Have you ever noticed how many women tend to be the hardest on other women? Unfortunately, one of the bi-products of a sexist system is that women are constantly pit against one another. We are constantly told that the prettiest woman gets the prize—whatever that may be. This creates an environment in which women end up seeing other women as the enemy, and this is where jealousy, cattiness, and even downright maliciousness comes into play. We see this in the term “frenemies” which is most often applied to women. A “frenemy” is a person who appears to be friends with someone on the surface, but ends up doing things to sabotage their supposed friend’s happiness. I’ve experienced quite a few of them in my lifetime. These things can consist of small minor things such as telling them an outfit looks cute when in actuality it does not look good on them, to much larger things such as stealing that friend’s boyfriend. The “frenemy” issue is just one example of how women can, and often do, undermine other women, even those they are supposed to be friends with. This juvenile behavior holds us all back.
Today, women are doing and accomplishing more than ever. We are the fastest growing entrepreneurs. On most college campuses, women are outnumbering men. And women are making more progress in government positions. We are gaining ground when it comes to gaining recognition for our accomplishments, but we still have a long way to go. I fear that women will not be able to continue this momentum of moving forward unless we recognize that we are not each other’s enemy. Another woman who is working hard, and succeeding should not be a threat to you, but a sign of encouragement. It’s OK for women to compete with one another when it comes to working hard to get a better education, or to move up the corporate ladder, or other markers of success. However, when it comes to individual gossiping and badmouthing other women just to make them look bad, this is where we need to reconsider our actions and ask who this behavior is benefiting. My hope is to see more and more women encourage and root for one another to succeed, to break down barriers towards living in an equal society where we all are appreciated and respected for who we are. Sometimes I can’t help but wonder what makes one women go through such extreme measures to see another woman fail, causing a division in our sisterhood? Is it low self esteem? Is it the intimidation factor? Are they just mean girls? What do you think it is?
Since the early 20th Century, women have come a long way in terms of gaining rights, and making headway in positions of government. Women winning the right to vote in the 20th Century has led to more and more women not only making our voices heard in elections, but also becoming standout candidates at the local, state and federal levels of government. Currently, in the 113th Congress there are twenty women in the Senate and seventy-nine women in the House of Representatives. Altogether these women make up approximately, 20% of the total Congressional seats. While much progress has been made, women still have a long way to go before there is gender parity within the U.S. Congress.
According to research from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) is will take, approximately, another 100 years before we see an equitable amount of women and men in Congress. Unfortunately, there are a number of factors that still stand in women’s way when it comes to rising up the political ranks. Many women who seek political office lack mentors or people who are willing to step out and guide these women to have successful careers. Furthermore, sponsors are more likely to get behind male candidates than women candidates. In politics, it is most often the person with the most money who is going to win the votes. There are also many who believe women just do not seek out political careers. In some cases, this might be true, but there are plenty of women who have political ambitions. I am betting if resources were equitable for women candidates, there would be more women in Congress.
Within the last few years, if you pay attention to politics, you may have seen a few women making their voices heard. Most notably, Elizabeth Warren and Wendy Davis. Warren, formerly a bankruptcy professor at Harvard University rose to prominence in her fight against big commercial and investment banks after the 2007-2008 financial crisis. Warren currently serves as one of the two Senators for the state of Massachusetts. Wendy Davis, is a Texas state senator, and ran an unsuccessful bid for governor. However, Davis’ campaign did make national headlines as she fought to protect women’s right to choose and other matters. Davis is still heavily courting the female vote in her state for her next political campaign. Women are making progress, but it will take time and more support from mentors, current political leaders, and the public to ensure equity at the federal, state, and local government levels.
Congressional count: http://www.cawp.rutgers.edu/fast_facts/levels_of_office/Congress-Current.php