Women vs. women

Please notice that I am not saying this.  A feminist is saying this.  I myself don’t believe it and am personally offended on behalf of women everywhere.  But this is what Anne Kornblut says in her book Notes from the Cracked Ceiling, an account of the political campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin and why women have a hard time in politics:

<blockquote>”Female candidates also have to remember that women can be deeply suspicious and critical of one another. . . . [A] group of female advisers could have gently reminded the McCain men that women are not always thrilled to see a young, attractive woman step into the limelight, and they might need to prepare for the long knives.” </blockquote>

Is there anything to this?  If so, where else does this phenomenon manifest itself?

via Book review: ‘Notes from the Cracked Ceiling’ by Anne Kornblut – washingtonpost.com.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://wipfandstock.com/store/As_Though_It_Were_Actually_True_A_Christian_Apologetics_Primer Matt C.

    At the risk of offending, in my experience, there is absolutely something to it (and for the record, my wife agrees). I can think of at least three instances where I’ve seen ordinarily kind and gracious women start back-biting as soon as a new, attractive woman entered the social circle. Whether that happened with Palin, I can’t say (politics is rather removed from social circles, after all) and the idea that that happened with Hillary is insane. It’s plausible, though.

    What it comes down to is envy, which isn’t at all unique to women. However, the way in which it plays itself out can have facets which are unique. For one thing, appearance is treated differently by men and women (which is, of course, NOT to say that men don’t care about their own appearances–just that there is a difference in the way in which men and women care). Then couple that with the fact that women have generally been taught that it is oppressive to make herself pretty for other people (only for herself). Hence beauty is frequently turned self-ward (which usually results in envy whether it’s beauty or any other good ).

  • http://wipfandstock.com/store/As_Though_It_Were_Actually_True_A_Christian_Apologetics_Primer Matt C.

    At the risk of offending, in my experience, there is absolutely something to it (and for the record, my wife agrees). I can think of at least three instances where I’ve seen ordinarily kind and gracious women start back-biting as soon as a new, attractive woman entered the social circle. Whether that happened with Palin, I can’t say (politics is rather removed from social circles, after all) and the idea that that happened with Hillary is insane. It’s plausible, though.

    What it comes down to is envy, which isn’t at all unique to women. However, the way in which it plays itself out can have facets which are unique. For one thing, appearance is treated differently by men and women (which is, of course, NOT to say that men don’t care about their own appearances–just that there is a difference in the way in which men and women care). Then couple that with the fact that women have generally been taught that it is oppressive to make herself pretty for other people (only for herself). Hence beauty is frequently turned self-ward (which usually results in envy whether it’s beauty or any other good ).

  • Jonathan

    My better half (not a feminist in that sense, I think) has remarked similarly during the 08 campaign. I take her word for it, and I personally perceive–just perceive–that it has some merit to it. I’m just sayin….

  • Jonathan

    My better half (not a feminist in that sense, I think) has remarked similarly during the 08 campaign. I take her word for it, and I personally perceive–just perceive–that it has some merit to it. I’m just sayin….

  • Steven

    It may also be a manifestation of feminist group-think. Feminists seem to believe that all women should hold the same political viewpoint (theirs) and women that don’t are a threat. the same expectation does not hold for men – we are able to disagree and are expected to to some degree. It’s rather ironic – feminists want to have political power for women on par with men, but they don’t want to have women who politically disagree with each other the same as men do.

  • Steven

    It may also be a manifestation of feminist group-think. Feminists seem to believe that all women should hold the same political viewpoint (theirs) and women that don’t are a threat. the same expectation does not hold for men – we are able to disagree and are expected to to some degree. It’s rather ironic – feminists want to have political power for women on par with men, but they don’t want to have women who politically disagree with each other the same as men do.

  • Orianna Laun

    I attended a sectional at a teachers’ conference which touched upon this issue. It starts in middle school. Girls are supposed to have a best girl-friend, and every female (including the best girl-friend) is also a rival for boyfriends, social positions, and the like. Read every teen girl magazine like Seventeen and see how much this is brought out in the articles.
    Guys will beat up a guy and then shake hands and laugh it off. Girls will hold a grudge for years. My high school teachers all said they hated breaking up girl fights on campus because girls scratched and pulled hair.
    I can say this because I’m a female and I’ve seen it first hand both as a student and as a teacher. It’s not surprising it has sloshed over into politics.

