Why Women Need Each Other
A friend and I have the same college major, are in a lot of the same clubs, and we have similar social lives. We share one of the truest friendships I have ever had, and there is so much I love about my friendship with her. We laugh at the same parts of movies, she is always honest about my outfit choices, and I know she will always keep my secrets. The one aspect I hate about our relationship: I feel ridiculously competitive with her.
I have a pressing need to be just a little bit better than my friend whenever our lives overlap. If she gets a 93 on a paper, I’m praying for a 95. It’s not that I want her to do poorly; I just want to be better than her when we’re being directly compared. I have no problem cheering her on when she does well in a class I’m not in, or when she tells me about getting internships with law firms because I have no interest in law.
I truly love my friend, and I want her to be successful. I kept asking myself:
Why is it so hard to just be happy about her accomplishments regardless of my own?
While watching Viola Davis’s Emmy acceptance speech, I realized that my competitive streak with my friend stemmed from the way I treated feminism. When Viola won, the first people to stand up and cheer for her were Kerry Washington and Taraji P. Henson, who had also been nominated for the award. Their excitement for her was a small moment, but it spoke volumes to me. These women were not saddened by their own loss; rather, they were thrilled for their friend, as her success as a woman of color meant they had succeeded as well. My surprise at their mutual happiness about Viola’s win made me see that I had been treating feminism as an isolating force, while in reality, it is so much stronger when it unites women.
We’ve made amazing strides when it comes to being treated equally, outnumbering men in college and higher-level education programs. Although the female drive to succeed is good, our need to be the best has gotten in the way of our relationships with other women.
Women are holding each other back. We compete with each other, seeing the success of other females as a threat to our own potential. The ugly gossip and backstabbing perpetuates stereotypes about successful women as bitches and isolates us, moving us backwards rather than forwards. As Emma Watson puts it:
“A lot of the criticism that I’ve had in my life, the hardest has been from other women. It’s not just enough to ask men to come in and support us, we need to support each other.”
The word “frenemie” is almost always applied to women, and we need to do something to change that. We need to realize that a win for another woman is a win for all of us. My friend’s higher paper grade simply means she is a good writer, not that I am a bad one. Feminism is about all of us demanding the respect we deserve, and we are so much closer to achieving equality when we stand together. So, I’m going to channel Kerry and Taraji next time my friend succeeds, and I hope she’ll do the same. I want to live in a world full of lady power, and that can only happen if I celebrate a female win any time I see it.
FEATURE PHOTO BY SUHYEON CHOI VIA UNSPLASH