In my experience, when there are more than 1/3 of women in a department or a company, the general dynamics starts to feel stressful and hypocritical even with male colleagues. That is because there is too much poison circulating around, too many fake smiles, unspoken desires and muffled disagreements. And it becomes exhausting because so much energy has to be invested in making things look smooth and nice despite all that is happening under the surface.
Men tend to say things out loud. If they disagree with you, you will be very clearly informed about it. And once they have voiced it, they will forget about it and move on.
Women tend to want to be nice and accommodating. We don’t want to be a burden to others so we don’t express any request, desire or disagreement. We shrink ourselves, we compress ourselves to the maximum to make sure that we don’t take up too much space. But that doesn’t make the requests, desires or disagreements go away. It just builds pressure within us.
At the same time, we spend a lot of time and energy blaming and shaming ourselves for behaving like this, for not daring to fully express ourselves. So there is a combination of unexpressed desires and self-attack that feed each other in a never-ending fight.
And then, there comes a point where our being cannot contain all this anymore. And it spills over. We start criticising in other women what we don’t like in ourselves in the hope that it will keep those flaws away from us — which, of course, doesn’t work.
So, we keep building resentment towards others and despise for ourselves, spitting this poison on the woman next to us, as if this would give her the power and confidence to stand up for all of us and say, “Enough with this”.
But the only cure to this poison starts within each of us individually.
Every time you catch yourself criticising, despising or attacking another woman (or yourself), take a deep belly breath, feel your feet on the floor, and try to love yourself a little more. Or at least to dislike yourself a little less.
Keep practising blindly and faithfully and watch what happens.