bully is no different to the male bully. She loves having power over others because it makes her feel superior, and she loves feeling superior. I have always suspected that there is frequently a direct correlation between the love of power and the inability to love others or feel compassion for them.

Someone who wants power over you cannot love you. They probably don’t even like you. To them, you are an object. Interestingly, a recent study revealed that those on facebook who had thousands of followers were most likely to objectify people in order to feel powerful. There was a strong correlation with extraversion.

This is not farfetched.

Extraverts are people who need other people to feel good while introverts are people who draw on their inner strengths. Queen Bees need power over others to make them feel good. Power is a kind of approval from others, and extraverts need approval from others far more than introverts do. There’s a reason so many ‘Queen Bees’ are the perpetrators of continuous gossip. That gossip helps them to retain their ringleader status.

"The syndrome is defined as a pattern of behaviour exhibited by women in authority or power who treat subordinate females worse than males purely because of their gender."
"The syndrome is defined as a pattern of behaviour exhibited by women in authority or power who treat subordinate females worse than males purely because of their gender." | Source

How the Bully Wields Power

The bully uses emotional manipulation, flattery, and a pretence of support to gain the trust of potential victims. She also uses the same methodology in order to ‘make friends.’ She has, however, no real feelings of friendship towards anybody. It’s all a big act.

According to the world’s most famous psychometric test – Myers Briggs – 73% of women make their decisions based on their feelings. (Only 27% of men do.) This means that most women are focused on how they feel, and if they want to feel good, then they are easy fodder for those who will use that need to destroy and weaken them.

Initially, bullies will pretend friendship by complimenting the other girl. The bully will emphasize what a nice outfit her new ‘friend’ is wearing. She will appear supportive by agreeing – even if she doesn’t really.

This mean-spirited female also has antenna in figuring out who she can belittle successfully. Generally those who have a a sweet and trusting nature, are on their own, are vulnerable, or who are generally naïve are easy targets. Sometimes, she will also focus on a reasonably powerful female if she thinks she can get away with it. The bully will not attack someone if she cannot get away with it.

Perhaps the most powerful weapon in the arsenal of the oppressor is gossip. She will subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) begin to belittle her enemy to others. She will use rumour to remove power from her victim. Sarcasm will drip off her tongue in public places, exposing her victim to embarrassment and humiliation.

The Bully is not a Nice Person

The probable cause of bullying is a result of being bullied at home, but it can also be learnt behaviour from seeing others do it.

How to Fight Back

Make no mistake, this is war! And sweetness and a forgiving spirit are not going to win the day.

Disarming these mean spirited creatures can be done but, despite disarming them, they will never be friends. They are not capable of it.

1. Never show that you are affected by their tactics. In fact, don’t be affected by it. Understand that the person who is belittling you is doing so because you are a threat to her in some way. Figure out that threat, and then use it. Alternatively, she gets her goodies by having power over others. Your job is to remove that power – by wielding power over her.
2. Fight fire with fire. She’s using gossip? You use it right back. There’s nothing morally wrong with saying to a close ‘friend’ or even an acquaintance of the Queen Bee “I’ve heard that Alice backstabs everybody – even her best friend.” Use the same methods she does because those methods work. Your aim is to isolate her from the group that give her her power. You do this by understanding that most people repeat what they are told. Your one difference in approach is that you only tell the truth. Whereas the queen-of-meanness will lie to belittle you, you merely point out that she assassinates the characters of all those around her in order to retain power over them. Truth is a powerful weapon.
3. Direct confrontation is a powerful weapon when it is witnessed by others. It does you no good to confront her privately in order to protect her feelings. Rather, when she is surrounded by her group, say something like, “Hi Camillla, I heard you were saying untrue things about me.” If you know exactly what was said, it’s even more effective to mention that. This kills two birds with one stone. Firstly, it lets her group know that what she has said about you isn’t true and, secondly, it lets her know that you have no fear of her and will call her out.
4. Report this to the highest authorities you can. Put it in writing. Don’t only report it to one set of authorities. Report it to several sets of authorities. Also let each different group of authorities know that it has been reported to others. Why? You do this in order to prevent cover ups. You cannot fight a bully subtly or discreetly. Forget about offending her feelings. She only understands the fight for power. Use it.

What to Do About Bullies at Work

Some work environments are just toxic. You just have to leave and find another job. However, if the people at the top are not guilty of bullying, then you can approach them. First you must gather the evidence. You have a phone. Record and film, but allow your harasser to see that you are doing so. You can also go to HR and see what they can do.

Be aware of relationships. Sometimes bullies are more than capable of brown-nosing people in power. You may already have been blacklisted by someone in power. In that case, you may not be able to fix the problem, and unless you want to become more and more stressed, it’s better to leave your job and find another.

If you need to take a low paying job in order to do so, spend some time preparing for that by finding cheaper accommodation. Also save as much money as you can.

Trolling on the Web is Another From of Bullying

Like many others, I have been exposed to a lot of trolling on the web. Know that research has shown that people who troll and belittle others on the web are jerks in real life. They are not nice people. You are not the issue. They are.

Remove their power by deleting their comments as they appear. Then block them and report them. First check how the report mechanism on the site works. Sometimes, by clicking on report, their post is immediately removed.

Also block all the people they associate with. Trolls often attack in packs.

With some 26,000 to 36,000 followers on Google Plus, I started doing this three or four years ago. I also do it on facebook. Since then, I have started to enjoy the web. It is now a place of pleasure instead of one of constant distress.

Understand that you will be attacked for your political views, the fact that you are attractive, the fact that you are good at something (and the other person isn’t), etc. Sometimes, the perpetrator will just assume that because you are a woman, you will be an easy victim. Don’t be. The most effective means to killing bullying on the web is report comments, delete comments, block the person, and block their support group.

"... research suggests that women and girls are less willing than men and boys to cooperate with lower-status individuals of the same gender; more likely to dissolve same-gender friendships; and more willing to socially exclude one another."
"... research suggests that women and girls are less willing than men and boys to cooperate with lower-status individuals of the same gender; more likely to dissolve same-gender friendships; and more willing to socially exclude one another." | Source

Are You a Woman Who was Experienced Bullying By Another Woman?

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Avoiding Bullies

Bullies seldom change. Once a bully, generally always a bully.

If there is one in your circle, sooner or later you will become a victim. It's best to remove yourself if you can.

If you can't, then use the above tactics to take back your power and always remember that the bully has attacked you because a) you have something she wants b) she can only feel good by demeaning others c) she has a strong sense of entitlement.

© 2017 Tessa Schlesinger

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