Women & Friendships: Can’t we all get along?

11 03 2010

This week’s question dealt with women and friendships. It’s a topic I find important, and something I’ve been wanting to discuss.

Of course, I think this issue matters (or I wouldn’t have posted about it). But you may be wondering why it matters. It’s important to me because I’m a huge proponent of women supporting women. But like I’ve said a few times, I don’t think all women can- or even should- try to befriend other women necessarily, and obviously, we won’t get along all the time. I do, however, think we could be a little more supportive of one another.

There are several reasons why some women can’t get along, and one is the media. Women being in competition with one another and fighting is pretty much the only woman-to-woman interaction we see on TV nowadays. Just think about reality TV shows: “The Bachelor,” “A Basement Affair,” “America’s Next Top Model,” “For the Love of Ray J,” “Real Housewives of Wherever” and the list goes on and on.

Katrina Bell McDonald, associate professor at John Hopskins University and author of “Embracing Sisterhood: Class, Identity, and Contemporary Black Women,” believes the discord between black women in particular “goes back to the self-fulfilling aspects of seeing images of ourselves being depicted as vipers, as backstabbers, as that bitch.”

McDonald says this affects young black women more because they have a “particularly difficult task in forming and maintaining a positive sense of self.” She says younger women frequently observe these images to see how they should act.

And, of course, there is the issue of men. Phyllis Chesler, professor emerita and author of “Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman,” says that this problem in particular is huge and bigger than any one of us.

“We’ve internalized sexism [the notion that men are of superior value], and it applies in every area,” she says.

So, how can we fix this?

Work on ourselves. If you find that you have issues with other women like being jealous or not liking a woman for no reason, figure out why you feel the way you do. Are you happy with your life? Do you have some insecurities? You have to deal with your issues.

Realize that not every woman is out to get you. I know a lot of us believe that every woman is out to steal our job, man or whatever the case may be, but that’s simply not true- I mean, yes, some women (AND men) do this, but not all of us. Learn to stop passing judgement on anyone you don’t know; remember, if you exude positivity, positivity will come back.

Appreciate the women in your life and treat all women you encounter with respect. It’s the least you can do.

Like Angela Burt-Murray wrote in “Essence” last April: “If we can cherish and accept our sisters as often as we would want to be cherished and accepted, we will go a long way in setting a new tone in our often-fractured relationships.”

The following, “The Sister Accord,” was written by Sonia Jackson Miles, a corporate executive, writer and inspirational speaker. Maybe you can use it in your life and pass it along!

I resolve to establish an agreement with ALL of my sisters- whether they are strong or weak, rich or poor, educated at Harvard or 17th Street, working in the C-suite or cleaning it. Whether they be independent or leaning and depending, confident or lacking self-esteem, fighting back or being abused and misused, I will uphold this commitment to my sisters.

I Resolve To…

  • Be honest and truthful
  • Be supportive of your dreams and aspirations
  • Be forgiving
  • Be loving and kind
  • Be thoughtful with my words- ensuring that our every encounter and conversation is uplifting
  • Remain loyal and faithful to our friendship
  • Remain your shelter in the time of storms- your confidante
  • Refrain from judging
  • Refrain from negative thoughts and words about you

Because…

  • You are my sister
  • The time is now- are children are depending on us
  • We have so much work to do.

Source: Essence, Photo from: gettyimages.com

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