My husband says this all the time, Women are their own worst enemies. In some ways, I agree. There seems to be an underlying competitive spirit in many women. Sometimes I feel it when I make casual conversation with a woman. She's not warm and friendly. She's distant and cold and I don't want to stick around for long.
Sometimes this competitiveness stems from her own insecurity. A friend of mine admitted recently that she needs to be the best all the time. She realizes this about herself and she knows it's a form of pride, but she can't help herself. This need to be the best makes it difficult for her to develop quality relationships with women. They feel uneasy around her because they sense that she's trying to outdo them.
I've learned to avoid women who are constantly making cutting remarks, always trying to make themselves look better than someone else. I feel sorry for them. Instead of being happy for other women and their good fortune, they tear them down at every chance they get. This kind of attitude sickens their own soul and makes them unattractive. Do you think it's a coincidence that the two women who were recently at each other's throats on The Bachelor didn't get a rose? What man wants to get involved with that?
This is exactly why women are their own worst enemies. They ruin opportunities for themselves by being so competitive. They destroy relationships with their need to see other women fall. And they end up alone and miserable because they can't relax and love themselves and appreciate others. They just can't be happy for someone if that person has something they don't.
I believe it's all about maturity. Spiritually mature women aren't competitive. They don't need to be, because they find their security in Christ. And when a woman reaches that level of maturity it is a beautiful thing. When we no longer need to be the best, we are set free. We are able to get out of our own way and instead of being our own worst enemies, we become mature and truly able to celebrate another woman's good fortune. We no longer need to lift ourselves up by dragging others down. And suddenly people are drawn to us. We attract quality friends and maybe even a good guy. It's a lesson some of the ladies on The Bachelor have yet to learn.
I discovered the article below after googling, "Why are women their own worst enemies?" I was surprised to find an article with that exact title. Well, maybe not too surprised. I don't agree with everything Ms. Hite says, especially the feminism comments, but it's an interesting article. I think you'll enjoy it.
Why are women their own worst ENEMIES?by SHERE HITE
Last updated at 12:48 10 December 2007
Author of the groundbreaking 1976 Hite Report: A Nationwide Study Of Female Sexuality, Shere Hite has sold more than 50 million copies worldwide. Now Hite has turned to the compelling issue of relationships between women - and why they so often turn sour.
From warring sisters, to mothers jealous of their daughters, to female work colleagues at war, The Hite Report on Women Loving Women, reveals why women's relationships with each other so often end in acrimony.
In this exclusive extract, the author focuses on the fault lines in relationships that touch the lives of millions of women...
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From warring sisters, to female work colleagues at war, Shere Hite's new book reveals why women's relationships with each other so often end in acrimony (picture posed by models)WHY DO SISTERS FIGHT?
In my experience, girls have to fight for love within a family in a way boys never, or rarely, do.
You often hear the comment that there are too many girls in a family, or that, of course, the father wanted a boy, but a girl is nice, too.
The love families have for girls can be limited. One little girl is often considered cute, a nice decoration. But more than that? Well...
Alternatively, sometimes two sisters are pitted against each other - one is 'cuter', 'smarter' or 'stupid' - again leading to painful fighting.
Another point, which may seem minor, is that when girls reach puberty, they tend to be confined to the house more than their brothers.
While sisters are cooped up in the house ('a girl can get into trouble - shouldn't be allowed to roam the streets'), this gives them more time and reason to argue at home. They're fighting for space.
Sisters often have two distinct parts to their relationship: the part where they are young and live at home together - where they may have dramatic ups and downs - and the part after they leave home, when they can become emotionally closer, mainly because they are physically more separated.
Sisters know almost everything about each other.
At important times in each other's lives, each knows her sister's most intimate reactions and her moods, has seen first-hand her successes and failures and those she has loved and hated.
Each sister knows, too, for better or worse, the attitude the family has towards her sibling - the sister's status or position in the family.
In a way, the sister always sees the other sister a little bit through the eyes of the parents.
Finding themselves in a marginalised position within the family, girls may react by trying to be extremely good, or will go on the offensive to prove they are smarter than their sister, and attempt to protect themselves by never being foolish or letting the other put anything over on them.
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Sibling rivalry: Famous sisters Joan and Jackie Collins are as different as chalk and cheeseNo matter how nice or helpful girls are, it seems to me there is still a shadow over them, a doubt about their value, which must be some kind of unconscious hangover from Victorian times.
They can rarely make up for the shortcoming in status they are born with. Girls who are beloved, adored, even 'spoiled', tend to be the only girl in a family - not sisters.
My research reveals that best friends are closer than most sisters, although best friends can 'break up', while sisters rarely dismiss each other entirely from their lives.
Sisters today need to look at each other anew, and speak together to try to overcome the labels put on their relationship during childhood by the family structure and its view of them.
ARE OLDER AND YOUNGER WOMEN, AND 'PRETTY' AND 'PLAIN' WOMEN, AUTOMATICALLY RIVALS?
When entering a room, do you immediately notice whether you are prettier, plainer, older or younger than the other women there? Do you feel guilty if you are prettier or younger than the women around you, and get more attention from men? Depressed if you are not as attractive?
Though we hate to admit it, we still judge each other on looks, age and sex appeal.
This is terrible, but true. We are relieved when another woman is not much more attractive than we are.
Yet a woman can be put in a tough position: she wants to dress up, she likes the positive attention she gets from looking good, but on the other hand she may risk alienating other women. What to do? There is no right answer.
In our culture, sexual rivalry is encouraged between daughters and mothers, younger women and older women.
But if these stereotypes exist, how can a younger woman look forward to 'growing up' or 'getting older'? - will she just have to try desperately to 'keep look younger'?