  • Orianna Laun

    I attended a sectional at a teachers’ conference which touched upon this issue. It starts in middle school. Girls are supposed to have a best girl-friend, and every female (including the best girl-friend) is also a rival for boyfriends, social positions, and the like. Read every teen girl magazine like Seventeen and see how much this is brought out in the articles.
    Guys will beat up a guy and then shake hands and laugh it off. Girls will hold a grudge for years. My high school teachers all said they hated breaking up girl fights on campus because girls scratched and pulled hair.
    I can say this because I’m a female and I’ve seen it first hand both as a student and as a teacher. It’s not surprising it has sloshed over into politics.

  • Carl Vehse

    And what does this say about the Nineteenth Amendment? It was Ann Coulter who noted, “If we took away women’s right to vote, we’d never have to worry about another Democrat president. “

  • Carl Vehse

    And what does this say about the Nineteenth Amendment? It was Ann Coulter who noted, “If we took away women’s right to vote, we’d never have to worry about another Democrat president. “

  • Peter Leavitt

    Well, there is a difference between men and woman when it comes to strong political or business leadership. Men, basically, are more assertive and wiling to take large risks. Think about Washington, Lincoln, T. Roosevelt, Reagan, and recently G.W. Bush, all manly men. The women who have been strong leaders, including Margaret Thatcher, Meg Whitman, and Carly Fiorina, actually exert manly type qualities as well as some womanly ones. Scott Brown had it all over Martha Coakley in terms of manliness.

    Harvey Mansfield, the conservative Harvard prof, wrote a brilliant book on this subject, Manliness. You can get a good flavor of his view in an article, Calling All Hombres:
    A Harvard sage makes the case for manliness.

    She quotes Mansfield as follows:

    What you see today at Harvard and elsewhere are a lot of liberal males who are trying to make women happy by trying to treat them as if they weren’t women.” “And that,” says the man who never misses the chance to open a door for a woman or help her put on her coat, “doesn’t work very well. So why didn’t he simply write a book on gentlemanliness? Because before you’re a gentleman, you have to be a man. Gentlemanliness is a refinement. It presupposes that you have a certain superiority over women, but teaches you how to exercise it. It also teaches you that women are superior in their ways.

    Vive le difference!

  • Peter Leavitt

    Well, there is a difference between men and woman when it comes to strong political or business leadership. Men, basically, are more assertive and wiling to take large risks. Think about Washington, Lincoln, T. Roosevelt, Reagan, and recently G.W. Bush, all manly men. The women who have been strong leaders, including Margaret Thatcher, Meg Whitman, and Carly Fiorina, actually exert manly type qualities as well as some womanly ones. Scott Brown had it all over Martha Coakley in terms of manliness.

    Harvey Mansfield, the conservative Harvard prof, wrote a brilliant book on this subject, Manliness. You can get a good flavor of his view in an article, Calling All Hombres:
    A Harvard sage makes the case for manliness.

    She quotes Mansfield as follows:

    What you see today at Harvard and elsewhere are a lot of liberal males who are trying to make women happy by trying to treat them as if they weren’t women.” “And that,” says the man who never misses the chance to open a door for a woman or help her put on her coat, “doesn’t work very well. So why didn’t he simply write a book on gentlemanliness? Because before you’re a gentleman, you have to be a man. Gentlemanliness is a refinement. It presupposes that you have a certain superiority over women, but teaches you how to exercise it. It also teaches you that women are superior in their ways.

    Vive le difference!

  • Peter Leavitt

    The above referenced article was written by Naomi Schaefer Riley.

  • Peter Leavitt

    The above referenced article was written by Naomi Schaefer Riley.

  • http://www.roundunvarnishedtale.blogspot.com Cheryl

    Sad to say, but yes, I do think there is something to this. On the other hand, most of the women I know (conservatives, by and large), are not at all threatened by Sarah Palin. They may not be totally on board with voting for her for public office, but they nevertheless respect her and what she has accomplished, and they agree with her views. I think the nastiness that can sometimes infect women’s relationships with each other comes into play more on the personal level. Sarah Palin is not going to walk in and steal my husband. But the good-looking gal down the street . . . she is more of a threat.
    I think the Palin hatred is based on politics, not feminine pettiness. Liberal women don’t like her because they don’t like her message (just as she says). The fact that she’s also pretty makes them dislike her even more because she is able to package that message so appealingly!

