I know. Harsh eh? But sometimes harsh words stem from harsh circumstances, and those circumstances call for harsh measures.
When I was feeling a bit less combative, I had thought about giving this post the title, The Sisterhood? Much calmer, non? More evocative of a query, perhaps an investigation of sorts. Thing is, my feelings are mixed. Not sure if I’m a big enough person to just let things go, move forward and move on, or if I will at the end of this issue find myself more angry, more isolated and/or disillusioned about my high-falutin’ expectations. Um, Girl Power.
Still, as you may have gathered from the opening dithering of this dialogue, I am in a funk. Oh no, James Brown is not the dude who’s gonna launch this bitch, more like Aretha and a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
So here’s the story:
After attending a fun, high-spirited party on Saturday night with my husband’s long-time friend—a guy I like— plus his girlfriend and her immediate family and relatives plus some casual acquaintances, I came to the realization on Sunday evening that I was mean-girled. Except that I am a Mom of 2, I’m well-past the age that I thought something like this could occur, and it’s never happened to me before. Actually, it has happened to me before—but by a group girls I affectionately [snark] call my “frienemies,” and in an interesting twist of fate, whom my Jamaican mother used to often call my “frowsy friends.” Back then I was too naive to believe that I was actually being “frienemied,” or maybe I didn’t care, and in hindsight, it neither scarred me for life, nor did it prevent me from moving forward with the important things. Anyway, that was then, and this is now. Here’s what happened on Saturday:
When my husband and I rolled up on the party after putting our two girls to bed, we were prepared to have Fun. This is how we approach our lives: we’re in it to live it. When we go out, we go to be entertained, and we are rarely critical or disappointed in the places we frequent or the company we keep because we both appreciate the opportunity to spend time doing the things we like, with the people we like. Time is too valuable to waste on being miserable. And so it was with the plan for this particular evening.
We arrived at the party which had already been in full swing for a few hours. When we arrived, our host’s future sister in law, a “lady-cop” was sprawled out on the couch with her leg up (due to a knee injury), and several other people were sitting stiffly in chairs along the perimeter of the table, the television being the focal point. The lights were on bright to burning (I’m photo-sensitive, anything stronger than a burning candle makes we run for my sunglasses), and they were watching boxing, and i.am.legend with Will Smith. Yes, riveting.
My husband and I made our introductions. I’m not the shy type, when I walk into a room of strangers, I say hello first to break the ice, make some conversation which demonstrates my good upbringing and hopefully puts people at ease. Most people who walk into a room typically survey the room, spot the pretty people, or head for the bar. This wasn’t that type of occasion—were we “slumming?” On another such get-together at this house, one of our fashionable friends had her fashionable coat destroyed by a dog to which our host’s girlfriend and cousin replied, “She shouldn’t have left it laying around.” Um right, maybe you haven’t read Miss Manners on hosting?—so I felt it necessary to delve right in, and delve I did.
I circled the room, smiled at people, introduced myself and mingled. Not sure why I was so animated, but that’s what happens sometimes when we parents don’t get out frequently. I tend to “go for the gusto!” and think about the consequences afterward. Except we’re talking about a casual house-party here amongst new friends, so one could speculate on what could go down with people I’d never met before, ie a bit of awkwardness and standoffishness, but one doesn’t anticipate such fuckery unless one is purposefully courting it.
So my husband is getting me a glass of wine, and I meet some people to talk to. They all seem rather nice and friendly. Women, I suppose, are the toughest crowd, particularly when it concerns other women, or a woman who is noticeably more attractive, or smells nice, or has better hair, or uses bigger words, or has bigger boobs, or a cuter spouse, I don’t know, because I for one, am not an expert on why women like to play “hate” on other women. I have, however, heard my fair share of the “reasons” some women give as to why another woman is an enemy.
[Check out this guest spot post by Kelly Oxford [of "Twitter Creates a New Star," fame] on Chris Hardwick’s The Nerdist. Now read the comments. Hardwick had to remove one woman’s comment. And Oxford replied that the most negative comments she receives are from “females.” Brutal! In my comment many moons later, I mention the “invisible sisterhood.” Foreshadowing much?]
Example One: Back in the day when my frienemies and I would all hang out and I would have had a boyfriend at the time, each and every one of those girls, on different occasions had “stepped” to my boy. In lay person’s terms, they tried to “get” with him. How do I know this? Well, because often the guy would tell me. “You know your girl, so and so” he would say, “well, you better watch her.” Or he would say something more blatantly, and well, ya, you can fill in the blanks.
The thing is that all the dudes told me. Why? Well, I gather that such as the case may be for many things in life, there is a time for sluts and a time when sluts are not the answer. And just maybe when my dude was hanging out with me, he put his slutty tendencies in check. I don’t know. I know even less about men than I do women! But that’s just it. For some reason, I continued to befriend my frienemies even though they all acted evil behind my back, and well if I’m being “real” here, some of them were pretty vile-acting to my face. But I didn’t care, my philosophical take on this issue, and other life issues is that if somebody is trying that hard to “take you down,” then you might as well step out of the way so they can fall on their faces and humiliate themselves. It’s a Karma thang, yo. Now, g’wan and ask me how some of them are faring right now. I bet you’re curious. I’m not. Bygones!
