Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Camaraderie of Women

I once heard somewhere that women didn’t dress up for men. Instead, they dressed for one another.

I never believed this.

When I wriggled in my skinny jeans, buttoned my cardigan, and threw my bohemian scarf around my neck; I did it for no one but the woman in the mirror.

Unfortunately, I found that this notion isn’t true for everyone. I discovered that the creatures of gossip and banter, were immersed in a competitive nature: Staring one another up and down, hating each other for no reason at all and pummeling the rest to get to the top. Sound familiar?

It should.

I’m not sure if this nature is birthed from insecurity, self-preservation or both; I just know I’m sick of it. I’m used to the silly bickering and he-say she-say of my younger years. I’m used to “girls” starting wars over menial, trivial and irrelevant things.

What I’m not used to, or never want to become acclimated to, is dealing with it as an adult.

As a teenager, I questioned my mother; “Things are different when you’re older right? We mature and leave the childish antics behind, don’t we?”

My mother smiled a sad smile. She warned me that things were different but still the same: Girls just became women who played more mature games, but games nonetheless. The silly things that happened within the classroom would make its way to the workplace, my home and everywhere I had to encounter other women.

“But you don’t have to make that your plight baby. You can choose to be different.”

I am.

Sure, humans argue. We are creatures of emotions, anger, betrayal and revenge. However, the estrogen side of the fence seems immaculate at these traits when it comes to our own. I’ve seen most men put one another on, disagree today and shake on it tomorrow and congratulate each another. This is rare amongst my gender.

I recently had a conversation amongst friends about this. One friend told me that I couldn’t expect others to live my life the way I do. I held my female friends to the same standards that I held myself. This wasn’t fair. She’s absolutely right.

So I had to make a decision. In the year 2011 if your morale affected your ability to form gender camaraderie, you had to go. I said goodbye to a lot of friends and associates this year, especially females. Some of these friends were girls I’d been acquainted with for more than a decade. Some were women I’d shared amazing experiences with. All were slowly turning into two-faced creatures I did not recognize.

When I made the decision, I expected a feeling synonymous with heartbreak. Instead after a month or two of no drama or disappointment, I felt a weight lifted off of my shoulders.

Women unaligned with camaraderie of any shape or form are not allowed in my circle. In case you’re confused about this misalignment, let me clarify.

The Workplace/Career:
Why are we so quick to put another woman down or put her in her place? Whenever I get an email from a comrade or someone looking to delve into the same industry, I welcome them with open arms. I give lists of open mics, great advice and links to blogs they should check out. I’ve even designed complimentary blogs for girls who lacked inspiration to kick-off their writing career. During my late teens and early twenties, I’ve come across so many women who are the complete opposite. Upon expressing my admiration and seeking advice, I’d get petty micro-aggression responses like:

a. “Oh you’re trying to blog? That’s cute. Start small.”
b. “I’m a writer, you’re a blogger. Let me tell you the difference.”
c. “Aren’t you a poet? That’s not the same thing as writing. But I’ve heard some of your stuff, it’s….good.”

Ha! I seldom take on these women. Usually I just give them a smile, thank them for the information and hand them my card. Sometimes, I get regret filled emails from them after they find out my unannounced accolades.

Relationships: Find out your man is cheating on you? Who are you going to call? Not Ghostbusters! Certainly not the man who committed to you either.

Instead, you’ll call the other woman. Yes, the chick that nine times out of ten doesn’t know about you, thinks your relationship is failing, and/or thinks you’re his roommate/cousin/ex-wife/crazy baby momma.

Did you forget the fact that you’ve both been betrayed? Did it slip your mind that you have probably been hurt by the undeserving idiot you’re fighting for? Did you glance over the shared commonality of hurt and distrust?

Yep, you did.

