What is it about women and gossip? As soon as we hit puberty we enjoy this “epic” female-kind pastime. Just a bunch of women without a care in the world, trading negative talk about others while giggling and enjoying themselves to no end. But is it harmless fun? Or is there more to gossip than just talk and giggles?
We all know that bullying is wrong and can lead to some serious consequences such as death, but when we take the two genders and compare them, we find that women (girls) prefer the more covert form; emotional as opposed to physical. Emotional bullying takes the form of rumors and gossip spreads by those the victim consider friends and acquaintances, or those dubbed by pop culture as “haters”, and the instigator is usually someone very close to the victim. So the question I was asked was: “can haters and their gossip affect one’s health?” Well you bet your ass they can! Elaine from Seinfeld once said, “boys would give each other a wedgie, and girls will tease someone till they develop an eating disorder”. Bullying by females is so hard to detect, therefore hard to combat, which makes its effects even more severe. But what is it that compels women to gossip, is it biology or how we’re brought up? What makes us the judge of others’ lives and their choices, and deem them unacceptable? Well I think the answer to that could be a long dissertation by some psychology/sociology grad student…it’s way above my pay grade. However, a point that is worth noting is that female aggression is closely related to abuse and trauma suffered at home, so in this case the perpetrator is also a victim, and nurture obviously plays a big role here.
Women tend to employ passive aggressive behavior in their attacks, unlike men who would use a fist to solve their problems, so we could call that biology then. They would form a clique of friends a là the movie Mean Girls, and torment their victim by way of spreading vicious rumors that would eventually lead to the destructions of the reputation of their “frenemy”. They would feel a sense of superiority over their “subject” and set out to “out” her “bad behavior” to the masses. They truly believe that they are in the right, so can we blame some kind of mental disorder here? It is safe to say that the aggressors might suffer from negative self-concept, body image issues, and poor relationships ties (Canadian Mental Health, 2009). The victim, of course, is not getting away without a scratch here (meow, no pun intended). She might fall into depression, develop eating disorders, her relationships will deteriorate, and in some worse but real instances, take her own life. Yeah this is some serious stuff, so gossiping is not so harmless after all is it?
So what can we do to eliminate this kind of ill behavior? First, remove yourself. If you find yourself participating in this is sort of thing, stop and repeat this; “happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”- Mahatma Gandhi. Be mindful of what you say. Your words can be deadly. Gossiping can rob you of your own happiness, not to mention, destroy another’s life. Try to address the underlying emotional issues that compel you to do this. Research has shown that most women who participate in gossip are victims of abuse, whether as children at the hands of their parents or as adults in unhealthy romantic relationships. (Canadian Mental Health 2009). You are the solution. If you see your friends/family take part in this, be vocal! Call them out on it! Educate them! Let them know how dangerous this behavior is. Hell, start an intervention if you must. Friends don’t let friends gossip! Assess the connection that you have with said person and see if you can build and better that relationship. They might be hurt, suffering, or feeling neglected and that why they are resorting to this behavior. Also find better things to do. Engage in new hobbies, maybe even join a gym (yep you knew that fitness plug was coming, didn’t you?)
If for whatever reason beyond your control, you have to gossip, well then why don’t you engage in positive gossip? Compliment someone in their absence, whether by stating what wonderful act they have committed, how beautiful they are, or how their mere company delights you, and remember, “strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, and weak mind discuss people”. Don’t be weak-minded!!!