Sometimes I wonder, as a person who has very few "girlfriends" and who tends to gravitate more toward men for friendship, how I ended up in a profession where I am constantly surrounded by women. (Maybe it is because men are whiny babies when they are sick, and I have little tolerance for it. That, or prostate exams. *shudder*) I think I tend to want to avoid the drama that inevitably comes along with close female friendships. I've been burned one too many times, I guess. I've been mortally wounded time and again by women who were supposed to be my closest friends, often for nebulous reasons. We've touched many times along the same topic since the inception of this blog, yet I see the theme being returned time and again, *women* keep women down.
I see this every day in my profession (and, more recently, the blogosphere), where women judge other women's birth choices, from the kind of pain relief they choose to the kind of provider that attends them. Female physicians still don't command the same respect as male physicians, primarily from the predominantly female staff. Stay-at-home moms are aghast at working moms for "abandoning" their children; working mothers "look down" on stay-at-home mothers for not pursuing their own career. Breast-feeders sneer smugly at the bottle-feeders. Women judge other women based on their clothes, their handbags, their hairstyles, weight, and personal grooming (can you *believe* she doesn't *wax*??) It is so pervasive that we automatically apologize for not being precisely groomed. (I can't tell you how many women have apologized to *me* for not shaving their legs prior to an appointment! As an aside, I neither notice nor do I care.) As a happily married woman, I find myself angsting over letting my highlights grow out too long, or running to the hospital with no make-up on. My husband does not care about make-up, and he doesn't have a clue about highlights. I'm not looking to hook-up at the hospital, so why do I care? Because, inevitably, I will get the standard, "Oh, you look so *tired.* Are you sick?" or the snide, "Growing out your highlights, hmmm?" These comments do not come from men.
This extends to the political arena, where any woman that ascends to a position of prominence is viciously and ruthlessly attacked, scrutinized, and her family life nitpicked and torn apart (the phenomenon is bi-partisan, see Hillary Clinton or Sarah Palin). The worst perpetrators of this are not the male commentators. It is the female commentators who render the harshest blows with a glint of evil satisfaction in their eye. Even so-called "feminists" are just as inflexible and intolerant of any woman that does not share their point of view as any conservative male evangelist. I've had women, who (prior to a certain post that tweaked a nerve) proclaimed to *love* my blog, flounce noisily with a searing comment from my blog for simply expressing an opinion that differs from their own (totally within their prerogative, but baffling nonetheless). I'm not saying that I'm not just as guilty of this behavior as anyone else. I am woman, hear me snark. If you don't have anything nice to say, come sit next to me, ad infinitum. I have sinned as well.
My question is: Why?
Why do we do our best, intentionally or unintentionally, to tear other women down? Historically we are supposed to be the collaborative gender, working together for the greater good of our families, villages, etc. So why, now that we have more opportunities than ever, are we snapping at one another's heels? What exactly has feminism done for women from a sociological point of view? Are we jealous? Insecure? Afraid there isn't enough to go around or that it will be suddenly snatched away? More importantly, what can we do to change it? What do *you* think?