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?
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?