Other women’s successes aren’t your failures

I firmly believe female friendships are one of the greatest gifts the world can offer. Despite their value, there’s a culture of resentment amongst women that can make it harder to form and develop relationships, be it friendly or professional. Why is this resentment such an automatic reaction to the successes of other women? 

Last week the New Yorker published a satire piece titled “I’m sorry your friend is succeeding which means that you’re a total failure.” 

“Your friend is engaged, damn it! This has everything to do with your worthlessness. For, as the prophecy foretold, your lives are irreversibly intertwined, and when one thrives the other can only be viewed as ‘not thriving,’” writes author Rekha Shankar.

The piece got to the heart of the issue: it can be really hard to celebrate the accomplishments or life milestones of women who aren’t you.

While everyone is insecure in some ways, women are socialized to feel there’s only one seat at the table. We are often told our beauty — so closely equated with our value — can be ranked and there’s only one woman who can come out on top. 

This way of thinking seeps into other aspects of our lives: the smartest girl in the class, the girl who the boys like and Glamour’s ‘woman of the year.’ Truly, the ways in which women are pitted against one another are endless. 

This way of thinking isn’t healthy. Not only does it impact the relationships that women have with other women, but it  also impacts the relationships we have with ourselves. Even though a meaningful life isn’t measured in comparison to others, women are encouraged to do just that.  

The perceived competition that women experience in nearly every aspect of life creates barriers between us. Instead of encouragement, success often inspires hostility.

These feelings are normal and it’s unrealistic to expect them to instantly vanish. But recognizing them for what they are — a senseless comparison — is what will allow us to put them aside. 

Women don’t deserve to be resented for their successes and recognizing why this resentment exists is the first step towards moving past it. 

Brigid is one of The Journal’s Features Editors. She’s a third-year political studies major. 

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