For a good portion of my life, guys were my best friends. I had female friends, but I seemed to get along better with men. I rarely really stopped to think about why, just accepted it and had fun. Every now and then a female friend would say, “I’m so jealous of you that you….” It never made any sense to me, because I had always looked at whoever said it to and could immediately come up with a ton of things that they could do or that they had done that I would like to have or experience too. More often than not I was just excited to have them in my life so I could put myself in a position to have those experiences as well.
As I got older, I started to notice a trend in my friendships with women. I was friends with a lot of lesbians and women who had a good idea of who they are and what they want out of life. That reduced any kind of feelings of jealousy and meant that we could just have fun together and grow from the support we provided each other. Even still, it doesn’t come as easily as my friendships with men.
I’ve given a lot of thought to why recently and I think it has to do with our need to compete with each other.
I have no idea who said it, but it seems accurate. And it’s a problem. A big one. What exactly are we fighting over? Why are we competing with each other? What’s our end goal?
Is it that we’ve been taught that the only way to feel good about ourselves is to make others feel worse about themselves? If everyone subscribed to that theory, the end result would be that we all feel bad about ourselves. What’s the point of that?
Comparing one woman to another is like comparing an apple to an orange. When it comes to men, some like apples and some like oranges. It doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with the apple or the orange. People just have their preferences, and that’s okay.
When it comes to recipes, some call for apples, some call for oranges. That doesn’t mean that the apple or the orange has more value. Just in that particularly situation, one was better for the project than another.
There’s enough room in the world for apples AND oranges. Women are at a severe disadvantage in our society. People freaked out when Lego made a scientist set that didn’t include male Legos. Why? It’s not like male Legos are ever in short supply. Women make 77% of what men make for doing the same job with the same qualifications. How does that make sense? Women are expected to control male behavior by modifying their own. They have to dress modestly so men aren’t tempted by sexual desire. They have to change how they speak and respond to something so men doesn’t feel uncomfortable instead of the men taking responsibility for themselves.
To even begin to overcome these problems, women have to work together. We have to stop with fake the compliments. We have to stop tearing each other down publicly and in private. How we think is how we act.
We need to start praising each other for our accomplishments. One woman’s accomplishment is an accomplishment for all of us. Look at the newest Nobel Peace Prize winners, Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi. Their accomplishment has done great things for women all over the world.
Not all accomplishments have to be Nobel Peace Prize winning to matter. A promotion at work is a big deal as a lot of fields are male-dominated. Getting healthier physically and mentally is really important because it means a woman feels better and that is always a good thing. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. In a time when people thrive on tearing each other down to feel better about themselves, that link is weak indeed.
The next time a friend posts a picture of herself in a short or tight dress because she’s been working out and it feels good to her to wear clothes like that, congratulate her on her hard work instead of thinking to yourself that she’s a tramp for sharing the picture. The next time a woman you know does something new and challenging to her, don’t think about how she’s bragging, share in her accomplishment. I think we’ll all find that when we start doing that, we all feel better about ourselves. The easiest way to feel good is to share good.