It's annoying because as a girl once you hear this you start trying to prove how not catty and grudge-holding you are. Unfortunately, anger's a pretty run of the mill emotion that comes up a lot.
Last night Jack and I were discussing anger and he said his first impulse is to blow up while I said mine is to be passive. I rationalize my anger-- I'm not angry because someone has done something wrong to me I'm angry because I'm misunderstanding something or overreacting or some other excuse. We got to the subject of those awkward early teen and preteen years when I had friends who would call me ugly. As in, I looked "like a child" because "I had no boobs" (I was 14... Where would I have gotten boobs?!) and guys "wouldn't" be attracted to my looks and "anorexic freak" and many more. We discussed the moment I decided I was ugly at the age of 12. The most screwed up thing was that I took these comments and processed them as matters of fact, not insults. They were observing that I was too ugly to expect love like you might notice that I have freckles and size 8 feet. It didn't occur to me that I should be angry.
So okay, I had some shitty girl friends back in the day, but I also let myself have shitty friends because I had no perception of myself as a person who deserved to not be called ugly. Furthermore, I was under the impression that all anger I experienced was a failing on my part. When I began to make my own transgressions against other girls it wasn't because I'm a girl it was because I didn't believe I had any right to be angry. If I experienced conflict I needed troops of other people to validate my opinions and couldn't approach the person I was in conflict with directly because I didn't consider myself good enough to be able to express anger. The irony is that when I actually dated the same girls told me I thought I was all that and when at the age of 15 (despite all evidence to the contrary) boys liked me I got a signed note informing me that everyone is not obsessed with me, but that I thought so and indicating where I may and may not be with my boyfriend. Oh, the drama. Ironically, I'd have never spent more than a day with these girls if I'd had any perception of myself as a worthwhile person (never mind being all that).
So now I hear people tell me that girls don't make very good friends. From other girls. Who are my friends.
"Hey Debra, isn't it pretty obvious that people in blue shirts are quick-tempered and have alcohol problems?"Consider this: every one of the most vicious girls who attacked me then went on within a year or two to experience depression, attempt suicide, or have an eating disorder. It's now so painfully obvious to me that the "cattiness" that people believe is unique to women isn't a result of our being inherently rotten, but an after-effect of the damages already incurred from feeling like shit. I had shitty girl friends, but I don't think it had anything to do with ovaries making us go all wacky, I think it had to do with a belief that we weren't good enough to experience anger and have that experience acknowledged by the person (or people) with whom we had conflict. And there's a whole slew of reasons why it might be girls in particular who think they're not good enough.
"I'm wearing a blue shirt..."
"Other than you."
"You're wearing a blue shirt."
So please, stop telling me girls make shitty friends. Stop saying that if you are a girl, it's an ironic and constraining world view. If you consider yourself a woman, then at the end of the day you're not better off being one of the guys so learn to accept your womanhood and then learn to love it. It helps with that whole cattiness thing.