A Sober take on Love and Life in London
By Janna Fox
What’s with us girls? Why are we always out to get each other? Why can we not spend more time supporting, nurturing and embracing one another.
‘Well I don’t know about you but I’m lovely to all other girls’
‘I’m a feminist’
‘I always embrace other women’s talents’
I can hear the cries of protest now.
My response; ‘REALLY???’
Are you sure? Are you sure that you’re not only OK with other women if they’re not threatening your position? Your place? Your career? Or relationship? Because I have a feeling, and I know this feeling pretty well, that it would be a different story if they were.
Yes there is a life affirming, maternal side to our sex but there is also a very real opposite to this. The opposite that includes bitchiness, cattiness, cliques in schools demonstrated perfectly by Tina Fey in her fast becoming Cult Classic Mean Girls. This is not the only example of women going against women on our TV screens watch any episode of Bravos The Real Housewives of Wherever and it will be laid out seamlessly before your eyes. So much so that each episode comes with a warning *may contain strong language and physical confrontation. In Drop Dead Gorgeous a mockumentary about a Mid-West Beauty Pageant Kirsty Alley takes this to the extreme by not only sabotaging her own pageant in order for her daughter to win but by killing the other competitors.
I look around and more often than not I see women attacking other women way more than we praise them. Melania Trump, for example. She took a lot of shit when her husband was fighting his presidential campaign despite attempting to stay out of it and then again when he won and now even more so. Online abuse cases, slut shaming, criticisms of her fashion choices, her accent, how she speaks, what she says, where she’s from it is endless. Melania is not Donald and through the crossfire between Trump and Hillary Clintons’ barrage of insults many, many women chose to aim their guns at Melania Trump; initially for simply reciting the Lord’s prayer. Interestingly enough Melania actually speaks five languages, she was born in communist Yugoslavia, raised in a concrete tower block which I imagine was not a holiday and has successfully elevated herself to one of the most esteemed positions on earth, First Lady of the United States. I don’t like what her husband represents or is getting up to but I don’t feel the need to attack her for it. I suppose she possesses the two main things that make other women particularly nervous; beauty and power.
There is a whole article in Cosmo dedicated to why we should all hate Sarah Jessica Parker’s character Carrie in Sex and The City. A whole article. In fact there are several on the internet from various publications. This is a character whose sole popularity made one book turn into six series, two films, one prequel, seven Emmys, eight Golden Globes and three Screen Actors Guild Awards . It’s not enough to just bitch about her. Someone took the trouble to list all the examples of why we should hate her, listing the episodes so you can go back and check. Forget the fact that she’s a strong single woman, living her dream and successfully too which for anyone who hasn’t tried it is bloody hard. We would much rather pick apart her flaws and all the things we don’t like about her than all the things we do like about her. Right girls?
Winona Ryder was famously mocked on social media and the actual media when receiving an SAG award with the cast of Stranger Things in January this year for moving her eyes.
Literally. That was all she did. Moved her eyes. Ha. Ha. Ha. Let’s create a gif this is hilarious. Never mind the fact that this woman has achieved great things, Golden Globes, Academy Award nominations. Not only that but has struggled with severe depression and anxiety throughout her life was also famously arrested for shop lifting, ultimately committing media suicide in 2001, to then come back and continue coming back onto our screens and then to land in one of the most popular and iconic new series of 2016 is beyond impressive and all everybody wants to do is laugh at her eyes. Not just people. Other women.
I am an actress and a bar manager and I regularly find that I am surrounded by men. Typically playing the only female role in a play, very often directed by men I have viewed other women as a threat. If there’s only one part for a girl and you’re the only girl in the company for example; then any other girl the director shows interest in could potentially take your part or place.
In the bar world there are many, many male managers that won’t hire a female GM or shift leader believing that they are less capable of shifting heavy kegs around or kicking heavy lads out. I have made a career out of proving these pricks wrong but then again while busy proving myself there is a tendency to look at other women coming into the fold with the same prejudice that was initially assumed against me in order to align myself with the right side, secure my position, save my job.
