After a shaming moment from an influential woman I admired, a male pastor standing in the shadows came up to me, “Jonalyn, you know the worst enemy of women?”
He paused with a slow, sad smile spreading across his long face, “Other women.”
My heart skidded into a hole.
I felt embarrassed to be female.
I felt disgusted at that woman.
And I vowed to do something about it. So far, I’ve spent two years co-authoring a blog on female friendship. I’ve spoken at women’s retreats and banquets for seven years and brought up this problem: women who are ugly to other women.
But I want to target the problem squarely here.
Women know the power of cruel women. “The sisterhood” feminists love to speak of is a comfort only if we recognize it’s also a myth.
This is why the maids working for civil rights in The Help find themselves more afraid of the women with their tools of social torture than the men with strength to beat them senseless.
In the movie Dogville, Grace finds herself accosted, literally chained by the women of the town. The women of the town, what damage we can do, right?!
In Dogville these vixen know how to degrade Grace’s beauty, her servanthood, her kindness. Their gang paying a social call seem more cruel than their husbands who visit to rape Grace each night.
I’m hesitant to confess, even if only to myself that I’d love the world more if there were less women in it.
Or maybe less of a certain type of woman. We have the types that oppress us.
Maybe “passive-agressive women” or “arrogant, male-hating, bossy, self-sufficient women” or “sexy air-heads” or “mousy Christian wives who control the church with a well-placed disapproving glance” or “atheist angry women” or ….
This is a theme I keep coming across in honest novels. This annoyance with a set of women.
In Angela Thirkell’s novels, a Mrs. Brandon let’s out a sigh and exclaims,”I want to go to a monastery.”To which her older, male friend corrects,
“I suppose you mean a nunnery.” But Mrs. Brandon was sure she meant a monastery.
For a world devoid of women sounded safe, pleasant and less vexing, provided of course that certain women like that brilliant writer Mrs. Moreland and, of course, the Headmaster’s wife were admitted.
We all, male, female, European, African, Hispanic, Asian, Indian, South American, et cetera have our little lists of tolerables and intolerables.
I want to know what kind of women bother you. And I want to know specifics. This isn’t a gripe fest as much as it’s a chance to be more honest and face that we aren’t quite as set up to enjoy a “sisterhood” like we’d like to believe.
Would you share what women are in your list of intolerables?
Men’s comments welcome as well, but please share your list of intolerable men.