Girls don’t learn a lot about cooperation or healthy competition in childhood.
For boys, we support healthy competition and self-confidence from an early age. For girls, we find these characteristics undesirable. Assertiveness or ambition are considered “unfeminine” and “bossy”.
No wonder then men are typically happy with competition and see a victory or loss as parts of the game of life. After victory, they rarely feel guilty and have no problem making friends with their opponents. After all, he’s a good sportsman, right?
The behaviours that come off as unfriendly competition between women may, in reality, mask suppressed uncertainty and fear of success. Moreover, the beauty myth inculcates girls to compare themselves with other women, especially ones benefitting from Photoshop. The stepmother is jealous of Snow White and the stepsisters are jealous of Cinderella.
Far more important than jealousy and competition is the mutual support and cooperation of women.
SIX PIECES OF ADVICE FOR TODAY’S GIRLS
Help can come in big and small packages, or big and small acts of solidarity. Point out something is stuck between her teeth or lend her a hair tie when she loses hers. Side with a woman you don’t know, and act like you’re friends, when a group of men shout at her or catcall her on a bus. Compliment her ideas and work ethic rather than just her clothes when she works with you on that project about climate change.
Sisterhood Is Forever: The Women's Anthology for a New Millennium (2003): edited by Robin Morgan.