To a Queen Bee Friendship Is A Serious Business

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Leo Reynolds’ photostream

In his book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, Steve Harvey tries to explain the concept of the male psych. According to Steve Harvey men are really very simple. Apparently, the terms in which men see the word can be boiled down to:

              • who they are – his title
              • what they do – what he does to get that title
              • how much they make – how much he earns

I have to confess that the neatness of this summation appeals to my logical nature. These basics of the male DNA are displayed daily in my working life. Business presents the perfect forum for males to pursue their who, what and how much dreams. Many hours have been spent in business meetings while the males sort out which one has the biggest ummm…… credentials. It also seems to be ingrained in men that credential contests are part of a greeting ritual and that these contests are never, ever personal. Whilst wounds can certainly occur, men don’t seem to fuss over them too much, one quick lick and they’re back in the arena and having a beer with the vanquished.

So having experienced several recent instances of women behaving badly, I’ve tried to come up with my own hypothesis on how some socially active women see the world. I am desperately hoping that I can develop a hypothesis or at least a starting point as to why some women so often choose to be less than kind and less than honest in their group friendships.

The starting point of my hypothesis is that for some women the social arena is akin to the business arena for men. In the social arena these women can relentlessly pursue their dreams. And like the business arena, politics and maneuvering are permissible, how else do you explain the concept of the “frenemy”? A concept, by the way, which I have never understood. To me friendship is a black and white issue, you either like someone enough to be friends with them or you do not – there is no half way, no pretense.

Passive aggression seems to be the weapon of choice by which a woman achieves Queen Bee status within a social group and the means by which she maintains that position. Add a considerable amount of drama into the mix and they are seemingly untouchable, lapping up the attention they crave. After all, we all know that any hive or nest can only ever have one Queen Bee at any given time. If you are still breathing after being so emotionally and mentally exhausted after victimization from a Queen Bee, you have the privilege of helping to keep the Queen Bee fed with an endless supply of attention. The bigger they get, the more they need, the more drama that is created…. endless loop.

If a queen bee were crossed with a Friesian bull, would not the land flow with milk and honey? Oliver St John

The Queen Bee’s view of the world therefore seems to boil down to:

    • who she is – her title in the social group
    • how many other women she can influence – more means a wider audience
    • what she needs to do to achieve and keep her social status in the group – constant feelings of insecurity and feeling threatened

However, unlike the business world, female friendship is very, very personal and wounds run deep and can take years to heal, if they heal at all. And the worst of it? As the behaviour is mostly passive aggressive, often you don’t understand it for what it is until some time after it occurs. Unlike for men, there is rarely an open contest.

Possibly there is a place for the Queen Bee in our world. The concept keeps several television stars employed and audiences entertained, just think the Housewives of….franchise or Jersey Shore and spin offs. For mine, TV is the only place for the Queen Bee. I’d rather channel my friendship energies in more positive ways.

C is for Cliques: When Mean Girls Grow Up

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Women are wonderful, truly! I am grateful for each and every one of my female friendships. All of my female friends add different things to the pot pourri of my life.

I have an admission to make. It wasn’t until recently that I developed a real understanding of what it means to not only have but to be a good female friend. It’s funny how middle age has focused my lenses about certain matters. Looking back at my first act, I can see that I approached my female friendships with a certain wariness. I have a sense that I am now playing catch up. Better the getting of wisdom late than never.

Recently, I found I’m not alone in what was my wariness. I happened upon a book, The Twisted Sisterhood by Kelly Valen which explores the negative side of female relationships. It is a fascinating read and it demonstrates that women from all walks of life and levels of education have suffered at the hands of a fellow sister or several sisters. The behaviour cited tends to be insidious, passive aggressive and enduring. It seems to be particularly magnified when tribes or cliques of women are involved. This bears out my own personal experience of finding it easier to relate to women one on one than in a pack.

What I don’t get is why this adolescent sort of behaviour has to translate into adulthood. I have no issue with women bonding with each other over common interests or experiences. There is much solace and comfort to be gained from sharing. But does this have to come at the expense of the feelings of those that are not part of the sharing? Why does clique thinking have to be so black and white?

I’m in, she’s out.

I can’t be friends with her when I am with my clique.

I’m in the know, she’s not and she’s different.

And so it goes. Bonding through mutual jealously and dislike for others is anything but positive. Bitching and creating barriers and territories is short-sighted. Emphasising difference is self -defeating.

I have seen women who are wonderful change when they are in the company of a clique or when they encounter a conflict between their own personal interests and that of their clique. From friend to frenemy in a blink of an eye.  Most of us have insecurities in some way shape or form – but clique thinking only serves to feed these.

We all need to be a little kinder to our fellow sisters and a little bit more aware of our effect on others. We also all need to be kinder to ourselves and give ourselves permission to be who we are. Doing so, will only serve to make the world a better place and open ourselves to a wider array of friendships and more meaningful and empowering experiances.

After all, isn’t that what life is really about?

This post is part of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge