In the wake of International Women's Day, I began to think about all of the encounters I've had with other women throughout my life. Women are awesome. We are strong, we are courageous, and we can do amazing things. I can name so many women who have had such amazing impacts on my life. They've helped me grow in countless areas of my life. They aided me through the most difficult times I've experienced. And they just made me immeasurably happy to be alive.
Women are fantastic, and we deserve that praise.
That being said, there are some attributes of women that aren't the best. There is a lot of talk about toxic masculinity but not a lot of talk about the toxic parts of femininity. Women can be overly competitive. Women can be hurtful. Women can be cruel. There's even an entire movie dedicated to the harmful attributes of femininity (and it does a great job of tackling those issues from the core). Women often tear other women down, especially if they think it'll benefit them. Women will even gang up together to tear someone down because they know numbers make them stronger.
Being a woman isn't always easy, and it's not just because of the patriarchy.
When I look back on all the difficulties with other people I've experienced throughout my life, almost all of them stemmed from other women. As a matter of fact, I can only think of one man who has truly been a toxic and negative force in my life, and I can think of many, many women in comparison. When I recall all of the times I've been bullied (I was text-book definition bullied in elementary and middle school), all of my perpetrators were women. They purposely left me out of things, they purposely spread rumors about me, and they purposely strived to isolate me.
When I think about the times someone has tried undermining in some type of role or position I've held, again, they were all women. They tried to manipulate me, they tried to manipulate others against me, and they purposely disrespected me to try to wrestle control over me.
Women don't grow out of these toxic tendencies.
I've had problems with women since the time I was seven up until now, at 21. I've had issues with women as recently as a month ago. I know grown women, women at the age of 30/40/50, who also have similar problems.
It's a part of our of gender that we've ignored for years. It's amazing that we've come so far as a gender, and we've created such a wonderful place in society for ourselves, but we'll never truly be empowered until we're able to truly empower each other.
I know this seems like a counter-intuitive position, this belief that femininity can be toxic, but I think it's quite progressive to recognize our faults and try to fix them. Once we stop being so wicked about other women, once we learn to recognize our toxic behaviors and to redress them, we will never achieve all that we want. We're the first to undermine other women, and we need to work on ourselves just as much as we work on the rest of society.
Once again, I'm so blessed to have the women I have in my life. I'm so lucky to know women who support me and build me up, and that's what we should strive for as a gender all the time.
We cannot keep acting like women are perfect and wonderful when there are glaringly obvious issues. We need to recognize our role in the struggles of being a woman and work towards eliminating them.