  • http://www.roundunvarnishedtale.blogspot.com Cheryl

    Sad to say, but yes, I do think there is something to this. On the other hand, most of the women I know (conservatives, by and large), are not at all threatened by Sarah Palin. They may not be totally on board with voting for her for public office, but they nevertheless respect her and what she has accomplished, and they agree with her views. I think the nastiness that can sometimes infect women’s relationships with each other comes into play more on the personal level. Sarah Palin is not going to walk in and steal my husband. But the good-looking gal down the street . . . she is more of a threat.
    I think the Palin hatred is based on politics, not feminine pettiness. Liberal women don’t like her because they don’t like her message (just as she says). The fact that she’s also pretty makes them dislike her even more because she is able to package that message so appealingly!

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    I think Steven is on to something. Let me sharpen it a bit. Males are territorial, and are expected to disagree just for the sake of it. Feminists seek to transfer male power to females, and believe that unity is the best way to transfer this power. When a conservative woman runs for office – especially one that is attractive – it threatens on several fronts. It threatens the solidarity of the feminist movement, and it threatens feminism itself, because the conservative candidate is reenforcing the male-dominant power motif of western culture. I think Cheryl is right on – fems hate Palin because she makes conservatism appealing.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    I think Steven is on to something. Let me sharpen it a bit. Males are territorial, and are expected to disagree just for the sake of it. Feminists seek to transfer male power to females, and believe that unity is the best way to transfer this power. When a conservative woman runs for office – especially one that is attractive – it threatens on several fronts. It threatens the solidarity of the feminist movement, and it threatens feminism itself, because the conservative candidate is reenforcing the male-dominant power motif of western culture. I think Cheryl is right on – fems hate Palin because she makes conservatism appealing.

  • Booklover

    Women definitely can be deeply suspicious and critical of one another. Witness the stay-at-home Mom versus the go-back-to-work Mom battle in my day.

    I do not believe that this suspiciousness and critical spirit is a sin belonging solely to women. Men excel at it, too; they’re just a little surprised to see the fair sex indulge in it also. I bristle a tad when it is said that certain sins are sex-exclusive. Women are known as gossips, yet looking at blogs, hearing talk radio, and visiting the local bar, one can witness vast numbers of the rougher sex indulging in that sin and worse yet, men BELIEVE the gossip!! :-)

  • Booklover

    Women definitely can be deeply suspicious and critical of one another. Witness the stay-at-home Mom versus the go-back-to-work Mom battle in my day.

    I do not believe that this suspiciousness and critical spirit is a sin belonging solely to women. Men excel at it, too; they’re just a little surprised to see the fair sex indulge in it also. I bristle a tad when it is said that certain sins are sex-exclusive. Women are known as gossips, yet looking at blogs, hearing talk radio, and visiting the local bar, one can witness vast numbers of the rougher sex indulging in that sin and worse yet, men BELIEVE the gossip!! :-)

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    Some of what may be happening is the solidarity issue in that feminists think that every woman should be united in thought and creed because that is what is needed to establish equality aka dominance over males. So, they are angered when a woman does not conform to their ideals thus destroying their unified front.

    In addition, I think that they are also afraid that the “progress” of the past thirty plus years is going to be erased and destroy everything the old guard feminists worked for. To an extent the old guard is a victim of their success. They won the right for women to express their views on equal footing and didn’t expect that some women would make choices that didn’t fit their worldview.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    Some of what may be happening is the solidarity issue in that feminists think that every woman should be united in thought and creed because that is what is needed to establish equality aka dominance over males. So, they are angered when a woman does not conform to their ideals thus destroying their unified front.

    In addition, I think that they are also afraid that the “progress” of the past thirty plus years is going to be erased and destroy everything the old guard feminists worked for. To an extent the old guard is a victim of their success. They won the right for women to express their views on equal footing and didn’t expect that some women would make choices that didn’t fit their worldview.

  • fws

    I think the comments here generalize a bit too much. I note here that none of the women here or the wives referenced include themselves in this category of backbiting women.

    Maybe that in itself reveals alot?

  • fws

    I think the comments here generalize a bit too much. I note here that none of the women here or the wives referenced include themselves in this category of backbiting women.

    Maybe that in itself reveals alot?

