I read the other day that there's a report out saying women are bullied more by other women at work than by men. Judging from my own experience, I'd say that's true. Sad, but true.
The truth is that sisterhood is pretty much a myth. Women are less tolerant of and helpful to other women than they are to men. Maybe it's because we all suffer from the same thing and have little time for those that moan. We're all from Venus, and we'd rip each other's ovaries out at times if we could.
Of course it's a generalisation. We can be and are helpful to some of our sisters, but if there's somebody we're going to stick a knife in the back of, it's more likely to be a woman than a man.
The worst bosses I ever had were female. There, I've said it. One was a Machiavellian fat freak. Another was a wannabe Machiavellian freak (she wasn't fat). They favoured the men and spat on and sat on the women. I had a couple of female bosses who were all right, but not much in the way of mentors. I used to think it was because their generation were among the first female managers in newspapers. They had no women to emulate so they emulated the men. Badly. They resented the next generation of women because we had it that much easier.
It's not just in the workplace that women stab each other. There's the ongoing -- and, frankly, boring -- war between working mothers and mothers who stay at home. Working mothers are superwomen. We all know that. It's exhausting looking after a home, small children, and holding down a job. I have the utmost respect for women who do it. I'd like to be able to say that working mothers have respect for those of us who stay at home with our kids. But I can't. In my experience, working mothers look down on those of us who stayed home with the kids. We're not as bright, not as hardworking, not as ambitious. Our children suffer as well.
I never planned to stay at home raising my kids. I planned to be a career woman, just like all the other women I knew. Then I moved to England. I wanted to start over in a new career, but didn't know what. Then I got pregnant. Then I got pregnant again. I had no family nearby to support me if I did go back to work. Hubby had a pretty high-octane career and was quite honestly selfish. I knew I wouldn't have his support either if I went back to work. So I stayed home. It was lonely. It was frustrating at times, boring at others. I developed hobbies and went to the gym and for coffee. I cleaned my own house, did my own gardening, looked after my own children. And endured comments from my working friends. "Wish I could go to the gym." "Wish I could go for coffee." The meaning behind these wishful comments was clear: I was and am a frivolous human being with no real skills and am therefore inferior to them.
Or am I? I have a bit of wishful thinking too. Wish I could have gone to the bathroom in peace just once when my kids were younger. Wish I could get out of the house and have people treat me like I have even one active brain cell. Wish my parents lived nearby so I could dump my kids on them whenever, leaving me free to pursue a meaningful and lucrative career.
Why do we do this to each other? Here's what I really wish: I wish that we women could all just have a bit of respect for the choices others have made in their lives.
Or is that a wish too far?