Last Fall I gave my first in-person talk in almost two years. It was exciting to be back with real-live-people, and not at home, on-line via Zoom. It was a ‘ladies’ luncheon event for my local chamber and I was ready to go!
Until wait, hold-on. I soon realized that ‘ladies’ luncheon didn’t mean just women, as had been my initial perception. As people began to show up and sit down... About half of the audience members were men!
No harm, no foul. I simply addressed the fact that my topic was geared toward the behavior of women but certainly did not exclude men. And how right I was. The men were just as engaged as the women were – asking questions and offering feedback. I caught looks of disbelief on several of the men’s faces when women shared about their experiences of female rivalry.
Since men traditionally do not act the same way toward their male counterparts as females do, I realized this was new information to them. As a result, the men in my audience were significantly enlightened on just how malicious female rivalry behaviors can be.
So, I started thinking, ‘What can I do to promote awareness about how men can be better allies to support women experiencing negative female rivalry behaviors?’ Well, this is it. A 2-part series about, “Male Allyship + Mean Girls.” Part I, ‘The Family Perspective’ and Part II, ‘The Work Perspective.’
The reason I’m so passionate about the topic of female rivalry and why we need more awareness about it is bottom-line, women not only need each other, we need male allies too. Women need allies to talk to, to feel accepted and ultimately, know that when they experience female rivalry, they’re not alone. Because this behavior is unbiased. It happens at home, it happens at work and chances are, it’s happening to someone you know, now.
“The concept of allyship is to be inclusive of everyone. An ally is to unite or form a connection or relationship between. Allyship is to be in supportive association with another person or group.”
As male allyship pertains to the concept of female rivalry, it’s about building relationships with and for women – to be better together. It’s hard to be an ally, especially if you’re an ‘outsider’ to what’s going on. Meaning – you may not fully understand the behaviors (as it pertains to female rivalry), you haven’t experienced it, you don’t readily recognize it, but you can always support.
If you’re a male reading this you may be asking, ‘What exactly IS female rivalry?’ Check out two of my blogs, “Female Rivalry: It’s More Than Competition,” and “The Mental Health Impacts of Female Rivalry,” to gain more understanding about this behavior.
One of the first things to note is, if someone in your family is experiencing this negative behavior, chances are she won’t talk about it to you or anyone else about it, especially if she’s in the thick of it. If it isn’t happening now, it probably has in some form or another, or will. It could be your wife, daughter, mom or sister. It could be at work, in your neighborhood, or perhaps it’s even a long-standing behavior between your wife and her mom. There are multiple ways for this behavior to unfold.
The second thing to note is, there’s a lot of shame associated with this behavior. Shame that she didn’t stand up for herself, that she let it happen, and that she lost her voice. Remember, allyship involves two or more people. It’s important to use what you learn to take informed action, not on your own accord, but with and in support of, her. To inspire trust and respect in your role as an ally, here are a few tips:
Listen. Be sincere and have empathy, don’t make fun of, interrupt, judge or pretend to understand if you don’t (because men typically don’t act this way to each other). Value her openness and that she’s sharing it with you. (Remember the shame factor).
It’s not about you. Don’t take center-stage, mansplain or try to fix it. It’s about her (reference the first point, listen).
Respect the female space. This is painful, for (perhaps) both of you. You don’t know what it feels like but you want to understand it, to help her. Go back to the first point before offering any advice, listen.
Embrace the discomfort. This is an uncomfortable topic. Some of what’s shared may blow your mind, make you feel anxious, shame, or even self-blame for not realizing it was occurring. Stop that - it doesn’t help! Go back to the first point, listen to learn.
Ask how you can help. Help to support, to interact, to promote awareness, to be an ally, together. Don’t assume you have the best answer or approach. Go back to the first point, listen to learn.
You already are. It’s time TO BE.♥️
P.S. Stay tuned for my blog out next week as I continue the conversation about ‘Male Allyship + Mean Girls: The Work Perspective.’
I say that it’s time to be different. It’s time to talk about what female rivalry is, to know how to break it down one action at a time.
⁉️Interested in learning how ‘female rivalry’ impacts the workplace? 🎉DOWNLOAD my FREE .pdf guide, ‘5 Reasons WHY Good Women Walk’ to learn more!