I think that my competition with others has been a largely gender-based phenomenon. I can't help but think about Beyonce's song "***Flawless," in which she samples Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi's idea that girls are raised "to see each other as competitors, not for jobs or accomplishments which I think can be a good thing, but for the attention of men." When I read Emily Gordon's article on why women compete with other women, I was thrown backwards into my high school experience of being the guy's girl. I had a large group of friends, male and female, but when it came to the guys, I was there go to girl. Where Gordon found solace in her height and size hanging with the guys, my insecurities about my noisiness and less-than-womanly habits (ie. belching, swearing, even the way I walked) were put to rest when I hung out with dudes. Guys had so much less to live up to! My guy friends may have been competitive in sports or even over girls every so often, it wasn't the same as the competitiveness that ran rampant within my group of girl friends. When we got dressed together to go to parties, it was endless comments and backhanded compliments about breasts, hips, hair, asses and acne. The ways in which we had all learned to pick ourselves (and therefore each other) apart was astounding.
It took me a long time to realize that my hanging out with the guys was still an act of competition. I think I almost took a subconscious pride in being a "bro," even if that meant I got less attention than some of the other girls in mixed settings. I was considered "cool" by the male population, and that was better than being considered sexually desirable but "crazy" or "bitchy" or "uptight" like my other female friends. I didn't understand that I was taking part in gender-based stereotyping and discrimination by claiming my gender to be absent from all the part of me that made me a desirable "bro."