Girls just want to have fun and find ways to embrace womanhood in the most unapologetic ways. Women feel accepted in a tribe of other women who are supportive and have similar interests and desires for success, love and greatness. Women who are getting along and helping each other to succeed is a beautiful thing. So why is there so much girl hate and mean girl behavior running rampant? The answer is quite complex but in many ways widely known. One day until the next women and girls are friends but often when it appears that one is getting ahead of the other more rapidly then negative behavior starts to arise.
I work with many young girls and for the first time this past year exclusively with K-2nd graders. I witness young girls being the best of the friends and then a few moments later saying “You are not my friend and our mutual friend is not your friend any more either.” These instances leave young girls either yelling at each other or feeling completely sad while detaching from the situation. I have been in working environments where women tear each other down. I can also admit that when working with another women where my expertise is not seen as worthy while hers is constantly celebrated I don’t want to befriend or get to know her better at all. Honesty is the best policy here if I don’t feel valued in a situation I don’t want to give it my all. The problem as Tavi Gevinson says below is the belief that only one girl can be great and pointing out each other’s flaws makes working together even more difficult.
“Girl hate is not hating someone who happens to be a girl, it’s hating someone because we’re told that, as girls, we should hate other girls who are as awesome as or more awesome than ourselves. That there can ever only be ONE cool girl, ONE funny girl, ONE smart girl, etc., in a circle of people … I’m close friends with a girl I used to have some serious girl hate for. Recognizing what a wonderful person, she is not only made me realize how idiotic I was being before, but it really did make me feel better about myself. Sometimes we can convince ourselves that pointing out flaws in others makes us feel good, but ultimately, those moments of pleasure are fleeting. In the long run, they get you in the habit of looking for flaws in everyone, including yourself.”
Tavi Gevinson, Rookie Magazine September 2011
So how can we promote an environment where there is less girl hate? Here’s five nuggets of wisdom to use wherever you are:
1) Use your position of influence to celebrate more than one woman at a time.
2) Model positive behavior of encouragement when in the presence of young girls
3) Be a mentor and advocate for professional women in your field of expertise
4) Don’t be silent and accept the behavior of someone tearing another woman down in your presence
5) Be willing to see when a first impression should not be a lasting one and a woman is actually nicer than you originally thought