On Monday night my book club group discussed a lighter-weight book than we usually do. We'd had several heavy ones in a row, including a few World War II stories. This was more of a beach read:
The Girls of August by Anne Rivers Siddons.
I'm not sure what we expected from a light read such as this, but the discussion took us to interesting places. We talked about women's dirty little secret: the way we treat each other when we feel threatened or insecure. Some women shared painful experiences from childhood, when they were shunned or bullied by other girls. Others shared workplace experiences of the ways women can be vindictive—the ways we sabotage each other and fail to support and encourage. Some said they'd rather work for a man any day. Isn't that sad? But I understand the sentiment.
On the one hand, women are so relationship-oriented; and our friendships go deep. We'll do anything for a good friend—and we're there to comfort and encourage. At the same time, we sometimes get into what I call the "vying for the prom-date syndrome" and become competitive and vindictive, cutting each other down. We can be "catty," as one woman called it Monday night.
We kept asking why. Why are we women like that sometimes? Is it because we've never been taught how to compete like men do? Is it because we're conditioned to not show anger, to not be competitive—but instead to be "nice"? Is it because we're so relational? Is that why we carry grudges and hold on to things for so long, often nurturing the idea of revenge in our hearts?
We didn't have the definitive answer Monday night. But we came up with some possibilities—and it leaves us all more aware of how we treat other women. We need each other. We need to support and encourage one another. That's truly our best side!