I have always been a girl’s girl. This doesn’t mean I’m holier or more compassionate than the next person, but Girl On Girl Betrayal is a peculiar disturbance in my gut. Why would a woman betray another woman?
Yes, we’ve all fallen short of the glory of God. Yes, we are all miserable offenders. I totally get this. But . . . don’t we identify with other women in terms of relationships and work and daily life? I (totally judgmentally) have a hard time understanding women who backstab other women.
My mother was not one to give advice to her children, but I have a clear memory of Mom announcing at the dinner table, one night, a rare and valuable declaration to my brothers: Never Date a Girl with No Girlfriends. I agreed with this admonition absolutely from personal experience and I would find in the years to come that women with no girlfriends had (not always but often) found themselves girlfriendless because they had consistently betrayed their friends for the sake of selfish, often man-centered pursuits.
This is not to say that we women must personally like all other women, or that we understand all other women, or that we are responsible for all other women. But the least we can do is not sabotage each other.
Maybe it’s the particular soup I find myself in lately, or maybe I’ve been walking alongside too many sisters with similar stories, but here are a few questions I would like to ask, in hopes of receiving authentic and wise answers:
1. Why are the critics of clergywomen most likely to be other women? Are they upset that they themselves didn’t go to seminary? Did all those generations of men in the pulpit serve as idealized husbands or eye candy or father figures? Are they jealous? Are they self-loathing? Honest explanations would be appreciated.
2. How can a woman have a sexual fling with a married man without thinking about the sister she is betraying? Has she been told that The Wife is cold/gay/sick/tired/in-love-with-someone else? (Believe me, what you’ve been told is not always the truth.) Is she herself vulnerable and lonely? Was everybody simply drinking too much and caught up in the fun of being at a conference together? Did it seem harmless/meaningless? Am I just a dork who takes marriage vows seriously? What’s up with this?
3. Why can’t we women be happy for each other when something goes well? One friend remarried after becoming a young widow and another friend rued the fact that “Two people fell in love with her, but nobody has fallen in love with me. It’s not fair.” Another friend said, “I can’t believe she got that job. What does she have that I don’t have?” And yet another recently shared with me, “I don’t trust (that clergywoman) with my husband’s church committee. I’m not comfortable with him going to meetings led by a woman.” Really?
Yea, yea, yea I know that all of us are occasionally catty and immature and all-about-ourselves, but these things happen in the church (In The Church) every day. Am I asking too much to expect women to work alongside, be friends alongside, live alongside each other without stabbing each other in the back?
Anonymous responses especially welcomed in this post, but I’d like to know if you are male or female as you respond. Thank you.
Image is Sarah and Hagar by Marc Chagall (1956)