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women who disparage other women

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Amazonia posted 3/17/2014 11:29 AM

What is the deal with this? I've never encountered it before, but had heard it happens. I think I'm seeing it now.

A peer colleague of mine, same position and pay grade I'm at but in another department with a few years experience in the job whereas I just started, is incredibly critical of other women we work with. At first I thought she was critical of everyone, but I'm realizing it's just women.

She has some valid frustrations, but she goes over board and ends up just ranting about how useless so-and-so is, she's terrible at her job, I could do her job better with a blindfold on and one hand tied behind my back, that sort of thing. This includes my boss, one of the most successful women I know, who has won multiple awards for her high job performance and is moving for a great promotion soon. The critic just rolls her eyes and says my boss isn't special and the awards are probably rigged since they come out of our department.

I've noticed if someone has a frustration with a male colleague (ANY male colleague) she just looks at you quizzically and says, "Really? I've never noticed that." Or in a few instances actually passes the blame for whatever went wrong to the nearest female colleague. So the male HR asst can do no harm because his female boss shouldn't be giving him any of the work he does, but she's too lazy to do it herself, so it's her fault if he messes stuff up.

It's to the point where I avoid her when I can, but we have a few big projects (long term) that we are collaborating on, and she is responsible for training me on certain things that we both do for our respective departments. So while I can minimize our contact, I still have to talk to her pretty much daily.

She recently asked me to help her with a big project that would be a good professional experience for me, and a few days later rescinded the offer because she'd rather work with one of our male colleagues. On one hand good riddance, on the other I'm annoyed to miss the professional learning curve.

So all that to say, why on earth do some women seem so anti other women? What motivates that? I just don't get the venom.

Nature_Girl posted 3/17/2014 11:33 AM

Misogyny doesn't recognize the gender of the person it infects. I think women sometimes get away with misogyny more than men because if a man said the things this woman did, it would be noticed. But when a woman says it, no one calls her out or properly identifies/characterizes her statements as misogyny.

purplejacket4 posted 3/17/2014 11:45 AM

I see this a lot in the medical profession. Often some female nurses, ancillary staff and administrators will say a female physician is a bitch for the same behavior in a male physician they wouldn't even question. Like because I have boobs I should want to discuss their personal relationships and bake cookies. Um, no.

Crescita posted 3/17/2014 12:37 PM

I think it has a lot to do with low self-esteem, lack of social skills, and premature sexualization.

Some women have a really easy time getting attention from the opposite sex and never really learn to develop social skills beyond that. Relating to other woman is a lot more challenging so they become competition instead.

One of my sisters has a really big heart and a lot of patience so she’ll break through the catty wall. From her, I’ve discovered most of the girls who are like this developed really early and were ostracized by their peers, or have some history of childhood sexual abuse. They have softened over time and have been pretty good friends to her, but it takes a lot to get past that kind of behavior.

[This message edited by Crescita at 12:38 PM, March 17th (Monday)]

Sad in AZ posted 3/17/2014 13:54 PM

I chalk it up to plain old jealousy/envy.

MissesJai posted 3/17/2014 16:09 PM

I think it has a lot to do with low self-esteem
IMO, this is a huge piece of the puzzle. Confident, self-assured women don't disparage other women for being successful nor are they threatened by other women. It's sad yet it's everywhere.

Ascendant posted 3/18/2014 08:16 AM

Often some female nurses, ancillary staff and administrators will say a female physician is a bitch for the same behavior in a male physician they wouldn't even question. Like because I have boobs I should want to discuss their personal relationships and bake cookies. Um, no.

I work in an environment that's about 90% women, and I think this is true for many of the reasons others have indicated. In my experience, there are some women who don't like it when other women don't "play the game" so to speak. There's one younger lady in particular that I work with, and many of the other girls hate her. She's more than competent at her job, doesn't take any shit from her peers, doesn't gossip about her work or home life...and she's absolutely reviled by a large number of her female coworkers. I don't get it.

There's a male equivalent to this, too, but this thread is about women v. other women, so figured I'd stay on topic.

solus sto posted 3/18/2014 08:41 AM

It's an insecurity thing. Some women feel more threatened by other womens' accomplishments because those accomplishments highlight their own failures and inadequacies, or at least tap into their fears if not measuring up.

Purplejacket, don't feel singled out. They may not do it in front of you, but there's an abundance of nurse-talk about male doctors and their bitchiness.

Amazonia posted 3/18/2014 10:01 AM

There's a male equivalent to this, too, but this thread is about women v. other women, so figured I'd stay on topic.

I'm curious about this.

Today she made a comment about being so glad she doesn't have to work for my boss. (Her boss and the rest of her department are all men.)

[This message edited by Amazonia at 10:04 AM, March 18th (Tuesday)]

Ascendant posted 3/18/2014 12:08 PM

I just meant that there are guys who do the exact same thing, too. Talk shit about every other guy they work with, and play surrogate BFF to every single woman.

At work, I'd like to think that I'm an equal-opportunity disparager....as long as someone keeps their personal life at home and does their work I will always be able to get along with them. Those are my standards for men and women alike.

cayc posted 3/18/2014 15:24 PM

I've seen women who disparage other women in a bid to be the special one that gets ahead but never a misogynistic woman. I don't consider cliques at work to be misogynistic, but rather that same ole same ole high school mean girls shit. That's just how women in group/out group each other since we don't have the physical option.

