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On Catfighting

Published: Thursday, September 19, 2013

Updated: Friday, September 27, 2013 16:09

The Maroon-News made the decision to remove this article because it does not represent the work of the author. However, we recognize that this been a source of discussion on campus, and will continue to host this space as a forum for that discussion, as well as link to the source material of the article. For more information, please see A Message from the Editors-in-Chief.

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Yvett Sosa '12
Mon Sep 23 2013 02:50
Please deconstruct your own argument and carefully read your peers responses. Do not immediately feel attacked. This is a learning experience and the fact is that... we are all ignorant in some way. No one is exempt of this. We cannot all grow up in an environment endowed with the intrinsic human awareness that is needed to keep peace and understanding between people. This is all learned. And we must continue to teach each other. In your article you have come to several conclusions, not "stupid" conclusions, because you seem to wholeheartedly believe you are right, but some innately negative, demeaning, ill informed, and careless conclusions.. that truly... reinforce false and negative notions on women (Toni Benjamin gets at this very well - thank you Toni) and minorities (Michelle Puello also gave a nice viewpoint on this issue).
I urge you to open conversation with your peers, the ones you've never spoken to (evident through the fact that you wrote this piece), and to truly listen to them and learn from them. Putting yourself in someone else's shoes and being aware of the effect you have on others is a skill you seem to have not truly learned yet. This is a priceless skill. Do this for yourself, your community, and your own future.
Elizabeth Marino
Mon Sep 23 2013 02:47
Just a quick response to some of the comments I've gotten on my latest Maroon News article.
I was commenting on the fact that women in different situations are more prone to cattiness or sexual competition. For example, in some communities where a woman's success is based on who she marries, catfighting can ensue. I did not mean to offend anyone; however, I will not, as one lovely Colgate student put it, "just own up to it [the fact that I am wrong] and move on." I am entitled to my own opinion. Once again, no harm intended and I think if you look closer at my article, you can see that.
I speak having come from a diverse neighborhood; I went to an all girls high school in a rough neighborhood, I have friends from all walks of life, and I like to think of myself as someone who can understand what people go through. I did not intend to offend anyone who may be of an immigrant family or anyone who is of a low socioeconomic status. I was commenting on the fact that in some communities, women are based on their marital status and not on what they actually do with their life. I, by no mean, want to exclude the "white middle class American" community from this generalization, as there are many families that base a woman's success on what family she marries into. I merely wanted to shed some light on the fact that often times, when a woman's worth is based on who she marries, women are prone to sexual competition.
Like I said, I truly did not mean to offend anyone at all. I do apologize for anything that may have been hurtful. I am always going to have critics, and I am always going to have people who both read and take things the wrong way. It can be disheartening at times, but sometimes my opinions are going to make people upset. I apologize, once more, and I hope that with this explanation and with a second look at my article, that people will (maybe) see what I was trying to get at.
Thank you for your responses and for reading the MN. If you have any more questions, comments, or concerns, please email me.
Michelle Puello
Mon Sep 23 2013 01:46
I am a 20 year old Dominican woman, from a low income community. I recently received my bachelors degree in international relations and diplomacy, a year early, with summa cum lade honors. It never "made sense" for me to try to achieve success by attempting to get the attention of a man in a better position than mine. I have also never experience cattiness and over sexualized competition and I am not the exception. I surround myself by a group of young women who all attend prestigious schools and have gotten there with hard work and dedication. So no this argument does not make sense. It is a cop out you used. You were unable to come to a valid conclusion on why women act catty so you decided to blame it on their background because you clearly are not educated on different cultures and values other than your own. For this reason I will forgive this article, it is clear that you are not cultured or as educated as you may think. How could some one who is intelligent conclude that out the billions of women in the world only those from low income communities demonstrate such a widely known trait. "Rather such women are fighting over the very thing that gives them status and opportunity in their community," Status in my community is judged by the education level and the job a person holds. I know you would love to think that the women in my community are running around half naked fighting like apes for the men who are making more money but like all other ignorant assumption you were wrong and it does not "make sense".
Toni Benjamin '13
Mon Sep 23 2013 01:24
The issues I have with Ms. Marino's assertions are quite lengthy, but I'll be sure to focus on a few. One of the few that I have with her is that she thinks it's okay that such a phenomenon exits. What phenomenon is this? Well, it's this pervasive double standard I see in our dominant discourse time and time again. Although her article on "cat fighting" may somehow "reclaim" sex as a powerful tool for success, she is also implying that sex many times is the only viable option for women, especially if they come from a lower socio-economic status. This is just not the case.

