As a mental health counselor, I have dealt with the issues of mean girls of all ages. Why do women try to bring each other down? And we are so darned good at it because we start in middle school. Why be so threatened by other women? One would think that as women make societal advances, we would all jump onboard to build the sisterhood. Let’s bond together to break the glass ceiling. Why do so many women seem to think, “Well it’s not breaking for me, so I don’t want it to break for you either. “
This is not a new phenomenon. Just as the Equal Rights Amendment was on the verge of passing, ensuring Constitutional equality for women, Phyllis Schlafly and her “traditional female roles” movement convinced lawmakers that the role of mothers would be seriously threatened by this amendment. The message to other women was, “We want to be traditional homemakers and we don’t want you climbing the ladder or engaging in other pursuits because this would disrupt our secure sense of self.” Conservatives have always been more comfortable with black and white thinking, and less willing to allow for shades of gray, even when that means infringing on the rights of others who don’t fit their mold.
If as a candidate you are anticipating that the sisterhood will turn out for you in droves, you will be sorely disappointed and happily surprised. Influential women who you are 100% sure will enthusiastically get behind your candidacy will cancel lunch five times and not return your phone calls. On the other hand, there will be wonderful women you have never met who will pitch in and give of their time and talents in ways that will touch you.
I made the serious mistake of reading my social media at night. This instigated serious insomnia. It was so puzzling why women who didn’t really know me would take the time to say nasty things about me. I was astonished that because I was a women, other women felt empowered to dump on me. After using my best psychological analytical skills, I realized it was the “I could never run for office but you are running so I am a little jealous and threatened and ticked off at myself because I am not running since I am too chicken but if I were, I would do things differently, so I am trash talking you to make me feel better” syndrome.
One of the reasons I wanted to start Help Women Win was to help female candidates navigate these pitfalls. If candidates know they have a team of women who have their back, it’s a firm foundation on which to stand. At one of my meet and greets a woman turned to a friend of mine and said about my opponent, “She is younger and prettier and will chew her (me) up and spit her out.” And that was at MY rally. My friend and I were so appalled, we actually started laughing about it because it was so absurd. Did you make a wrong turn and come to the wrong meet and greet? The team of women who had my back made all the difference in helping me stay focused and positive, and that’s what candidates need.