Have you ever noticed? Women just aren’t nice to other women. Let me qualify this by saying that I believe there are instances where women are nice to other women. Like when you’re unloading your twelve screaming cherubs from your van, and they extend a sympathetic smile. Or when your kid and theirs are both misbehaving in public. Or when you pass a nun in the grocery store. But that’s pretty much where it ends.
Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot of sympathetic smiling when one woman in the crowd is wearing extra high heels, or too much makeup, or is showcasing a strategically placed tattoo. That, my friends, is when the assault begins. You can see the women around her doing the covert ‘up-and-down’, carefully inspecting every hair on her head, her purse, her shoes, and studying the target’s posture and facial expressions. Some even openly scoff or shoot dirty looks.
It isn’t until the woman leaves that the others converge, like jackals around a fresh carcass.
“Did you see those shoes? Huh! Maybe when I was eighteen!”
“Oh my God! Does she have a mirror?”
You know, women are the first people to create networks for other women, start support groups, and reach out a helping hand. And they are also the first to slap that hand and make incredulous remarks when the others turn their backs.
When SuperLady arrives at the bake sale with some Martha Stewart-looking business in her Tupperware, with nails neatly trimmed and manicured, and not a wrinkle in her clothes, does that go unnoticed? Or when Suzy shows up at the staff meeting showing a little too much cleavage, do the women let that go?
I am beginning to think this is all written into our DNA, just like men racing each other at red lights is seemingly written into theirs. It is either inherent (Do we really want that trollop propagating the species over us?) or it’s cultivated culturally. All I know is hating other women is a billion-dollar business, and pretty unavoidable from my standpoint.
Ever see Mean Girls? Watch Dynasty? How about the whole Real Housewives series? What do these women do? They scratch and claw and hiss like feral cats. It, frankly, makes us look bad. We’ve even created a word for it…frenemy.
I’ve seen women run into each other with shopping carts at stores, “accidentally” bump into other girls holding drinks at bars, cut other women in line, and torture each other in gym locker rooms. They’re brutal. Ever see those wedding dress sales?
And it doesn’t stop with strangers, either.
I had a friend in college whose own sister stole her boyfriend and had him move in with her right upstairs from where my friend was living. No conversation, no permission, no apologies. Which I guess begs the question, is this all over men? Over sex? Over shoes? What is it?
It also, and possibly, most importantly, leaves me wondering…
Is this what I want to teach my daughter? And will I have a choice? Or will school, dance class, and boys do that for her?
Is it in women’s nature to consistently ostracize and banish one individual from the group? And if so, why? How do we stop it? Do we stop it? Do we even WANT TO stop it? Of course, I say this, but I am also of the x-chromosome, and I can’t say I’ve never been guilty of it, or never will be again. And I personally can’t guarantee that my daughter will never see a woman shooting another a cross look or hear a smart remark, or that she might learn that Suzy, with the cleavage, is going to get Tom’s attention and favor more readily than she might.
In my nine years in human services, I’ve seen a lot, some of which some people would not be able to handle, and some of which people might find annoying, scary, or just plain disgusting. I’ve dealt with every stereotype you can imagine, without sneering and without judgment. I’ve also, in my personal life, dealt with much the same, with the sneering and with the judgment.
Which, I suppose, brings me back to my original question. How do I shield my child from this unnecessary heartache? Is this possible? I am thinking, though, sadly, she may have to learn this on her own.
Perhaps, if I’m lucky, she will learn that the woman in the high heels is simply confident. And us, in the corner, jeering? We’re not.