Too often, narcissism is portrayed as an overly aggressive male disorder. It is not. Females can be narcissistic as well although it might look a bit different from males. Meryl Streep in her role as Miranda Priestly in “The Devil Wears Prada” did an excellent job portraying a narcissistic female boss. Michelle Pfieffer did as well in playing a narcissistic mother in “White Oleander.”
There are several areas that the difference in sexes can be seen. But because this is a disorder, there will be a crossover of similarities. Yet, all of this is consistent with the DSM-V definition of narcissism.
Appearance. Narcissists, in general, believe themselves to be attractive and are usually well groomed to attract attention. While males combine their attractiveness with charm to accomplish a goal, females use it to gain superiority. Most females tend to be obsessed with their appearance sometimes resulting in numerous plastic surgeries.
Seduction. Both male and females narcissists are generally gifted in the art of seduction, but how they seduce is different. Males use their charm to entice a mate. Females use their bodies to allure a mate. This can sometimes be seen in provocative clothing. This is different from a Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD). HPD’s continually wear inappropriately revealing clothing whereas a narcissist does it selectively for a specific person or to accomplish a goal.
Confidence. Narcissists cover their deep-rooted insecurity with a belief that they are “special.” Males tend to be self-confident, gaining their assurance from within. Females gain their poise from comparing their superiority over others. They feel good about themselves when others are beneath their own standards of excellence.
Money. The love of money is strong for narcissists as they believe money gives them power, control, success, status, and dominance over others. Males are preoccupied with obtaining money at all cost, including stealing it from family members. Females enjoy excessively spending money. Both do their behaviors without any shame or remorse for their actions.
Fidelity. If a narcissist fails to get the attention they believe they deserve, they will seek it from outside a committed relationship. While both can be unfaithful, males tend to be serial adulterers. Females act more like black widow spiders, idealizing their mate to attract and them emasculating them. For the spouse or partner, the more they give, the more the narcissist wants. It becomes insatiable.
Children. Narcissists like to raise baby narcissists. Often they pick a favorite child and focus all of their efforts and attention on that child. The other children are left feeling inadequate, unworthy, and insecure. Males generally view children as a nuisance, frequently complaining that they, not the children, should have all the attention of their spouse or partner. Females view children as an extension of themselves, even when the child is an adult. Everything the child accomplishes is a reflection of their superior parenting.
Competition. Nothing proves supremacy quite like competition for narcissists. They love an opportunity to excel over others at work and at home. While the competitiveness is frequently praised in a job, it is not amongst family. Males treat other males as rivals. This can be seen in brother/brother and parent/child relationships. Females battle with other females for dominance. This is seen in sister/sister and parent/child relationships.
This is not a complete list of differences, rather it is meant to bring awareness as to the many ways narcissism can be portrayed.