How Women Can Be Their Own Worst Enemies

Tim Gouw

International Women’s Day: A day to celebrate all of the strong women in our world, as well as a day to strive towards their protection and equal rights. And while it’s a nice thought, I honestly find it offensive and appalling that society needs a day to remember gender equality and the fair treatment of women.

There’s no denying that females have it hard. Even the most misogynistic of males and anti-feminists can’t deny that some of the basic things women go through, such as giving birth or shedding their uterine lining once a month, is no walk in the park.

Moving past the physical hardships women face, we then come to a whole other level of difficulties. From having to daily deflect and deal with the male gaze to earning unequal pay when compared to our male counterparts, having a vagina isn’t all fun and games.

All of these are things every woman, everywhere, has gone up against at one time or another. But there’s another glaringly obvious downside to being a female that baffles me abundantly more than having to step around a male’s ego if I don’t want to go out with him.

The ways women hurt each other is an issue that needs addressed right alongside our unfair wages.

I’m sure I can speak for the majority of us when I say that women are vicious, petty and hurtful to one another more often than I’d like to admit for my fellow females. It’s hard for me to imagine a woman who hasn’t dealt with the cattiness and cruelty that can come from the wrath of a jealous, insecure or competitive female.

Every day, I witness this harmful behavior women exhibit towards one another. Whether it’s making fun of someone’s latest picture, or is something even harsher such as spreading lies about one another in an attempt to make ourselves look better, this is something all of us ladies are guilty of, including myself.

The worst part is that this nature is something that’s taught to us by the media and messages around us, parents, teachers and siblings and is ingrained in our minds since childhood.

We, as females, are shown through society that other women are the enemies. We are told that we need to compete with one another for men, jobs, appearance and everything else in between.

I have felt first hand, and numerous times, how damaging the ways in which females attack one another can be. Throughout high school I was bullied by girls whom I considered my friends, and as a result, I now get anxiety to this day when I feel as though other girls dislike me, are talking behind my back or are teaming up against me. And what real reason did any of those girls have for being so cruel to me? While I am well aware that I was no angel, I can only be lead to believe that the real reasons stem from the ways in which we are bred to compete and fight against one another. We are literally evolved to be catty.

Perhaps it’s the scarcity of high paying jobs for females or the constant comparing of women’s bodies that the media and men alike place on us that causes our pettiness and need to compete. Or maybe it goes deeper even than that and is an issue that developed as early as humankind.

Some researchers hypothesize that female to female aggression results from women’s role in childbearing. Since throughout history women have been seen as responsible for continuing bloodlines, females realized early on that they couldn’t risk injury as easily as men could. They turned instead to passive aggressive ways of fighting, rather than by using fists, wrote Anne Campbell, an evolutionary psychologist at Durham University in the United Kingdom. Perhaps this is how social exclusion, talking behind one’s back and indirect aggression started as survival tools and lived on to become damaging to us women.

To me though, it does not matter what the psychological or historical reason behind female’s belittlement, judgement and hurtful nature towards each other is. The only thing that matters is that it’s fixed.
Madeleine Albright’s quote (which T.Swift then repeated) “there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women” rings true for all of us females.

Maybe female oppression doesn’t stem just from men, the government or the media, but can also be so incredibly attributed to other women. Maybe we should look inward and realize that so much of the blame can be placed on ourselves.

Maybe I’d have a better job if the girl I am in competition with had put in a good word for me instead of throwing my resume aside to avoid any risk of her career being threatened. Maybe the impossible world of dating would be made a bit less daunting if girls defended each other against men, instead of talking poorly about someone’s personality to make them less appealing. Maybe we’d be out building connections to better the world around us if we weren’t so scared of the cruel words other girls would say about us for expressing our passions.

Maybe we’d be able to unite and conquer the societal, professional and humanitarian issues that are up against us if we built each other up, instead of tore each other down due to our own jealousies and insecurities.

Maybe if women were able to band together, International Women’s Day would no longer be a necessary holiday. Every day would be a day to honor women and as women, to honor ourselves. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Kate Durocher is a TV host, writer and editor living in Los Angeles.

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