So back to that fateful night. It all went down pretty fast, but when it went down, it was like a ton of bricks. The one woman whom I met, who would later turn on me, was knee-slapping hysterical in the beginning. She was memorable and a bit nuts, mostly because she would have you in stitches the entire time. At one point I asked if she did professional stand-up because my sides were splitting. She was witty and relevant, and a person like that helps to keep a party going, if you like that sort of thing. She was maybe the 3rd friend of a group of women friends who had known one another for years, in fact she was amongst the lifelong friends of the lady cop, the older sister of our host’s girlfriend. Their friendship is similar to my husband and his boys, who all go back since high school days. These guys are like brothers and often refer to themselves as such. They are a stellar bunch of gentlemen and I don’t just say that because I’m married to my husband, but they really are good guys. When the women told me that they too shared a similar friendship bond that predated university, I was equally impressed, because due to my experience, I didn’t believe that The Sisterhood existed, heck I even told them that. My exact words, yo.
So we chat, and it comes up that I’m a Mom. And when I tell the woman that I’m chatting with, she kind of screams out loud, “You’re a Mom?” and her eyes immediately go to my stomach and she kind of sneers. I laugh it off, and we continue chatting. I meet her friend, who immediately reminds me of Anita Baker and I tell her so. She counters with, “most people tell me I remind them of Oprah,” and I ask her if that’s a good thing. (When I relayed this part to my younger sister, she said: “You actually said that?” And I said, “Ya.” To which she replied, “they must have thought, who does this bitch think she is?”
But I digress, so the Anita Baker/Oprah look-a-like and I start chatting. She’s also Scorpio and happens to share the same birthday as my brother-in-law. Her friend tells her that I am a Mom, and she too gives me the once-over after I tell her that after gaining so much weight with both pregnancies, but the second one in particular, I’m very keen about staying in shape mostly for good health reasons. More women join our circle and they start talking age for some reason and I get asked how old I am. My response usually elicits an open-mouthed, wide-eyed wtf reaction, and for that I can thank my heritage, because as most women of colour can attest: Black Don’t Crack. One of the women who is Indian, Dutch and white added, “Brown Don’t Frown.” So we all laughed and chimed in that our “secret” is melanin which goes a long way to preventing the premature signs of aging. I told one of the women, that having no wrinkles is not a “free pass” because black folks have other health concerns in disproportion to other races but visible aging is not one of them. So we all laugh, but that conversation was the “jump-off” point at which the cynicism began, and I would add that their meeting my husband who also happens to be younger than me, might have also had something to do with it. Ya. That’s right. Cat’s out of the bag. I’m the Black Demi Moore, biotch.
So more mingling goes on, drinks and shots get passed and the party is buzzing. I step outside for some fresh air, and when I return to eat some food and make light conversation with some guy at the table, the Anita Baker/Oprah look alike turns on me. I laugh awkwardly at first, continue my small-talk with this random dude, and as I sip my wine, she starts to give me a hard stare. More like the hairy eyeball. I know, attractive right? I giggle slightly thinking that she’s being funny, but she continues. She starts to say snarky things, and her eyeballs are popping out of her head so wide that I think they might bleed. So I move away, and she kind of calls after my back. Our host comes up, puts an arm around her and says, “So, we’re all having a good time here, aren’t we? And I laugh, hell ya. Except Anita Baker/Oprah, who now resembles a drunk Macy Gray, looks like she’s about to go in the for the kill. Our host moves away, and I stand there smiling. Her friend walks up, and she puts her arm around her and starts pointing at me and talking about me as if I am not standing directly in front of her. “She’s blah blah blah,” she tells her friend. The friend looks me over and says, “No, her?” And “Crazy Macy” hisses, “Yesssss” as her wig seems to pitch slightly off to the left. They are both standing looking at me, and pointing, and I say, “Well, ok girls, this is getting a bit scary, so I’mma love ya, and leave you!” And then scary bitch says, really loud, “YA.” And I dash down the steps to find my husband.
“What’s wrong?” one of the guys ask sensing my um, despair. Oh, I say, “Macy Gray over there is acting kinda ill’ish towards me, and I’m feeling uncomfortable.” And almost on cue, we all look up just as she presses her large frame against the sliding door, sticks her meaty paw up beside her face, fangs out and growls. It would have been “funny” if that was it, but when I told my husband what had gone down, he added a whole bunch of other shit to the conversation that I hadn’t previously heard, or that I had maybe tuned out because I was in denial as to what was happening. Again, not being “hip” to the mean-girling ritual of seemingly friendly compliments that turn into negative verbal assaults and emotional attacks, I was not entirely aware of when or how it started, and why it got so out of hand.
