None of us have gotten this far in life without enduring some heartache. I’ve had my heart broken more than I’d thought possible, but that’s the price I pay for loving- and not just romantically, but loving friends as well. Nine times out of ten, the rewards far outweigh the risk. I have great love in my life, and am blessed with deep and meaningful friendships. But I’ve had some really bad experiences, the kind that make you never want to reach out again. Yes, men have hurt me, mostly by being thick-headed. But women…women are another story. There have been women in my life who have been vindictive and conniving and intentionally cruel. Women who have smiled to my face while stabbing me in the back. In my experience, no one can break your heart like a woman.
Could this be why the ERA has never been eradicated, and why women are still making 77 cents to every dollar a man earns? I think it is. We’ve put too much focus on men for our inequality, when we need to get out of the victim role and start looking at ourselves.
It is my personal belief that as women we aren’t yet standing in full equality because we don’t stand united. We want to rise in the ranks, but we fear there isn’t room for all of us, so what do we do?
We turn on each other. Not believing in our own full power, we knock others down by gossiping and judging and berating- all projections of self-loathing, (and in my opinion, this stems from shame). According to author Iyanla Vanzant, women cut each other down to feel powerful, but this is false power. She says, “It’s easy to be queen among paupers, harder to be a queen amongst queens”.
When we honor ourselves for who we are, the need to minimize others falls away. Happy, successful women don’t feel the need to criticize others. They can be glad for others’ success without feeling threatened.
I love what my friend Amy Ferris says about this- women should complete each other, not compete with each other. Amy and I achieved this while working together on our book over the past year and a half.
We completed, never competed, and because of this, we were able to make a dream come true – and do something positive in the world, to boot. Because of this, we are both stronger women. To me, this is feminism.
Personally, I’d rather be a queen amongst queens. The women in my life are strong and feisty and confident and powerful, and that’s just the way I like it. They inspire me to strive for excellence every day. I would never, ever say or do anything to detract from their bright shining spirits. One flower choking out all the others is not a garden. A garden is only is beautiful when it’s brimming with blooms of every variety.
There is room in this garden of humanity for every woman to blossom, to shine in her own unique color and shape. There is room for every one of us to be exactly who we are.
I believe we’ll only find our happiness, strength and equality when we help other women find theirs. But first, we’ve got to stop breaking each other’s hearts, for no woman truly succeeds until all of us succeed.
Amy Ferris wrote a companion piece to this blog- read it here: MarryingGeorgeClooney.com
The garden is much more beautiful with you blossoming in it, Hollye. 🙂
I met 'the Evil One' when I was 21 and she was 22. Like most sociopaths, she was charming. And she was an abuser–the emotional/psychological kind–and for 8 years she played on my vulnerabilities to the point where I was isolated and believed no one else would ever care about me. I also put my daughter into her path of destruction and she suffers from the effects to this day. She needed a captive audience to play to and I was the perfect victim. I guarantee that I would be much farther along in life, financially far better off, and much more able to be a friend if I had either never met her or had run screaming once I realized what she was. She's an extreme case, but they are out there. I honestly believe she *hates* women, despite her constant blandishments to the contrary. I know that the effect on my life was the same as if she had set out to harm me as her personal entertainment…
Blessedly, that was a lifetime ago; one of my biggest life wishes is to never lay eyes on this woman again…
I think you're right. It hurts more when women turn on you. Most of my experience with women has been civil and collective and often truly sisterly. My experience of mean or vindictive women has been short but it cut very deep. The mean women made me cautious but they also made me try harder to be kind and generous. I never want to be the source of that kind of pain.
Oh Debra- I feel the same about YOU! And your are such a unique flower- so feisty and so funny!
So sorry to hear that Maya. I've had a few really nasty hateful women in my past, too. Still can't wrap my head around it. But it does wake us up, and make us stronger.