It’s a portmanteau of “friend” and “enemy,” and according to Urbandictionary.com, means, “an enemy disguised as a friend” or more explicitly, “someone you pretend to like but really you both know you hate each other.”
Pervasive in cult movies from Bring It On to Mean Girls, the existence of competition between women is impossible to deny. In girl world, frenemies are everywhere and it’s a white-girl problem I take serious issue with. It’s a female phenomenon that’s existed since grade school, worsened in high school, and doesn’t seem to be going away as I transition into adulthood. Why do women hate each other so much?
I suppose the original source of the existence of frenemies dates back to the olden days, when men were encouraged to go to the club or the pub and rally with the guys. Women, on the other hand, if lucky enough to have finally found a husband, were expected to stay at home. While men were taking the time to develop bonds with other men in a recreational atmosphere, women were taking care of children and neglecting their own social desires. Beyonce’s popular song “***Flawless” references a TEDx talk by Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in which she explains, “Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage … I am expected to make my choices always keeping in my mind that marriage is the most important.” Women have been taught for decades “to see each other as competitors, not for jobs or accomplishments which … can be a good thing, but for the attention of men.”
Since we’re all consciously and subconsciously competing for men’s attention, the passive-aggressive battle among women has escalated to a cold war over who’s prettiest (while looking most natural), who’s trendiest (without really trying), who’s funny (but not too crude), and who’s got the most chill – all to get boys to like us.
I think with the latest wave of feminism and the presence of pop icons encouraging healthy relationships among women, things are beginning to change. Women like Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Tiny Fey and Amy Poehler are all encouraging women to pursue their own interests, work for their own goals, and build each other up in the process. Because really - when the boys in our lives seem to come and go faster than a Snapchat, shouldn’t we be working to befriend each other instead?