Women make up an inordinately huge group that faces discriminatory treatment all across the world, whether they live in first, second or third world countries. This is not to discredit the fight against racism or homophobia, but the surprising fact about sexism is that women, worldwide, are not and have never been a minority. There was never a time in society where men had to "get used to" the presence of women on their land or in their lives. Women weren't brought to America or some other nation; women didn't have to come out of the closet as women. Women have been around all this time, so why do women only make 67% of what men make in the working world? Why do women hold only approximately 25 percent of the world's government positions? Why is there a 25 percentage point difference in the employment-to-population ratio between men and women?
|Argh, where'd YOU come from?!|
To draw the problem simply, after 43 terms of presidency, we were able to elect a Black president in America. After 45 terms of presidency, we still have yet to elect a woman as President. While the position of President doesn't necessarily define where women stand professionally, the fact remains that we, women, are not there yet.
Of course, the reasons for sexism on a sociopolitical level are numerous and far-reaching but the goal of this article is to address a very specific and pervasive problem amongst women. It is one that I strongly believe keeps us from long overdue progress as a gender: what I call "bitch on bitch crime."
|My money's on Barbie.|
I use the term "bitch" to describe those moments when we treat other women like bitches by acting like bitches. When we choose to take sides against women who have made decisions different from ours, when we blame women for a relationship gone awry, when we talk shit about a scantily dressed woman, we are treating them like bitches and we ourselves are acting like bitches. For all intents and purposes, the term "bitch" here means an unfair way to act towards women and an unfair way to react as a woman.
Although Lincoln was referring to the nation's stance on slavery when he famously said "a house divided itself cannot stand," the phrase speaks very poignantly to what women do to each other on a day to day basis. The more we fight amongst each other, the less time we have together to work toward making our group heard.
We can stop some of those crimes right now. There are things we can do every day to fight the hatred that divides us. Here are six ways we can stop hating and start communicating:
1. We can start seeing other women as equals.
We can stop seeing any woman as being above or below us. That hot famous celebrity with the perfect body and jaw-dropping talent? No better and no worse than you as a woman. Admiration is in order, appreciation is in order, and inspiration is in order, but putting another woman on a pedestal means you no longer relate to this woman as a human being but as a commodity and a novelty. The same goes for that hoochie at the club drunkenly hitting on your boyfriend. Maybe you've made more positive choices thus far, but you're no better than her as a woman. She may be going through a rough time and is handling it differently than you would. But this does not mean you get to demean her by calling her a slut. She is going through difficulties just as you are and she deserves just as much love, understanding and human rights as anyone else on this earth.
|Can someone get her some water?|
2. We can be happy for each other. Like really, truly, happy.
No, I don't mean like you're happy for your girlfriend getting a part in that play and then you asking her to hook you up with free tickets. I mean you feel happy for her without there being any benefit for you at all. And if you feel that admittedly human twinge of jealousy in your stomach, you tell that little twinge to shut up and move on toward congratulating your friend, spreading the good word, and concentrating on your passions because you're just so inspired and excited by her success. Another woman's gain is a gain for us all and not a strike against our own efforts. The sooner we can get this through our heads, the better.
|That bi- I mean, hugely successful woman that I admire!|
3. We can hook each other up.
If you're the one that got that part in the play, why not hook your girl up? I often see women hoarding their many successes in fear of another treading on her territory. The truth is, if you're that good, no one can take that away from you. And by helping another woman out, you and the rest of us have everything to gain because our numbers are that much stronger. You can be the one bringing more women to your company. You can be the one electing a qualified woman to council. You can be the one that makes a difference in the statistics.
|Finally, someone to borrow a tampon from!|
4. We can stop listening to the bullshit.
Don't listen to others' ideas of what women are supposed to be. There are too many opinions flying at you at once. In music, we hear men saying they want a good girl. We see a girl with big boobs getting 50 likes on her profile picture. We read articles about supermoms with six pack abs and three kids. We get e-mails promising a fabulous date night if only you'll buy their stiletto pumps and pencil skirts. Our moms tell us to be one way, our dads tell us another. Not that your parents are feeding you bullshit, but figure it out on your own who and what you want to be. Don't take bits and pieces from people and media surrounding you to define who you are because that's all you'll become, a fragmented person with no glue holding those parts together.
|I'm all broken up about this.|
5. We can stop blaming each other.
In my experience, women blame women first when relationships go wrong. When a husband strays, women typically become angry at the mistress and figure out a way to work things out with the man for a period of time. Why do we blame the other woman when it's the man who made the pledge to be faithful?
|Oh no she dint.|
Whether the cause is deep rooted, like the Adam and Eve story, or pop-cultural, like the demonizing of "homewreckers", this sort of thinking is toxic for womankind. When we make other women the bad guy, we spread hate amongst ourselves and lose hold of that goodwill and solidarity we so desperately need in order to stand up against inequality.
6. We can figure out what we're really scared of.
When we feel disrespected or jealous or angry at another woman, we need to ask ourselves why.
There are such innocuous ways this need for validation is hammered into our conscious minds that it seems almost normal. When we praise a woman for her looks rather than her accomplishments. When we ask our girlfriends to "get us in the club" because they're showing more skin. When we objectify each other and put a price on our sexuality and identity, we teach ourselves over and over again that our bodies either validate or invalidate us.
We need to figure out each time we fight another woman what we are fighting for. Once we determine our own fears, we may finally understand there is nothing to lose. Once it becomes clear to us that validation from our peers means little more than an idle finger clicking the word "like", we can strengthen our resolve to improve.
If we can finally cure ourselves of bitch-on-bitch crime, we can start fighting together against sexism, because, seriously, the REAL bitch in life is not getting as good as what we deserve as women.
|And two cross-dressers.|
Happy International Women's Day! Let's get there, ladies :)
"Any woman who chooses to behave like a full human being should be warned that the armies of the status quo will treat her as something of a dirty joke. That’s their natural and first weapon. She will need her sisterhood." - Gloria Steinem
Sources: UN Women, Washington Post