My heart bleeds for women. It is one of the driving forces behind me growing my business. I want to provide opportunities for women to excel in motherhood while having personal success in their careers, businesses, and relationships. I study women and pay attention to thought leaders in women’s studies.
As social media has grown, it is rare I make it through one of my half-hour long social media scrolls without coming across posts where women express their disdain and distrust of other women. Yet, we live in an age where we have stickers and t-shirts proclaiming “real women fix each other’s crowns,” but we don’t trust each other enough to be vulnerable. Can you accept correction or praise from someone you don’t value or respect? Can you give praise or correction to a woman with whom you lack a personal connection?
I don’t think so.
While coaching woman entrepreneurs whose target market is primarily women, I hear:
- I don’t trust women.
- I have no women friends. (That’s probably because of the previous declaration.)
- I get along better with men.
- Women are jealous.
- Women are jealous of me.
- The women I know are not as smart as me, so I had to change rooms.
How do they expect to reach women without connecting with women? While I am a woman, I’m not every woman; therefore, I need other women to help me reach my goals and understand my market. I can’t be successful without feminine connections.
I’ve even had a few women tell me that they don’t know why they chose to work with me because they don’t typically trust women enough to share with them. I also hear, “you don’t act like the women I know.” In almost every instance, when we get down to the business of exploring their values and beliefs, we end up learning where their wariness of feminine relationships began. One 50-year-old client, whom we’ll call Janice, confided that she hasn’t trusted women since a girl in second grade ridiculed her for having nappy hair. It didn’t help that Janice was the only one of her siblings who didn’t have good hair like their mother. And, her mother often complained that doing Janice’s hair was hard labor.
“My work with women has shown me again and again that this disconnect, judgment and competitiveness with other women comes from a wounded place inside ourselves. When we feel inadequate and defensive about our own femaleness, we have little tolerance for women who seem to own theirs,” wrote Pamela Madsen in an article for Psychology Today.
Janice’s distrust of women started at home with her mother and her classmates reinforced it. We learn that hair is a woman’s glory. Back then, in the Black community, to have nappy hair was not a good thing. Janice felt inadequate and defensive. She didn’t feel like she was enough so she built walls around herself. Janice hates women who proudly wear natural hair, especially if it is nappy. Did Janice have female relationships? Yes. However, they were superficial so they were of no real benefit to her.
Janice’s story is not unique. Her story is the same as the woman who feels a certain way about her skin color, weight, nose, or teeth. Unfortunately, holding on to hurt prevents us from experiencing true sisterhood.
We must reevaluate how we view ourselves and others, what we have to offer, and what we can receive from others. No matter what you believe about other women or how much you’re hurting, great personal feminine relationships are necessary for personal, spiritual, and professional growth. Women need other women.
3 Feminine Relationships Every Woman Needs
According to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, “mentoring provides professional socialization and personal support to facilitate success.” This idea is not only a business or academic concept. In Titus 2, older women are encouraged to set good examples to younger women and to teach them how to live in a way that is pleasing to God. In other words, no matter how much you think you know, there is always a woman who is older and wiser.
If Ruth didn’t see the value in her relationships with Naomi, it is highly unlikely that she would have met and married Boaz. Naomi coached Ruth on the customs of her people.
Peers and Friends
I believe the reason we have superficial relationships with women in our age group is the fear of exposure. I’ve been there.
My husband and I had been in a rough spot for several years. I was embarrassed. Instead of confiding in my friends, I limited the amount of time I spent with my girlfriends from college. I wasn’t supposed to have a troubled marriage. I was a church girl married to a charming, handsome man whom everyone loved. One Sunday at brunch, they got the truth out of me. They couldn’t believe I was having problems with him. Instead of judging me, they became the support I needed.
Beyond being supportive, friends in your age group have a better understanding of your feelings, hopes, and dreams. The older women and mentors in my life don’t necessarily speak my language. They don’t live in the same reality as my girlfriends and me. My mentors might remember having teenagers twenty years ago but my girlfriends are living that reality in the age of Tik Tok, Instagram, and Snapchat along with me.
My former client, Keysha Dale, attributes her success as an executive in the healthcare industry to having great mentors. She believes it is necessary to help others navigate their path to success because someone helped her. No matter your age or position in life, you have something to offer a mentee.
I want to encourage you to embrace the good, the bad, and the ugly of you. If you own it, you own you. Owning yourself allows you to be okay with feeling vulnerable. Vulnerability gives you the space to receive from and give to others.
In Becoming, Michelle Obama wrote, “Don’t ever make decisions based on fear. Make decisions based on hope and possibility. Make decisions based on what should happen, not what shouldn’t.” So, the next time you’re afraid to reach up to a mentor, across to a peer, or down to a mentee, don’t allow fear to stop you.