A 2013 literature review focused on female competitiveness found that, “women by and large express indirect aggression toward other women, and that aggression is a combination of ‘self-promotion,’ making themselves look more attractive and ‘derogation of rivals,’ being catty about other women,” according to a New York Times article.
In our relationships with each other, we women are supportive, encouraging and loving. But we also are in a constant exhausting and silent competition with each other. There’s this weird tendency for women to be on guard around each other, especially those we do not know, and it’s something that’s not spoken about between us as much as it should be.
This disconnect between women is evident on our campus. Newly formed club, SUNY Plattsburgh Cares, held one of their first panels “Chick Chat” with the purpose of bringing women together to encourage us to get to know each other because they noticed women on campus were avoiding forming friendships with women they wanted to get to know.
Used as her intro to her track, “Flawless,” music artist Beyoncé Knowles features Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie who briefly touched on why women are socialized to be competitors in her TED Talk titled “We Should All Be Feminists.”’
“We raise girls to see each other as competitors not for jobs or for accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing, but for the attention of men,” Adicihie said.
Certain reality tv shows such as “The Bachelor” and other reality dating shows where women compete for the love and hand in marriage of one man emphasize Adichie’s point that society encourages women to be competitive through their appearances and household skills solely to find an attractive, intelligent, charming and financially stable man.
In her article on Vox.com, journalist Kelsey McKinney quotes Jennifer Pozer, author of “Reality Bites Back,” who shared with her the traditional stereotypes of women these reality shows enforce today.
Pozer explains the show portrays,“That [women] don’t want or have any professional or personal goals, that we don’t want or have any sexual fantasies, and that men get to make all the decisions.”
Plattsburgh State senior Lévar Francis, a business administration and international business double major, said she can think that as early as the age of four, her family forced her to learn household duties in order to secure a husband later in life.
Francis would half jokingly continue to tell her family her plans to hire a maid. “They would then tell me, ‘Watch and see. If you don’t learn to cook and clean, the maid is going to take your husband,’” Francis said.
Society at the personal and institutional level continue to encourage girls and women today that their ultimate goal in life is to provide for their man and that any woman who looks attractive and can “do better” for your man is a threat. Mass media is a powerful tool as it has a dramatic influence on people’s perceptions of women, on women’s views of each other and our expectations of gender roles.
Email Lexus Gomez at firstname.lastname@example.org