Friends: We’re so easily annoyed by the betterment of our friends. Women travel in packs and only divide to talk to one about the other two. <-----That number/statistic comes in many different variations. I’ve had friends who have raised their nose at me for trying to better my relationship and opt out of clubbing. I’ve had friends who’ve tweeted live at my shows that they were sick of me flaunting my career. (Ha! She thought I wasn’t following her.) Oh and the best camaraderie-less friend of all? The one who is only there to steal/imitate what you have and once she has it, your union is no longer necessary. User!

camaraderie: mutual trust and friendship among people who spend a lot of time together.
Now sister, I might not spend that much time with you. In fact, I might not even know you at all. However, I’ve walked a mile in your shoes. I share so many of your plights. I know what it is to suffocate, exhale, break and mend. Before you have even had the chance to swap stories with me, you’ve made up your mind.

I’m here to steal your man.
I’m here to steal your spot.
I want your style.
I’m here to embarrass you.
To one up you.
To laugh at you.
To call you anything, but your name.

Well, you’re wrong.

Here’s a challenge:

For the career girl: Uplift your comrade. Show them the light without crushing their dreams. Stop the fear that someone is coming to take your spot. No one can do what you do, but YOU.

For the woman who’s about to confront the other woman: Go confront your man. Give a sister the benefit of the doubt.

For the friend: You’re not a comrade if you’re prone to gossip about those who you claim will be in your wedding. We are maidens of honor even away from the altar. True friendship is to know and love the jigsaw flaws that complete the puzzle of your companionship.


I don’t dress up for other women. There is no competition on my mind as I walk out of my door. I will no longer befriend and join those who deter our gender from unity. I’ve got way too many mountains to climb; there will be no lengthy trudging on jagged rocks along the way.

When I woke up this morning and left for work, I saw me everywhere. Not in the mirror that adorns the bedroom wall nor the rearview mirror of my car, but in the eyes of every female I came across. We are all slight reflections of one another.

I see you glimmering. I’m gon’ let you shine.


(artwork by Briana McCarthy)


Veronica said...

I've had only one dear friend that I've had to cut loose my whole life. She was a "one-up'er". Everything that I accomplished, she always made sure she announced something to top it. It all came to a head one day when out of nowhere she lashed out at me saying "You think you're all that!" (I was only talking about getting a new job) But that was just really what SHE thought--a verbal manifestation of everything she'd been thinking all those years.

Some women just have to learn that this is no one's competition and everyone has to do them on their own level at their own time. That's when one is truly fly and authentic.

Erika D. Coldman said...

Reading this post made me smile a little bit, especially the part about relationships in the workplace. I admire the fact that you're so open about lending a helping hand because at one point, you were in the beginning stages of your career, seeking advice from those whose work you admired.

As always, I enjoyed this post and will be sharing it. Hatred among women is the worst. We do need to a better job at banding together in every aspect rather than always thinking someone is out to "get us".

Leslie Colleen said...

Sister, sister.

I agree, and have agreed, for a very long time. And i think some of it comes from that natural challenge that often arises between mother and daughter, as daughter finds her womanhood. In the healthy cases, mother concedes her daughter into adulthood. In unhealthy ones, mother becomes her first competitor, downgrading daughter in many ways.

It is soooo important that we let go of these insecurities. Because we need each other.it will make us better sisters, friends, mothers, and lovers.

Danielle Renee said...

Love it! And just to piggy back on the career girl challenge: "There's nothing worse than an insecure person in a secure position."

riva. said...

@Veronica I'm glad you removed the negativity from your life. You've got courage. A lot of us keep women around that we know are a hindrance to our mental/emotional well being.

@Erika Amen! Can you just let me climb the ladder? They're at every rung trying to pull you down.

@Zuri I've never looked at it from a familial aspect. Nice! I'm going to delve into that further.

@Danielle Dope quote love!

Thanks for commenting guys! It means tons. :)

EDOKA said...

What a GREAT post! Thank you for blessing my day, Riv~

Veronica said...

I just "don't have the time" <--something I say often. It's a waste of breathe and a waste of life to let someone stress you. I value friendships deeply but when a person continues to pour poison into your spirit, it's time to cut them off.

Hey maybe I'll write a post about it. LOL!

LadyI said...

I loved this post! I was really touched by the networking experience. I had a few of those myself. Thank you for sharing this, I think all women need to read and embrace the truth about loving one another.