I am convinced that the guilty pleasure of gossiping is intertwined in the female psyche at birth. It doesn't start as an adult, and not even in your teen years, the shit-talking begins far sooner than that. Just think back to when you were in elementary school, was there a girl that you did not particularly enjoy? Was there a girl who others poked fun at or made comments about? Did you participate in the empty verbal threats? Were you this girl?
If you weren't this girl at any point in your life, count your blessings. (Although, I suspect that most women have been the target of bullying, cyber-bullying, gossip or sheer hatred at one point or another throughout the course of their lives.)
But if this is the case, if we have all been the object of this unexplained hate, then why do women still gossip? If we know what it's like to be verbally torn apart by another woman, then why would we inflict this pain on yet another unfortunate soul? It seems like this cycle is never-ending in "girl world".
I often wonder if women will ever be as truly unified as they claim to be. We cannot beg for equality or cry out feminism if we are still failing to respect each other. It's counter-productive and it destroys our credibility as women. We talk about a metaphorical "war on women", but maybe the real war is among ourselves, instead.
In a very accurate depiction of "girl world", the movie Mean Girls depicts this perfectly in a quote from Ms. Norbury (played by Tina Fey).
"...you all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it okay for guys to call you sluts and whores."
While Mean Girls is more "white girl-acclaimed" than critically acclaimed, Ms. Norbury still makes a very valid point.
Women commonly fail to realize the impact of their words and the incredible influence that they have in society. I certainly do not believe that men have any excuse to refer to a woman as a slut or a whore, but women have to understand the level of hypocrisy they are portraying by using degrading words so casually.
And how silly we must look when we beg to be treated as equals, yet find it funny to call a girl you dislike a whore, when she's probably done nothing to deserve it.
All this does is fuel a man's fire the next time he wants to call out a woman for any particular reason, whether it is justified or not. We are telling men that we want to be treated like queens, (demanding it actually). But in the same breath we will insult, mock or degrade the woman standing next to us. This isn't okay.
However, I want to be transparent here. I am very, very, very guilty of this. I suffered through years of mindless bullying and insults, and one day, I became the girls who bullied me. I have been the whore, the gossip, the shit-talker and the fake friend many times in my life. And I have learned over time that it is very easy to fall back into this hole of self-hatred.
When I am having a weak day, when I feel fat, when my face is breaking out or at any other point when I am feeling the slightest bit insecure, I can turn into that sixteen year-old bully all over again. Smiling in someone's face only to throw them under the bus as they walk away, (and I know I can't be the only one).
We as females owe it to ourselves, our friends and especially, the younger generations of women to hold ourselves accountable and make it a point to lift up other women daily.
Compliment someone's eyebrow game, the shoes that your friend is wearing or even a stranger's smile. There are countless ways to be the change and make other women feel more valuable. But don't feel like you have to stop there.
If you know the person well enough, tell them that you admire their wisdom, be bold enough to say how genuine and wonderful you think that they are and make it a point to always encourage other women in the workplace. That has become something of a war zone these days, depending on the field in which you are employed.
Ladies, I understand that loving yourself is easier some days than others. No one feels like their "best self" 365 days a year. It is so easy to get caught up in our own self-pity that we somehow find it socially acceptable to bring other people down to our miserable levels. But if you catch yourself doing this, just stop right there and reflect back on all the times that you have felt inferior due to the words of your peers. Whether it be age twenty-eight, eighteen or eight... we all have those unkind memories in our pasts. We have all been hurt by another woman. We all thoroughly understand what that betrayal feels like.
Please remember that you are fearfully and wonderfully made by a Creator who sees us all as "queens" in our own right. And remember that words truly can change your life and the world around you.
"The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences." -Proverbs 18:21 NLT