Recently, a friend (I still choose to call her that, yes), took me down for being an idealist. She told me that I was too naive, and that my idealism would get me nowhere, and if I chose not to change my ways, she said I was being too rigid. This all started with something simple: I’d put up a post on my blog which spoke about an issue in the DR Congo, and we had different views on how the issue could be tackled. We did shoot each other’s views down, and I must admit that I did put up a brave fight in defence of my views. At the end, though, we sadly parted ways.
The irony of it all was that my post spoke about solidarity for our sisters in the DR Congo. And here we were, two girls, not willing to see eye-to-eye, both unwilling to come down from our high horses. That got me intrigued: why couldn’t we? Was it that we were so inherently incapable of accepting the other’s views? Or was it that we were simply refusing to?
I went back to an interesting article I read online, which surmised that women were reluctant to help each other achieve their career goals. Don’t get me wrong: my friend (yes, I still choose to call her that! We may have our differences, but she’s still a friend though we differed in our opinions.) and I are very staunch supporters of the cause of women’s emancipation, and have (and always will) walk the extra mile to work for the cause we support. But what was it about accepting each other’s perspectives and walking that extra mile together rather than on our own individual terms? Wouldn’t our cumulative work on one plane be a bigger success than our individual efforts on separate planes?
This led me to take on a little more research by delving deeper. Joan Rosenberg, the author of Mean Girls, Meaner Women, says that this phenomenon of women treating other women badly “has long played out between women at work, in friendships, and throughout their lives,” and that this “bad behaviour that women display towards each other is embedded in women, psychologically, culturally and socially.” While this may seem like an acceptable explanation, I am inclined to believe that we need to break that barrier and that glass ceiling by being there for each other.
Look at us, we’re so eager to help our nameless and faceless sisters in a war torn land as they face the challenges of rape and sexual violence. But when it comes to helping our urban sisters, our equally empowered sisters, we are so hesitant. It is bad enough that we live in a male-dominated society. It is true that this can make women feel like they are always competing with each other for space: but how about if we joined forces and rose above the debris of our patriarchal societies?