Monday, April 21, 2008

Women Bullying Other Women Not New

Was I the only one NOT shocked by the YouTube video of several girls beating another girl and videotaping the incident?

Of course, it was horrible. Of course, we should all condemn it. Of course, the girls who assaulted the other girl should be punished.

But women who gasp in horror and express their disbelief that females would be capable of such acts aren't being honest. Because the truth is, girls do beat up other girls, and it's not just a recent phenomenon. (Although the number of videos on YouTube showing such acts is.)

When I was in high school (and that was quite a long time ago), I was caught in the middle of girl-on-girl violence. I was with some friends who were attacked by some other girls they had a long-running fued with. I will never, as long as I live, forget the sickening thud of my friend's head being slammed into a marble wall by another girl. I managed to escape unharmed, and my friends survived as well.

Now let's fast forward to late last year, when I interviewed some experts about a study that showed in the workplace, women are much more likely to be bullied by -- you guessed it -- other women. Did it surprise me? Not really. I've been a woman in the workplace for a long time, and I've seen how women often treat other women.

Sure, we like to say we're collaborative, and some of us are. We like to say we communicate better, and sometimes we do. Still, the ugly truth remains. As my podcast partner Diane Danielson has said, women do throw other women under the bus. We say ugly things about one another, we don't support one another, and we don't reach back and help women who are trying to gain a toe-hold in the competitive business world.

So the question is this: WHY do we continue to bully one another? Isn't the world tough enough, isn't the workplace tough enough, without adding our own abuse to the mix?


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6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have worked for both men and women bosses, and I prefer working for men. In my experience, they are more fair. I am working for a woman now who micromanages everything I do, and always second guesses me. I'm looking for another job because I think she's only in it for herself and won't be of any help to me. I'm young enough that I want someone to give me opportunities, not keep me from doing things.

Anita said...

I'm sorry things aren't working out with this boss, but be assured that there are plenty of terrific female bosses out there who are more that willing to help other young women succeed. I'd suggest joining some professional networking groups for women, where you'll find terrific mentors to help you reach your goals.

Clarice said...

"Anita said... I'm sorry things aren't working out with this boss, but be assured that there are plenty of terrific female bosses out there who are more that willing to help other young women succeed. I'd suggest joining some professional networking groups for women, where you'll find terrific mentors to help you reach your goals."

While I am glad to hear that at least one woman has a positive experience working for a woman - you are the first and only person I know who has ever said that. As to the question of why women are the way they are in business and life in general - self esteem that is based on external validation. If a person especially a woman is secure and comfortable in who she is, and her worth and value and consistently lives the truth of that despite the fact that she maybe subject at times to fear uncertainty and doubt, then there is no need to throw others under the bus except for the occassional psycho/socio path that does that for the sheer fun and enjoyment. Men are conditioned almost universally from birth with the I am who I am so deal with it mindset which makes them more resistant/resiliant in most cases to stand firm against external pressure and value judgements. Men seldom show it when they second guess themselves. Women it seems want to be liked whereas men are more concerned about being respected. Uncertainty/insecurity breeds uncertainty/insecurity and acting from that position puts the person at a loss - which breeds a position of lack mentality. If you are working from a position percieved or otherwise of lack you react rather than act with conviction from a position of strength.


V/r

Clarice

Anita said...

That's very insightful, and something I think we can all learn from. I think that when we work from an insecure place, it does everyone a disservice. I've had lousy male and female bosses, and it is true that they were insecure people who often projected their angst onto everyone else.

Anonymous said...

I have decided to leave my job because the women I work with talk about me. They don't even bother to do it behind my back. They are jealous of me and what I have accomplished. My boss won't do anything about it, and its causing me alot of stress at home. Last weekend I had a stomachache just thinking about going to work. I'm interviewing for another job next week. When I leave I'm going to tell them that its because they let those women bully other people and don't do anything about it. I could stand up to them, but its not worth it. I'd rather leave.

Anita said...

Your story is very common, believe me. Many employees who are bulled report physical problems caused by the stress, and believe that it's best to just leave a job than put up with the abuse. But, this is why companies have got to pay attention and set policies in place to deal more effectively with the employee(s) who bully others. I hope in your exit interview you note that it was a lack of attention to the problem that helped drive you away. Be professional, but straightforward. You may be able to help someone else.