Why do we hate?
What is it in us that causes us to hate a fellow human being or group of human beings?
It is a disease from which no one is immune.
I had a conversation with a good friend of mine above womanhood and She had finished an assignment on women’s rights, and even so, still felt bothered by the topics discussed in her assignment. It centred on how some women aggressively compete, undermine and degrade one another. While we were talking, I silently agreed to everything she said as she was quick to point out that women are constantly and subconsciously tearing each other down. She was irritated by the habitual and constant use of the offensive terms “hoes” and “bitches” by women to address other women. She and I grew up with women tearing down our looks and our hobbies.
Once our conversation ended, our conversation stood prominently in my thoughts. I kept thinking about why. The why was so important to me and though I felt like I already had a good idea why I wanted to take time to really think about why women at times seem to fall into the trap of doing this to other women.
I always think this to myself every time I think about how women treat other women and why womanhood can be so polarizing: What does it mean to be a woman and why? Who gets to decide what a woman is? If a woman is different from another woman, what unites them as women? When experience can vary so radically from woman to woman, is there any point in pursuing a single definition of feminism or womanhood?
We assume women who are attractive, and also brilliant and personable are happy. We assume women who are attractive, and also attend elite universities, and work at the best companies are perfect. I’ve been very anxious to be around these type of women because I have many insecurities about myself — like not being able to afford the best makeup, the cutest clothes, struggling in classes sometimes, having crooked teeth, and not attracting as many people.
What we have to realize is maybe that attractiveness came at a price. We’ve seen attractive women receive unsolicited attention. We’ve seen attractive women who attend elite universities flock to therapists. We’ve seen attractive women vomit. We’ve seen attractive women commit suicide.
We’ve seen attractive women scour their wardrobes for the largest, ugliest cardigan they can find to hide themselves in. We’ve seen attractive women wear a little less make-up and pack a few pounds for protection. We’ve seen women degrade and demean attractive women because we’re still insecure about ourselves.
Catch yourself if you’re feeling competitive with another woman.
Try to reach out to her and work together instead. It’s not always going to be that simple, but I’ve been amazed at how just pausing for a moment to check my own behaviour in those contexts can go incredibly far.
Be a role model of how you can lead a successful career while supporting women, people of colour, disabled and LGBTQ colleagues. Challenge the people around you to get better and do better. When you see young women doubting herself, behaving competitively, or saying something catty about another woman, hold them accountable, but also spend some time getting to know them. You may learn that they have insecurities about themselves that they’re projecting onto other women. The more women feel empowered and supported, the less they’ll feel the need to compete and compare themselves to their colleagues.
The reality is that women don’t have to de-value other women to find value within them. Instead, we should defog the mirror in which we see ourselves and other women. It’s okay if a woman is prettier, smarter, taller, fitter or whatever else than you; imagined or not. When we focus on our own light, our own uniqueness and fulfilling our own paths in life, it will become easier to see that our value is not tied to anyone’s approval and that “other” woman owns their autonomy and their choices have nothing to do with you or womanhood.
Stay true to yourself and focus on tackling projects and getting opportunities that YOU’LL be proud of and want to go on for hours on end.
At times as a woman and minority, it seems like getting praise for your work is the easiest way to move up in the industry because it shows that you’re just as capable as your contenders. It’s more important to get yourself to a career where it’s okay for you to be yourself.
When we each focus on being the dominant force in our own universe, rather than invading other universes, we all win. When we are fully able to see that we each are unique beings, then we can understand why we don’t have to prove how worthy we are by putting other women down. If you want to better yourself, it does not take tearing another woman down to do so. You are your own competition, so start there. We are worthy just as we are, and it’s time we all started to believe that — Reassure your female peers of this. You’re making the world a better place by being yourself.
19th Dec 2018.