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Oh yes we are!

Jane Shillingford owns up

Any Neaderthal males who doubt the validity of female sport on the grounds of lack of competitive spirit or testosterone-fuelled desire to come out on top should get their heads examined. Women are far the far more competitive sex, especially when it comes to other women.

Having spent a lifetime in the world of fashion and magazines, I can vouch for this proposition with a thousand personal examples – my own, and other people’s towards me.

Having set our courses in life – partners, careers, aspirations – we are then vying to compare ourselves with our sisters. Can we afford the villa holidays in Turkey, like our neighbour? Can we afford a new car, likes the Jones’s? Whose kids have just passed GCSEs with flying colours … and whose haven’t? Have I lost as much weight this year as her? Should she still be wearing jeans – or her hair that long – at our age?

Competition, ladies. That’s what it’s all about.

Walking into any newsagents, there are display-fuls of what are termed ‘womens’ interest’ and/or ‘celebrity’ magazines. Of course, we’re naturally nosey about the décor and life-trapping of any supposed ‘name’ who has opened her door to show some favourably-inclined photographer around her home – probably for money.

But we’re also voyeurs, on the look-out for welcome pointers to naffness, stupidity, lack of class and crassness. Why? Because, just as important as seeing what they’ve got and how they live, we also wish to comfort ourselves that we’re superior to them – and would have never stooped so low as to have a faux-bar in our drawing room or 19th Century bordello lighting in our guest bedrooms.Price

I can admit or confess to being a fan of the silicone-full former model Jordan, or Katie Price – her real name, which she now uses. I read, and loved, her latest autobiography Love, Lipstick and Lies (Century 2013)

Partly because it was so badly written – by her ghost writer, of course, because Katie herself is totally incapable – despite boasting a canon including three autobiographies, plus sundry novels and childrens’ books. Yet partly also just because of the banner across the front cover proclaiming ‘My most sensational autobiography yet!’

Samantha Brick

Samantha Brick

Who can forgive freelance writer Samantha Brick, who wrote an article entitled There Are Downsides To Looking This Pretty: Why Women Hate Me For Being Beautiful in 2012?

Let me be fair, the silly colleen is perfectly easy upon the eye.

But her crime was saying it – and, by implication, revealing her contempt for the bulk of us, who in her eyes had plainly been less blessed by nature.

Nicola Horlick

Nicola Horlick


Nicola Horlick, Nigella Lawson, Kirsty Allsop – these, and other like them, are pariahs.

They have sumptuous home lives, partners (or ex-partners) and kids … and yet also have successful careers and high media profiles. They put the rest of us in the shade. Any female who is just a stay-at-home mum, or holding down a job on the Morrisons supermarket check-out, or (God forbid) struggling to forge an existence on state benefits is – by comparison – a failure.

Inevitably, still, we are all collectively fighting the mountain of male resistance to female advancement, opportunity and equality. But, beneath the surface, we’re also pedalling like fury to come out on top in the survival-of-the-fittest struggle with our fellow sisters in the ‘monstrous regiment of women’, as we were once described by Scottish clergyman John Knox.



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About Jane Shillingford

Jane spent the bulk of her career working on women’s magazines. Now retired and living on the south coast, she has no regrets and 'would do it all again'. More Posts