The month of March is an extra special time to celebrate women. It’s Women’s History Month, March 9th is International Women’s Day, and the female empowerment vibes are really real. But I couldn’t help but wonder (à la Carrie Bradshaw) how do we channel that energy into a year-round thing? How do we as women support women, even when it might not be so convenient or easy?
As a personal coach for women, I wanted to share a few ways to genuinely and authentically show up for and support other women that I’ve learned over the years. Some are obvious; others, not so much! These are still a work in progress for me personally and I think will be for many of you who will read it. Breaking down why we might feel a way towards a certain woman or judge her the way we do can be a lot more complex than we originally thought. So let’s dive into 5 ways to show up for other women as a woman in today’s world, and dive into how sometimes keeping your mouth shut is ironically one of the most feminist things you can do.
1. Resist the urge to gossip.
This is such a given, and you’d think that everyone would outgrow this by the time they graduate high school. However, it never ends up being that black and white. Some people, and especially some women, absolutely love to gossip! They love to talk about what another woman is or isn’t doing, what she has or doesn’t have, and find something to say that brings her down. I truly hate to generalize by saying that women do this to other women, but it’s true, and it’s a stereotype that is used against us too often, conveniently by men. So why don’t we consider ourselves personally responsible for breaking the cycle (and the shitty stereotype)?
Resist the urge. If someone is gossiping to you about another woman, whether you know her well or not, whether you like her or not, stay quiet or change the subject. Let that other person feel silly for even trying it with you. Also, remember that those who are usually gossiping to you are gossiping about you, so there’s another reason to watch your back.
If you’re the one gossiping, challenge yourself to change the habit. Look inward (yes, go there!) and ask yourself why. Are you upset about something and don’t know how to confront that woman in a healthy way, so you’re talking behind her back instead? How would you like it if someone spoke in the same way about you? Are there things you’re lacking in your own life, and you soothe that void by participating in gossip? More on that point later.
Bottom line, resist the urge. And if you’re still struggling, ask yourself this question – “would I say these things to that woman’s face?” If the answer’s no, you know you should probably stop.
2. Don’t rush to judgment. About anything.
I find this one so interesting because we point the finger at men for judging us about everything under the sun, yet we also subject ourselves to the same BS and put each other through the ringer. “Why is she wearing that dress? She’s asking for trouble.” “Why does she dress so masculine all the time? She could be more feminine.” “She wears so much makeup, it’s gross.” “She wears no makeup, it’s gross.” It’s a vicious and never-ending cycle. We tell society to leave women alone, but we need to take our own advice, too. Leave your fellow woman alone. Let go of the internalized misogyny that’s been ingrained in you over years and years. You don’t know why she is doing what she is doing, and frankly, is it any of your business? If it’s not causing harm to anyone, it’s all good. If it’s not your cup of tea for whatever reason, that’s okay too and you don’t need to be BFFs. But let her live her life freely, as you should live yours.
3. Explore your own triggers.
Okay so I fibbed a little when creating the title of this post. This is probably the least simple thing to do on this list and in general, because looking inward is sometimes hard and calling ourselves out on our own shit is even harder. But triggers do not have to be a bad thing. If we’re brave enough, they can help us understand ourselves better and help us heal. So let’s start with that mindset shift first. Next, let yourself feel the trigger. Did you get inexplicably irritable when you heard that other woman tell a joke? Did you feel a rush of heat and frustration seeing another woman walk confidently into a room, wearing an outfit you wouldn’t have the guts to wear? “Who does she think she is?!” Yup. Pause, really feel that and identify it in your body.
Then ask yourself why you might feel that way. Why would you get annoyed when another woman tells a funny joke to a group of people? Is it because you were always told you weren’t funny by someone close to you? Why would another woman’s outfit or confident attitude piss you off so much? Is it because you grew up in a more subdued environment, or feel you haven’t taken enough chances in your own life? Explore these things and be honest with yourself. You don’t even have to tell anyone about it. But usually when we’re bothered or annoyed by another person’s actions or choices, and that person hasn’t hurt or bothered us, it’s because we have stuff within ourselves to work out first. Don’t take it out on someone else and think of that as a solution.
4. Hype her up in more ways than one.
Don’t just be excited for your fellow female when she’s doing things that make sense to you. It’s not about you. Support her if and when she decides to get married. Support her if and when she decides to leave the workforce to become a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom). Support her if and when she decides to start her own business! If you consider yourself a girl’s girl, you will support the women around you pretty unconditionally. As long as they are not hurting themselves or others with the choices they make (i.e. – staying in a relationship with an abusive partner) support them and gas them up! Show up to their events. Share their work and accomplishments. Clap the loudest for them even if what they are doing doesn’t align with your journey. Which leads me to the final point…
5. Be comfortable with her life looking different than yours.
So she’s a stay at home mom. So she doesn’t want kids. So she has a “sugar daddy.” So she’s a stripper! So what? Women are typically judged for their lifestyle choices no matter what they do, and let’s face it, much of that judgment comes from other women. We hardly ever hear of men judging each other for their life choices in the way that women do. Her life might look different than yours for reasons you don’t even know about. Once again, if it’s not hurting you or anyone else, why are you so bothered by it?? I saw a TikTok recently where a woman was joking around about how she never has to drive anymore because she got married and her husband drives her everywhere. It was meant to be funny, but the comments were flooded with how antiquated her thinking was and how she was giving up a freedom she should be entitled to. It got so deep and kind of nasty for no reason! In my opinion, being a real feminist is supporting fellow women and letting them live their lives the way they want to, regardless of the circumstances. We get enough judgment thanks to our patriarchal society – we don’t need to impose that on one another, too.
Do some of these suggestions make you feel uncomfortable? Good, they should. They were uncomfortable to articulate, mainly because I wasn’t sure about how they’d be interpreted. We as women have come such a long way, but still have some ways to go when it comes to supporting other women. Women’s Day isn’t just about posting a photo on social media paying tribute to the women in your life that you love. It’s about embodying a certain mentality towards all women and being more patient than you thought you ever had to be. It’s about peeling back the layers and working on yourself. It’s about changing habits of thinking and realizing you can do better. We are all on the same team, at the end of the day, and should start acting like it. There is no better time than now.