On Tuesday I wrote about Tess Holliday, the plus-size model who is shorter and larger than the industry’s standard “plus-size” models. I may have, ahem, also mentioned my anger about the negative reactions Holliday’s fortune at being signed to a major modeling agency garnered. Yet in truth, as much as I was hurting over the comments (because again, as previously stated in Tuesday’s post, Holliday and I are about the same size), what was angering me was how many of of those comments were made by women.
When I was in my early 20s, about the same time HBO started airing “Sex and the City,” I realized I’m a feminist. I don’t hate men, far from it, but I’m someone who believes in gender equality (as well as racial, religious, sexual orientation, etc. equality). Therefore, I’m a feminist and while I was wide awake on the “Men Make Better Leaders” mentality running rampant throughout thousands of businesses in addition to the wage gap between genders, I was absolutely blind to something else causing even bigger issues for females in the workforce.
Women tearing other women down.
Truly, it wasn’t until I was in my early thirties that I became aware of the issue. I was working as a sales assistant in the automotive industry, a male-dominated enterprise if ever there was one, and while there, met a woman engineer by the name of Caroline. One day in the mailroom, Caroline came in and was visibly upset. I asked her what had happened, and she just said, “Oh, the usual. Instead of helping each other out, all of the women on this floor are out to get one another.” Apparently I must have looked surprised because Caroline gave a sardonic laugh and said, “Oh, honey. Even in a male-dominated field, a woman’s worst enemy is still going to be another woman.”
Reflection caused me to conclude I’d been wearing blinders to this phenomenon for a number of years and in fact, it had been happening at every job I’d had since, well, ever. The store manager and assistant manager at my first retail job, many of the women I’d worked with at a major department store, the healthcare office I’d temp’d at… I even realized the reason I hadn’t landed the assistant position I’d wanted at the healthcare company was because of another woman’s jealousy at my perceived popularity. This last fact was later confirmed when my mother met some of my previous healthcare colleagues and they said this very thing.
What is it that we women gain from tearing each other down and not helping each other? Are you truly that busy at work that you can’t take notes for someone else’s meeting on a Friday afternoon in order for her to leave for her vacation two hours early? Why is it okay for women to slut-shame other women when all women are trying to fight the double-standard of being labeled slutty or promiscuous for having multiple sex partners while men are labeled studs?
Why is it okay to condemn or congratulate anyone on the number of sex partners they have?
How do you know that a fat woman is fat because of sloth and gluttony instead of a medical condition?
Why is it that people are far more comfortable fat-shaming women than men?
Why is it okay to fat shame ANYONE?
I was out at a local mall with a friend several months ago. As we were leaving, there was a younger woman standing outside a restaurant wearing leggings, a tank, and a blouse that she had tied off at the bottom for a cropped look. My friend said something about how the young woman needed to reconsider her look because, “No one wants to see that.” I responded with, “You do realize as big girls, we’re often on the receiving end of those same comments from other people, right?”
Do unto others….
I’m not saying I practice what I preach all of the time. “I’m only human, of flesh and blood I’m made. Human: born to make mistakes!”
You’re welcome for that little earworm. 😉
We’re all human, and venting opinions is completely natural and necessary even. And even more human is to have disparaging opinions. But when you find that most of your opinions are of the critical sort, and you’re in the habit of sharing them often, you may have a problem.
As women, we have men who look 15 months pregnant telling us we’re fat. We have the Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey discouraging women from laughing in public, or even smiling. England’s Prime Minister David Eagle once told a female politician to, “Calm down, dear, calm down. Calm down and listen to the doctor.” An Australian Senator thinks it’s okay to use a headlock in order to restrain a woman (this one I’m actually kind of okay with if it’s under the right circumstances; hey, we’ve all watched “Cops!” a time or two).
And don’t get me started on what a woman has to go through when she’s raped. Not that she has to go through much, mind you, because you know, if it’s legitimate rape, the female body has ways of shutting that whole thing down, according to former U.S. Representative Todd Akin.
It’s not enough that “Oh, I see it’s that time of the month” is a common response to a woman who has a difference of opinion with a man.
It’s not enough that in 2013, women made $0.22 less an hour than a man for the same amount of work.
It’s not enough that Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying, “You cannot put women and men on an equal footing. It is against nature.”
No, none of that is enough coming from men.
We have to deal with it coming from other women, too.