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Why Women Judge Other Women - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Why Women Judge Other Women

June 4, 2009

Dr. Sylvia Gearing, TXA 21 News

Women have turned to one another throughout the ages for support, advice and information. But what happens when women turn on one another?

Women judge one another for the following reasons:

  • Love to Complain: Women love to complain and gossip to each other. In fact, most of us are in constant touch with our closest confidantes, and we love to lament about our latest frustration or irritation. At some point the conversation can turn ugly. We stop talking “about” someone and begin talking “against” them.
  • Confused and Threatened: We move to judgment when we are confused, offended or threatened. Many women do not like the “grays” of life, preferring to “niche” others in negative categories.
  • Self-Absorbed Women: Some women are so self-centered that any woman of achievement is a potential adversary. They do not want another woman to steal their thunder. They are naturally competitive and stab other women in the back routinely just to “stay even.”
  • Grudge Holders: We are chronic grudge-holders due to the fact that we have twice the brain space for emotional memory compared to men. As a result, if you slight a woman once, you may make an enemy for life.

Unfortunately, the presence of men can make women more critical of other women. In male-dominated situations in the workplace or social setting, women show an innate tendency to turn on one another. When guys hold the power and there are few women with authority, women can get much more nasty. We are as competitive as men but mainly compete with one another when our power is limited.

When women achieve power, many of us tend to hoard it and fail to mentor the very women behind us who will inherit our influence and skills. As a result, the entire gender is undermined. We must pull together rather than apart.

Friendships are often challenged when a woman succeeds. Jealousy and dissension may thrive when one woman excels beyond the other.

Similarity is the common denominator of female relationships. Girls at young ages don’t give orders but emphasize connection, sameness and interdependence. When women ascend in power, they differentiate themselves from the female community by holding that power. Similarity is decreased. With some women, such accomplishments are threatening, and they label the achieving female as overly confident, conniving or even conceited. Gossiping in female social communities is a primary way to undercut a woman who has achieved. Friendships often wither quickly.

There are specific types of female conversations that evoke this type of female against female criticism.

There are four broad categories:

  • Tracking the Competition: Women use gossip to keep track of other women, especially when they are competing with them. Sharing information about “when, where and whys” assures them that they can triumph over the other woman.
  • Criticize Her Love Life: Women love to complain endlessly about the men in their lives, but they delight even more in complaining about other women and their love lives.
  • Female Scapegoats: Women turn to others during times of stress, but sometimes the conversation turns nasty. Many times women begin to scapegoat another female as a solution to a problem. We “throw her under the bus” to alleviate our own frustration. Sharing a common view even if it is negative is soothing and bonds women to one another.

Women can do a great deal to support one another and to strengthen the “girl team.”

There are infinite ways that women can support each other, but here are some important tips:

  • Be a Mentor: If you see another woman who needs some guidance, coach her on how to navigate to better solutions.
  • Discover and Share Information: Use what we do best—share important information. Knowledge is power, so share the wealth with other sisters.
  • Hold Your Tongue: Don’t “take another woman out” over trivial annoyances. Especially in the workplace, you must present a united front. Thousands of flourishing female careers can be sabotaged by gossip. “Loose Lips sink careers!”
  • Weave a Female Web: Female groups are enhancing of our best attributes, including empathy, understanding and integrity. Connecting with other women is not only good for your mind but is great for your heart.

Sources include:

Deborah Tannen’s "You Just Don’t Understand"

Gail Evans’ "She Wins, You Win"

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