A very successful female media personality, Lisa Wilkinson, was recently asked, after her delivery of a lecture, why are women so unkind to each other? She said she didn’t honestly know, but had previously stated that she believed ‘at the moment (December, 2013), we are not being kind enough to ourselves…’ adding that she wouldn’t ‘be surprised if part of it is because, since time began, women have trained themselves to be grateful for whatever comes their way…. (There is a perception that) we are somehow in competition with other women. ….we’ve got to stop feeling that competition and be supportive of other women. Boys do that really well. (There are) the boys’ clubs because boys support each other. We need to start developing a women’s club, where we genuinely celebrate each other’s achievements.’ She went on’ The fact that we can’t quite work out what we want from each other and as a group not only confuses men, but it alienates men and we don’t do ourselves any favours. Indeed. For many difficult years, I have been lamenting the nature of female friendship (see earlier blogs) let alone the women in my family who were far crueller and violent to me albeit psychologically and unconsciously, than my ex boy-friend when I sported a couple of black eyes. I have been criticised by many women over the decades for saying as much; I’m a failure; I’m jealous, I’m just a loser who has problems with friendship because I’m so critical of others because of my own personal inadequacies. Indeed, I penned this once myself at age 16 because I was indeed missing out on support and real friendship at school but a few years later, realised only too clearly when I went back over my diaries, that they were not real friends and only jealous of me, as inexplicable as it seemed to me at the time. I blamed myself for too many years (I stopped at 40 years old) and now, thank god a successful TV broadcaster has come out to vindicate my perceptions and realisations over too many decades. I’ve read too many stories about women being their own worst enemies; that nothing really has changed in the context of real female liberation and equality more often than not because women themselves have been at odds with themselves, and each other. It is indeed pertinent that for me, since my horrifying experience in St Vincent’s Mental Health Service, three so-called female friends (and not young people either) when I told them in an emails why they hadn’t heard from me, chose to reply in an impersonal email to what I wrote. I wrote emails because I wanted to see their reaction. Not one of them probably even thought of picking up the phone to really talk to me to find out what really happened, let alone even suggest coming to see me. Another blatantly lied to me because she said she knew I’d been there when I knew all too well that she couldn’t possibly have as I received several messages from her on the phone saying she was concerned because I hadn’t answered her emails. When she so obviously lied to me, I just told her she didn’t know, adding “you know where I live”. Suffice to say that was weeks ago and I’ve never heard from her since. Another female woman I believed was a friend who actually escorted me to vote during the September 7 Federal Election when I was incarcerated in St Vincent’s, hasn’t wanted to know me as I rang her and left messages on her mobile three times when I got home. She hasn’t replied. I can only feel sorry for them; so much for female support in my life.
Moreover, I knew when I started work in journalism at 18 and was a so-called success that most of the females I worked with didn’t want to know me. I’ve written before how it was the males who were my friends and encouraging; too many of my female peers just weren’t interested in being friends at all. So it has been most of my life and I, like Lisa Wilkinson, honestly don’t know why either. I think it is too simplistic to attribute their unkindness to one another as due to competition; or an unkindness to themselves; indeed, it is more to do with low self-esteem, selfish self-interest and an egoism that blocks out their own personal inadequacies. I further contend they have no strong sense of self or self-belief. And if you have these, as I have for most of my adult life, I’m damn well experiencing delusions of grandeur as an ex-friend from my teenage years levelled at me nearly 30 years ago. I’m indeed fortunate that at just 16 I at least spelled it out on paper and going back to it time and time again as I got older, began to understand why I wrote what I wrote and why furthermore, I had felt that way. Women mostly are too unhappy with themselves; I find it amusing, albeit sadly for her, that even the female case manager I have supposedly to help me, has complained about her weight and how she needs to lose it for her health. How, I ask myself, is she supposed to help me when she can’t even help herself. What does her physical ill-health (she’s very over-weight tho’ not obese) say about her mental health? Indeed, most of the female shrinks I’ve seen over the years, including the very sadistic one I saw at St Vincent’s, were all very fat, what is the link as I’ve penned before, between our mental health and physical well-being? I’ve read many stories that there is indeed a strong link between them, so how well are these women?
The bottom line about many females is that they are bitches; according to the Macquarie Dictionary that means a woman who is disagreeable or malicious; indeed, I’ve known too many of them. One ex-female friend, 20 years younger than me and we certainly were not in competition as I didn’t work with her and her age group was so different to mine, suggested to me, as if I had little intelligence or a mind at all, that on being retrenched (read sacked) in my job in 2007 that I should work in a shop or be a waitress. I couldn’t believe it. Another friend, or so I believed, turned on me a few months ago, well before St Vincent’s, and said she didn’t want to be involved with me because I’d been angry about what was going on in my life. I certainly wasn’t at all angry with her except she didn’t want to believe me; suffice to say I’ve had a gutful of too many women you can’t be honest with. Another much younger woman I thought was a friend used to come and see me to talk endlessly about her terrible time at work, as well as her boyfriend who was violent and threw her clothes down the stairs, but the first time I dared to mention that I was going through a hard time, her comment to me was’ it’s all about you’ and she walked out of my flat. That was many years ago, after I’d sat and listened to her so many times about her problems at work. I couldn’t believe that, either. Another old friend, who I met for lunch after not seeing her for many long years, told me I was paranoid because I hadn’t contacted her. Suffice to say after that lunch, which she cut very short and I did find that odd to say the least, then suggested I come and stay for a weekend and that she would ring me. I waited for a phone call; none was forthcoming. I can only wonder who indeed is paranoid as she came to London to see me from Munich one weekend because she was having an affair with another man and she was married and still is to the same man. Was she scared I’d tell him one day?
