“That’s Why You’re So Easy to Hate”

This is what one bloggingheads commentator said to the other. Was the speaker-listener combo (a) man to man, (b) man to woman, (c) woman to man, or (d) woman to woman?

As you can guess, woman to woman. After I wrote this post, I listened to the rest of the dialog. The phrase was repeated several times.

It’s a standard compliment, yes. Sure, women compliment each other like this and men don’t. But I think it is an example of another underlying rule that I can’t figure out.

More I hadn’t noticed that the title of the conversation is “We’re All So Easy to Hate”.

6 Replies to ““That’s Why You’re So Easy to Hate””

  1. If the context is “you’re so easy to hate because you are so wonderful,” I think I can take a stab at explaining this. I’m a strongly introverted woman in a culture that expects women to be strongly extroverted, so figuring this kind of thing out has been the work of a lifetime for me.

    Women learn (and some people say are hardwired, although this doesn’t seem to apply to me) that belonging to a group is the most important function they fulfill. We are supposed to fear separation from the group and love unity of purpose with the group. If you want to do something that the group doesn’t want, you can bring it up, but you should apologize and feel bad for that. If you excel at something, you probably worry that this alienates you from the group, and so you will have to do a lot of sucking up and making amends for being so great. The group, in turn, behaves like a group and enforces consensus, conformity (to varying degrees. When put in terms like these, it often sounds more malicious than it is), and so “hating” a group member who is doing something different (but better) is a group-bonding activity. Basically, this is competitive behavior, but with a strong set of social-bonding rules guiding how you can compete.

    An easy example of this is weight loss. If you’re a woman who loses weight, your friends will be happy for you, but if you go too far outside their norm, they will “hate” you for it. BUT– by telling you playfully, “I hate you,” they are reinforcing your mutual bond while still pointing out that you have violated the group rule. If you are very apologetic about it, you can still pull off this kind of group rule-violation (and change group norms), but do too much and the group will resist and you will lose status.

    I feel like the Jane Goodall of human female behavior after writing this.

  2. Thank you, Sadie, I have learned more from your few short paragraphs than from decades of outside observation. Any further explication of your insights will be most welcome.

  3. I’m in the middle of watching “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” with the kids and it suddenly dawned on me how appropriate this blog post is to the movie. But the Queen went to great lengths to show how much she hated Snow White for surpassing her in beauty.

  4. Though I agree with some of what you say, Sadie, there are some chemical explanations for social bonding that aren’t necessarily societal. That is, it’s not always a nurture situation – “damn those cultural standards” – but a nature, biological situation.

    Women social-bond because historically the children of the pack are less likely to be killed by the saber tooth tiger if more adults are around. Over time, women have evolved to release chemicals like oxytocin and seratonin from early adolescence but especially when pregnant, which reinforce both pair-bonding and a desire for community.

    And, frankly, as a woman who is considered by the world to be extroverted, I would disagree that that’s what our culture expects us to be – even in New York City I’ve often found both men and women uncomfortable and/or intimidated by my level of extroversion. I think it’s proof that ultimately what our culture is, is confused.

    I think the biggest problem in regards to the “you’re so easy to hate,” comment is a general disregard for sympathetic joy in our culture. We are not taught to celebrate one another’s achievements or differences, but fear them – as if joy and success are in constant quantities and the success of one means the failure of another.

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