I’ve only watched the guido-infused reality TV show Jersey Shore in passing, but I know one thing about it through the show’s advertisements. The women there are constantly fighting with each other, both verbally and physically, while the men almost never clash with one another. Why?
I’ve already established that women don’t work well together in non-structured work environments. Where their jobs require them to interact with other co-workers to acquire scarce resources, women butt heads with one another and cause havoc and disorder. It would seem that women have either not evolved to cooperate far beyond the hearth or they have been socialized to compete vigorously with other women.
As commenter bruno pointed out, women also have a hard time living with one another. Female friendships usually can’t stand the test of co-habitation. If a woman secretly wants to obliterate a friendship with a female friend, she should move in with her; acrimony and hatred will naturally follow. Again, I’ll have to rely on anecdotal evidence to elucidate my point.
First off, I can’t think of any guys that I know who have lost friendships after a bad co-habitation experience with another guy. I’m sure it has happened (probably having to do with one roommate sleeping with another’s girlfriend), but I’m not aware of any second-hand stories. Here’s the imbalanced body of evidence showing that women can’t live together:
My girlfriend, K., has had innumerable mutual fallouts with female roommates. Back in her early college years, she was punched in the eye by a crazy broad that she lived with because K. wouldn’t move her car out of the garage (I don’t know who was right or who was wrong in the argument). Needless to say, these two are no longer friends. K.’s last roommate was unhappy with the pattern of air conditioning usage and would communicate her frustration through snarky text messages or stealthily-placed notes in the apartment’s commons area. The notes would read “K., you still owe me $X,” or “Your dishes,” with an arrow pointing towards the sink. I’m not trying to defend K. – she could have very easily been in the wrong – but the handling tactics of the roommate and K.’s responses quickly boiled over to the point where both sides purposely set out to annoy the other.
My mother is, by all accounts, a very patient and friendly woman. She goes with the flow and doesn’t complain about much. But I remember a story she’s told about her time living in the college dormitories. She and a roommate had a falling out – I can’t remember who supposedly started it – because my mom preferred that the toilet paper dangle from over the top of the roll while the roommate preferred it to dangle from below. The friendship was apparently ruined by this minor issue.
A group of four female friends – who I am friends with too – were broken up because one of the girl’s cat would hiss at the other roommates. The hissing cat uncovered a litany of past grievances which dealt with the core basis of their friendships. Like an episode of Survivor, the girls formed coalitions, backbit, talked shit, and one eventually moved out in the middle of the night taking her furniture with her. The girls were once best friends with each other, but most of them no longer speak. Instead of dealing with the initial grievance, the roommates would chatter among themselves or to outside friends. Coldness naturally crept in to each relationship as each roommate learned what the other was saying. This created an impenetrable sheet of ice that could have easily been penetrated through wit, diplomacy, or direct confrontation.
Three other girls at work went from BFF’s to arch-enemies because one roommate had loud sex. One was a virgin who didn’t approve of the sex. Working with all of them, I’d hear three versions of the same story. All of these versions, stemming from these womens’ need to tell the world their business, combined to create another giant cloud that hung over their friendship.
Another girl from work has gone through four separate roommates and now hates all of them. She was best friends with several but now they are all “Bitches” or “cunts” for some stupid slight that I can neither recall nor care about.
The question becomes, what percentage of women residing with other women end their relationships on amicable terms and at the same level of friendship as when they entered their lease? Undoubtedly, this percentage is low – at least relative to men. Why is this?
I have a couple of theories.
Women don’t have senses of humor. Two women is like a mortician’s convention. Three plus is like the mortuary itself.
If a man doesn’t approve of something his male roommate is doing, he’ll humorously jab him using very subtle shaming techniques to drop a hint. “Dood, the sink smells like your mom’s snatch.”
“Is it my turn already?”
“Yeah asshole. Hey, toss me a bear from the fridge while you’re up.”
If one roommate’s rent is past due, the other will directly ask for the money. If one roommate likes to keep the heater on, the other roommate won’t care because “it’s not the end of the world.”
Women don’t do this. They see a problem, they get defensive, they fume, they call friends, they call parents, they post vague snarky messages on Facebook. They do everything but address the problem in a slightly diplomatic and slightly humorous way. In short, they turn a simple interaction into a big deal. The backbiting that ensues begins festering like the mold on the dirty dishes that one of the roommates will now refuse to do “on principle”.
Either evolved through hunter-gatherer’s cooperation or socialized to ignore pettiness, men seem to have a greater innate sense of fairness and objectivity. Men understand that their housemate will do something that pisses them off, and that they will probably do the same thing at some point in time. If men battle it out over every single slight, the situation could actually end violently. Men have developed humor, diplomacy, and subtle shaming techniques to diffuse situations which would otherwise be dangerous.
It is a waste of time and energy to mire oneself in petty domestic conflict. Both sides locking horns over unwashed dishes leads to a sort of Prisoner’s Dilemma were both are left worse off than they would otherwise be. Women don’t diffuse housemate situations very well and they hold grudges. Snark begets snark. Trash talking and gossip begets trash talking and gossip. Each side takes this personally and the situation spirals out of control. Fights ensue. Leases are broken. The song remains the same.