The so-called female friends I have supposedly had over the years have too often come to me to lament their situation, only to then label me paranoid because I know too much about them and they know nothing about me and I decided I didn’t want to know them. Another female I met through work told me I must feel persecuted (why? I have no idea) and yet she also told me I was one of the few people who could talk to her son who was in trouble with the police for stealing…did I know too much about her as a mother? And there’s a word! Mothers, more of the female sex who often project, or have no idea about their daughters. But the notion of mothers reigning sacrosanct in our society is indeed writ large, let alone our sisters. (read blog previously on psychological violence.) Furthermore, while I have experienced many problems and sought genuine help from psychiatrists, it is the female variety who’ve been far worse to me than the males. Both genders have been however, equally disrespectful and sadistic from my experience.
I recently met a couple of young women, one aged 22 and the other, aged 28, who I really liked, but I can’t help wondering about them, too. Currently, I have no female friends and don’t miss them; it is a fact of life for me that I have always got on better with men in my life than females because my interests have been male – football, politics and sex. Moreover, from a work perspective, when I applied for a position to broadcast a column on the football (I’d done this previously for two years albeit several years before) and do an interview program on sport I saw the Head of Sport, a WOMAN no less, at the ABC, who said she was interested and then on sending her some material for a column as she requested, she didn’t even have the respect for me to reply. No email back and no return phone call. Obviously, she wasn’t interested but she couldn’t even spare a few seconds to email me back to that effect. I never heard from her. And when I saw her, she didn’t even ask me any questions. I had to make the conversation and talk about myself; in retrospect, I realised she wasn’t even interested so why waste my time? What was I supposed to say? Do? Talk about women unkind to women!
It’s indeed sad for me that women are thus; I don’t know why except as Lisa Wilkinson mentions; they’re jealous in some ways but that’s only part of a very complex situation. The reality is that not much has changed in other ways for women unless you ape men; so-called tough, aggressive women who treat other women with similar disdain, contempt and disrespect as some men do. Not all thank god. I have a couple of male friends and like them. I just don’t get it really. I never have and never will, but it is indeed tragic for the advancement of women in our world, a grim reality I can’t work out; so be it and all I can do is hope younger women are more supportive of each other , less condemning of their female associates and more welcoming to the female sex. I live in hope!
The word bitch really does say it all; a word the Oxford English Dictionary links to around 1000 A.D. meaning a female dog. As a derogatory term for women, it has been in use since the 14th or 15th century and its earliest slang meaning mainly referred to sexual behaviour; promiscuous or sensual women, a metaphorical extension of the behaviour of a female dog in heat. According to linguist Deborah Tannen “Bitch is the most contemptible thing you can say about a woman. Save perhaps the four-letter C word………”The word in modern usage and in the context of feminism has varied reappropriated meanings that may connote a strong female (anti-stereotype of weak submissive women), cunning (equal to males in mental guile) or else it may be used as a tongue in cheek backhanded compliment for a woman who has excelled in achievement. There is actually a Bitch magazine and a feminist author Jo Freeman (Joreen) authored the ‘Bitch manifesto’ in 1968 where she outlined how calling someone a bitch can be positive; “A Bitch takes shit from no one. You may not like her, but you cannot ignore her…. Bitches have loud voices and often use them. Bitches are not pretty…Bitches seek their identity strictly through themselves and what they do….They are subjects, not objects…. More often they are accused of domineering when doing what would be considered natural by a man….”
So I should label myself one, too. And what do I mean by the bitch brigade? Are we, as women, simply uneasy with women who take charge of their own life, don’t live off a man and have a strong sense of who they are. I actually think so; quick to berate their female counterparts and put them down with insults and petty admonishment. In my mid 20s living in the UK I lamented having no female friends; now I believe it’s a blessing. The reason I felt I needed female friendship was because I needed emotional support and communication on a level of feelings I didn’t have with my male friends. The relationship with them was more often than not about sex or discussion about more impersonal worldly matters; no room for emotional rapport. Male inability to talk about feelings is nothing new; well documented now ad nauseum as men’s issues are as much in the media and book arenas as women. The reality for me is that now I just take people as they come; my earlier blog about great generalisations says a lot about how I now regard women and men; whatever and whoever they may be as I meet them, talk to them and befriend them or otherwise. Men can be bitches, too though usually I refer to them as ‘sick cunts’. That’s my lingo as horrible as it is.
I don’t agree with Lisa Wilkinson that we need women’s clubs; I believe we need to see each and all of us as unique individuals be we men or women with our own talents, skills, etc Each to their own and we all gamble on who we befriend. Maybe we’re all capable of being nasty and malicious to each other at times; all part of a bitch brigade be we women or men. That for me is human nature; we don’t like everyone and not everyone likes us. That’s reality for me. Finding good friends that are there for you in good times and hard times is fucking hard; and so is being a good friend to others. That’s how I now live my life; we can be disappointed when people you thought friends let you down but I probably have let people down too. It’s all about the intensity of how they let you down and for me, why. For myself, too. If I let people down I’ve worked out that it’s really because I don’t actually care much about them. These days I much prefer to be on my own than seek friendship with those I don’t actually like or who are too critical and damning of me however much they think they are so concerned for me. It’s negative shit in my life I certainly don’t want let alone need. Like me the way I am or just piss off and leave me alone. I’m happy with who I am and call me a bitch, too. That’s the real world. You can at least choose your friends.