Are Women Raised to Hate Other Women?

Competition. It’s one of those things that we all find ourselves participating in. The competition to be the highest earner, the fastest runner, the best cook, or the smartest in the room. Most of the time, we see competition as a man’s sport – a game of pickup becomes life and death, an arm wrestling match becomes the key to her heart. But, I’ve never really believed that – women are just as competitive as men.

Even from an early-age, women are raised to compete but, where we differ from men is the way we compete. Besides a hair-pulling match on reality TV, women are rarely physical when it comes to competition. Physicality, we are taught, is a man’s game and women, so we are told, fight with their words.


As a teenager, I didn’t really like other girls. I saw the way girls spoke to each other and about each other, and I didn’t admire it. By the time I was in high school, I had already tried my hand in the drama wars and lost. I had hurt and been hurt, and all the hurt that I gave and got was from other girls.

Of course, men engage in gossip. They say hurtful things just as easily as women do, but the way that men perceive each other seems so much different than how women see each other. This, I believe, has so much to do with the culture that we live in and the media we consume because more often than not, I fear that the world is teaching us women that the enemy is other women.

Women are much harder on other women than they are on men. How often is it that when a women gets a promotion at work and instead of complimenting her work ethic and her achievements, we look to find the cracks instead. She must be struggling at home if she’s able to work so many late hours. She must be starving herself to keep that figure with all the stress she’s under. I’ve heard her talk to her husband on the phone, that marriage sounds like it’s going down the drain.


It’s impossible for any of us to win. When one woman triumphs, there is a horde of other women dragging her back down. I watched a really thought-provoking documentary this weekend, Miss Representation, and it spoke to my suspicions – when women are appointed to positions of power, any backlash is more likely to come from other women than from men.  Why is it that we women do this to one another?

I remember reading a book by Kristen Armstrong where she discussed the same thing – women hating on other women. Ladies, she wrote, we are all playing for the same team. And, isn’t that exactly the truth?

Why is that we try to pick apart the success of other women? What is teaching us to see other women as enemies rather than allies, frenemies instead of friends?

Rosie The Riveter Poster 121503 rosieriveter

Maybe it’s doesn’t have so much to do with other women at all, but rather the insecurities that we see in ourselves. We live in a competitive world. It’s undeniable that feelings will be hurt, hard questions will be asked, and gossip will spread. It’s human nature.

But, I implore every woman to consider the consequences of fighting against our own gender and what we are teaching our children by undermining the success of other women.

After all, women were once raised to believe this is a man’s world, but that idea is changing, and it’s still changing. But, if we ever expect men to treat us with respect regardless of our gender, than why can’t we extend the same courtesy to our own gender?

Do you think women are harder on other women than they are on men? Why? 


10 thoughts on “Are Women Raised to Hate Other Women?

  1. nyrmirez November 18, 2013 / 2:44 pm

    I 100% agree with what you wrote. In high school I was ditched by a few of what I considered then to be close friends, all because I had part-time job and had a car. I was “more sucessful” than they were and they made it out to ruin my last two years of high school. I am not going to sit and write that I don’t get jealous of other women’s sucess, but I know that hard work and determination will get you very far. If you aren’t willing to put in the hard work you should atleast be proud that there is another female out there that is making herself know. I try and think back as to how badly those girls hurt me and how I never want to purposefully do the same thing to another female. I want my words and actions to speak positivity not negativity. Great post like always!

    • Sam November 19, 2013 / 9:58 am

      Thanks! I think it’s so important to support women in power. I’m not saying we should support women blindly because they are women, but if they have good ideas and, they are strong, then I think it’s important to at least respect them even if I don’t believe in everything about them. It’s hard to resist the urge to be overly critical of women in power, but one day I hope to see power more equally distributed among the sexes.

    • Sam November 19, 2013 / 9:58 am

      Thank you. :)

  2. Delia November 18, 2013 / 8:56 pm

    I can’t help but wonder why do we feel the need to divide in “teams”? We’re all people after all and I think part of the problem is the fact that we focus so much on our gender; for instance, if we’re talking about a successful man that’s pretty meh, but a successful woman is an admirable person because, apparently, a woman can hardly sort her life out. Men and women will never be treated the same, obviously (and they shouldn’t anyway), but competing against the opposite sex is just silly, in my opinion.
    Anyway, interesting article, I’d love to see some debate on this subject. :D

    • Sam November 19, 2013 / 10:02 am

      I don’t think men and women will ever be treated exactly the same, but I think it’s important to promote equality regardless. I think our culture often puts us into these “teams” because the media and society likes to pit us against each other – the bros before hoes mentality. Either way, I would like to see more women supporting each other. It seems to me that men are a lot better at supporting each other than women are at supporting other women.

  3. Emma @ Culturecopia November 20, 2013 / 6:57 am

    Unfortunately this is all too true. Most women are all for equality among men, and yet most will still question a fellow colleague, or even friend, when she receives a promotion, achieves great success, or anything of that sort. Women undermine one another, and the only way this mentality will be replaced with one of support is if said women make a conscious effort to do so.

    • Sam November 20, 2013 / 2:04 pm

      Yeah, I agree. And it seems so dumb when you think about it…it would seem like it is instinctive to support each other but, that’s far from the truth.

  4. Chriss November 20, 2013 / 1:22 pm

    Very good point here, Sam! I do think women tend to be harder on other women, and I’m not really sure why. Reading this however, reminds me of a post you wrote not that long ago (English Women Wear A Lot Of Makeup). I believe you said something about women wearing more makeup than they should, which is also a form of judgement of other women. I think you probably didn’t mean to be judging them, but you were just surprised. I think a lot of women like you and me don’t realise that we’re judging/being hard on other women.

    • Sam November 20, 2013 / 2:03 pm

      No, I exactly agree. That’s why when I was watching that documentary, I just sat there thinking…you know – why do I, or other women in general, care what other women are wearing/how much makeup they have on/what job they have/etc. It was kind of like this moment of realizing we can be so darn hard on each other and then wondering, what is perpetuating it – is it us or something that’s teaching us to think that way?

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