As we 21st century feminists continue to redefine what feminism is and what we need to do to finish breaking all of those glass ceilings, I am continually confronted by one ugly truism----------and that is that we women are often our own worst enemy. How we got to be this way can be difficult to define, but I'm going to take a stab at it.
First and most importantly, we women often have a very hard time celebrating other women's success. We just get flat out jealous. I consider this jealousy thing partly to be human nature. However, the bigger part is that women have to share a smaller piece of the power pie. By this I mean that since men run practically everything, they hold most of the power pie. They get to choose which women they will give a small slice to, and as a result lots of great women don't get a chance to partake. As a result it leaves us in the position of fighting over what little share we get and resenting the "chosen" female. It seems to me that if we women worked together to gain parity, many of our problems would just go away. In truth, if the pie equals 100 parts, and women have 50 parts of it, we wouldn't be fighting over the 1 or 2 pieces of it. We'd have absorbed the fact that since lots of us can participate, we would have much more room to maneuver and lots fewer reasons to be jealous. Seems simple to me. But it is a huge problem.
And it's a huge problem for the chosen woman as well. If only one or two women get to participate, pressure is put on these women to bring in other women. The thing is, although the chosen women end up possessing some power, most of the time that power doesn't include bringing other women in. So these chosen women are pressured from both sides. One side assumes that the chosen woman will help other women. The other side assumes that since they let one woman into the power structure, that was enough and that woman needs to prove herself to keep her position. Guess which position will win out? It will be the survival position-----the one the chosen person must choose to keep her job.
Another deep problem in the sisterhood is a remnant from our adolescent days of girls bullying other girls. There has been alot of awareness in recent years of the girl on girl bullying problem. As a society we are only now beginning to grasp it and address it. How that leaves us as adults is that we can still fall into this behavior paradigm more often than we'd like to admit. When it comes to politics, we women can easily form into "packs" and bully people who we don't agree with. Part of it again may be human nature, but it becomes a big problem when women are trying to gain real power for the first time. You can read my list of bad stats for women here. These stats show how little women actually run in our country. We rank #70 in the world in female representation in government, and the stats get even worse from there.
The problems begin when we are subliminally encouraged to form into groups to go after women we don't agree with. Both parties do it, and often we women fall into that pack mentality without even realizing we are doing it. When we go after each other, it not only slows our progress, it can stop it altogether.
One other thing we women do is to stereotype each other into the same negative roles that are used to minimize us. You know, witch, bitch, nut, and slut. Now I've been told that we shouldn't be telling people what to say or do, and I totally agree with that. However, what sense does it make to use these stereotypes when they have been proven to be very successful in sinking women's chances to win an election?
I think that the best thing we can do to counter our problems is until we gain the kind of power equality we should have, we need to just stop calling each other names and start encouraging women to run and to have their back when these problems come up. Just like I said in this piece, we need to stop the stereotyping dead in its tracks. We might as well stop it in the sisterhood first and get on the same page.
One other issue that we women are guilty of is that we expect a female candidate to be perfect. Why in the world do we do that? After all, we have been lead by imperfect men since forever and we seem to have built up a tolerance for that. Why are we more comfortable with an imperfect man than an imperfect woman? I have read that there are more women (12%) than men (8%) who would never vote for another woman for president under any circumstance. Hmmm. Well then, that leaves 88% of us willing to vote for a woman. Let's cut our women some slack. Just because she isn't perfect and may let us down in some way, that doesn't mean she won't be a great leader. Heck, I have lived with my husband for 39 wonderful years, and as harmonious as our life is, we don't agree on everything. Why should we expect our women candidates to agree with us on everything?
There are certainly other issues that come to mind as to why we women are often our own worst enemy. I hope that as you read this if you think of other problems in the sisterhood you will comment on them and we can have a great discussion. We need to get our act together so we can join together and use our strength in numbers to force those glass ceilings to shatter. We can do it because we must!!!