Why Are Women Hard On Each Other?

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Most people cannot tell what really happened at Newsweek magazine in 1970 when women employees filed the landmark lawsuit against the magazine for not giving them due credit. What made them all risk everything and join hands together to go against a media giant. The scene was dramatised in a show streaming on Amazon Prime. Barring some technical mistakes, the show and news reports on the powerful event painted a satisfying picture. A Marvel fan would say, it was as glorious as the moment when Steve Rogers called out “Avengers assemble” in front of Thanos’ giant army.

We have many such moments in history to feel proud about and to believe that when women join hands, they are unstoppable. The fact that I have the tools to express my opinions in 2022 is because of the times women came together to demand my rights. Women like me have access now, voice, platforms, a job to work and relatively better choices to make. Although, one can’t really say that women always have the support of other women. Older women hold younger ones to a higher standard and feel annoyed by how easily they do things in life. The things they fought hard for. Internalised patriarchal ideas are an issue with women who are simply not aware of how their thoughts have been conditioned.

Woman is a woman’s worst enemy?

In family settings, mothers, mothers-in-law, grandmothers at times put a harsh front in respect to the daughters. Either the daughters are “too independent” or not independent enough. A simple nod of approval seems hard to get. The sad part is that such experiences are not exceptions, they seem like the rule. Supporting mothers are the exception. To tell you the truth, even I have felt strange indifference towards women who choose to marry before they land a job or when they quit a job to get married and have children. We read about the utmost importance of choice but we judge other women for their choices all the time. Why is it so different to understand how different we all are and if something feels limiting and unsatisfactory to one woman can be a dream of another?

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When it comes to professional environment, many women have felt far better working under a male boss in comparison to a female one. Do women make bad bosses? Time and again, researchers have came out with findings about why women treat other women badly. Dr Shawn Andrews, a professor, author and consultant has written extensively about the same. In her book titled The Power of Perception, she talked about how women leaders in professional settings display male-specific emotional intelligence. They feel the need to be confident and assertive but not empathetic. The female-specific emotional intelligence which allows most women to form interpersonal relationship just ceases to exit in many female leaders. This is apparently called the Queen Bee Syndrome.

It is important to note that most women do not hate other women the way they like to play out in Hindi daily soaps. It’s complicated like it can be for men.

Andrews also stated that how two women treat each other is influenced by a “power dead-even rule”. The term was first coined by an author named Pat Heim in the book Hardball for Women: Winning at the Game of Business. Both women have to be at the same level of self-esteem and power in order to respect each other and the bigger the gap, the bigger the disrespect. Gossips about other women, women slut-shaming each other and other such incidents happen. The most shocking part? It is a subconscious. Not many women are aware of such rule, they grow up with it regardless. It is important to note that most women do not hate other women the way they like to play out in Hindi daily soaps. It’s complicated like it can be for men.

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Picture Credit: Netflix

What will it take for us to get over our subconscious indifference towards other women? Everything. And we have to try. We have to make efforts like so many women across the world who are making a conscious effort to lift other women with them. Women hiring more women employees, giving them opportunities, mothers refusing to let anyone harm their daughters, female friends hyping each other on every little achievement, good things are happening. We just need more of that.

Views expressed by the author are their own.