Are not a new concept in today’s culture, but they seem to be popular and becoming more frequent, especially among young girls. It is a term used to described fights between women. And can involve hair pulling, slapping, scratching, and ripping clothing. It can even be used to describe verbal confrontations between women using nasty, insulting language.
The term “catfight” seems to have originated with an 1824 mock poem by Ebenezer Mack used to describe a fight between women. At that time the word “cat” was slang for a spiteful person, especially a woman.
The most famous television “catfight” took place in the 1980s on Dynasty between Krystal Carrington (Linda Evans) and Alexis Colby (Joan Collins) where their very physical brawl landed them both in a pond. It is really worth finding it on you tube if you missed it. I still remember it vividly.
Apparently, catfights are the result of competition between women in different areas of their lives. You can find them in the business world, in the schoolyard, in the neighborhood and even online. These rivalries can lead to aggressive behavior. Some examples you might relate to is the working mother who decides to be a stay-at-home mother and then criticizes the women who continue working as not properly caring for their children. Maybe you’ve been out at a party with a boyfriend or your husband and a very attractive woman comes over to make conversation, so you get closer to your man and touch him while throwing daggers in her direction? A woman you work with fails to email you or give you a file that is necessary for a meeting and you immediately think she is sabotaging you.
Women feel pressure to look prettier, land better boyfriends and husbands, be popular with co-workers, and be considered good mothers. They have decisions to make about getting married and settling or remaining frustrated and single, be ambitious at work or feminine, be a stay at home mother or a working mother. Then they resort to judgment and competitiveness to validate their choices.
My observation of catfights online is that it is very prevalent. Some women become jealous of the more popular, well respected women on a chat forum and then try to discredit them anyway they can. Others have different opinions on subjects or how to handle disruptive posters. Women cannot simply agree to disagree. Instead it turns into a free-for-all insulting exchange of words. I find this behavior interesting, but also demeaning to women. There are ways to have civil exchanges without judgment, name calling, insults and slurs. We should hold ourselves to a higher standard.
That being said, everyone enjoys watching a good catfight, and maybe that is part of the problem?