Sunday, August 21, 2005

Cross-post: Continuing the "Why BlogHer is not passe" theme

From my Personal Blog: Some press coverage of a recent conference shows why it's more than speaker rosters that BlogHers need to take note of.

One of the biggest problems with working with women is getting them to support one another (I know a bit about this from attending a women's college). How do we begin to respect and mentor one another without being jealous of one another? How do we not get ourselves stuck in snarky little pissing contests (as can happen)? One thing I think we should all remember is that in the blogosphere, there is alot of room for others who may be thinking the way we are (because, as it is, there's really only a handful of us) and that it's not competition but support when we discover someone who's on the same wavelength as us. And, we could stop competing for the Alpha Males--stop with the hero worship. Take pride in what we've done and approach them as equals, not as conquering heroes. It takes confidence and a bit of ego to do it, but it's fun when it happens!
I have to say that I think women get a bad rap from women in this regard. I have had male and female colleagues. When a man is a jerk no one's first thought is that it's hard to work with men in's much easier to individualize someone who is in the majority.

Once someone represents a minority, of any kind, and misbehaves...suddenly they're representative of whatever minority group they represent. That's quite a burden, and an unfair one.

I've had far more snarky pissing contests with men, than with women I can tell you :)
I see nothing wrong with women learning how to compete fairly to bring out the best in one another. Just because we grew up without games that taught us the concept of "friendly competition" doesn't mean it's too late to start.

I just posted on my blog about a ridiculous request from an influential woman that Pirro drop out of the NY race against Clinton for senator - just because there was a woman holding the post already. This woman went on to say Pirro should pursue a lesser job (i.e. sell out) so that a) Clinton could stay in, guaranteeing a woman senator; and b) so the press wouldn't focus on the "catfight."

Tolerance is a terrific idea, and there will also be occasions when creative conflict serves a greater purpose. Here's an idea (going back to Mobile Jones at BlogHer): instead of not fighting at all, how about learning to fight fair? It's called a catfight because we (generations before us, really) fought that way often enough to earn the label. Let's reframe the dialogue by acting like adults - and supporting one another when we do *that.*

I am compassionate, open-minded, and wildly supportive of other women. And I have a voice of my own, too. Though I will always choose first to be considerate, I also refuse to play small just because it might hurt someone's feelings. As the saying goes, "your playing small doesn't serve the world."
Hey Jen: I don't even get that influential woman's request, given that Pirro is running in the other party. So if she won the nomination of her party and ran against Clinton it still GUARANTEES a woman will hold the office.

I'm not sure I buy that women are responsible, via their behavior, for all conflicts between women being called "catfights." I am not ready to "own" that one! :)

For a really inane example: when Alexis and Krystal physically fought on Dynasty, that was called the uber-catfight. Yet, in its very physicality wasn't it quite different from the "catfights" that involve cutting, backstabbing remarks? And probably anything that goes on between Clinton and Pirro will be given the moniker "catfight"...regardless of form or substance.

"Catfight" is another one of the not-so-subtle "code words" like "perky" or "sassy" or "histrionic." (Despite the roughly equivalent number of male and female cats in the natural world.) It is applied to any women who dare to meet conflict head-on.

I agree absolutely that competition is good, managing conflict is good, and that we all should learn to do that.

But looking only inward at our behavior and adjusting it won't improve the environment for women...we have to look outward and shine a light on archaic attitudes and messages when we find them.
Hey E --

You are totally right that the word "catfight" is a code word intended to demean and belittle. And I'm reading two things now that are making me stretch my views on it - a book called "Catfight" by Leora Tanenbaum (who wrote "Slut: Growing Up Female with a Bad Reputation") and a series of articles by Elizabeth Debold in "What is Enlightenment" magazine. Loving these conversations - thanks for keeping the exchange alive.
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