Among Women

I spent last night at a country show in one of Sacramento’s affluent suburbs. The bar was serving thirty-two ounce beers in mason jars and the Giants won game 1 of the world series.

People were having a good time.

20 minutes before the show starts, there’s a drunk twenty-something female being obnoxious, three rows back from the stage. She’s yelling about everything. She’s got that “one-too-many” sway on. Her glassy eyes tell the story of an over-indulgent happy hour.

Next to me, there are three beautiful twenty-something women with giant wedding rings. They have pretty hair and cute J.Crew style.

Every word coming out of their mouths is something mean about someone else.

When the music comes on, the drunk girl positions herself behind the young women with the impressive hand jewelry. Minutes later, the drama begins.

For half an hour, the women are getting into it, back and forth. I catch words like “Bitch.” and “Whore.” Any time I look back between songs I catch eyes rolling and passive aggressive giggles exchanged between friends.

During a break in the action on stage, the low-level cattiness erupts into a full-fledged lady brawl. Hair pulling, obscenity screaming. One girl put another girl in a headlock.

“Is this really happening right now?”

The artist on stage strums kum-ba-yah on his guitar and waits for the intensity in the crowd to die down.

The ladies are eventually separated. The show goes on.

I feel one part disbelief, one part sadness.

I feel disbelief that adult women want to spend any time or energy being cruel to each other. It seems inconceivable that with all women are up against, we can’t just be kind and loving and supportive.

I feel sadness for my own lifetime participation in the ugliness that underlies the drunk girl-fight at the country music bar. It’s the same ugliness that made my high school students cry in my office at my last job. It’s the same ugliness that made me say and do terrible things to my female high school classmates. It’s the same ugliness we face every day when we look in the mirror and decide we’re not thin enough. Not pretty enough. That our hair and our face and our makeup doesn’t look quite right.

We feel angry and bitter inside so we lash out at the female reflections around us. We perceive a scarcity of success, attention, and eligible men, so we make enemies out of perfect strangers just because they are women.

We judge, and gossip and roll our eyes.

We call each other bitches. We compete and contend and put each other down.

This morning, I’m reminded of the importance of female solidarity. Of having strong, honest relationships with other women. The type of relationships where we can tell-it-how-it-is without telling each other how to be. The type of relationships that lift us up, that nurture our self-esteem. The type of relationships that feel safe and supportive. The type of relationships that teach us how to treat each other so we can practice how to treat ourselves.

Love among women is a powerful thing.

Get some and spread it around.

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