The reality is different. It can be more and more fun to be a woman as time goes on. 'Growing up' can feel great, both physically and emotionally. Mature women often have great figures.
Don't forget to ask yourself, the next time you're at a party or a meeting: who's more insecure? The woman with the perfect make-up or the woman with the messy hair?
The fact is, the more insecure a woman is, the more time she is likely to spend on her appearance, because she is desperate to be accepted.
The message she is communicating by spending so much time grooming herself is that she is searching for approval.
WHY MARRIED AND SINGLE WOMEN CAN'T BE FRIENDS
By far the most common complaint when it comes to women's relationships is that women will all too easily drop their female friends when they get involved with a man.
Over and over, single women describe the pain they feel at being sidelined and how hard it is ' breaking up' with a friend they once loved.
A woman getting married or starting a heavy relationship is given as the most frequent reason for a friendship ending unhappily.
It seems, too, that women prefer to stick with other women in the same relationship situation. Most married women's best friends are married, while most single women's best friends are single. Why?
Sometimes married women say they feel cut off from having any friends at all; other married women feel they must keep their female relationships secondary lest their husbands become jealous.
But women rarely discuss their female friendships with their husband. If these feelings were clarified, perhaps there would not be such pressure to 'choose' between a man and one's best female friend.
Is this split between married and single women inevitable? Is it 'normal', just as people's friends may often be the same age or in the same type of work?
Whatever the reason, marital status represents a wide gulf between women - perhaps the most basic one. I found friendships between a single and a married woman to be rarer than friendships between women of different classes, or different ethnic backgrounds.
This is not to make light of the prejudices separating women by class and race, but to emphasise the hard line between women who are 'in the marriage system' and women who are out of it.
WHY MOTHERS CRITICISE THEIR DAUGHTERS' HAIRSTYLE
During my research, time and again women mentioned the arguments they had with their mothers over, of all things, their hair.
Why should hair be such a focus for conflict between mothers and daughters?
When girls are very small, most are cuddled, held, carried and embraced by their mothers, even if their mother gets angry once in a while. However, in most families, mothers no longer embrace their children at length, or as fully, after the age of five or six.
Not only has the child has become bigger, but after that age the most common way that mothers and daughters are intimate is when the mother brushes and styles her daughter's hair.
Hair, accordingly, becomes a focus of attention in mother and daughter relationships.
Often, the mother cares for the daughter's hair as a last outpouring of acceptable caressing, and so wants to be able to control how it looks as a means of having some power over her daughter, or perhaps because of their own frustration with the denial of intimacy.
By puberty and in their early teens, however, girls start to do their own hair, and mothers are left only to comment and sometimes criticise, which can often lead to fights.
As one woman told me: "When I was 12, I wanted to do things for myself. It seemed to centre on my hair.
"I wanted to control how I wore my hair. This didn't go down well. My mother kept telling me it looked terrible 'that way'. Things just went downhill from there.'
Could the age difference - ageist attitudes - also be a reason for a mother and daughter fighting over the daughter's appearance?
'Older' women are not looked on as desirable by society. Mothers are thought of as older women, while their daughters are generally regarded as being more desirable.
If younger women are seen as more beautiful than older women in our culture, does the daughter automatically push her mother into second place in terms of power? And is this imbalance of power what many mother-daughter fights are about?
Do mothers in reality feel jealous of daughters, and subsequently guilty for feeling this? Do daughters feel a mixture of shame and pride for being 'prettier' than their mothers?
Perhaps, but more often I feel the arguments between mothers and daughters over their hair are a repressed desire for the physical intimacy that has been lost.
WHY WOMEN HATE WORKING FOR OTHER WOMEN
Many of the women bosses I spoke to complained that female assistants and secretaries often believed that there's more status in working for a man, and that they hold their female bosses in less esteem.
Another common complaint was that misunderstandings often come about when, after a woman boss makes her assistant's working conditions pleasant, the assistant confuses their relationship with one between "girlfriends".
As one woman boss explained: "I work for a large public relations department and have two secretaries.
"I have to keep on top of them all the time. I even have to scream at them sometimes, because they just don't hop to it like they would if I were a man.
"They are capable of being efficient, but they start to think I am 'just a friend' when I'm too nice or understanding.
"One even tells me when she has her period, and the other tells me about the fights she has with her boyfriend.
"I'm supposed to understand this, or I'm labelled a bitch.
"But would they expect a male boss to do the same? Of course not. So I just have to be the bitch and let them hate me - it's the only way to get things done."
Then, of course, there's the question of why many women don't help each other up the career ladder.
Some women want to favour men at work by befriending them or trying especially hard to please them, because they consider it to be the fastest way to get ahead.
On the other hand, angering and alienating men by openly aligning yourself with women colleagues (at men's expense) could also have negative consequences.
As one woman told me: "I should never have been a feminist. What did equality get me? Fifteen years ago, my boss offered me a house if I would be his mistress.
"I laughed and said: 'Women don't need this s**t any more,' and won awards for producing feminist TV documentaries.
"Now I think I should have accepted the house, and some diamonds besides.
"I'm poor, 53 years old, and I have nothing. I am having to sell my flat to survive."
She is right and she is wrong - because without feminism, she would not have been able to work in television at all.
The trouble is that while feminism advanced the cause of millions of women, many still think that deep down, it's necessary - and advantageous - to be 'unsisterly' and trample all over their female colleagues in the scramble to get ahead at work.
• Adapted from The Hite Report On Women Loving Women by Shere Hite (Arcadia, £15,99). ° Shere Hite 2007. To order a copy at £14.40 (p&p free), call 0845 606 42
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