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ C-Christian Soldier

    Weak ‘humans’ from both sides of the sex aisle are threatened by superior-ly talented people –and will try to bring that person -whom they believe is better than they – down!!
    Truly talented people encourage and help advance other talented people…
    C-CS

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ C-Christian Soldier

    Weak ‘humans’ from both sides of the sex aisle are threatened by superior-ly talented people –and will try to bring that person -whom they believe is better than they – down!!
    Truly talented people encourage and help advance other talented people…
    C-CS

  • Grace

    I don’t doubt for a moment that women are very envious of women who are brilliant, articulate and good looking, it’s sad but true. Observe when a good looking woman walks into a room with either her husband or a date – instead of watching the attractive woman, take a look at all the other women’s faces. It becomes much more of a problem if she is intelligent.

  • Grace

    I don’t doubt for a moment that women are very envious of women who are brilliant, articulate and good looking, it’s sad but true. Observe when a good looking woman walks into a room with either her husband or a date – instead of watching the attractive woman, take a look at all the other women’s faces. It becomes much more of a problem if she is intelligent.

  • Bruce Gee

    Some years ago I had a long conversation with a fairly successful woman reporter for a Washington DC newsdaily (Ed will remember who this is). I was asking her about her career (she had appeared that year about four times on Bill O’Reilly, so she had some exposure) and how it was being a woman– Christian woman–in this highly competitive world. She made two broad points (apologies to Frank):

    a) By and large, the Christian men who were high profile in her business gave her no help at all. Zilch. And they made it clear no help would be forthcoming.

    b) Startling me quite a bit, she said that women want to be “the ONLY woman at the table,” in the world of competitive anything.
    This conformed with what my wife has been telling me for years, but really, it is almost impossible for men to grasp what it is like to be a woman in these situations. If we grasp it at all, we’ll forget about it soon enough. We’re men, after all. This last point seems to make women out to be nasty, backstabbing beasts. But it more likely is something completely different from that, something we men will grasp, if at all, for only the briefest period of time. And soon enough forget. That is, if I’m understanding what my wife has been telling me.

  • Bruce Gee

    Some years ago I had a long conversation with a fairly successful woman reporter for a Washington DC newsdaily (Ed will remember who this is). I was asking her about her career (she had appeared that year about four times on Bill O’Reilly, so she had some exposure) and how it was being a woman– Christian woman–in this highly competitive world. She made two broad points (apologies to Frank):

    a) By and large, the Christian men who were high profile in her business gave her no help at all. Zilch. And they made it clear no help would be forthcoming.

    b) Startling me quite a bit, she said that women want to be “the ONLY woman at the table,” in the world of competitive anything.
    This conformed with what my wife has been telling me for years, but really, it is almost impossible for men to grasp what it is like to be a woman in these situations. If we grasp it at all, we’ll forget about it soon enough. We’re men, after all. This last point seems to make women out to be nasty, backstabbing beasts. But it more likely is something completely different from that, something we men will grasp, if at all, for only the briefest period of time. And soon enough forget. That is, if I’m understanding what my wife has been telling me.

  • Grace

    Bruce,

    Women are far more competitive in MORE ways then men. A few women can be equal in ability, logic and intelligence (intelligence not necessarily being the same as ability) but if there is but one very good looking woman, the rest will gather to rule and vote her out. Men are competitive to the finish line, but they don’t think about other men being better looking, to the extent that women do.

    Gene Veith asks – “Is there anything to this? If so, where else does this phenomenon manifest itself?”

    – In self worth – Women for the most part treasure beauty, that might sound frivolous on the surface, but it is deep seated in the fairer sex. Observe the beauty industry, it thrives even in economic downfall. A woman will give up shopping for clothes, shoes, etc., but she WILL NOT give up the cosmetic department, even if it means avoiding the up-scale beauty products for the drug store variety.

    Boys, young men, grown men have always loved looking at beautiful girls, and women. Women know this, and understand that their worth is often times decided on how they look. There are men and women who will deny that they exhibit some of these traits, and perhaps to some extent they do, however, attractive women receive much more attention, from women and men alike.

    Some women don’t take care of themselves, they decided long ago they weren’t going to concern themselves with weight, grooming, etc., but that doesn’t mean they don’t become hyper critical of women who are attractive, no matter how talented, kind, and intelligent the woman may be, in many cases it just doesn’t count, they have DUG in their HEELS.

