Women fighting other women has been a recurring theme on television shows and movies for as long as I can remember.
There is always a reason for one woman to slap the other, or for them to start pulling each other’s hair—from stealing one girl’s husband/boyfriend to sabotaging the chances of the other in office or school. There are long-lost sisters turned enemies, oppressive rich girl versus poor heroine, etc., until the victim has had enough and vows vengeance. Do these themes sound familiar?
Imagine growing up exposed to this kind of female culture. It may appear harmless on the outside, but if you look closely, you will see how negatively it can affect relationships and, in turn, culture and society.
Subconsciously thinking that the other woman always has an agenda will make one always act on the defensive, ready to take offense at the smallest comment and unable to trust in other women. Distrust corrodes the sincerity in any female friendship, and without sincerity, there will always be competition and envy.
With envy comes the inclination to tear down one another, whether through passive-aggressive comments and actions, gossiping, or outright cruel and insensitive words.
We don’t hear as often about men doing this to each other. Exactly who is to blame—
whether it’s the media (social or traditional), men who fan the flames, or women themselves—is unclear.
A way out
But we are too deep in this toxic environment to play the blame game. Instead, we should direct our focus on finding a way out of it, if not for our generation, then for the generation of young women who look up to us. We need to do better, so they can also be better. We need to start with ourselves and our daughters.
What I love about being a woman is that we can take on so many roles. Women seem to have mastered the art of multitasking.
However, we judge and criticize ourselves harshly for not being “enough.” Before we can start supporting other women, look in the mirror and support who you see. Cut yourself some slack and give yourself permission to relax more. Better yet, take time to list all that you are grateful for—you might surprise yourself and realize you’re not so bad, after all. A happy and secure woman is one who can be happy for others.
Being happy and content does not mean you don’t have to set new goals. Having goals and making progress in accomplishing them give a certain joy that permeates other parts of one’s life and relationships. Having goals also keeps one too busy to compare oneself with others.
But in case you find yourself checking the other girls’ feeds, do so with gratitude for your own life.
Support is what girlfriends are for. Finding support is not always easy, but with the right tribe of positive, like-minded friends, you can have everything covered in one go, from bouncing ideas off one another to giving and receiving advise and, of course, having fun.
Little girls will instinctively look up to their mothers for behavioral cues and mimic what they see, more than what they are taught. We must start letting them see the behavior we want them to experience from other women.
A girl who is shown gentleness and inclusion and whose voice is heard will take these things with her and hopefully, do the same for other girls she encounters.
Meanwhile, a daughter who is always hearing gossip about other women will grow up thinking that talking negatively about other women is the norm. While it may appear to make the gossiping parties closer and boost popularity, our daughters need to get away from this habit and find healthier ways to foster friendships.
Our young daughters might think that they are simply sharing stories, so ask our daughters to say something good about their girlfriends on a regular basis, to get them into the habit of respecting and lifting other women.
Let’s compliment women who deserve it, because, why not? Let us praise other women in front of our daughters! It won’t take anything away from us, but will give our daughters so much—a generous and secure outlook that will shape how they see and respect others as they grow.
Respect is the key to girls raising other girls up. A woman who respects another woman will see the other woman for who she is, rather than competition. Women who respect one another are more inclined to collaborate at work and support one another rather than compete and tear each other down. There is already so much at work against women; if women cannot be there for each other, who else will be there to support them?
Can you imagine how many more glass ceilings women can break once we learn to carry and help each other up? We might just reach heaven. Now, wouldn’t that be something for our daughters?