Alas, poor Celia. I know her well.

I’ve read and now seen “The Help” and both the printed and screen versions made my mascara run until I looked like Alice Cooper.

The book by Kathryn Stockett and movie by her friend Tate Taylor have been enormously popular but also controversial. I’ve read many commentaries criticizing “The Help.” Here’s a column about the movie’s “Mammy issues.”

I really like this well-balanced video post from the site, which pulls together a wide ranged of comments from numerous sources. Check it out.

So I will refrain from adding my worthless two cents about race and focus on something I am well qualified to opine on: how mean women can be to other women.

I don’t know anyone who, like the character Hilly, is advocating people add separate toilets for their African American employees so they don’t catch “diseases” but I know plenty of women who – also like the character Hilly – make it their business to run other women down.

There’s a scene in the movie where Celia, who is trying so desperately to fit in, arrives at Hilly’s home with a pie. Hilly just happens to be hosting a bridge game and tells everyone to hide instead of answering the door. Poor Celia ends up standing in the bushes, fully aware that all the ladies are inside, snickering at her.

I’ve been in Celia’s shoes and, I’m ashamed to say, in this regard, that I’ve been in Hilly’s.

Men do not treat each other this way. They might not like every guy on the block/in the office/at the club but they’re generally civil enough. Why are women so vicious?

Watching and reading “The Help” is heartbreaking, but I read an article with Kathryn Stockett where she says she feels like we should be proud of the progress our country has made in terms of race relations. Things aren’t perfect by any means, but we’re moving in the right direction.

When it comes to women behaving badly toward one another, though, we still have lots of work to do.