Today, albeit a little late, I came across this rather daft article about that part-hilarious, part-tragic article by Samantha Brick, responses to which (and responses to her response to the responses of which) are still cropping up all over the place. If you haven’t seen the article, it basically consists of a Daily Fail journalist listing every time she can think of when a man has given her something for free or when a woman hasn’t really liked her much, cited this as evidence of her formidable gorgeousness, and then concluded that only the ravaging forces of old age will ever free her from her curse. Oh, and criticising other women for failing to rally round in support for her, at this difficult time.
There have been some stellar parodies and many bemused observations which any reasonable person would have taken on board, and realised that they had just spectacularly embarrassed themselves on a monumental scale. But Brick is not a reasonable person. She’s the kind of person who either thinks that a) publishing an unbelievably egotistical, narcissistic article, in which she asks other women to pity her because she’s better than them, will somehow endear them to her, or b) a fame-starved serial troll desperately seeking a means of propelling herself out of obscurity. Either way, she probably has some kind of personality disorder and should have been prevented from exacerbating it in a public forum. The inevitable attention (and hysterical vitriol) was only ever going to make her feel validated. To then add further fuel to the fire, as a few articles have, by suggesting that her pathology is something to be admired (rather than, say, referred to a psychoanalyst) is really rather cynical, and inadvertently much more cruel.
The fact that Brick isn’t conventionally attractive really is a footnote in all this. People hate her because everyone hates a narcissist; the apparently baseless nature of her self-belief just makes her an easy target. Whether or not there are women who genuinely hate other women just for being pretty (there might be – I’ve never met any) is also kind of irrelevant, because Brick’s exercise has only ever been about Brick. Relating her experience to a wider social context might have provided a justification for her to embark on a disastrous attention-seeking exercise, but we shouldn’t forget that it was only an excuse, and hardly contributes to any kind of debate, if such a ‘debate’ actually exists. Nonetheless, much popular criticism has been focussed on the view that Brick is an unworthy recipient of jealous hatred, not that her original logic would have been a bit silly, whatever she looked like.
The accusation that all criticism is motivated by jealousy is frequently regurgitated, and usually inaccurate. Yes, when people feel insecure, inferior or otherwise threatened they sometimes panic and try to regain some kind or equilibrium by undermining those who appear to be doing well for themselves. Most of the time, though, when an overwhelming number of people can provide good reasons why you are wrong about something, there tends to be a glimmer of truth in it. Whilst just about everyone (myself included) has been in a situation where another person is being pointedly hostile and they’re not sure why, I very rarely feel that other women resent me for any reason, and so I think it’s fair to shrug off the occasional blip. However, if I suddenly found myself in a position where all the women in my life began to hate me, I can guarantee that I would start examining my behaviour, not my mirror, for the reasons why.
Put it this way: three million people don’t spawn mental Twitter insults every time Christina Hendricks’ lovely face appears on television. I myself am 100% certain that if Hendricks and I were the only two women in the room, the men in the room would not be looking at me. This does not make me hate her. I would probably be looking at her, too. But if Hendricks wrote an article saying how everyone should feel sorry for her because her spectacular bosom is weighing her down and she’s sick of men falling to the floor and begging to be used as a doormat, I’d think she was a bit of a twat.