*In this post I’m addressing women because I’ve noticed some things in my social circles. I care about men too, but this post is specifically looking at the relationship between women. Men, read on if you’re interested, but please don’t take offence.
Approximately half of the world’s population are female. That means that out of 7,413,413,433 people in the world (at the time of writing), half of those are women. We may have some struggles, but that half of the population are fortunate enough to be in a worldwide club. A sisterhood. We’re the only ones who know what it’s like to have periods, experience childbirth, have girls’ night in (or out), and do all the special things that only girls do. In all groups of community, I hope for a sense of camaraderie. That the specific people who fit that category can support each other, be there for each other, and build each other up. Women, men, single parents, dog owners, olympic athletes. Everyone who is in the same boat can lend a hand or a sympathetic ear.
So why, then, is it that we women are often each other’s harshest critics? Why am I constantly saddened by women being bitchy and nasty and tearing each other down?
Tina Fey, being awesome and promoting girl power since forever. Seriously though, she highlighted this in the 2004 film Mean Girls, yet it’s still happening. All around me.
I did a little survey on Twitter, asking my female followers if they’d experienced this kind of negative treatment by other women. I was hoping that it would be a pointless survey and nobody would have been through that, but unfortunately that was not the case.
I can’t understand it. We’ve all experienced shitty treatment from men. Been told we can’t do something because it’s “a guy thing”. Been passed over opportunities because we’re women. Been afraid to walk home alone at night. Been peer pressured into doing things society tells us women are “meant to do”. Been bombarded with images from the media telling us how we should look. We all know how it feels. The good, the bad, and the ugly of being a woman. We all share it. We all understand it. So why, why, why, do we do it to each other?
I have dear friends who’ve had their personal choices (dietary, outfit, lifestyle, exercise, romantic etc) criticised by other women. I’ve had my own choices and opinions criticised by other women. We’ve surely all seen things in the news and in comments about women victim blaming sexual assault survivors. We’ve seen it all, we’ve heard it all, we’ve experienced it all.
Yes, men do it to us and to each other. But the amount awful treatment towards women by other women is horrible, and it really does make it “okay” for men to do it too. It’s like sitting by and listening to people telling racist/sexist/homophobic jokes and not speaking up. Participating in or not stopping negative behaviour perpetuates it.
We women should have each other’s backs. Be there to stand up for each other when sexism strikes, not add to the problem. And if not because we understand how it feels, but because we’re all human beings with feelings and souls who don’t deserve to be criticised and made to feel like crap. Am I right?!
Why should we do this, though? Why shouldn’t we keep on being competitive and nasty and critical and unsupportive?
Because it makes it easier/okay for men to do it too
As Tina Fey said in Mean Girls, acting in this way towards other women makes it seem acceptable, like the norm, which means more men are likely to treat women the same. In order to stop a certain negative behaviour, everyone needs to be on the same page. If we want men to treat us with kindness and respect, we need to treat each other (and ourselves) that way too!
Because women didn’t fight to give us the vote so we could compete with each other!
Those brave, dedicate women who fought hard for our right to vote (and so many other things women have had to fight for in history), they didn’t do that so we could all have this nasty community of criticism, backstabbing, and an ‘every woman for herself’ mentality. They fought for those rights so we could have the same rights and freedoms as men, and so we could all live a happier life. Don’t waste that by being bitchy to other women just because they’ve had opportunities that you haven’t.
Because we still have a long way to go, and we should be focusing on building our strong community to achieve the things we want
Yes, we’ve got the right to vote. Yes, we have many other things. But we still have a long way to go before we reach gender equality. In a conversation with my flatmate last night, we talked about how many companies still have an “unintentional bias” towards promoting men. That shit needs to stop. Violence against women? Don’t even get me started. But you get my point. We have bigger and better things we could be focusing our energy on, as a community of women. So we need to stop wasting our time with the nastiness and get on board.
Because why bother be mean?
What are you getting out of it? All those girls on the internet who leave nasty, hurtful comments on people’s instagram pics or YouTube videos, what are they getting from it? Is it making them feel better? I doubt it, in the long run. Being mean and negative is a waste of your time and energy, whereas being kind and supportive to those around you, even strangers on the internet, will brighten both their and your day.
We’re in a club. A worldwide sisterhood, made up of a whole half of the world. We have the privilege to be women, to show the world that girl power can kick ass. We need to build each other up, support each other, and show future generations what it means to be a woman. Show young women and girls how to support each other, give them hope that they can do life, because they’re in the sisterhood to.
When I was a teenager, all I felt was peer pressure from the other girls at my school. I was criticised for not doing my hair “right”, for not doing everything the way I was “supposed” to do it. Now, I’m lucky enough to have some wonderfully supportive, badass, strong women in my life. But I know how it feels to be torn down by other girls, as I’m sure many of you out there do. I hope that teenage girls around the world now, and in the future, don’t experience that. I hope that they will know how it feels to be a member of the biggest sisterhood.
Going forward, I encourage you to remember what it feels like to feel unsupported and criticised. And to do your absolute best to fiercely support all the women around you. Girl power for life.