It’s in our DNA, our genes, our chromosomes to be catty and judgmental. But we have to stop being that way. The circle repeats itself because young girls see us behave that way and they learn the behavior. It must stop.
I think she means that part about DNA metaphorically, and I agree with the part about younger women. But I started to really pay attention when I read this:
…there were only two women speakers (minus the panelists) at SocialMix on Thursday…Women (speakers) are not being invited to events as much as men. But plenty of women organize and coordinate those events…there are plenty of women speakers who are fantastic. Invite them to speak at your next conference…and pay them the same fee you would pay the men (I’ve noticed women are paid about half of what men are paid, but that’s a different story for a different time). Pay them the same.
Yikes. Half? Gini continues:
Supporting other women is the very first step…Stop judging what they’re wearing, how they speak, how they do their hair, and whether or not we think we could live their lives better than they do.
I know this is just Gini’s take, but there’s a certain measure of truth in it. (Just for fun, here’s a mean girls video) I have a theory that the reasons women are critical of each other are: 1) fear. They subconsciously perceive themselves as underdogs, so feel uncomfortable when a peer gains a big advantage; and 2) training. We learn this bad behavior, generation to generation. Criticism of women is pervasive in our culture.
For example, it’s the whole reason “women’s magazines” exist. Have you ever really looked at their covers? Almost every article is about self-improvement, or getting your house in order, or being a better you.
If you’re thinking men’s magazines are probably about self-improvement too, they’re trending that way, but here’s a list of the top 5 men’s magazines. Do you think they’re writing about organizing the house or making sure the kids get fed wholesome meals?
- Sports Illustrated
- Maxim Magazine
- ESPN The Magazine
- Men’s Health
- Playboy Magazine
But back to the issue at hand – women picking at each other. I agree with Gini on this important point: Change starts with us, ladies.
I vow to completely stop making any comments about a woman’s appearance unless I can phrase it in terms I might use to describe a man. As in: she’s so full of energy! Or, she acts as if she’s lost interest. It’s not impossible, but once I started, I noticed how often I had to stifle myself when a comment sprang to my lips about a woman gaining weight or looking like she’d had work done.
It was interesting, because then I’d ask myself, “What’s my motivation?” How does it serve me, to point this out?” Any shrink will tell you that all behavior is motivated. What do I get from making negative observations about a complete stranger? If I’m with a woman friend, it might bind us more closely, in that we’re tittering at the same thing. If I’m with my husband, such a remark might do the same thing, or it might convey the message to him that I’m aware of the dangers of obesity, say, or excessive plastic surgery, and that I would never let myself sink to that other woman’s level. But doesn’t that make Bill the boss, and me the supplicant? Who gives a shit what he thinks about that other woman’s weight or plastic? It’s my choice to hand him, or any man, the power to select and discriminate.
I guess this means I believe that vying for men’s approval, in whatever context, is still the main motivation underlying this unsisterly behavior. Men being the ruling class (Don’t agree? Look at the gender balance in the legislative branch of government, or the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. There are no more significant indicators of power in America than these two), maybe we’re subconsciously trying to align ourselves with the power gender, by whatever means possible. Building ourselves up by tearing our sisters down.
If true, that should be an easy thing to break free of. All we have to do is ask ourselves what our motivation is for making the negative comments. Then take it up a notch: help a gal get ahead. A rising tide lifts all boats. Once we’re all eatin’ good, the sniping should stop. That’s my take, anyway. What do you think? (For Part 2 of Backstabbing Women, click here.)