Do girls fight?

So am I a secret bloke after all? The thought occurs as I look back over the events of the last couple of days. My anger.

My “resistance”. My going ballistic and, in the end, my having a good old-fashioned punch-up with a public organisation.

Or is it just a bit more complicated? You may find this hard to believe, but I hate confrontation. A few close friends will testify to that: how I’ll reduce to tears before taking someone on in argument. On the rare occasions that I do, it makes me feel very out of sorts.

Its upsetting. Like, I can take someone on head first as long as that first flash of anger is there…but as soon as it dissipates, I start to worry about how I am making THEM feel.

One friend phones today to tell me how good I am at fighting: that she just doesn’t know how to and doesn’t know how I know how to. Another e-mails saying that for her, this connects very closely with difficulties she has over conflict…how, despite being an ardent feminist, she learnt very young how to please, to be a “good girl” and to do the right thing….and finds it dificult to break away from that habit.

Not sure. There are developments on the Charing Cross front, of which more later. They mean – to my great relief, that I can probably start to stand down the troops. I breathe a sigh of relief.

It started with a silly person forcing me to get cross. He didn’t just make me cross. He made me cross at being cross. Then I wanted vindication – and that’s easy. I’ll fight organisations for you any day of the week.

Fighting organisations is about being polite – mostly (sorry, Linda!) – knowing your rights, knowing the levers to pull, knowing the law and knowing how to use the media. I guess a woman who has a public media profile and writes on a daily basis about the law fits that bill very well.

Is fighting, confronting a blokish thing to do? I don’t think so. Some of my best friends are women who I would never want to cross…because I am sure that if crossed they would be absolutely ruthless.

I hate confrontation. But even more, I hate being belittled, put down or negated. A long time ago, in another life, I used to attend a very male management meeting once a week. The Company Chair used to tease me: ask why I didn’t intervene more; make my presence felt.

His wife (my boss) teased back. “Don’t be silly”, she said. “Haven’t you noticed? J doesn’t say much…but (s)he always gets her way”.

That’s me. Bitch from hell when provoked. But otherwise, I really, really do my best to remain sweet.


7 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Stace said,

    I’ll go with your feelings echoing mine, if I fight back in the heat of the moment I’m fine, though usually end up feeling guilty when the adrenalin has worn off. After the fact I just can’t do it…

    As for do girls fight? After seeing some of the scenes on TV, and in Leicester at throwing out time I can testify that yes, girls most certainly can fight… ;p

    Good luck with the complaint,

  2. 2

    kath said,

    I fight when it’s necessary to fight in terms of taking on institutions – usually only when I think the injustice is extreme or that I have a chance of winning. I also fight with an epée, once a week, and there are quite a few women at my fencing club. Lots of women like the idea of being in a setting where you’re allowed to stab someone else, often of the opposite sex, with a sword. I was brought up as a girl so I had all the socialisation about being well-behaved and compliant. And I’m definitely not a bloke.

    Oh, and apart from the consensual swordplay, I’m a pacifist by conviction.

  3. 3

    I think girls are taught to not fight. They are, as Marla might have put it, a generation of women raised by men. It’s easy to squish confidence out of a person given long enough and enough social pressure.

    That said, I know I personally am more aggressive and confrontational when my testosterone levels are higher. But there is a difference between starting fights, which is perhaps easier in that condition, and seeing them through, which takes confidence and skill that comes from a process of learning, toughening-up and self realisation.

  4. 4

    Rachel said,


    I your post mirrors recent post by Jerica ….

    As I said there, my father and I get sulky and childish when faced with confrontation. However my mum and sisters get ‘organised’. A letter of complaint, phone call to customer services or petition whipped up before you can blink an eye. So in my experience your response is the most feminine of responses.

    Rachel X

  5. 6

    Renee said,

    You’re a girl and you’re fighting, so the answer is yes.

  6. 7

    Julian said,

    Fighting is not a girl thing or a boy thing. The *perception* of fighting is a gender thing. I know a lot of girls who fight but they are often perceived, not least by themselves, as unfeminine. And girls are punished more for fighting – with ridicule, or with put-downs, with social exclusion, or with actual punishment. I’ve just started reading “Beyond Bad Girls” – it’s a fascinating insight into how girls who fight are treated differently to boys who fight.

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