HuffPost blogger Rachel M. Martin recently asked, "when did making fun of each other become OK?" Unfortunately, it seems that it became OK when Hollywood came to dinner and Andy Warhol's 15 minutes of fame prediction became our daily reality. Drama sells and selective group design is often very empowering to the members involved (aka -- society gangs). That is why the most rewarding thing about the outrage towards SELF magazine (for taking a jab at female joggers) was the ascending choir of female voices that are tired of our culture modeling and rewarding the platform of "Real Housewives"-style name calling and lethal character assassination.
We spend the month of March on stage revisiting the 'feminine mystique' and pointing out statistics on how women are still behind the eight ball via income and human rights inequities -- like the recent cases of women going to prison due to faulty social policies. But on a smaller scale, what do we do for each other in our daily interactions? As a female principal suggests in a Facebook feed about the SELF article, the interactive behavior that is being modeled for us is simply bullying. We each have opportunities to support other women, yet, all too often we are too busy building our bullying empires and closing out women who are not 'like-minded' --code term for "you don't meet our standards." On the flip side, a great many women gravitate to these power-building women who, in many cases, are extremely callous and intolerant of diverse mindsets, diverse skills, diverse ages and diverse beauty. Just like "The Real Housewives" (pick your location), we seem to take pride in having our differentiated cliques -- offering sisterly help solely as a means of conscious-cleansing charity work.
Do we really want equality for women who we 'help' from our comfort zones?
If the answer is yes, then where is our real solidarity and commitment to this ongoing change beyond the month of March? The 1913 Women's Suffrage Parade served its purpose. But in this age of globalism, we need not go as far as Africa to fight for women's equality. Let's start right here at home. We employ an army of developing nation female servants to maintain our modern-day queendoms and to service us on our feigned quests 'to have it all.' If we are so gung ho for female economic equality, 102 years beyond the parade (come March of 2015), then what changes do we want to see for all women within our own communities? How do we reach a level of equity and respect amongst ourselves, before asking men to honor us? In our efforts to create androgynous work-life environments and make our female presence known, we have created further divisions within our own camps. In essence, we as women may have lost our compassionate traits.
I am taken back to a question that women asked me when I first took on the responsibility of heading a female organization: Do you find that women are catty and unsupportive? At the outset, my answer was an affirmative "No!" Three months into my mission, as my own economic status continued to reflect the economy of Greece, I saw a very clear correlation based upon economic status. Many women well-above my status had no qualms about expressing their entitled superiority and need to disengage from a feminine movement of activism for their true interests of rubbing elbows with other high-status women. In the absence of wealth, the "Real Housewives" fled. Like traditional unions, female activism for equitable change has been replaced by less compassionate beauty power clubs. But the backlash to the SELF magazine article gives me hope for our ability to collectively level some playing fields and cultivate a great breadth of positive female involvement in our communities. There is hope.
In her book, Thrive, Arianna Huffington highlights the Linkedin CEO's belief that the positive side of our human abilities -- in this case, our 'mean girl' dilemma -- is like that of any other brain function, and compassion can be learned. Taking the time to walk in the shoes of another and truly understand their economic experience in life might be our first step in reuniting our sisterhood beyond the month of March. The other game changer is using the very media tool that is modeling dissension -- the television. Why not find The REAL Collaborators of... pick the location... ?
So, as Janet Jackson said in her 80s hit, "What have you done for me lately?" Maybe we need to start with ourselves and build our communities with more equity and mutual understanding rather than focusing on what men haven't done for us.