There are days when I wish things were different. When I wish that women just liked me and didn’t compete with me, judge me or put me down. I guess that’s why I started my business because I wanted to be the strong women who was kind.
I wish this wasn’t a radical concept.
My curse is that I am good at things. I am naturally good at a lot of things – dancing, fashion choices, science, math, english, language, confidence, not caring what other’s think, making up my own mind, being secure. I am bad at a lot of things too – singing (woeful), cup cake cooking (rocks), celebrating my own achievements, etc but these things aren’t really visible are they?
Not caring about what others think may sound like a massive relief but for a lot of women it is the most threatening thing you can do. Because often that is how women relate to one another – how much we hate ourselves, apologise for ourselves, dislike our clothes, how terrible our hair is, how bad our skin is, how much that big meal last night must really have put on 10kg (it can’t, stop thinking that!), how much our make up is a mess. Its a code for empathy and commonality. Its also a code that puts us down and keeps us in our place.
Our mum’s taught us this code.
Come on, haven’t you said something like this: “OMG! I’m so sorry I’m late, I’m hopeless with being on time, and I really had to fix this skirt because it just looked hideous with this other top I picked. God my hair is a mess, I mean seriously I don’t know why I bother to even leave the house?”
This need to relate by putting ourselves down is dangerous. It breads competition. Competition in who is the most hopeless, forgetful, useless, worthless. The converse is the inability to relate to women who do not express themselves like this. The desire to destroy women like this through ostracising them, bullying them, by making up stories about them, excluding them and not looking after them.
This behaviour is dangerous to women.
Let me tell you a story… a story of little B on her way to a ballet competition.
Little B was super young, not even en point yet. Her pink leotard was not yet betraying her body, it was still super cute on Little B. Little B was tucked up safe and sound in Dad’s ‘Big Car’ (the Leyland P76, one of three thank you very much) strapped into the kid’s seat – to keep you safe, said Daddy. Little B was hurtling towards her friend’s house to go to a ballet competition together so that her friend’s Mum could drive them both their together. They were best friends. Little B had done this “drop off to head on” trip a hundred times. As Dad pulled up at the house, Little B got out ‘Thanks Dad’ and ran up to the front door, ballet bag safely over her shoulder. With one big rev the Big Car sped off. Little B knocked on the front door. Silence. Little B frowned, the hairs on the back of her neck going up. There was always someone here, the brother, the friend’s Dad, etc…. Little B knocked again, eyes growing wide as she peered through the side window. There was nothing but still furniture and still carpet and dust slowly floating in the interior light.
Little B was responsible. Maybe something had happened. Even though she knew it hadn’t. She wandered around the house peering in windows, looking for signs of someone needing help. There was no one.
There was no one home.
Little B was scared.
The suburb was silent.
Little B didn’t know what to do.
Dad was gone.
There was no one else there.
Little B was alone.
Little B started the long walk home down Frankston-Flinders road. Heading out on to the big highway like road (double lanes both side with a huge brushy tea tree median), Little B was a little pink dot on the huge hill leading into Frankston. Grey skies hung heavy in autumnal air. The wind whipped around her light skirt. Little B kept a hand on the skirt to stop it flying up, even though it was completely see-through.
Pink leotard, translucent pink skirt, practice dance shoes on her feet, hair in a bun, her little ballet bag with her proper dance shoes in them, banging against her left thigh as she walked.
Little B walked and walked.
Looking behind her.
Little B was was not where she was supposed to be.
The road stretched out before her, the bay and Melbourne city glinting off in the distance.
A huge Milk Bar appeared on the horizon. Big red and white coca cola sign. Slades advert blazing.
There was a big Telecom phone box outside the milk bar. Little B tried to make a call but had no money and reverse charges wasn’t yet a ‘thing’.
Little B bravely took a step into the Milk Bar. Little B waited in line. At the counter, trying not to cry, trying to speak clearly, Little B asked to use the phone.
The Milk Bar owner eyed her dubiously and said NO.
Little B insisted.
‘I’m lost, I need to call Mum’. Loud sob threatening. Adults turned to listen.
The Milk Bar owner sighed and handed over the phone.
Ever since Little B was walked home from school by Dad most afternoons. Dad would make her recite her home phone number, over and over again. ‘If you ever get lost, you get to a phone and call home, now what’s the number again?’. The time had come to use that number.
Little B dialled and Mum picked up and (more quickly than was humanly imaginable) a huge V-8 rev could be heard off in the distance. Little B was rescued by Mum and Dad, in the Big Car.
Little B arrived at the ballet practice in Mt Eliza a bit late but well in time for the competition and to do well.
Little’s B friend had not forgotten the arrangement.
Little’s B friend had told her Mum that Little B wouldn’t need a lift.
Why did Little B’s friend say this?
Little’s B friend wanted to win.
This story ends well really. I did make it to the competition. I did very well. The friendship ended. My parents always made sure I got through the front door of a friend’s house before driving off — forever.
But it could have been a story with a different ending. My friend cared so much about beating me and winning that she didn’t care about what happened to me at all.
That it is not sanity.
That is what a lot of women are taught, compete against other women at ALL costs.
How many women didn’t make it to their equivalent of the milk bar because a friend wanted to get rid of them from some kind of life test/competition/milestone?
What about if we just focussed on supporting each other, at all costs ?
What would happen then?