Almost every woman I know has been called some form of terrible name in her life – such as slut or bitch, (and some too inappropriate to list here). I am sure that ever woman reading this post can relate with being called something one time or another in their life. They have been excluded at the workplace and made to feel like they weren’t good enough. A friend i spoke to a few weeks ago has been told to her face by female co – workers that the only reason she was successful is because she is young and had big boobs. Her PhD and her outgoing nature and questioning personality and the fact that she is the first one it at work and the last one to leave of course have nothing to do with her success its the size of her boobs that has made her succeed.
Sounds like a mysogynistic nightmare, right?
Except that all of that hatred and anger came from other women. We think of gossip and competition as a phenomenon of high school mean girls. Unfortunately, I see it more now with women in the workplace and in certain social circles and online than I ever did in high school and the girls i went to highschool with where no piece of cake. I must admit that online it can get quite bad sometimes. I was reading an article about domestic violence this week and some womens comments included – what did she do to deserve it? Well she shouldn’t have been this desperate to marry a man of colour. Articles about rape and women say – well what was she wearing? She must have asked for it! …when I see these comments i end up thinking are these really women who re commenting? Why aren’t we supporting other women more? You don’t find men tearing each other down this way. If a man is attacked no one asks what he was wearing – so why do we assign blame to women due to their choice of outfit?
Recently I had a client who came to me after a tough breakup. She was relieved the relationship had ended and had started a great friendship with her ex. But she was struggling to get over the fallout from the relationship. Her closest group of girlfriends wouldn’t stop judging and made her feel like a failure. She felt constantly hurt and insulted by her ex’s best friend (a woman) who had committed the last few months of their relationship to driving them apart. She had spread terrible rumours and used every opportunity to plant seeds of doubt and insecurity. Even after the relationship ended, the drama got worse.
I see this ALL THE TIME.
Sometimes it’s outright hatred and outspoken abuse. More often, it’s the subtle undercutting of our happiness by the women we call our friends. Even last week, a friend of mine started gushing about a new crush to a group of girlfriends and one of the women sat fuming while she talked and then added “Well, don’t sleep with him until you’re in a relationship. You’re starting to get a bad reputation…” I immediately felt so hurt and embarrassed and insecure. What an unnecessary thing to say.
So later I asked her about it. We talked it through. It was awkward at first and then a lot of good came out of it. We as women can make changes to our conversations to support each other rather than tear each other down. Listening to her story and hearing her experiences showed me that she really was trying to protect this other friend of mine, in a backwards sort of way. This gave us the opportunity to change the conversation and before jumping to conclusions I was able to show her love.
As I started to ask around about the topic of women-hating-women, I got a flood of similar stories. They were stories of outright discrimination, but because they aren’t cultural or based on gender, we don’t have the language we need to talk about it. It’s not sexism or racism or ageism. It’s just mean. There is no reason for this unnecessary anger except fear and competition.
The perpetuation of discrimination towards women is surprisingly not just an issue of misogyny. It’s a women-vs-women hatred that needs to stop.
So far, I have more questions than I do answers.
Until we start treating each other with respect, love and support – how can we expect men to do the same? Maybe we should organise a face to face discussion about this topic – what do u think?