Why are women so horrible to each other? This is a question that has troubled me since JD befriended me in grade school and then spent the next 6 years trying to make my life miserable. It’s the question that broke my heart when all the girls who were my friends in grade school would suddenly have nothing to do with me because I wasn’t an athlete. It was the question that hurt my feelings when LR told me all the horrible things a boy supposedly said about me (It was later confirmed that she was lying). It is the same question I have asked over and over and over again as I have attempted to bring women together for the sake of a common cause. Many are able to step up to the task without trying to destroy their sisters…but many more, it seems, are hell bent on making sure their sisters do not succeed.
Just this past week, we had an opportunity to see how truly cruel women are to each other when all the body-shaming posts came out against Lady Gaga’s “protruding belly” during the Superbowl Half-time Show. Really? The girl is a size four if that…..what is wrong with her belly? The sad thing is that many of those posts were from women!
Why is it that women are such assholes to each other? Jealousy and competition seems the most likely explanation, but what in the world are we competing for? Men? Jobs? Attention? Money? Power? Social Status and Position? In my world, none of these are worth competing for….even if we could.
The truth is that each and every one of us has our own unique giftedness, our own unique purpose and our own unique contribution to this world. My gifts are not yours, and yours are not mine. And even if our gifts are similar, those who need my gifts would not benefit from yours – so why compete? In fact, our gifts might complement each other and what would happen if we found a way to bring our gifts together in a way that meets the common good? One teacher of mine says it this way, “we each have our own unique medicine and the people who need our medicine are out there waiting for us to share it with them.” In this, there is no reason for competition….period. As this is true for those who need our gifts, it is also true in all the other areas where women seem to compete with each other.
So why are we still competing? And why are we sabotaging each other in our quest to get what we think our sisters should not have?
In my best estimation, women being jerks to each other is the result of a deeper wound coming out sideways. The deeper wound is a cultural paradigm that began somewhere around 5000 years ago in which the world culture shifted from an egalitarian type culture where women and men were valued as equals, to a cultural paradigm where the holy within all of us was supplanted to make room for the unholy masculine (fear, power and control) and the unholy feminine (helplessness, powerlessness, weakness, neediness).
When the fear, power and control became the cultural norm and came at us from men who had set aside the holy masculine in favor of the unholy, women became powerless and had no place to go with the anger and resentment that arose in that state of powerlessness. So, we did the only thing we could do, we projected that anger and resentment on the only beings we could – other women. We then turned that anger and resentment on the externals that might give us the illusion of power – money, social status, material goods, etc. etc. etc. The sad thing is that when women are being horrible to each other, they are most often completely unaware. Women who are trying to destroy their sisters don’t realize that their words, actions or omissions are truly a deeper wound coming out sideways, asking to be healed.
So what can we do to heal this woman vs. woman wound? It starts by treating our sisters as sacred, holy, wounded aspects of the Divine. For seeing in each other, the wounds we carry within ourselves. When we start doing the work of healing the wounds that started our horrible behavior toward each other, then the behavior becomes no longer necessary. It is as simple as that. We know the truth of this when we are in the company of the women who treat us as holy and sacred – those who have already done this deep inner work. It is with these sisters, that we have the opportunity to enjoy the reunion that Rebecca Campbell speaks about in her book Rise Sister Rise, along with the benefits of living from this reunion. In facing down the woman vs. woman wound, let us embrace Rebecca’s words as our clarion call! The world is a better place when we meet each other in this sacred place instead of from the unholy place of jealousy and competition.