It’s safe to say that many of us grew up watching how the stepsisters did everything possible to prevent Cinderella from achieving her happy ending. “Cinderella” was one of my favorite movies growing up and I probably watched it a hundred times without realizing that the greater message portrayed by its characters was rivalry, vengeance, and self-sabotage for our gender. As children we emulate and consequently apply these learned behaviors amongst ourselves. Stories like Cinderella have taught us that in order to fulfil our goals we must do anything and everything possible regardless who we may harm in the process.
Today, with the revival of the feminist movement it may seem as though rivalry among women does not exist. The reality is that it still exists. The female self-sabotage continues to be present in day to day. There are many women who constantly live comparing, competing, and envying other women. This is not unlikely since culturally we are encouraged to compete amongst ourselves instead of working as a team.
Through several mediums such as; TV shows, movies, magazines (Who was the best and worst dressed? Who wore it best?) and even our education institutions further enable this behaviour. As Joseph Goebbels said “a lie told once remains a lie, but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth”. Generations after generations we have integrated the female sabotage as an absolute truth, and have come to accept that acting unfairly to women arounds us is acceptable when we are at our weakest point.
One of these weaknesses, and perhaps the most common, is the feeling of envy. We can’t deny that we have all at one point felt it. The lack of confidence in ourselves is the main reason we feel envy of other people, it leaves us feeling distrust and frustration towards those around us, for we fear that if we sincere our deepest desires, another one can obtain what we desire. This way, and often unconsciously, we deny ourselves the availability to achieve what we want for our life by denying it to others.
On the other hand, competition between women is often seen as type of toxic behaviour, but that isn’t always the case. We also compete, not to see ourselves superior to others but to differentiate ourselves; this, I believe, is the healthiest type of rivalry between females. It helps us to self-evaluate as individuals. Of course, rivalry does become toxic once we act covertly, when we talk behind someone else’s back with the sole purpose of weakening and discrediting their success. In the professional field it is very common that this type of rivalry exists due to the scarce of high rank positions among women. This creates a hostile environment in the workplace. To prevent inconveniences such as these, some companies opt for the majority of their employees to be men; causing a shortage of women in high-ranking positions and this, at the end of the day, affects all women who seek to excel and grow in their field of employment.
We have come to accept that acting unfairly to women arounds us is acceptable when we are at our weakest point.
It is true that we live in a society that is constantly confronting us and where it is impossible not to compete, but if instead of competing to diminish one another we compete to uplift one another. We would find ourselves with more opportunities for each one. Perhaps the most important thing as women is to realise that engaging in a competitive battle diminishes our roles in society and this may also be a reflection of an internal battle. That is, when we envy a woman’s confidence we are fearful that this may threaten our own personal development.
It is necessary for us to recognise these negative emotions and question where these stem from. Once this two are addressed we must wisely choose our actions while pursuing our dreams and goals so that, in the process of obtaining these, we do not harm the future generations of women and our own future.