Stereotypically, women are notorious for cutting other women down.
Some of the most memorable feuds in our recent culture are between women. Everyone loves a good cat fight, so it’s no wonder that the media is instantly drawn to disputes between two female celebrities. We all remember the Lindsay Lohan vs. Hilary Duff fiasco, right? Or the Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera debacle? More recently, reporters circle Katy Perry and my girl T Swift, waiting for any word that might be one throwing shade at the other. As of today (March 22nd, 2018), when I searched “katy perry taylor swift” the first three headlines that popped up under the news tab were “Here’s How Katy Perry Responded to a Taylor Swift Superfan on American Idol”, “American Idol Contestant Apologizes to Katy Perry After Admitting He Idolizes Taylor Swift”, and “Oh Good, the Taylor Swift-Katy Perry Feud Has Made Its American Idol Debut”.
I mean, the first article listed was published by Time. Time. This is a legit news source, not some Buzzfeed article. To be fair, I do love a solid Buzzfeed quiz, and they do have quality writers, but I’m not sure I would cite them as a respectable news source. I’m just not sure I can morally justify using a website that has “Which Starbuck Drink Fits Your Personality” and “President Trump Says He’d Win In A Fight Against Joe Biden” alongside articles about political policy.
Why do we hate each other so much? Why is it that most judgements and criticisms against women come from other women? Why are hurtful things we hear coming from female peers, coworkers, relatives criticizing the way we look, dress, lead, work, parent, shop?
I fear our thinking and our perspective of ourselves and of one another has become shallow. We’ve fallen into the snare of lies society has laid for us, so instead of embracing and empowering one another, life has become a constant competition. Who’s the better mom? The better businesswoman? The better wife?
Instead of using our gifts and our talents to spur one another on to good works, we belittle and objectify one another. We allow jealousy and envy to corrupt solid friendships. Women are specifically designed with a heightened intuition that stems from being designed to care for nonverbal infants. We are experts at filling in the blanks; however, we often use that ability to create stories that pit us against each other rather than to nurture.
From childhood, women have been told how they are supposed to act and how they are supposed to look. Even in adulthood, we are told what we should accomplish, how we should behave, how we should dress. The fact that we live in an image-centric society doesn’t help matters. Images of the perfect skin, the perfect hair, the perfect body are constantly in view, whether through marketing, social media, or programming. We’ve been trained that we have to look better, perform better, and work harder than another woman to succeed.
The church isn’t innocent of this either. Ironically, we can be worse than society because we have God’s word to back up our opinions. We wrongly use the Word of Truth to promote our own personal beliefs, which is terrifying. It’s scary what you can get people to do when you slap “religion” or “God” on to your motives. Look at the Crusades, the Holocaust, the Spanish Inquisition, the settling of the United States and the displacement of Native Americans, or more recently, bombings of abortion clinics (there have been around 300 acts of extreme violence towards those who provide abortion, including murders, bombings, and arson, most performed by an anti-abortion extremist group called Army of God).
We set up the Proverbs 31 woman as the expectation for what a woman in the church should be. Those who fit that model, those who stay at home, who have families, who are gifting in hosting and organizing are praised and admired, while those who are single or working moms or strong leaders in their secular workspaces are expected to serve only in child care or fellowship planning sectors. I can’t tell you how many times I was told, whether implicitly or explicitly, that my v-neck was too deep, my skirt/shorts were too short, or I needed to be careful what I said and how much I talked because “women aren’t allowed to teach men.”
I am 100% for modesty, but here’s the thing: We’ve made modesty to equate culturally bizarre clothing standards (can I get an Amen from those who wore long denim skirts?) Modesty is so much more than what we wear; it’s the idea of having a humble view of yourself, of not being overly flashy in how you dress, speak, or act in a way that draws self-serving attention.
I believe my appearance should reflect my values, my beliefs, and my standards. The way I act and the way I speak should do the same. But we need to exercise caution in how we respond to other women. Holding one another to a rigorous standard can lead to objectifying ourselves and one another. By fixating on another woman’s clothing choices or her relationship status rather than her spiritual growth or her pursuit of Jesus, we degrade ourselves to only being worth how we are viewed by men. We become a nice accessory rather than a partner in an amazing picture of how Christ loved the church.
Instead of rejoicing and celebrating each other’s differences, we’ve become envious and competitive with one another. There’s a subtle lie in our society that says there’s only so much of the pie to go around. The amount of success and abundance available for us is finite. If someone takes a slice of that pie, there won’t be as much left for you. “I want a slice of success, but if you get some, there won’t be any left for me.” So, in order to gain what we think we deserve, we have to tear other women down. We have to make them look less than they are so we can look better, so we can achieve the success, the attention, the admiration, the whatever it is, that we desire.
This is so far away from the truth.
The truth is that God will bless us abundantly, enough for ourselves and enough so we can share with others (2 Corinthians 9:8). We need to let go of this fear that other women will stand in the way of our blessings. The God we serve has more in abundance than we could ever imagine. Psalm 50 describes the reach of God’s domain. Hint: It includes literally everything. He doesn’t need anything from us because He is ruler over all. Everything is under His domain. In Psalm 65, David describes God’s river of being abundant and His wagons overflowing. God doesn’t want for anything. How can we think that the God of all creation only has a finite amount to give us?
Our goal should be to support one another and push each other to do better, to become better. We gain absolutely nothing from tearing one another down. There’s no place to envy or unneeded competition in the sisterhood of Jesus’s family. In wounding another sister, we only harm ourselves. Why would we hurt someone who is on the same team?
It’s pretty common knowledge that lions are known as Kings of the Jungle, but most people are surprised to find that female lionesses do most of the hunting. In order to bring down prey that is much larger than themselves, the lionesses hunt by working together. Not only is their hunting done side by side, lions also make use of a communal nursery. Nursing mothers sometimes nurse another’s cub, but they mainly stick together for protection as they care for their cubs. Females that cooperate in this way tend to have a better chance of protecting their cubs.
They also tend to stick together for another reason: to protect themselves from their prominent predator. While humans and expanding farmland are constant threats to lions, their more immediate danger is other lions. Surprisingly, there have been instances of gangs of male lions roaming areas and terrorizing other prides. These gangs try to kill or maim the prominent males of the pride, and once those males are taken care of, they turn on the females and their cubs. Male lions can outweigh females by as much as 50 percent, so by standing in solidarity with each other, they are more likely to protect themselves and their cubs.
Just as the gang of lions hunted down other prides, our enemy is desperate to rip us to shreds. We need each other. We can do unimaginable things when we focus on supporting one another rather than belittling one another. Look at the impact of the #metoo movement! Maybe it’s time that we stop objectifying one another and judging one another for how we live our lives. God works within each of us differently; we don’t know the path He’s asked a sister to walk down. How about instead of holding certain expectations for one another, we just build each other up to pursue Christ?
It’s said that true queens fix each other’s crowns. How fitting is that for daughters of the one true King?