  • Grace

    Bruce,

    Women are far more competitive in MORE ways then men. A few women can be equal in ability, logic and intelligence (intelligence not necessarily being the same as ability) but if there is but one very good looking woman, the rest will gather to rule and vote her out. Men are competitive to the finish line, but they don’t think about other men being better looking, to the extent that women do.

    Gene Veith asks – “Is there anything to this? If so, where else does this phenomenon manifest itself?”

    – In self worth – Women for the most part treasure beauty, that might sound frivolous on the surface, but it is deep seated in the fairer sex. Observe the beauty industry, it thrives even in economic downfall. A woman will give up shopping for clothes, shoes, etc., but she WILL NOT give up the cosmetic department, even if it means avoiding the up-scale beauty products for the drug store variety.

    Boys, young men, grown men have always loved looking at beautiful girls, and women. Women know this, and understand that their worth is often times decided on how they look. There are men and women who will deny that they exhibit some of these traits, and perhaps to some extent they do, however, attractive women receive much more attention, from women and men alike.

    Some women don’t take care of themselves, they decided long ago they weren’t going to concern themselves with weight, grooming, etc., but that doesn’t mean they don’t become hyper critical of women who are attractive, no matter how talented, kind, and intelligent the woman may be, in many cases it just doesn’t count, they have DUG in their HEELS.

  • Grace

    I made a post a few hours ago, however it doesn’t appear. Has this ever happened to anyone else?

  • Grace

    I made a post a few hours ago, however it doesn’t appear. Has this ever happened to anyone else?

  • Grace

    Gene Veith asks – “Is there anything to this? If so, where else does this phenomenon manifest itself?”

    – In self worth – Women for the most part treasure beauty, and so do men, that might sound frivolous on the surface, but it is deep seated in the fairer sex. Observe the beauty industry, it thrives even in economic downfall. A woman will give up shopping for clothes, shoes, etc., but she WILL NOT give up the cosmetic department, even if it means avoiding the up-scale beauty products for the drug store variety.

    Boys, young men, grown men have always loved looking at beautiful girls, and women. Women know this, and understand that their worth is often times decided on how they look. There are men and women who will deny that they exhibit some of these traits, and perhaps to some extent they do, however, attractive women receive much more attention, from women and men alike.

    Some women don’t take care of themselves, they decided long ago they weren’t going to concern themselves with weight, grooming, etc., but that doesn’t mean they don’t become hyper critical of women who are attractive, no matter how talented, kind, and intelligent the woman may be, in many cases it just doesn’t count, they have DUG in their HEELS.

  • Grace

    Gene Veith asks – “Is there anything to this? If so, where else does this phenomenon manifest itself?”

    – In self worth – Women for the most part treasure beauty, and so do men, that might sound frivolous on the surface, but it is deep seated in the fairer sex. Observe the beauty industry, it thrives even in economic downfall. A woman will give up shopping for clothes, shoes, etc., but she WILL NOT give up the cosmetic department, even if it means avoiding the up-scale beauty products for the drug store variety.

    Boys, young men, grown men have always loved looking at beautiful girls, and women. Women know this, and understand that their worth is often times decided on how they look. There are men and women who will deny that they exhibit some of these traits, and perhaps to some extent they do, however, attractive women receive much more attention, from women and men alike.

    Some women don’t take care of themselves, they decided long ago they weren’t going to concern themselves with weight, grooming, etc., but that doesn’t mean they don’t become hyper critical of women who are attractive, no matter how talented, kind, and intelligent the woman may be, in many cases it just doesn’t count, they have DUG in their HEELS.

  • L. H. Kevil

    My wife agrees with this and gave our very pretty daughter advice to watch out for women supervisors as she embarked on her career. I just came across an article about Muslim women in this context by the author of the book, Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman. here’s a link to this article:

    http://frontpagemag.com/2010/02/05/how-a-%E2%80%9Cnice-american-girl%E2%80%9D-became-a-jihadist/

  • L. H. Kevil

    My wife agrees with this and gave our very pretty daughter advice to watch out for women supervisors as she embarked on her career. I just came across an article about Muslim women in this context by the author of the book, Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman. here’s a link to this article:

    http://frontpagemag.com/2010/02/05/how-a-%E2%80%9Cnice-american-girl%E2%80%9D-became-a-jihadist/


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