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Women hating women hurts all

“She hates me. Never once have I laid eyes on this woman, nor she on me. I hear she helps the poor. I also heard she crushes people by being a bully on social media and by spreading hateful gossip. Yes, she hates me. I am now held in contempt by someone whose face I have never even seen and whose voice I have never, ever heard.”

This is an entry from my journal penned in 2017 shortly after I became mayor of Beverly, when only days into my administration I learned that a local woman was highly agitated with me for, well, just for being me.

To her, I was an outsider who had forgotten my boundaries, and she did not hesitate to place her fingers to her keyboard to brutalize me. To her, I was an enemy even though we were the same sex.

The experience has left me convinced that more than just “feel good” stories need told during all this down time of social distancing.

This is an exciting time in women’s history, as we declare loudly to the world that we will not be dismissed. The Women’s Marches held annually around the world showcase key concerns facing our gender, and we cling to the hope that those who matter are watching and listening.

But the sisterhood has not always been so sisterly regarding progressive action such as the #MeToo movement and the Equal Rights Amendment. Too many women do not believe yet that we deserve more than to be play toys or to collect the same pay as our male counterparts.

Disdain by women for women has permeated more than just personal opinions on politically charged and hot topic issues. It has soiled relationships between females — often to a point of no return.

Outright indignation from other women against the “pink hats” worn at the March in Washington, D.C. in 2017 and every year since, as an example, included a female cousin of mine who couldn’t oblige my right or anyone else’s to protest in such a way.

In one fell swoop of a scathing Facebook post against what she called “vulgar,” a fifty-five-year relationship with close kin disintegrated. We have not communicated since.

In his online article published by Psychology Today, “Women Who Hate Other Women: The Psychological Root of Snarky,” Seth Meyers, Psy.D., suggests that women acting mean to other women are “afraid of being left out.”

Understanding their behavior, Meyers contends, “…is complex, particularly because it is challenging (or impossible?) to measure a critical, negative, or hostile attitude given the self-serving bias that makes people want to see themselves as good and upstanding.”

While my nemesis and I never had a relationship before, during, or after my time as mayor, it is clear that she thinks of herself as a good person, as Meyers describes. She posts her many good works on social media and acts fervently to right so much wrong within our shared community.

In her next move, however, she crushes possibility with her willful snark. And potential. And all versions of promise. I watch her cautiously from afar – and wonder just as cautiously what we could have accomplished conjoined – when our gender called us “good” and our efforts saw us whole.

We are, after all, sisters in all ways that matter.

Cindy Karelis

Beverly

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