“Tough it out.”
“Be a Man.”
Aggression in boys and men is widely discussed. We are all informed of it and we know what it looks like. We know that we live in a culture that has encouraged physical aggression in boys.
Researchers are beginning to study relational aggression in women more because it is so prevalent. Most of us are familiar with relational aggression in teenage girls. Some of us have experienced it and most of us have seen our daughters or nieces experience it.
It is a form of bullying and it can leave lasting effects on teenage girls. Some of us have even been on the bullying end of things as tweens but we grew out of this behavior and emotionally matured.
What we don’t talk about as much in the community is how adult women still engage in this. It happens in the workplace, kids’ school events, running groups, friend groups, extracurriculars, at the gym, or in any group setting.
What It Looks Like:
- Rumor spreading
- Publicly outing other women
- Sharing information about other women that is private/vulnerable/confidential
What Is relational aggression?
- It usually stems from insecurity
- It occurs when people don’t move beyond the roles they played in childhood
- One of the goals is to damage someone’s social status
- Often the focus is to sabotage other women
- It is a survival mechanism
- It derives from: power, control, fear, and a desire for social status
Why does this matter?
Alienating the self from other women is not good for anyone.
Daughters and nieces are watching this behavior and they repeat it.
How can we empower other women’s greatness?
- Encourage and Celebrate other Women
- Greet other women kindly
- Use your power for kindness
- Stop the cycle
- Walk away from the gossip
- Gather women together
- Make amends to other women who you have hurt
- Invite everyone to the table or gathering
- Focus on connection instead of status
- Develop friendships that are not focused on what you can gain
- Accept other women as they are, even if they are not just like you
- Help other women to meet their goals