Why do women love putting down other women so much?
Just what is it about the female psyche that makes it so keen to criticise, judge and shake its head sadly at its own gender?
In the last week I’ve read venomous articles (all written by women) about how Abbey Clancy will betray the worldwide sisterhood if she chooses to forgive her boyfriend’s infidelity; why Victoria is to blame for David Beckham’s sister being on state benefits and how shocking Kelly Brook’s ‘stretch-mark scarred breasts’ look in a low-cut dress.
Right now though, the most enthusiastic professional smirkers are the Botox-vigilantes, those female journalists and editors who ensure that readers are regularly alerted to any celebrity who might have ‘resorted’ to experimenting with the substance in an attempt to maintain their youthful looks.
It is a crime so heinous and threatening to the future good of the universe that just last week Desperate Housewife Teri Hatcher posted close-up pictures of her lined forehead to prove that she’s not guilty of it.
Kylie and Dannii Minogue, Amanda Holden and Lulu are just some of the stars who’ve recently felt moved to make public declarations about why they’ll never use it again.
I’m not a huge fan of the over-Botoxed look, but neither do I disapprove of women in the public eye, whose every new wrinkle or extra pound is highlighted and mocked, trying affordable and temporary methods to look more attractive.
No one ever says that someone has ‘resorted’ to getting a new haircut or wearing lipstick — who decided that Botox was the sign of the devil?
It’s possible that, done with skill and subtlety, it may just make a women more closely resemble the person she feels like inside — young, fresh and optimistic, rather than ageing and disapproving.
The negative language around Botox — ‘resorted’, ‘desperate’, ‘fake’ — is an outstanding symptom of the war against women that has become so ingrained within the contemporary culture created by and for the fairer sex.
I worry about what these trends tell us regarding just how successfully the principles of tolerance, equality and fairness which the first wave of feminism fought to establish have bedded in.
Men, generally, seem to waste little time attacking the behaviour, lifestyle and waist-size of other men.
They bond over what feel like us women to be rather superficial things, like football, beer, snooker or a love of pre-1978 Dylan.
They tell jokes about the football players that they hate, and occasionally roll their eyes over an old friend who’s done the dirty on his girlfriend again, or, even worse, has skipped his regular pub get togethers for two weeks running.
But their conversations are rarely driven by vitriol for male celebrities’ fashion choices, and magazines aimed at male readers tend to focus on celebration — of music, cars or the female form — rather than criticism.
Women, on the other hand, thrive on other women’s shortcomings.
I don’t suggest that I’m above such negative gossip myself — many’s the afternoon I’ve happily whiled away laughing over a friend’s disastrous haircut, or discussing the follies of so and so’s terrible taste in men.
But that natural inclination to take pot-shots at our own gender has gradually fed into an entire culture, mainly run by women, of anti-female thinking, so that now the tiniest revelation of imperfection in a high profile woman is seized upon and attacked, not with humour, but gleeful cruelty.
So we no longer need worry about male chauvinists belittling and patronising women.
Now the sisters are doing it for themselves.