Sorry for the language but, while out running this morning, I listened to Taylor Swift’s song “Mad woman” and the song really made me think how women are always supposed to be nice, friendly and accommodating otherwise we are called mad, crazy and mentally ill.
The lines “And women like hunting witches too; Doing your dirtiest work for you” ring very true as I believe that being assertive and calling out paternalistic behaviour is something most people, men as well as women, find hard to tolerate in women. While I can understand that men don’t like being challenged, I wonder however why women react so fiercely sometimes to other women who challenge the status quo? Is it that they think it will benefit them and get the favours with the men? If that is the case they are kidding themselves, it only enforces paternalistic behaviours towards everyone. Is that they don’t want to question their own situation and behaviours?
There is some research about this such as Women’s relationships with women at work: Barriers to solidarity but Webber and Gluffre (2019) in which they looked at existing research and they suggest that “there are three themes about the conditions of work emerge that discourage women’s support for other women: (a) negative stereotypes about women, (b) lack of recognition of gender inequality, and (c) the devaluation of women’s relationships, groups, and networks.”
I think it is fair to question why women should show any solidarity to other women just because of their joined gender as it is quite an essentialist view to take and women as such are surely not a homogenous group. However, every time I hear that argument it makes me think of the ‘divide and conquer’ strategy, which posits that you defeat your enemy by destroying any cohesion.