I hope that title got your attention. Now that I have it, allow me to share with you one of the biggest and most deeply rooted challenges of succeeding as a woman--- other women.
Its terrible really. Sheryl Sandberg, Amy Schumer, Tina Fey—heck even Hilary Clinton have all spoken about how most times our biggest critics are not men—but other women. There is a pervasive belief that if you see another woman being smart, gorgeous capable, sure of herself, etc…then that means you won’t be. When you give a woman permission to succeed and break the glass ceiling, it must mean we can’t go with her.
Women have been so marginalized, and continue to be subjected to scrutiny and shame not known to men. Why then, must we perpetrate such crimes against each other? It’s a damn shame and I am guilty of it.
You see Gentle Reader….there happens to be this other blogger- a doe-eyed blonde, who basically has 5 written blogs all going at the same time plus a video blog, eats vegetables, works out, is married and oh…did I mention she is a resident at Mayo Clinic? I know right? I hate her. You can check out her really amazing blog here.
I am so insanely jealous. From her website, to her wardrobe, to her page where you can pay to Skype with her (why didn’t I think of that?), she seems too good to be true. So I decided to find out for myself—I paid the $30 to have a Skype date with this doe-eye nymph of medical perfection. My hope was that our 30 minute session will be akin to receiving feminine enlightenment and after being blessed by this goddess of perfection- I too will have my shit together (or at least look like I do).
Thanks to the miracle that is an internet connection and Paypal, she Skyped me over the weekend from her spotless and perfectly decorated home in Rochester. She is just as doe-eyed as ever. She also had a super cute poster that said, “I love you, coffee and blogs.” Oh dear Jesus, why is she so amazing?!
I told her how perfect I thought she was and how she’s making everyone else look bad.
“What! Are you kidding? I’m a disaster most of the time,” she said.
We talked a while more about the challenges of medical school—how many rectal exams she had to do, the fact that its hard to stay motivated and how scary it is to think about being responsible for someone else’s life. She recounted to me that she accidentally gave potassium to a patient on dialysis (which is apparently really bad and never do it).
Those 30 minutes were enough to melt my cynical, twisted heart. She really seemed to care about me—a jealous stranger from the internet.
At the end of our conversation told me that she liked my blog (major fangirl moment ensued). And she asked me how I thought she could improve hers (I recommended she add some poop jokes and swear words). And then since her blog has a bazillion followers she offered to promote my blog on hers! And here I was, resenting her for being so perfect only to find out that its really true what they say—if someone is perfect you’re not looking close enough.
Think what we both would have lost by not working together and helping each other. At the least her blog would have remained stoically unfunny and mine wouldn’t have gotten all of those additional readers. When we work together- we win.
Its simply not the case that if you see a woman kicking ass then that means you can’t too. There is enough here for everyone. By helping each other through encouragement, sharing knowledge and consciously choosing to show love instead of hate, we help ourselves and we chip away at the notion that smart, successful women with leadership skills are bitchy, mean and bossy.
If you see another woman doing something awesome—tell her! And encourage her to keep doing it. And if you want what she has, ask her to help you.
And guys-- we need your help too. Remind us that our class is more than 60% female. Remind us that women now earn the majority of Bachelors and Masters degrees in this country. And remind us that dumbing ourselves down is not attractive. And when we feel the ache of the fact that women still earn 70 cents for every dollar a man makes-- bring us chocolate before we hurt you.