Monica Holmes had the prettiest hair of any girl in the fifth grade. Her chestnut locks flowed effortlessly down her back, while my delicate, thin hair broke off around my shoulders. Even so, I didn't envy her hair; I begrudged her braggadocio. No matter the context—recess, lunch, or a bathroom break—Monica couldn't say enough about her hair to anyone who would listen. "I just love my dark-brown, beautiful hair. Don't you too?"

By Christmas, I'd had enough. In the seat behind Monica during the annual showing of A Charlie Brown Christmas, in the darkened multi-purpose room, I stealthily stuck a big wad of pink Bubble-Yum gum in a wide swath of Monica Holmes's dark-brown, beautiful hair.

It wasn't one of my finer moments. But lest you think my preadolescent behavior was an anomaly, a recent study from the University of Ottawa suggests otherwise. Intrasexual competition is widely demonstrated among males, so researchers Tracy Vaillancourt and A. Sharma wanted to know whether or not intrasexual competition existed among women, often believed to be nurturing, communicative, and more likely to rule by consensus. "I was convinced," stated Vaillancourt, "having lived my life as a woman, that we're not as pleasant as some people make us out to be."

In the study, 40 women were put in a room in pairs, believing they were taking part in a discussion on female conflict. Then, "Conservative Kari" came in and called the research associate out of the room. Separately, another 46 women were paired together, but this time "Kari" became a bit more provocative in dress and presentation.

Predictably, Provocative Kari drew a number of negative reactions from the women, including gossiping, giving the woman a onceover, negative comments, ...

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