Opinion: Female evil

POSTED: 02/20/13 12:41 PM

We would not dare getting on the case of women who want to get ahead in life, but when a woman – in this case writer Lisette Tooft – attacks members of her own sex, we are curious enough to examine what on earth is going on. Tooft wrote a flaming opinion piece in the Volkskrant yesterday, basically saying: women would get further in their careers if they would not wallow so much in their own excellence. Wow.

So let’s follow what Tooft has to say about this issue – for all you know we could learn something. This is her story:

“For years I believed that women were better creatures than men. If I say something like that in a lecture there are always a few women that begin to laugh – they recognize that. There are also always women who seriously ask “Isn’t that true?” they still believe it, sincerely. A lot of men say it as well these days. This will be the century of the woman, they write, and therefore everything is going to be okay.

It looks like there is a hidden consensus – probably already since the Victorian woman became “the angel in the house” – that women morally score a few points higher than men. Of men we know that they are capable of being ego trippers, reckless, irresponsible or violent. The archetypal man is courageous, altruistic and completely in control.

But in the real world that ideal cast shadows to two sides. On one end is the insensitive groper, on the other end the loaded hooligan. Statistics rub it in with men how bad they are. Every now and then initiatives surface to let men pay more taxes because they cause more damages in the public domain, commit more crimes and end up more often in prison. Women take better care of themselves, eat healthier and cost insurance companies less money. If women had been in the top of the banks we would not have had the whole crisis.

In the meantime we pretend that we have to convince women and girls, or ourselves, of all those fantastic qualities and powers we have. As if women would massively move to higher positions if we really realized how good we were. But the truth is that women get a press that is too good.

If it is clear to you what your shadow side is it is possible to look at it in a sensible way and to begin to accept it. Not to gloss over it but to see the reality the way it is.aha – not only am I great, I am also a jealous bitch. A control freak. I manipulate and I cheat. Just because I am a woman, with a tendency to all that is typically female evil. Then it is possible to put things in perspective and to take them into account. That kind of self-knowledge gives more confidence than when you are constantly telling yourself that you are fantastic.

Women commit their wrongdoings less in public and more in private, inside the home and in the emotional field. The classic female hero is caring and conscientious, focused on harmony, intuitive and sensitive. But in the real world on one side of the shadow the control freak emerges, and on the other side the manipulating victim. I know them well, especially from myself but also from most other women in my life. They are also in books, movies and standup comedy shows, and before I forget, in myths and fairytales – told by women – that are rife with vixens and angry stepsisters and wherein you seldom see a good fairy.

Most women are not just caring – they are also especially bossy and meddlesome. Dick Swaab says in his book We are our brain that he has been asking from first year students for fifteen years: which one of you does not have a dominant mother? Never one student has raised his finger.

In many love relationships the woman is the boss and the man sneaks carefully around her, fearful to make her angry.

Then there is the crab-basket effect: caught crabs seem to pull back other crabs that attempt to escape. Typical female. When men compete the winner is lifted on a shield. Female competition on the other hand is unsportsmanlike. Do we maybe not dare to win because a winner will be cast out? The focus on harmony in a group of women is a silent agreement that you are not allowed to be more beautiful, slimmer, richer or more successful than others. If you are, you are not admired but you become the target of gossip. That is why we prefer to talk to each other about our problems rather than about our successes.

What you also see a lot is that women are brilliant at working with pettiness. Because if you are pathetic, you don’t have to be good. Standup comedian Brigitte Kaandorp has a fantastic song about it: I have a very hard life. Which woman has never turned her eyes skywards with a deep sigh and given her environment thus a subtle feeling of guilt?

The time is right for a female hand in the own bosom. Last fall the magazine Opzij published a good story about the crab-basket effect in the workplaces: why women do not grant each other success. This month Roos Schrikker wrote a beautiful story in the Linda magazine entitled Phony Bitches in which she announces that she will no longer gossip but that she will give other women sincere compliment.

Don’t make it too perfect, I’d say. The road to hell …. Let us first accept that we are the way we are.”

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