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Let us not label someone a typical woman and be sexist towards ourselves – when it might just be her way of coping with her circumstances.
For a very long time, I was one of those women who maintained that I was not like a ‘typical’ woman. This is a sentiment that is so omnipresent, there is a universal saying now around it, “A woman is another woman’s worst enemy.”
As I grew older (and hopefully wiser), I realized how damaging this is. Women who do not have interpersonal problems with other women soon start developing mental barriers against other women because they are reinforcing this ideal that other women will be petty, jealous and make life difficult.
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When I switched to a team with a female boss, almost everyone I knew told me that I was on the path to workplace hell. Friends constantly advised me to avoid being friends with women prettier than me (no guy will notice you when she’s around). When a man around me was sarcastic, everyone thought he was sarcastic. When a woman around me was sarcastic, the same folks declared she was ‘taunting’ me. Enjoying femininity (read: being a shopaholic and spending time on looking good) was passed off as a sure sign that a woman was not as smart as I was and would be catty in general.
Let us look at what fuels these beliefs that women are usually ‘mean girls’.
Women are conditioned to be ‘pleasers’ in society. Looking good, conforming to norms is supposed to be a woman’s raison d’être. Women are seldom taught to live for themselves.
Hence, when confronted with another woman who may be more accomplished, beautiful or better placed in life; women start nitpicking on the other woman’s vulnerabilities and judging her rather than being cognizant of their own abilities and accomplishments.
Admit this, you too have been deluded by movies that celebrate ‘Bromances’ and popular culture that celebrates ‘Bro Codes’. A lot of women resent other women because they think female friendships come with strings attached.
I have lost count of women declaring that they prefer to spend time with men because they don’t feel pressured to behave in set ways. Though it is a person’s prerogative to pursue the friendship they want, a lot of women have beautiful friendships too (just different from the way men do).
When a man lies, he is a liar; when a woman lies, she is being a ‘woman’. Women face a constant, uphill battle against men and women who judge any behaviour as being feminine or masculine on snap judgement.
No body complains of ‘male bosses’ as a group if their male manager is a screw-up but a woman has only to put a toe out of line and she becomes the ‘dreaded fire-breathing female boss’. Judge people for who they are, not on the basis of the gender they were born with!
In fact, there is a higher probability that women will vote against women, resent good looking women, pity plain looking women, pass judgement and criticize, rather than support.
I no longer believe that women as a group are worse than men, that friendships with women are not as wonderful as my platonic relationships with men. I think it is about people’s circumstances rather than gender. I do believe that a female boss with a nonsupportive husband and two toddlers is liable to be more hyper than a male boss who leaves office to play squash and has zero housework.
I no longer make lashing generalizations about the feminine gender being uncooperative just because one woman is uncooperative. When a woman criticizes me about my weight or appearance, instead of dismissing her, I try and understand that she has been bought up in a world where women bond with other women by criticizing other women.
When a woman displays an unnatural affinity towards concealer and foundation, I understand that her mother geared her towards looking good rather than being good.
I now no longer say, “I am not a typical woman”. I instead think of the ways I am (Oh my god! That baby is so cute!) to ways that I am not (Yes, please share 10 incredible Max Verstappen stats).
I think women have it tough as it its, let us not just hurt our own cause.
Image source: women gossiping by Shutterstock.
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I remember countless occasions when I have commented or allowed someone else to comment on a woman being ‘typical’.
But then I also defended another woman at one time and did not let people around me judge her for just being a woman and she passed sarcastic comments on me unscrupulously!
So yes, women can be really mean but that’s not something generally women-like!
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