On Cat Fights

It’s perplexing to me that even we, as women, are in the middle of a movement that promises a tide change in the way the world views and treats us—and yet we still manage to garner headlines for being, well, downright petty.

The latest Mean Girls redux is the Megyn Kelly/Jane Fonda feud, which–while each would certainly argue revolved around ethics, journalistic and patriotic–read publicly more like a tear-down of each others’ purported morals and abilities.

In short, it reeked of cattiness.

The world seems to love nothing more than a good catfight, as a successful string of “Real Housewives” franchises and endless seasons of The Bachelor can attest. And when real life imitates these TV shows? Even better, it would seem.

We bottle the real-life tears of real live women and call them entertainment. We relish every table flip and hair pull. But when grown men feud—and over much more important things than plastic surgery, might I add—we call it news.

The paradox is perplexing, but we women certainly play our part in perpetuating it. And sometimes it feels, well, gross.

You’d be right to add right here that, in many instances, women are complicit in this sort of emotionalexploitationforentertainment enterprise, and even benefit disproportionately from the machine it creates.

And to all of that I’d say, Damn, you’re right. And that makes it kind of suck even more.

I know. Super eloquent.

Look, I’m not above the guilty pleasures of this ilk, and I certainly do my fair share to bump up the ratings of The Bachelor (not sorry), but I do have to wonder what kind of world we are creating for our girls by rewarding and propagating this lowest-common-denominator behavior.

Because at the end of the day what sense does it make to tell our girls to be kind, to value honesty, to work to build their brains, to lead and question the rules of society… and then to flip a TV show where one woman delights in blasting another? (Or worse, flipping a table over onto her?)

I’m not here to offer any answers, but man, I’d like to think it starts with us relishing taking each other down a little less. You know, maybe we switch up the narrative… Going a little less Regina George and a little more Mother Theresa.

Parenthood has presented me with a ton more questions than answers, and I suppose this whole situation leads me to one more: How do we raise girls who don’t feed the Mean Girls machine?

Research would suggest that parenting with empathy is a great start–teaching our girls their self-worth by treating them with respect, and not parenting with fear. Also critical is how we mothers treat ourselves when our daughters are watching; keep your words not only to herbut also to yourself, positive. Even encouraging them to play sports can help boost their sense of confidence.

No matter how we choose to teach our daughters self worth in this crazy, cat-fight-obsessed world, maybe one day it will add up to fewer instances where we turn to teardowns for entertainment.

After all, our girls are watching.

Sonni Abatta is a wife and mom of three, a retired TV journalist and current freelance writer and laundry wrangler. She runs this Orlando-based lifestyle and mom blog. Reach out here to chat or collaborate.

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