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?
Have you ever heard the saying “let a man be a man” or “ nobody wants an independent woman” etc? There seems to be this notion that women have to be demure, passive, and docile in order to be deemed appealing to the opposite sex. Men are supposed to be the dominant ones. The breadwinners who “bring home the bacon” while women tend to the supposedly more unassuming roles, such as mother and taking care of the home. However, unless you have been living under a rock the last few decades, you know more and more women are asserting their independence. Today, college campuses are often composed of a 40:60 split in which women are outnumbering the men. Women are also making up some of the largest leaps in entrepreneurship. As women continue to break down walls and barriers that once stood in our way, we are seeing more and more pushback from some men, and even some women.
I have personally seen women be told things like “Don’t buy your own home. No man wants to date a woman he doesn’t believe needs his help.” In 2012, the book “The End of Men: And the rise of women” by Hanna Rosin got a lot of tongues wagging on men no longer being necessary. Now, we all have men in our lives, as friends, lovers, fathers, sons, etc. We know men can be loving and supportive of our goals and dreams, but there are some who feel their masculinity is tied up in earning more or how reliant their significant other is on them. These are the type of men who are insecure at the notion of independent women. These are the type of men who will attempt to assert whatever power they feel they have over their partners. These may also turn into the type of men who, if they fall on difficult financial times or lose their job, can become withdrawn, depressed, and even violent towards their partners. In other words, these are the type of men one should be wary of.
Unfortunately, society has set up men and women to believe that men are natural born leaders, and women are supposed to follow. While things are clearly changing, we still have to continue to recognize this notion as the problem it is. Women are just as capable as leading as men are, and are proving this every day. Some men—many men—will struggle with accepting women who are opinionated, assertive, and take-charge. This issue is often revealing of these men’s insecurities and their own inferiority complex. Do not lose faith, there are plenty of men who support women who know what they want, and have goals and dreams. Focus on the men who are supportive and will help you reach your goals instead of hindering them.
Today, something like 60% of households are headed by women. This means a lot of women are raising children either on their own, or are the main breadwinners for their families. Long gone are the days when we assumed it was the men who went out and “earned the bacon” while women stayed home and took care of the children and household. However, if we really look at historical evidence, very few women lived in a situation in which they were able to stay home and raise their children.
The rise of the middle class in the 20th century, saw many women were able to stay home, raise their children and be housewives. However, women of lower socioeconomic status rarely enjoyed this benefit. These women—poor women and women of color—were often tasked with having to work a variety of jobs such as cleaning homes and caring for other peoples’ children in order to make ends meet. The working woman is nothing new, yet the opportunity for the types of jobs women have today is relatively new. Today women are rising the ranks in corporate offices, opening their own businesses at higher rates than our male counterparts, and still a strong majority of the “helper” professions, such as teaching, nursing, and social work. But are women getting the respect we deserve?
There are a number of studies that have come out, that show while women are working just a much, if not more, than men, when it comes to domestic responsibilities, they often fall on our shoulders. We are still expected to be the primary caretakers of the children, cook, clean, and take care of the number of other responsibilities that come along with running a home. Is this fair? To many, it seems as if this is not fair to women. Our grandparents’ way of life is no longer an option for many of us. Many homes have to have two incomes in order to comfortably survive. If women are expected to work to help support our families and shoulder all the domestic responsibility, it stands to reason we are not receiving the respect we deserve.
Women have fought hard to have equal access to education and employment opportunities. The fight continues even today, especially when you look at inequities in pay and fields such as science and technology. For generations, we have been expected to take care of domestic chores, while the men brought home the bacon. Things are different today and in a world where women make up nearly 50% of the employment rate, it is time we get the respect we deserve, both in the workforce and at home.