And that’s the thing. Recently we all became aware of an all too familiar story in which a young teenage girl, Phoebe Prince, a victim of bullying, was driven to commit suicide. I’m not saying that my experience was anything remotely like that poor young girl, but the timber and tone of so-called “social acceptance” is such that girls of a certain disposition can either fall victim to, or become the brunt of a bullying session that starts out “innocently” enough, but gets out of hand and progresses based on the level of in/security on the part of both the victim and the perpetrator.
And that’s what happened in my case. I’m not usually the “type” that gets picked on. On the contrary. People usually find me easy. Lately, I’ve gotten compliments like, “great energy,” or “good spirit,” but never immediate hate, at least not to my face. And no, I’m no Gisele Bundchen—Who is?— but I try to take care of myself. And no, I don’t take care of myself to make you feel inadequate or insecure, you can do that very well on your own by succumbing to sloth or whatever it is that prevents you from being your best you, and hating me because I’m trying to be the best me. I am not your problem, and you are not mine. Dig?
But this is why it’s all so very wrong. And why I’ve had enough. I can’t stand that Women, yes, I mean you, and I’m gonna generalize my ass off right now because it suits me, and this is my experience. I can’t stand that some Women feel the need to be this way. Like what do you lack in your life that you want from my life? How does pushing me down [figuratively], elevate you?
I want to know how and why does making somebody uncomfortable make you comfortable? I suppose it’s similar to trying to get inside the mind of a serial killer in that these women want to emotionally annihilate their female counterparts because what, you don’t feel pretty enough? Or likeable enough? Usually what we dislike in others is the thing that we are. My thing is that if you need to work out your baggage, please talk to a shrink and leave me the hell alone. Or you know what, be nice, and somebody just might return an act of kindness your way. But please get some help before more women start to question the validity of The Sisterhood.
So how did it all end, you ask? Well on Monday I Facebooked and tweeted furiously about how wronged and insulted I felt. Here are the tweets.
- that’s right. i hav “nothin” better 2 do than rage againstthemachine except in this case i am ragin against a rather minor cog in thewheel 7:37 PM May 17th via web
- men-girled at my age? wonders never cease… 7:34 PM May 17th via web
- young bitchy girls just grow up to be old bitchy girls except it’s less fashionable when u have wrinkles and a big ‘ol butt. oh YA! 3:52 PM May 17th via web
- thot this frienemy crap was over & 2 that i say, may u reap what u sow & may ur future be as bright as the brightlights that shine fr w/in. 3:44 PM May 17th via web
- translated roughly a “realwoman” is a woman w/a bad ‘tude who thinks it’s ok 2 mock an “unrealwoman” becuz she’s got somethin u don’t 3:36 PM May 17th via web
- i must be living in a b-reel movie, surely cougs and their fellow cougs-in-training can’t be THAT obvious. 3:32 PM May 17th via web
- cried during “corpse pose” today. apparently this ‘meangirl’ of a b*tch really affected me. except how old are we? 3:30 PM May 17th via web
- eff “the sisterhood,” some bitches are just plain WRONG. 3:27 PM May 17th via web
- a woman must trust her instincts, especially where/when it concerns the f*ckery of OTHER women. 3:25 PM May 17th via web
- eff the sisterhood. some b*tches are CRAZY 2:47 PM May 17th via web
It actually felt a little cathartic because when I was at the gym for a Body Flow Class that same Monday morning, I actually started to tear up during Corpse Pose. The instructor was telling us to breathe and to let the negative emotions go out of the heart area, and I just got emotional, and I cried. I went up to her after the class and “shared” what I had just experienced and she told me that this sometimes happens, and I obviously need to work some things out. Well, here I am “working it out.” In addition, I asked my husband to speak to his friend which he did, but surprisingly the friend was not very empathetic. He chalked it up to the girl being “drunk” and my being “sensitive.” Oh, I get it now. “Drunk” people are not responsible people, and therefore they will be absolved of everything. Because nothing is worse than shame. Shame on you drunk people. I’m sure that your “shame” will prevent you from drinking in the future. However, the last time I checked, drunkenness was not a legitimate excuse to behave badly, certainly not if you are over 30.
Point is, I am sensitive, and it really annoys me when people say this like it’s a “bad” thing. Does it mean that I should be a moving target for bullies? Or aggressive single women of a certain age who might feel “threatened” by my appearance? Sure, my emotional intelligence is off the charts. I’m the woman who cried during an episode of Canada’s Next Top Model. Yes, I did. I was very pregnant at the time when one of the girls got eliminated, but no matter. I cried for a TV show. I personally think that we need more emotionally sensitive people, and I’m not talking about the “walking wounded” variety, I’m talking about people who actually care enough to admit insecurity and sensitivity. To me, that’s FEM. And if I had to become the adult poster-child for fighting loudly against mean-girling, I’m so there. So there. Take that you frowsy biotches. You’ve messed with the wrong Mommie.