It’s no secret that there are less roles for women than men and even now when women are asking for more of an equal space on our stages people like Dominic Cavendish still feel it necessary to have a go offended at the assumption of their right to bigger challenges, more stage time and heaven forbid male roles. Similarly in the bar world, in my experience anyway, it’s typically only when you find an unprejudiced man that you are then able to, as a woman, rise up to the same level as men.
Many women are uncomfortable with other women taking an equal piece of the pie to the extent that a hashtag was created and with it a movement formed against feminism in 2013. Women started posing for selfies with posters stating that they don’t need feminism as they are not ‘manipulative idiot playing victim’(s)claiming that feminists ‘want equality but expect special treatment’, ‘trivialise rape’ and are ‘Marxist socialist vegans’. Seriously read it and weep. I did.
It’s possible that I will struggle to find another example quite so perfect of women attacking other women, in fact right now I’m struggling not to start myself as this makes me really angry. They seem to have missed many points. The main one being that feminism is the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of EQUALITY of the sexes but instead want to argue and bitch about what they dislike about their own sex and arguably themselves while citing that they want equality and feminists want to turn women into victims…make sense? It doesn’t to me.
There are less women in positions of power than men. Fact.
Women are internationally paid less than men. Another fact.
And yet when we hear about one of our fellow sisters doing well like Melania, Carrie and Winona the side glances, eye rolls and memes begin and when feminists take to the streets to stand for women’s rights they are openly chastised by women against feminism.
There is rarely an openly honest cheer.
Come on girls. Do we have nothing better to do? What about the fight for equality? Anyone remember that one?
I hate to say it but it does often feel that we are so busy knocking other women off their in very high demand pedestals that we miss the bigger picture. We are so caught up with the running commentary we forget the substance, the movement, the issue which frankly is like going out for dinner and only having a bottle of wine. Yeah it’s great fun to get smashed but you missed the point.
I’m not saying that all women need to like all other women until the fight for equality is over but can we not at least try supporting each other a bit more? No you can’t like or agree with everyone regardless of their sex but maybe that’s what we should be doing? Sounds a dam sight more progressive than sitting around looking at distorted pictures of other women’s bodies and bitching about what we would do differently. Or hashtagging that modern feminists have got it wrong and then getting our knickers in a twist about how, where, when and why they are getting it wrong. Or stopping mid argument to clarify which type of feminism we are arguing about here. Should it matter?
I have always been much more intimidated by women than I have by men and I don’t think I’m the only one if I was then there wouldn’t be so many examples for me to draw upon. Interestingly it’s only since I’ve become sober that I’ve been able to sit back, consider this more and change my behaviour rather than allowing my own insecurities to influence my perceptions of and reactions towards other women. As a woman who has always had more male friends than female, who blamed the other woman when cheated on by My Mr Big and who actually lost a job thanks to a producers jealous girlfriend I am no stranger to girl on girl crime from both sides.
I would like to encourage all girls to recognise their own faults and their own fierceness. I would like to live in a world where we all unite and support each other and let that define the women’s movement. Unfortunately when we see each other as competition, inhibiting one another’s success all we do is set our own sex back when we should be leading the way for each other to do better.
Society has taught us there are limited spots for us girls and we have learned to act accordingly. When we see other women with the breaks, the parts, the relationship or the family that we ourselves want we struggle to celebrate their success and more often than not see a reflection of our own failure.
Come on girls. Next time you hear your inner bitch creeping in, count to ten and think about why that animosity is present. I reckon that nine times out of ten you’ll find you’re actually attacking yourself and that whatever that person is doing that’s grating on your nerves it’s only grating on your nerves so bad because it either reminds you of you or of how you want you to be. So take a deep breath, smile and GET OVER IT.
You can do it.