Female Solidarity?*

A couple of years ago, my colleagues and I were watching BBC News 24 during our lunch break.  There was a report about the Chilean miners trapped underground for several weeks.  Finally rescued, the men were telling the interviewer about the bond of solidarity that had developed among them.  A bond as strong as brotherhood.

One of my female colleagues sniggered.  “If it had been women trapped together like that,” she said, “they’d have scratched one-another’s eyes out.”

All the women at the table laughed and nodded.  The men stared, eyes wide.  “Why?” one of them finally asked.

We did not bother explaining it to them.

Speak up, Ladies.  I would be very interested in hearing your comments about this, to see if a pattern emerges, and if experiences vary from country to country.

What kind of female boss have you had? One who views you as a competitor? One who demands to be kept informed of every detail of every stage of your progress with your task – or one who is simply interested in the result, but how you get there is up to you?   One to whom you are nervous submitting too good a piece of work? One who will clearly take offence if your dodge questions about your personal life? One who will correct you in front of a roomful of people? One you look up to as a mentor? Who is supportive, laid back and eager for you to get ahead in the profession? One who feels genuine pride and joy when she tells you that you have surpassed her?

Right.

 

If you are single, how often do you see those female friends who are married/paired up? Is that during normal socialising hours (i.e. evenings and weekends) or during off-peak times (i.e. Monday to Friday before 7 p.m.)?

Those of you who see your attached friend evenings or weekends, is her husband/partner generally present, or does he happen to be out/away? Does your friend call to invite you over for dinner, saying, “[Man] is working late/away.  Why don’t you come ‘round for a girly night in?”

Do you find that your married/attached female friend reserves evenings and weekends for socialising with other married/attached friends (complete with respective husbands/partners)? If you drop a hint that you would quite like to join in, does she quickly say, “I’d invite you but you’d be bored – we’ll all be couples.”

Or does she make a point of inviting you and adding an extra man to her guest list?

Do you feel an unspoken rule that you are expected to confine your ‘phone calls to your married/attached friends either to office hours or that narrow post-work – pre-dinner gap?

Right.

You are at a party, engaged in enjoyable conversation with a man.  Does a female figure slink over, out of nowhere, insinuate her hand into the crook of the man’s arm (or slide it around his waist) and dart you a “just so you’re clear whose territory this is” look?

Right.

You are sitting in a restaurant, in company of men and women, chatting.  An alluring woman, charged with sexuality and self-confidence, walks in.  Everyone falls silent and stares.  Once she has disappeared from view, what comments do the men make? And how do the women respond? Do they say “Go, girl!” or draw parallels between her and females of the canine species?

Right.

 

You have just embarked on a passionate affair with a gorgeous-looking, intelligent, impeccably-mannered, generous, entertaining, wealthy man who is madly in love with you.  How do your female friends react?

Right.

I just wondered.

This piece is dedicated to all the generous, supportive women who enrich my life.  In the manner of Gianni Schicchi’s apology at the end of the opera, I hope they will forgive me – and giggle.

* Don’t get too smug and comfortable, Gentlemen.

Scribe Doll

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18 Responses to Female Solidarity?*

  1. emmawolf says:

    …I’m not sure what you’re implying. I have worked in quite a few all female settings, and my bosses have all been encouraging. The bonds we formed were always strong. I call my married friends whenever I want.

  2. fringster says:

    I think it’s in the nature of women to compare herself with others. In my experience, if I see someone prettier, smarter, and like “more awesome” than me. I befriend her. Haha. And it ends up that we become close and I don’t compare myself to her anymore.

  3. There’s another side to female solidarity, too (there are many, I find), and that’s the false-friend who constantly criticizes men to you and who repeatedly encourages you not to work things out with your male mate, but to act in a purposefully confrontational manner which in all likelihood will cause more trouble. There are ways and ways to confront correctly, and sometimes these sorts of women think they are genuinely being supportive when all they’re doing is causing problems and showing their own bitterness. We all have a certain amount of bitterness about men, because most of us past the age of 18 have dealt with some sexism even from the men we love best. But again, the way to end the sexism is to deal with it intelligently and sensitively, not to barricade oneself behind defenses put up for one by false-friends. Do you find this true too? And I too have had some wonderful female mentors who seemed to rise above the fray of all this stuff, so let me not fail to mention them gratefully.

