“Often I feel that it’s women who don’t support other women, because we see in women who are successful the inadequacies of ourselves.” -Devanshi Patel
I have in much of my life, like I think many women have, found myself wondering, “what is it she’s got I don’t have?” or “what’s her problem with me? She must be jealous/threatened.” I’ve had these thoughts about female bosses, female coworkers, female classmates, female friends, female frenemies. It might be sparked by someone beating someone else out for a spot on the soccer team, or a role in the play. It might be sparked by a boy – one she’s got that I want, or vice versa. Or it might be sparked by a boss or a coworker nitpicking every single thing I do. Or it might even be someone I don’t even know, whose life I envy.
I’ve decided I reject and dismiss this female to female competition. Cerebrally I thought I already had, but as I’ve been slightly crippled this week as well as on my Spring Break, I’ve had a little more downtime to collect my thoughts about various things that have been flying around my brain for a few months. And I realized that not only do I find women who try to engage other women in competition – for men as prizes, for jobs as prizes, for intellect or beauty or athleticism as proof that she is superior to her competitor – completely boring to me now, but that I have been a major agent in this in my life as well. And it’s time to stop.
“There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” -Madeleine Albright
I’ve never been interested in being friends with women who compete with other women. As soon as I feel this draw that I’m being engaged to compete with a girlfriend – over attention from guys at a bar, over who knows more about sports, over who knows more trivia, over a particular boy – I am not only offended, hurt, and distrusting, but also, bored. We’ve been doing this for over 2,000 years ladies, and clearly it hasn’t worked out for us as a whole, has it?
“We go to the ladies room, the Democratic women and the Republican women, and we just roll our eyes at what’s being said out there. And the Republican women said, when we were fighting over the healthcare bill, ‘if we sent the men home, we could get this done this weekend.'” -Rep. Carol Shea-Porter
I’m much more interested in collaboration than competition. I love to compete with myself, or to compete with a computer, or even to compete with a man. (What can I say, I only had brothers growing up, competing with the boys was natural at an early age.)
But henceforth I reject competing with other women when the prize is self-congratulation or ego inflation or the admiration or approval of men. Competition is natural in life – but competition specifically from women to women to get ahead in a patriarchal society is not helping us. I’m bored with women who need to prove themselves prettier, funnier, cooler, chiller, smarter, more athletic than the next girl for the sake of the patriarchy’s approval. BORED. Not even mad. Just bored as hell.
“To some people, not caring is supposed to be cool, commenting is more interesting than doing, and everything is judged and then disposed of in, like, five minutes. I’m not interested in those kinds of people. I like the person who commits and goes all in and takes big swings and then maybe fails or looks stupid.” -Amy Poehler
I know that in nature it is females who are more competitive with each other than males. I know it’s because in nature, they are the protectors and the mothers. They have to be smarter, faster, stronger, and tougher not only to protect their young but also to keep mating and keep the species going.
But ladies. We’ve got 7 billion people on the planet. We’re also the top of the food chain. We have plasticized, not hard-wired, brains we can reprogram the patterns in. The Man is not the prize.
We can disengage in this, ladies. We don’t have to like each other. We just don’t have to fight each other. It’s boring. To compete with another woman is to lose, no matter what the scoreboard says, no matter who finished the race faster or who got the guy. When women compete with each other instead of building each other up, we all lose.
“If you and I, every time we pass a mirror, complain about our looks, remember that a girl is watching us and that is what she is learning.” -Gloria Steinem
Disengage from the fight against each other, engage in the fight FOR each other. For each other, our daughters, and granddaughters. I reject competing with you; I invite collaborating with you.