There isn’t much that makes me squirm with discomfort. Apart from moths inside lampshades, unexpected penis pictures, the occasional episode of criminal minds and awkward small talk with old high school classmates, I’m pretty steadfast when it comes to most situations. More and more, however, I’m finding myself experiencing pangs of what can only be referred to as squirminess when I’m handling myself in the company of other women.
I could play the teenage girl card and say things like “well, I never really got along with girls,” and “I just mostly have guy-friends,” but none of that is true past the age of 16. Any grown-ass woman worth her weight in rosé knows these pangs are competition pangs.
Competition pangs differ from jealousy. When one is jealous, one wants what another has. When one feels a pang, it’s simply not wanting the other woman to have what she wants — whether or not you want the same thing.
It is a disgusting feeling. It is a pointless feeling. It’s the opposite of feminism. Yet, it is one of the more prominent emotional experiences of a woman’s daily life. It can sneak up at any moment, with close friends or absolute strangers, and it has the power to turn any confident and successful woman into a grade nine girl in PE class.
Competition between females is nasty and it’s only getting worse.
With the internet being a means to not only make your own success, but also showcase it, it is getting easier and easier to flaunt what you have. Whether we do it on purpose or not, to someone who doesn’t know us personally any sort of “look what I did!” can come across negatively.
And yet, it seems to me that female relationships are getting more praise now than ever before. Our wolf-packs, tribes, squads, cliques, girl-gangs and support circles are getting credit for everything. We are dedicating ourselves to finding these powerful women who will build us up while also building their own empires. There is such a craving for positive female-female friendships it seems bizarre that we still manage to feel anything besides sheer admiration for all each other’s accomplishments.
I recently sent a close friend a text that said, “today was a good day, because the woman you are going to marry FINALLY followed me back on Instagram.”
It was a silly text — a pointless conversation starter that would have been hilarious had it not been true. Her clicking “follow” validated me. It meant that I didn’t need to look resentfully at all of her fashionable photos, I could look upon them with the eagerness to be inspired, the intrigue to be influenced, a sense of inclusion. Before she passed me the virtual nod of approval, we were in competition — despite the fact I didn’t want what her sights were set on.
But we are exclusive with our wolf-packs, our squads, our tribes. We know the squirmy feeling so well that we are too frightened to expand, out of fear we will feel incompetent, out-done, heaven forbid, insecure.
Beyoncé taught us to be fierce, but she didn’t teach us how to share.
We need to create a treaty — an international agreement between members of the female sex that states we acknowledge the beauty of one another and recognize uniqueness as vital to our survival. We support the successes and failures of our own. We are open to building our tribes, without the call of civil war.
And, once that has happened, we should all turn to Beyoncé and say, “do you get ingrown bikini hairs? And if so, what do you do about them?”
— Andria Parker is an Instagram-obsessed idealist with at least 600 words to share on every topic, ever.