Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Edge - Following Up and Telling It Like It Is

One of my readers kindly sent me a link to the an article from the Sunday Times (read the full article here). It focuses on women letting jealousy get in the way on friendships, touching also on the issue of competitiveness between women;

"We do give other girls an unnecessarily hard time. These days, it isn’t considered chic to bitch, Dynasty-style – we leave the crude viperishness to the Jordans, the Cheryls and the Poshes. Competitiveness comes in a different guise: an awesomely sophisticated game of one-upmanship. Do you have the latest Mulberry bag? Are you wearing this season’s key shape in denim? Will you go back to work after having a baby – and if so, how long after? Is your baby sleeping through the night? No? Oh, you poor thing."

The author, Jessica Brinton, talks about the work of sex researcher and cultural historian Professor Shere Hite.

"...Hite is expecting us to give up on the idea of being the best, and that’s hard. However much we battle with it, the desire to be Ivanka Trump in the boardroom, Nigella in the kitchen, Angelina in the nursery, and all three in the bedroom, is pernicious. Are we really happy to take a step back and let other women climb the ladder faster, for the sake of getting on..."

If I am totally honest with myself, my answer would have to be no. I am competitive at heart, (I'm a Leo). Not in all respects mind you, Take me fly fishing and I couldn't give a rat's if you are better than me, but in some areas it does really matter to me if I am the best. By being the 'best', my yard stick can be many different things though. It could be being better than someone else, (this tends to happen only when I really don't like the person), or just better than I was at the same thing last time. But even then, that is all subjective. To be better than someone else as a matter of internal competition, I am really my own judge. Therefore, it is only really me saying to myself that I am better, not some official or outside adjudicator. ( I am not referring to actual competitions here). So then, if I am my own judge in these matters, does that make this sort of competition a bad thing? Or is it only a bad thing if it causes me anxiety or makes behave in a manner that would put someone else down? I am vacillating in my answer to this, and today I think that perhaps this is what defines 'healthy competition'.

In saying all that it has made me realise one very important thing. It is the lack of competition between my best friend and I that makes us so. We both always feel free just to be ourselves, to be totally honest no matter what the situation. I remember the day we first met. I eyed her very suspiciously and my mind was suddenly filled with insecurities and a familiar sense of competition / jealousy. We had so much in common that my natural reaction was to feel like I was in direct competition with her, as if there were only room for one of us in the group. If I had allowed that to get the better of me, I would have missed out on my greatest friendship of all times. And there is much to be said for that.

My thanks to the Sunday Times and Jessica Brinton for the use of this article.

** Don't worry, Swanky Panky will appear tomorrow for all your coveting needs. (My word, it is all getting a bit Deadly Sins around here). **


enc said...

I love this subject. It gets us ALL thinking. I can recall being in 'competition' with various friends over the years, but it was competition of my own making. If I felt inadequate, I created a competition. I think the most giving, empathetic friends understand us and themselves, and they make room for these feelings.

I don't do this anymore with my friends, but as I commented on the last post, I do the dreaded demoralizing comparison with strangers. I suppose all this means is, I haven't yet learned my lesson.

WendyB said...

I think it's funny that women are always being slammed for being competitive with each other, when men are competitive with each other, with women and with the trees in the forest. But when women do something it's BAD. When men do something it's normal. Not that I recommend people treating each other poorly, but it's certainly part of human nature (that we should try to rise above).

Super Kawaii Mama said...

Enc: I do love a good discussion / debate. I think you touch on a key point. I never feel in competition unless a part of me feels inadequate. I guess that is because in effect,if you feel fab / secure/ on top of it; then to you never feel the need to make the comparison in the first place.

Wendy B: How right you are! I think one of the key differences is that men can be competitive with each other without letting it get in the way of their friendships. I'm all for competition in its most positive and self motivating form.