This time it was "Real Housewives of Atlanta’s" Sheree Whitfield and new co-star (of sorts) Marlo Hampton throwing low blows -- figuratively, not literally (thank God) -- in a brawl Phaedra Parks summed up as "Mayweather vs. Pacquiao."
The backstory: Sunday night’s episode -- the highest rated of the season so far -- showed the ladies taking a jaunt to beautiful Cape Town, South Africa, and letting all their ugly behavior loose. Sheree, planning a night out on the town, played a nice round of Mean Girls, getting petty over which of the women she'd invite to go with her. When Marlo got word she was being excluded, she confronted Sheree with very bitter words. “That’s why you don’t have a man,” Marlo spat, then followed up with a nasty slur for which she would later express "sincere regret": “Go back and hang with those f---ots, with yo' ugly ass...”
Sheree jabbed back, spilling the tea about Marlo’s allegedly much older sugar daddy, an “80-year-old white man.”
“I don’t sleep on air mattresses,” Marlo snapped, in an attempt to one-up Sheree. “My bed is custom-made.... I shop at the stores. Everyone at Neiman Marcus talks about how you return stuff.”
That grown women fight doesn’t even faze me anymore. I came up on "Jerry Springer" in its heyday, and after multiple seasons of women throwing drinks (and glasses), pulling hair, and choking each other out, I’ve become desensitized to the violence. But Sunday night's verbal brawl really threw me for a loop. Good and grown women check-listing their mates and material possessions, as if that somehow determines their worth or makes them better than another person? That's...pathetic.
And it’s not just so in made-for-TV drama. Just like Marlo put Sheree down because she was obviously hurt about being excluded, I’ve seen women behave similarly -- perhaps with more discretion, but equally catty. It’s in the way some of us with certain titles who attended certain schools talk greasy about those who don’t share a likewise background. Or the way some of us hurl the labels “ghetto” or “bourgeoise,” so everyone knows to make a distinction between “them” and “us.” Or in the way some of us get a mate and feel superior to those who are single. For some, dragging another woman down makes the pedestal they’ve placed themselves on seem a little higher, no?
The truth is, money doesn’t buy class, and neither does a man. Hurling insults, even if true, doesn’t make you a better woman, only a messy one. Marlo and Sheree thought they were getting the best of each other by pointing out the weaknesses of their verbal sparring partner. But really, each woman just showed how much the other person’s opinion mattered, and how low someone's self-esteem must be to place so much value on material things that mean so little.
What did you think of Sheree and Marlo’s fight?
Demetria L. Lucas is the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria) in stores now. Follow her on Twitter @abelleinbk