Thursday, March 15, 2012

Women Can Be Cannibalistic

Recently, a friend of mine came to me expressing frustration for another woman in her office. The second party consistently writes blistering emails that condemn teammates, shirks responsibility to evade culpability and casts blame - but only against female colleagues. 

For my friend, an honest and supportive team player, the behavior is disheartening, frustrating and tiring. As she described the situation, it reminded me of a quote my boyfriend's mom once shared explaining women - 

"There are two kinds of women: those that are for you, and those that are against you."

For years I struggled to understand why certain close friends would suddenly whisper behind my back if I earned recognition yet keep close if they had bested me; why I was hacked off from the party list and offered a lame excuse from a 'best' friendor why a bully in elementary school contrived to turn me into a 'playground pariah' seemingly on a whim. I always held on to the hope that juvenile jealousies and taunting would cease once I was an adult, but, alas, today I still encounter women like this at work and in my personal life.

I wish I could claim that I've never muttered a mean word about another woman. Of that I am guilty. Yet I wouldn't hardly classify myself as an 'against you' woman. I do genuinely feel excited about my friends' success and feel honored when asked to help another woman in career or personal pursuits. 

There are, however, some women who habitually strive to put others down and claw at other women who earn success. For years I thought it would fade as we all matured, but it wasn't until my boyfriend's mom share the aforementioned quote that it finally clicked: some women will always try to tear down others to try to bring themselves up.

Photo credit: U.K. Daily News and appearing
in  February 2011 Technorati article
Competitive job environments seem to amplify the existence of the 'against you' type women. I once worked with an 'against you' type who began her attack my first day on the job. Despite the fact that we were not in any form of competition, she contorted all interactions into a head-to-head competition and rejected any input or feedback from me or others she felt were her 'competition.' Maintaining tact in these engagements grew increasingly difficult, and our relationship was highly strained. It was with great relief when she was no longer a colleague.

I do want to point out that a stern and demanding woman is not an 'against you' type. For a sensitive soul, it might at times feel like an attack, but it's quite the opposite: a woman that challenges others is a woman striving to help the others succeed.

Of course there also are men who lurk behind the scenes attempting to maliciously destroy another's career, but petty personal attacks and conniving against each other seems more prevalent among the 'fairer sex.' For whatever reason, 'against you' women indulge in cannibalistic tendencies, attempting to kill and feed on other women's success.

Analysts and experts discuss the presence of a "glass ceiling" in the workforce. I wonder, would it be so thick if women didn't try to push each other out of the way to reach it?

1 comment:

Allison Altdoerffer (Ally Oop) said...

My friend shared this fantastic video of Meryl Streep at Women of the World conference - echos the sentiments I share above: