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The Old Girls' Club

This account by HawkEye made me smile and my fingers itched to type back something acidic that only the female of our species would find funny. I desisted.

Like all urban woman, sustained on a balanced diet of chocolate, over-named cocktails and credit card bills, I’m an SATCist – a loyal fan of Sex and the City. Of course I was looking forward to the movie with bated breath. And yes, I did that cliched thing that most women did. Watched the movie on the day of its release, dressed to the nines and with a bunch of gal-pals. Every woman I know did it and several posted about it. Lalita Iyer at HT Cafe wrote about it in her column Chicklit. 🙂

I must have been sitting next to the only man in the theater. I could practically imagine him in a mental straitjacket, trying hard not to break down. One woman or two or perhaps even three he might have been used to. But a theater full of women must have become a mob in his eyes. We hooted. We jeered. We whistled and catcalled. We giggled. We gasped and pointed out shoes, handbags, clothes and jewellery. We ooh-ed and aah-ed and sighed. We whispered and then emboldened by the lack of frowny-shushes, our voices rose in pitch. I was almost sorry for him. Almost.

Well, don’t mistake me. I’m normally quite a kind person (yes, I am and who dares contest that??!!!) and I don’t like bullying. But some instincts are too much for even me to fight. I am part of that mob called the Old Girls’ Club. And when it out-numbers the rest, it’s all about loyalty to the tribe.

Is this is a natural occurance, only an imitation of the boy-gangs that have been around for years? The ones that tormented us in childhood by throwing away our dolls, then harangued us as teenagers by hanging around in packs and discussing our anatomy in gruesome detail? They hung together despite glaring differences with that one-minded dedication to the cause. Well okay, we picked it up a little later but here we are.

I don’t see this happening to the Princesses and the Barbie dolls I’ve been classmates (and *gulp* even friends) with along the years. The ones who’ve settled into the classic roles of little women are happy with their lives. It’s the rest of us, the Alpha Females, Modern Women, bitch-pack so to speak, riding the wave of liberation, basking in the alcohol/nicotine fumes and weilding economic and mental independence that join the club. Among our many memberships and subscriptions, we sign up for an Old Girls’ Club.

Friday night a galpal across the world buzzed me online to ask what my plans were. I replied,

Meeting four luverly ladeej. One is silent, sarcastic and so cool. Another is delightfully undiplomatic. Precious is a darling. And Raindrop is a real joy to be around. Being with my gal-bunch is soo much funner than being on a date!

She buzzed back a 🙂 in agreement.

I have any number of girlfriends, a relatively recent occurance for me since I grew up being ‘one of the boys’. I ‘do coffee’ (you never ‘do coffee’ with a man unless he’s gay) with them. I go window-shopping with them. I dress the way I normally – outrageously – do but I actually let them give me an opinion of my clothes (Who cares what a man thinks?? Whatever do men know about clothes anyway?). I join them in a mass-crib-fest about the stupidity of men in general with long, involved discussions about the actual man (men) in each one’s case. As self-appointed and then unanimously-elected wildchild, I amuse them by haranguing some man by making eyes at him and watching him blush furiously. They boost my ego when it’s flagging. In return, I write XXFactor. (At one point of the time, this blog’s tagline was ‘For a woman…by a woman…because I’m a woman.’ Now you know where that came from.)

I guess we haven’t really gotten used to independence as much as we’d like to believe. We still define ourselves by our relationships with other people. Except that, instead of a man, it’s a bunch of other women.

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The Old Girls’ Club

This account by HawkEye made me smile and my fingers itched to type back something acidic that only the female of our species would find funny. I desisted.

Like all urban woman, sustained on a balanced diet of chocolate, over-named cocktails and credit card bills, I’m an SATCist – a loyal fan of Sex and the City. Of course I was looking forward to the movie with bated breath. And yes, I did that cliched thing that most women did. Watched the movie on the day of its release, dressed to the nines and with a bunch of gal-pals. Every woman I know did it and several posted about it. Lalita Iyer at HT Cafe wrote about it in her column Chicklit. 🙂

I must have been sitting next to the only man in the theater. I could practically imagine him in a mental straitjacket, trying hard not to break down. One woman or two or perhaps even three he might have been used to. But a theater full of women must have become a mob in his eyes. We hooted. We jeered. We whistled and catcalled. We giggled. We gasped and pointed out shoes, handbags, clothes and jewellery. We ooh-ed and aah-ed and sighed. We whispered and then emboldened by the lack of frowny-shushes, our voices rose in pitch. I was almost sorry for him. Almost.

Well, don’t mistake me. I’m normally quite a kind person (yes, I am and who dares contest that??!!!) and I don’t like bullying. But some instincts are too much for even me to fight. I am part of that mob called the Old Girls’ Club. And when it out-numbers the rest, it’s all about loyalty to the tribe.

Is this is a natural occurance, only an imitation of the boy-gangs that have been around for years? The ones that tormented us in childhood by throwing away our dolls, then harangued us as teenagers by hanging around in packs and discussing our anatomy in gruesome detail? They hung together despite glaring differences with that one-minded dedication to the cause. Well okay, we picked it up a little later but here we are.

I don’t see this happening to the Princesses and the Barbie dolls I’ve been classmates (and *gulp* even friends) with along the years. The ones who’ve settled into the classic roles of little women are happy with their lives. It’s the rest of us, the Alpha Females, Modern Women, bitch-pack so to speak, riding the wave of liberation, basking in the alcohol/nicotine fumes and weilding economic and mental independence that join the club. Among our many memberships and subscriptions, we sign up for an Old Girls’ Club.

