Being petty is now a thing of honor. Blame it on the rise of social media, more specifically Twitter where you have to pack a punch within 140 characters or less. There is no time to be concerned with tone, tact and other subjective things, you must say what you mean as precisely and concisely as possible. Where in normal conversations you might deflect or speak more gracefully, now we say “no” quickly, “I don’t care” aptly and “bye” + blocked effortlessly. The topple that with the popularity of reality shows, and sheesh… It is the rise of the petty. Where it’s laughable on social media, the cross over appeal of pettiness in day to day interactions is not nearly as amusing.
This petty and competitive nature is not simple a function of women, men are superbly guilty of playing into this mindlessness, but often noted as a female behavior, where men are dismissed as acting bitch like. Why do we continue to perpetuate this stigma? Where did brotherhood become a thing of teamwork and sisterhood a thing of ‘is she worth being in your circle, eww’?
The further away I have moved from my comfort zone of established friends within a reasonable driving distance the more I have been forced to make new friends at an age where most of us aren’t interested in allowing more people into our lives. I am 30 years old and newly moved to Houston, Texas not knowing a single soul. I didn’t move here for work. I moved simply because I wanted to and Drake did a damn good job of making Houston seem like fun (verdict is still out on that). This has been an interesting lesson on human interaction and a reworking of my expectations of adult relationships.
I asked an older guy to introduce me to some grown folk here, and he added me to a GroupMe for people looking for things to do in Houston, mostly HBCU Black folk. And my experience with in the GroupMe left me dumbfounded at the level of petty and competitiveness the women pride themselves in cultivating. To the point of where women immediately do not like other women, and expense energy talking about them by constructing a false sense of who they are to up the value of their own self-worth. It’s a hyperbole of an experience, but as I get out and more aggressively pursue meeting people, it seems that this is the functioning of the status quo. This is not an unfamiliar experience, though here it is over exasperated, but I’ve meet this before. In my sorority I dismissed it as a function of the politics as women belittled, dismissed and undermined others who they felt were a direct threat to their ascension in the organization. At work, where searching for a woman mentor is for the lucky and instead I’ve been met with women use passive-aggressive tactics to protect their role. The rarity of finding a woman who is so comfortable with herself and where she is at in life that she can take on mentoring others. Or even confident enough in ones self that you can have a conversation with a disagreeing party, respect the different opinion and not feel threatened by it. Where the shield of hiding behind a facade of petty is unnecessary because your insecurities aren’t your outfit of the day.
This sphere of pettiness and competition is at the root a derivative of our over protection for men. For Black women, where we are beleaguered with the ideology that the total win is to marry a Black man, there is an air of preservation for Black men and indignation towards Black women. And we as Black women are the supreme upholders of that indignation towards our own, as we feed into this ideal that we have to knock over one another to grab the mystically few good Black men. There’s so many ways we subconsciously feed into the umbrage of petty & competitive behavior.
To counsel as #SmartBrownGirls, it’s acknowledged that there is nothing wrong with the pursuit of finding a good mate. But do not devalue how much good female friends matter, a good group of friends will help buoy your intimate relationships and even up your chances of finding that ideal mate. Remember that a lot of times what puts us off about other people is the familiar, qualities that we hold but use differently from others. So when you meet someone if you find off putting, use that to check that you’re not putting off those same qualities you find offensive. If it’s humility you think one is lacking, make sure that you yourself are actually exuding that humility your searching for in others.
As Black women we get such little representation that we should never be satisfied with just one of us at the top, even when it is you who is sitting up perched. The more we compete with each other, the more we allow ourselves to be divided and singled out, instead of representing the magnitude of power amongst the diversity of Black women.