I was recently scrolling through Facebook, late one hungover morning, when I noticed that one of the highest trending topics of the day was Chloë Sevigny saying that Jennifer Lawrence was “annoying” and “too crass.” Looking more into this apparently breaking news, I found that it was a two-second blip in an interview, wherein she was talking about the marketing of movie stars.
And people. Were. Furious.
Quite apart from the “Who cares?” factor of this news, it’s disappointing to see so many media outlets propping up another hastily constructed “girl fight.” Even Jezebel, which occasionally tries to seem like a feminist media outlet, published an article called “Awful person I hate calls Jennifer Lawrence ‘annoying’ and ‘crass.’”
The cat fight image is a trope. We’ve seen it over and over again for years, normally amongst women who are starring in the same movie or TV show together (e.g. Paris and Nicole), who have somehow been otherwise linked (e.g. Angelina and Jennifer), or who are in “competition” with one another (e.g. Tyra and Naomi). Entire TV shows are predicated on this storyline, as in the case of The Bachelor, America’s Next Top Model, and Gossip Girl. Apparently now we’re salivating over the idea that there’s a cat fight between two women who have no connection whatsoever apart from a brief mention in an interview.
We keep pitting women against each other, in industries that already judge and hierarchize women based on their appearances. Consequently, we construct a situation where women can’t be friends with and allies to one another. Sometimes that leads to an actual rivalry, as women come to believe that we should not or cannot support one another; and sometimes that means a non-story becomes a big deal, as we grasp at vaguely catty statements.
Who really cares if Chloë thinks J-Law is crass? I would bet money that Lawrence doesn’t even care. Much as I think that Lawrence is delightful, her exuberance isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s okay. Sevigny didn’t insult her acting abilities, her morals, or her mama; she said Lawrence was annoying. Move on people, this girl fight isn’t going to happen.
I think one way to combat the prevalence of cat-fight creation is to give more attention to women who love and support each other.
Like, Amy Poehler and Tina Fey have been friends for 20 years, from back when they were doing improv together in Chicago, through years on Saturday Night Live, onto great movies like Baby Mama and Mean Girls, and hosting the Golden Globes together three times. They’ve even planned out that their children will marry, as Poehler has two sons and Fey has two daughters. “We have committed that we’re both going to wear peach to the wedding,” Fey once told Entertainment Weekly.
Or Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza, who haven’t done many projects together but whose friendship has blossomed through trips and social media escapades (including asking each other for nude pics on Twitter). They also support one another professionally, as Kendrick is quoted in Nylon saying, “Aubrey has a wolflike quality onscreen. She’s gorgeous and majestic in repose, but mostly you’re hoping to see her tear something’s throat open.” God I want someone to say that about me someday. Plaza also told Nylon “Hopefully when I’m 70, Anna Kendrick and I will have our multicam sitcom, exactly like The Golden Girls. We’ll just be two fast-talking sexual ladies hitting on younger guys.”
Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj truly have a “Flawless” friendship. Their collaboration on a remix of Beyoncé’s song was amazing and, as Feministing.com breaks it down, there are a lot of reasons to love their friendship as much as their music. From celebrating empowered sexuality, to “[teaching] us the importance of feminist mentorship,” to creating body positive music together with “Flawless (Remix)” and “Feeling Myself,” they deliver strong and positive messages. They also “understand the importance of sharing the stage rather than stealing the spotlight from one another … [and] show their appreciation for one another.” I can’t get enough of the Queen of Rap and Queen Bey duo.
Rather than giving attention and support to rivalries both big and microscopic, real and constructed, I say give your attention to beautiful friendships like the above lovely ladies. Then go forth and show your appreciation for all the “Independent Women.”