I used to be one of those girls that rolled with the dudes.
“I don’t really get along with girls,” said naive, ignorant, high school-Erica.
I thought shunning my gender made me cool. I was trying to be one of the guys, which included joking around and making snarky comments about other girls behind their backs. Often I was just laughing along with sexist humor and fueling my own insecurities and jealousies by belittling a fellow female. Ah, the dark days of teenaged girlhood.
One of the first epiphanies in my feminist awakening was that women supporting other women is imperative.
As a media-making woman, I am lucky to call many creative, talented female artists my friends. Jealousy and insecurity are facts of human life, though it seems everyone’s eyes are a little greener with envy in a creative community.
In 2012 I started Lady Business, a roaming group of women coming together once a month to discuss our experiences as women in the workplace, to support each other’s projects, art, and endeavors, celebrate each other’s accomplishments, and drink champagne! We started as a handful of friends and have grown to a group of over 200 women.
The support and love I feel from the Lady Business community is unmatched. What was once a struggle for me, now feels easy and good! Here are a few things I’ve figured out recently that have really helped me become a supportive ally to my fellow women.
WOMEN SUPPORTING WOMEN
- Clean out your head – The change has to start internally. It doesn’t matter that I’m outwardly pleasant to another woman if I am secretly harboring jealousy and hate towards her, resenting her successes, venting about her, hoping for her to fail. Thinking nasty thoughts while being saccharine on the outside will only make supporting other women totally impossible. Eventually those negative thoughts and feelings will manifest themselves into outward hate and anger. Of course you aren’t going to like every woman you meet. Not every relationship has to be the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, but a lot can be overcome by harnessing the power of the brain and spinning a negative situation into a positive. If I’m working with another woman who is getting on my nerves, I try to think of all the positives about her and her work, and usually that simple reframing helps me see more clearly. Often, the root cause of my negativity is my own issue I’m projecting onto her.
- Pre-empt unasked questions with answers- Most of the women in Lady Business are in the entertainment and media-making industries, which are notorious “Boys Club” lines of work. The inequality we face everyday leaves us feeling pretty insecure. It’s so important, as a fellow woman, to not add to these insecurities. I see it all the time, women in this industry name-dropping and throwing around production knowledge and jargon. Anyone that didn’t understand the reference now feels totally insecure and embarrassed. And unfortunately, many women have been made to feel ashamed when we don’t know something, instead of getting help or asking questions. Pre-empt this and help guide women in your industry. Don’t try to outdo or one-up, no need to use flashy jargon if a common place word will suffice. Instead of trying to impress and dazzle, I make it my goal to be as dazzlingly helpful to other women as possible.
- Girl, love yourself!- I mean, this is so important. Self-care and self-love take time and work, but are super worth it. I still struggle with comparing myself to other women, but that sneaky little envy monster fades away when I am feeling like my best self…mostly that means I operate on a schedule that feels right for me. Instead of burning the candle at both ends, I live in balance. I get sleep. I am active. I eat well. I spend time with my friends. I sometimes hang out with this little Chihuahua named Walnut. I mean, these things keep me sane and happy!
- Celebrate a woman’s successes- Shout from the rooftops when a woman succeeds! Tell everyone about the women you admire. Cheering on another woman’s accomplishments in no way takes away from your own. Spreading the word about awesome women only helps pave the way for further equality.
I love this quote from Eleanor Roosevelt for its simplicity and humanity:
“When it’s better for everyone, it’s better for everyone.”