Rebecca Kamm

Poking a stick at ladies' issues, pop culture, and other cutting-edge curiosities.

Rebecca Kamm: Women's cattiness finally explained

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Why do women get 'catty'? Photo / Thinkstock
Why do women get 'catty'? Photo / Thinkstock

Isn't it so funny when there's female conflict and a man makes meow noises? ISN'T IT SO FUNNY? It must be, because everyone laughs. Catty women, hahahahaha!

Well now you can add science to the funny, because researchers have apparently discovered that the scent of a woman approaching ovulation can trigger a boost in testosterone in other women. And seeing as testosterone is known to boost competition and aggressive behaviour, it's thought this whiff could cause them to, yes, get their claws out. Or be b**ches. (Cat or dog - you choose. Hooray for choice!).

To reach the finding, female participants sniffed t-shirts worn by women at high or low fertility points in their cycle. When the t-shirt had been worn by a woman at a low-fertility point, the sniffers' testosterone levels dropped. And vis versa: t-shirt with l'eau d'egg equaled a spike in the manly hormone.

What is this point of this study? There isn't one, so here are some of my own:

If women do indeed have a tendency to be "catty" - or, in more sensible words, be covertly rather than overtly competitive - let's look at why.

Crucially, it's still more socially acceptable for men to be outwardly competitive.

Women's historic positioning as the sweet, passive, 'weaker sex' has lead them to shy away from this kind of display, so our feelings of competition tend to manifest differently. This, or women actually have a mean gene, and I don't think scientists haven't found that one yet.

Referring to any behaviour as animal in nature reduces it, trivialises it, and belittles it.

What term do we use for male social aggression? Exactly. So the first step is to eradicate the moronic calls of "Meaow" or "Claws out, ladies!".

Not to say women's sentiments are always laudable, obviously, but they are always human. And that's the crux: syntactical denigration - or reducing women to anything less than human, through language - is a common symptom of sexist beliefs. So it has to go.

Presumably, seeing as men have more testosterone than women, they are also more competitive and aggressive than women. Actually, not presumably at all, because this has also been proven by science. So maybe money and time is better spent researching how men can control their aggression - which in its worst manifestation fuels violence against other men and women - rather than on studies that perpetuate gender stereotypes by their very nature. That'd be the cat's meow. (Sorry.)


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