Why is it that the expectations for success and greatness of a woman, specifically of those from lower socio-economic statuses, must be defined by their success sexually? Why is it that she must "marry up" to make her life better? Why is this process of marrying rich not seen as something a man would do? Women from lower socioeconomic statues, no, we are not subject to more sexual hostility and competitiveness over a man because we somehow have less future options of success. Digging deeper, the images she painted of the "catty" women become inextricably tied to women from these lower classes.

She must be incredibly careful when making statements like this; there are histories and traditions of the subordination of the woman, specifically of those from lower classes, as the harlot, the jezebel, a hyper sexualized entity. Condoning or accepting cattiness as a 'viable' or more likely attribute of these women is to reinforce those images; once we've been trying to hard to break for so long.
Some women fighting over a man is not an inherently female phenomenon. Anyone who wants something or someone will fight for what they want. To say such a thing is to imply that somehow women are dependent on the man; that their substance and existence is inextricably tied to having one. Female 'cattiness' is not a truism but rather a social stigma shaped to reinforce the idea of the petty woman, the incompetent woman, the shameful woman. This image of the woman is in direct opposition to the strong man, the focused man, the successful man. That is not, and has never been, me. I have too much pride to let the definition of my [lack of] success be based on another, especially a man-I'm sure I'm not alone in this.

Another problem I found is how she equates women's competitiveness to cat fighting. There is a linguistic dehumanization of the female, and female competitiveness, when she uses terms like "catty women" or "cat fighting". Images of animals mercilessly clawing at each other come to mind when this happens. Women being 'competitive' become synonymous with cats fighting and in turn the image of a crazy, unorganized, violent interaction becomes reinforced. We should not be seen as such.
She falls into the same trap that she believed she was removing herself from; many may disagree with me but I don't not feel that her attempted repositioning of the way we understand "cat fighting" can successful dismantle the legacies and structures of patriarchy. Simply put, no Elizabeth, you are wrong.

Mon Sep 23 2013 00:40
I am a white man and I am offended by this article. It is sexism, classism, and racism masked as a thoughtful informative piece.

I especially liked how the author states that "women who do engage in such antics, if they exist, are lesser, inferior beings who are not serious about themselves or their lives or anything truly important" right before she explains that these women are all "new-immigrant" and/or "less privileged" women (which, for one, attacks women of color).

Also, I would like to think that my girlfriend, who is a "new-immigrant" woman from a low socioeconomic background is not just with me because she sees me as leverage. That, to me, is incredibly insulting.

One more point that people are glossing over in their critiques of this article: The author states, "women are fighting over the very thing that gives them status and opportunity in their community, just as [...] men who are trying to fight their way to the top of the corporate ladder," implying that women's realm is that of sex and men's is that of business. How much more sexist can you get?

Is this the face of feminism for the Maroon News?

Melissa L. Meléndez
Sun Sep 22 2013 23:50
Hey sweetie, SORT (Sisters of the Round Table) is a group dedicated to social justice issues affecting women, in particular women of color. We meet at WMST Wednesdays at 5pm. If you come through we can talk about the article in a respectful manner. We are a diverse group who is all about sisterhood, i invite you to have this conversation with us.
Sun Sep 22 2013 23:14
This is exactly what is wrong with this school. On one hand we have the writer here...who in her infinite ignorance really thought this was a well written and perhaps even "informative article", and on the other we have a larger institutional structure like OUR school newspaper who would dare to publish this... This is offensive and completely inconsistent with any standard (personal or academic) that our school should uphold. Shame on the maroon news for this article, and shame on this girl for being stupid enough to write, or believe this. (i may not be a girl but maybe i'm just being catty because i grew up in a low income area).
Melissa Gamez
Sun Sep 22 2013 22:56
This article has managed to perpetuate sexist, classist, and racist notions of what success is and what it means.
"While I have no way of proving that this observation is correct, it makes sense."
This isn't journalism. More like a diary entry. Instead of writing a half-assed article perpetuating underlying racist and classist beliefs, do some research, please. Just the fact that this was even published is offensive.
Danielle Bynoe
Sun Sep 22 2013 22:23
I don't think this is a sound argument at all. Opinions are opinions and everyone is entitled to their own, but arguments should be rooted in facts not pure speculations based on the imagery the media decides to portray.

I'm very offended by the statement that women from "new immigrants [populations and], less privileged communities" are seen as more aggressive; this definitely plays into the role of perpetuating stereotypes about certain marginalized groups that fit the category of "new immigrants, and less privileged" (i.e. people of color). Making the claim that "middle class Americans" (which we can safely concludes constitutes a White majority) can somehow transcend this sort of ideology that is restricted for those who are have-nots certain has some sort of racial undertones.

Instead of hastily submitting a piece like this to be published in the Maroon News, I would have really appreciated if the author took the time to truly think about the implications of such a statement. Additionally some commentary on peer-reviewed research she used to corroborate her claims would have been helpful in ameliorating some of the negative reactions many have experience after reading this article.

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