Friday night a galpal across the world buzzed me online to ask what my plans were. I replied,

Meeting four luverly ladeej. One is silent, sarcastic and so cool. Another is delightfully undiplomatic. Precious is a darling. And Raindrop is a real joy to be around. Being with my gal-bunch is soo much funner than being on a date!

She buzzed back a 🙂 in agreement.

I have any number of girlfriends, a relatively recent occurance for me since I grew up being ‘one of the boys’. I ‘do coffee’ (you never ‘do coffee’ with a man unless he’s gay) with them. I go window-shopping with them. I dress the way I normally – outrageously – do but I actually let them give me an opinion of my clothes (Who cares what a man thinks?? Whatever do men know about clothes anyway?). I join them in a mass-crib-fest about the stupidity of men in general with long, involved discussions about the actual man (men) in each one’s case. As self-appointed and then unanimously-elected wildchild, I amuse them by haranguing some man by making eyes at him and watching him blush furiously. They boost my ego when it’s flagging. In return, I write XXFactor. (At one point of the time, this blog’s tagline was ‘For a woman…by a woman…because I’m a woman.’ Now you know where that came from.)

I guess we haven’t really gotten used to independence as much as we’d like to believe. We still define ourselves by our relationships with other people. Except that, instead of a man, it’s a bunch of other women.

The League of Ex-girlfriends

The one safety valve on a man who goes with too many women is the fact that there are a that many vindictive/resentful/unsure-about-feeling women to ally with.

I’m reminded of a conversation from Fables: The Mean Seasons between Cinderalla, Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty) and Snow White that goes,

We’re like an annual meeting of his parole board, getting together once a year, to confirm that he’s still an unrepentant fuck and continues to be deserving of our organized contempt!

..the man in question being their common Ex-, Prince Charming.

Now that we’re well out of adolescence and the dewy-eyed freshness of first romances and having accumulated a few rough experiences, we find others in the same boat. Not just women who’ve dated similar men, but women who’ve dated the same man!

And thus is born the League of Ex-girlfriends. Women who at one point are sworn enemies, bitter rivals or even uncomfortable acquaintances spot a chance to turn pals. Few women would let this go by, I kid you not.

So what does the League discuss? Like all groups of women – clothes, celebrities, family, friends, work, finances, children, books. Don’t whew in relief just yet….women prefer to be refined and subtle in such things. All of these topics can be discussed with practically any other woman, regardless of age, culture or relationship status. We talk about these to establish that comfort factor and to scope out the other woman closer up, to decide if she can be included in our respective Leagues or not.

And that done, we arrive at the prime reason for the League’s existance – the man (while I have the choicest of epithets at my disposal, I refrain in deference to my more modest fellow compartriots). So we’ll be polite and nice, ladies but talk about him, we definitely will!

Is a man then advised to ensure that he dates all kinds of different women so they don’t feel that comfortable with each other to gang up on him? HAHAHAHAHAAHA is all I can say to that. The more diverse the group, the more things we have to talk about him. Every detail will be scrutinised and dissected in great detail and if you think women don’t do locker-room talk, daaaahling, we do lunch with the other girls. Miaow!

There’s a hierarchy in this, which true to womenhood, lies beneath the surface and occasionally causes subtle conflicts. Thus the most recent one to join is given the floor, which makes sense considering the older members have probably already dissected all they know to bits. Besides they’re all waiting to see if their predictions about the man and his latest flame have turned out right. With that many women (didn’t you know we were all born with a Ph.D in male psychology?), they’re bound to have been right and the “Ha! Didn’t we say so?!” feeling is enough to overcome any prior animosity or personality differences. The new recruit looks about nervously at first or defiantly (depending upon her type) and feels encouraged to spill more of the beans as she sees the response her words are getting.

The one who stayed with the guy the longest is the undoubted queen bee of the group and most likely its creator as well. On the other hand this lady may as well not even belong to the group, believing that allying with the other ‘flings’ is beneath her.

The one that ended with ‘But we wish each other well and have decided to stay good friends!” sort is definitely not a part of the League. Oh wait, she’ll receive an invitation to the girls’ League too but it’ll only be to update the other members on the man’s life. The League works in unfathomable ways and have definitely heard of ‘getting insider info’.

What about men whose ex-es are not resentful, bitter, vindictive (in short women who aren’t women…okay, okay, forget I said that!)? Okay I can only surmise that such Leagues don’t exist in those cases. Since the women in question have presumably worked out all their emotions neatly, they feel no need to air them out, let alone join in a mass dirty-laundry-of-same-idiot airing. I also suspect these are the kind of women who lurrrrve hearing about other people’s dukh-dard-ki-kahaniyan but never let spill any of their own beans (“Oh but that’s too personal!”). Can you tell I don’t like such creatures? Actually I have nothing against them except a strong skepticism of their existence.

But never mind what I don’t believe in. What I do believe is that for every slighted, hurt, betrayed, victimised woman, there must be at least a few others in exactly the same boat. If not, wait a bit, the guy doesn’t change all that much and is bound to accumulate a few more broken hearts. And then it is time to call a meeting of the League of Ex-girlfriends.
Do women worry about their ex-es forming similar cliques, a la A League of Ex-Boyfriends? Not particularly, considering that men will happily bond over every stupid common thing from a workplace to a shared fascination for yellow, foul-smelling, barley-brewed alcohol….but can absolutely not bear the thought of another man having been the object of their paramour (current or former)’s affections. Besides where would they meet – the Hall of Shame?

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