    • scribedoll says:

      Yes, I see what you mean, and I agree. I must confess, before I was 18, I can honestly say I had never encountered any kind of sexism from men/boys. I realise I was very lucky. I was bullied very badly at school – but only by girls. I found reading Margaret Atwood’s ‘Cat’s Eye’ very disturbing, since she captures girl bullying vividly and harrowingly. I definitely agree with you with regard to “false friends” who may feel more comfortable if you can share in their unhappiness by being unhappy, yourself. As you say, they mean well but… Thank you so much for your insightful comment.

  4. Wendy Kirby says:

    I suppose it depends on the women you are dealing with. I am an attractive woman and I sometimes find that people pre-judge me. Women expect me to be full of myself and men seem to think I’m sexually available. I once joined a Slimming World club and the whole group froze me out. I couldn’t understand why at first as the other members knew nothing about me apart from the fact that I wanted to lose some weight. I soon realised that these women were deeply insecure and that looking at an attractive women instantly made them feel less than happy with themselves. From childhood we are brought up to compete with each other. Rather than rejoicing in another women’s beauty we are conditioned to see it as a threat. That said, I love women’s company and wouldn’t be without it. Once women get to know me they can see that I’m not interested in taking their husbands, jobs from them – even if I could. I am happy for my friends success’s for it means that I can succeed also. Looks aren’t everything, yes they can open doors – but only so wide. So let’s embrace the sisterhood. You go girl.

    • scribedoll says:

      I think you’ve nailed it. “From childhood we are brought up to compete with each other. Rather than rejoicing in another women’s beauty we are conditioned to see it as a threat. ” Imagine a world in which women do not feel threatened by one another. That would lead to a feeling of sisterhood and support. That would probably even eradicate sexism.
      Thank you for your perceptive comment. Go girl! :–)

  5. Obviously from all the comments so far, there are all kinds of women in the world. My advice is: Find women friends who display the traits that you want to display to others. Sounds simple… but we all know its not.

  6. Jane Hamill says:

    The older I get, the less BS you describe I see. I’m 45 and the women I know are rarely like the picture you present in this article. I think it has to do with the friends i pick and the fact that we’re all more comfortable and confident at this age. While there’s definitely truth to what you’ve written, I do believe that if it was women trapped in that mine, the bonding would have been very similar to the men.

    • scribedoll says:

      Sadly, our experiences differ (although it is my honour and privilege to know some extraordinary, supportive and generous women). Thank you very much for your comments.

  7. jmanlowe says:

    I’ve been a feminist since the age of 10 (after learning “women can’t be Catholic priests!”). Everyone I could enroll to question such an outlandish claim stands with me, most of these allies are women. If you want to see female solidarity, checkout these groups on Facebook: Standing for the Sisters http://ow.ly/dfhwB and Authentic Women Leaders Making an Impact http://ow.ly/dfhzd and We are Women March – Washington State http://ow.ly/dfhAo. Women who come together amidst their differences, even celebrating the same, in service of dignity and justice for all women, have made a tremendous impact on the globe. I continued to be awed by what we can do if we don’t fall prey to media pressures to compete and consume.

    • scribedoll says:

      I am not on Facebook so, unfortunately, cannot view the links you have kindly provided. I am not suggesting women cannot get together for an important common cause (we know we can). In my opinion, however, it is important to recognise one’s faults and tendencies (men have those, too). Like with any generalisation, there are always exceptions which pop their heads up. There are wonderful, supportive men, just like there are despicable ones. Similarly, there are wonderful, supportive women, just like there are back-biting ones. I just think it’s important to poke fun at our flaws (be they characteristic of our sex, nation, family or any other category we happen to belong to) – it makes it all the more wonderful appreciating our special qualities. I just think, as far as I am concerned, it gives one a balanced view of things. To state the blatantly obvious: nobody is perfect, so let’s be open about our qualities but also about our defects. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment – and my best wishes for your endeavours.

  8. Last week I saw a rerun episode of Oprah’s Show. You know, the one which features her so-called best producers. And I was so amazed after realized that most of the team members are women. Yet Oprah proudly called them “best team in TV industry.” I think women have some kind of solidarity bond like gentlemen do, only not a same kind. We just express “solidarity” differently. But talking about competitive trait and jealousy, I agree with your statement that women tends to be more competitive and envy to their girlfriends than men to their peers, without ignoring the fact that in some cases, women can be very supportive and fair team players as well.

  9. marymtf says:

    Why not just say that we’re both sides of the same specfies, and that’s okay. Vive le difference.

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