Envy among women: are women really jealous of each other all the time?
A friend and I recently had an argument that ended with us both feeling misunderstood and withdrawing for a while. When I spoke to another person close to me about the situation, the case was clear to her. The reason for my girlfriend’s inexplicable behavior was envy: “I almost don’t want to say it, but she’s always been jealous of you,” she concluded. For all the other good, valid reasons you can feel offended by someone, is that supposed to be the explanation? Women who are jealous of each other sounds to me like children who snatch shovels from each other in the sandbox and throw themselves stubbornly on the ground, like teenagers fighting over a crush, but not like grown women. I won’t let this patriarchal bullshit stand.
Envy among women: The fairy tale of “the one”
The last time I was jealous of another woman, or rather another girl, was in eighth grade. She was a classmate and had relatively large breasts for our age. I, on the other hand, was flat as a board, that’s still the case. Today, when I see another woman who has something I don’t have, whether it’s amazing breasts, a remarkable career, or a wonderful relationship, I’m happy for them, admire them, or try to learn from them, and I don’t stand up muck around in the corner and spin schemes to make her life hell. After all, that would be more than ridiculous. But it is precisely this ridiculous, irrational behavior that adult women are constantly accused of. And worst of all, we keep this prejudice alive ourselves.
As girls we learn that there can only be one. The one that gets the prince, the one that stands out mainly for her looks. If she’s also intelligent, all the better. We learn that it’s all about perfection because only the prettiest and the brightest get ahead in life, love and careers. That’s why elbows have to be used if necessary to eliminate the competitors. I’ll admit I’ve felt those elbows before. But compared to what I get from other women’s self-sacrificing support, I can’t confirm the envious “fury” cliché.
Women’s solidarity is omnipresent
Everywhere in my environment, women support each other, be it privately or professionally. Take care of a friend’s children for a short time because she has to go to an important appointment? No problem. Would you recommend a colleague for a great job? Of course. Driving to the doctor together when nothing works anymore? Always. Every day I experience solidarity among women in large and small gestures, without which I would not be where I am today. The women around me not only support me, they support me when I’m stuck on my own, kick my ass when I have to, and encourage me. They praise my work when I sell myself short and rejoice with me when something great happens. This cohesion is not exceptional. That’s what we should focus on and not get bogged down in weak moments, which, by the way, are deeply human.
Are there jealous women? Certainly. Likewise, there are men who are jealous of other men. Likewise, there are women who do not begrudge other men their success. Likewise, there are men who would like to trip women up. Envy and jealousy are feelings of inferiority that we all know. It’s normal to feel them every now and then. It’s no big deal.
We need to remind ourselves more often that we were socialized in a patriarchal society that benefits far more when we see each other as competitors rather than as allies. The jealous woman’s prejudice serves a purpose, and it serves it well. It slows us down because it causes us to pull each other down. It paints us as exhausting, difficult, irrational bitches who settle a fight as a bitch fight and find childish reasons for not liking someone. How many times have I heard women say they get along better with men because they aren’t so difficult? Just as often as my mother was pitied for having to raise three daughters. What kind of image does this paint of women? What kind of image are we drawing of women? In a world that puts obstacles in our way where it can, we have to treat each other with more respect – so that we can overcome the hurdles together.