News flash: there is no award at the end of your life for being the “best” woman. No one’s there to say, “Yay you! You did everything right, you outwitted them all and you win! You’re the best.” Yeah, I know I’m being ridiculous. But if it’s such a ridiculous concept, then why is it that we women just can’t be nicer to each other? Why can’t we support each other rather than being nasty and trying to one-up or compete?
I’m not even talking about judging each other for our parenting choices, that’s a whole different story. (Take a look at our Judgment-free Motherhood Campaign.) I’m talking about the concept that women have a reputation for being unsupportive of each other, whether it’s in a workplace or on the playground or anywhere in between. Think about it. The negative words that are associated with women’s relationships with each other: catty, drama, back-stabbing, bitchy, gossipy. Now, I know I’m talking in a general sense and that not all our relationships are one big, eye-gauging catfight. But I bet a lot of women can relate to this in one way or another.
My first “real” job was working at a company that was staffed by 90% women (Of course, the execs were all men). I remember my boss being so threatened by other women that she kept secrets to herself about the business. Real information that would improve the business, make our jobs easier and earn the company money! She would hold that info so close to the vest and drop it during a big meeting with the execs. I guess she thought it made her look good, to be the savior. But it actually made the rest of us look like idiots (which we weren’t) and made us all hate her just a little more than we already did. At the time, I was naïve and it shocked me. I mean, she was my manager. Who else was I supposed to learn the business from, if not her? She never understood that by making the people who reported to her look good, it made HER look good. Our success was her success. There was enough of it to go around.
Maybe that’s it. Women like this don’t get it that there is plenty of success to go around. There’s more than enough room in this giant world for all of us to taste achievement and reward. Fame and fortune for all of us. It doesn’t have to be “Every woman for herself!” We get to the top by standing on each other’s shoulders, not trampling over each other’s backs. With so many others out there trying to put us down and make our lives harder, women have to work together to lift one another up, not tear others down. That goes for work, that goes for parenting, that goes for friendships.
I’m not saying that women shouldn’t be competitive. Competition can be fun and it helps drive new ideas. I’m saying that when we do compete, we do it with respect for the others in the race. When we lose, we do it with dignity, in support of the one that won. And that when we win, we are gracious, thanking those that helped us get to the top and then finding ways to help other women get to the top beside us. Plenty of room, people.
If we want to stop being left out or held back in the world, it’s not men we have to worry about. It’s us. Women. We don’t succeed unless other women are there to not only pave the way, but to open the door and say, “Come on in, sister. I’ve been waiting for you.” And then in return, the rest of us can stop being assholes about it by showing some gratitude and then paying it forward.