One thing I do notice is that in professions that aren't profit motivated, workers compete on turf, responsiblities and other non-monetary metrics. So that ups the ante on things like "she doesn't deserve that promotion/award", she's a bad boss and so on. The fights can get really petty really quickly because it's always about seemingly small stuff.

I've got several colleagues currently that always talk shit about people. Occasionally I have to be around them. I either sit silently and say nothing or occasionally I'll pipe up with "really, wow, she seems so nice to me".

I try and limit my contact with people like that since it's depressing and I figure that they say shit about me too when I'm not there. I've limited my friendship with a colleague I rather like for that very reason.

Edie posted 3/18/2014 16:06 PM

have you asked her why she does it?

Amazonia posted 3/18/2014 19:28 PM

Cayc, I have no doubt she talks about me.

Edie, I tend to sort of placate her when she gets to ranting, that sounds like it really frustrates you, I haven't noticed that but if it's true I'm sure it's hard for you, wow it sounds like that really bothers you, have you talked to her about your frustrations?, I'm sure she's much busier than we realize, I've always had great experience with her so I can't relate; that sort of thing.

It finally pissed her off the other day and she snapped at me that, I guess the difference between you and I is that I have expectations of people. To which I responded that I tend to see the best in people, give the benefit of the doubt, always assume there's more going on than I realize ("for example, I have no idea what you do most of the time, but I would never assume that means you're not doing something that needs to be done"), and that my expectations of people definitely exist, but that i try to take into account personality, work style and work load when I form them. She wants immediate and perfect from every woman we work with.

I haven't asked why only women; honestly she isn't the type to be self aware enough to necessarily realize she is doing it, and I doubt she would do more than deny it, or say something about only the women being incompetent, like it's a grand coincidence. I think it would also piss her off, and as I have to work closely with her so often, presumably for the next few years, I'd rather not stir that pot. I'll quietly defend those who deserve it, but I'm not going to take responsibility for teaching a grown woman manners or self awareness.

[This message edited by Amazonia at 7:31 PM, March 18th (Tuesday)]

Williesmom posted 3/18/2014 19:50 PM

Well, It sounds to me like she is very insecure with who she is as a person.

First off, be grateful that you aren't living her life- she sounds like a miserable person.

Secondly, you are right in limiting your contact with her- she is toxic. Her toxicity will come back to bite her eventually.

Third, if she were a man, I would call it small dick syndrome(or is it small man syndrome- I forget?)

[This message edited by Williesmom at 7:51 PM, March 18th (Tuesday)]

Edie posted 3/18/2014 19:54 PM

I'll quietly defend those who deserve it, but I'm not going to take responsibility for teaching a grown woman manners or self awareness.

I wasn't suggesting you did, was just curious how you were limiting her behaviour around you, or 'teaching' her that you are not interested in her negativity.

cayc posted 3/18/2014 20:34 PM

Companies have cultures that also can dictate how to handle this kind of thing.

For example, in my situation, the optimal choice is to say nothing/ do nothing. So maybe occasionally I might say, gee really, I kind of like them, but for the most part I just remain quiet.

I do this because I can't afford to make enemies (it could come to haunt me at another job site on down the road), and because you'd be surprised what people notice. So in the moment they do the same (say nothing) and just give her work because it's her job. But when she's applying for another position? That's when it'll matter. And that's when it'll come back to bite her. It's an unfortunate fact that where I work is like that. It definitely allows problem children to survive and not get fired, but on the flip side it means that good gets noticed and rewarded as you go along.

But as you can see, my strategy for dealing with this is very job/company specific. Were I at a for profit firm? I would probably handle it differently.

Lovedyoumore posted 3/26/2014 18:17 PM

Mean girls grow up to be mean women. I have been in a nasty competition with a woman that I never even knew I was in. This is not your regular get ahead competition. I am talking about "I will ruin your life, step on you, and never regret it" type of woman who needs it to make themselves look better. They plow women and suck up to men for their power.

CheshCat posted 3/27/2014 00:16 AM

To be clear, though, there is more than ONE type of woman who doesn't generally get on with other women.

- There's the misogynist type that seems to be the one everyone is discussing... Where, yeah, totally agree it tends to be a mix of low self esteem, cattiness, hypersexualization, what have you... Who view the entire sex as the enemy

- There's ALSO those of us who have no problem with individual women, have lots of girlfriends... But MOST of our friends are men. And we just generally prefer dealing with men in most situations. NOT because we hate women. But because of the whole men mars/ women venus, generalizations are always wrong... There are women who communicate/think/act along the traditional "male" generalization.... Just like there are men who communicate/think/act along the traditional "female" generalization.

Sure, straight men who are talkative, sensitive, emotionally aware, blah blah blah.... And straight women who are more direct, up front, solution oriented blah blah blah... Are on the narrow part of the bell curve.

But neither group are inherently dysfunctional, damaged, awful people.

Damaged, dysfunctional, awful people are their oooooooown little group of misery!

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