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I admit that despite vowing never to watch the damn thing again, for three months each year, I find myself compelled to tune into Big Brother (the UK version). It doesn’t matter that I pathologically dislike the bulk of them; there is just something so interesting about watching people who really only desire their one minute of fame, make complete and utter tits out of themselves on TV. This year however, it has been far more interesting, solely for the fact that at the outset, they placed eleven women initially in the house and a few days later added one man. What followed was a very damning enlightenment on female behaviour that proves beyond all doubt that put more than one woman in a room and it won’t be long till someone starts bitching and the jealousy/backbiting/one upmanship, and general lack of sisterhood commences.

Even though this behaviour started before the guy entered the house, when he did arrive, it was interesting how any pretence about them not being competitive came to an end. Suddenly everyone judged and perceived others behaviour on the basis of how they interacted with the guy, how he interacted with them, and what they believed about having a man in the house would impact on the female behaviour. The biggest target of the bitching? The woman who got together with the guy.

What is it about us as women that just can’t resist the gossiping, bitching, sniping, and pulling apart of our counterparts? What is it that makes us regress to playground inmates as we decide one week that we’re best friends with Jessica and hate Sarah, but the following week, you love Sarah and you both hate Jessica? Whilst I don’t believe that men are devoid of a bitching tendency, they do seem to be brotherly with far more ease than women do with sisterhood. Many of their conversations revolve around their interests and whilst they do discuss their feelings (sometimes) and can even wax lyrical about emotional aspects of their lives, you’d be hard pushed to find a group of men bitching about another man on a regular basis.

It’s the general lack of sisterhood that often contributes to our own undoing. Many women think nothing of ‘stealing’ other women’s men and see it as survival of the fittest. ‘I can love you better than she can’ is a lyric that pops up regularly in songs and it reminds us that we often perceive each other as a threat to what we need and desire. Lots of women think nothing of sitting with a group of women having a good time, only for one of them to get up and leave the room and for them to take chunks out of her character. We often look down on some of our female counterparts for the choices that they make rather than respecting the differences and living and let live. You get women who hate women because they’re trying to compete in a man’s world and you get women who if you closed your eyes and listened to them, you could be mistaken for thinking that you’re in the latest version of Mean Girls.

Often at the centre of a lot of our lack of sisterly behaviour is men. We want someone else’s man; you think that she thinks that she’s the cat that got the cream because she has a boyfriend; she got married before you; you’re competing in the same patch for men; you feel inferior around her because she’s slimmer/prettier/bigger breasts/nicer/ smaller breasts/blonder/darker/lighter/a different race/more exotic/more successful; you think you’re superior to her because you’re slimmer/prettier/bigger breasts/nicer/ smaller breasts/blonder/darker/lighter/a different race/more exotic/more successful/you think she’s a slut; you don’t understand how she always has boyfriends whilst you keep having one night stands; or you just think that she’s smug for something that you can’t quite put your finger on.

We don’t realise that our lack of sisterly behaviour lets the wrong type of man know in no uncertain terms that we will do anything in the name of having a penis that you can stamp your name on and call it your own, and this leaves us wide open. It means that a guy who is isn’t looking to treat you that well knows being with him means more to you than any sisterly connections that you may have and that you’d even isolate yourself for him. He also knows that even if he has a wife and a shedload of kids, if he speaks to the right woman and says all of the right things, not only will she sleep with him, but she’ll consider herself to be #1 even if he never leaves his wife. It means that our actions will often be misconstrued or just assumed because we’ve given ourselves such a bad reputation for how we speak about and interact with each other. And much of this is fuelled by the belief that we are incomplete if we don’t have a man, which puts us on uneven ground and gives the guy an inflated opinion of himself because he thinks that women are desperate to have a man, any man.

Is this ever going to change? Maybe, because the more women that recognise this weakness and treat as they want to be treated, the harder it will be for men to take advantage of it. Remember that what goes around really does come around to bite you very firmly in the arse. But in the meantime, until the winds of change blow, it may be an idea to file down your claws a little and think before you bitch.

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