"Oh, I much prefer hanging with guys. They're just so much simpler and there is isn't as much drama"
"Yeh, most of my friends are guys. I prefer it that way. Chicks are just so harsh to each other"
...and so on, and so forth.
Women hating on other women is an interesting phenomena, and more common than one would think.
In all honesty, I shared these very same sentiments for a long time. My actions reflected it: I did mechanical engineering and ended up in the oil and gas field, areas where women cannot be said to be the majority. The decisions were not made consciously because I knew there would be less women, but I dare say it somehow tapped my subconscious.
However, as I have become more interested in the concepts of (formal?) feminism, equity of opportunity and diversity (particularly in the workplace) I found that this attitude was something that I consciously had to stop. It was destructive, petty and I couldn't figure out why I was doing it!
On reflection, it may have something to do with the relationship between women and the male gaze.
This occurred to me early on in my oil and gas stint when I heard about a new lady joining the crew, doubling the female population. My instantaneous mental reaction was 'Oh, I wonder what she looks like / what the guys will think of her'.
Then... I mentally frowned (which is like a normal frown but no one knows you are doing it).
Why on earth did I care what she looked like or what the guys thought of that? Why was I making it some sort of competition?
It occurred to me that some of my thinking had become about (embarrassingly) competing for male attention. For someone who prides themselves on being an 'independent women' a la Bey, Queen Latifa, Aiysha (RA) and the like, it was a little bit of a shock.
In some ways, the hijab helps remove the dependence on the male gaze. In some ways it says (and this is something I have appreciated as I have aged), "well I don't want to be subject to your gaze, and I am not going to let you have the power to make a judgement on my worthiness. I am removing what you find desirable from your view.' But what I have been learning is that a simple veil and code of dress wasn't enough, it is also about changing the mindset.
Male friends have been confused at this choice:
"But why would you want to hide your beauty if you have it? Why wouldn't you want to share it with the world?"
Perhaps because it isn't all about you?
I am now working at a location where there is a large camp and plenty of female staff. It's awesome to have other women around, even if they are mostly in the admin and catering roles. I made a couple of acquaintances yesterday, who inquired about my role and expressed their delight when I shared that I was working on the rigs in a technical job.
"You go girl! Show them how it's done!"
"Oooooo!" the Philippino lady in the kitchen also remarked. "So good to see girls get out there!"
That's the sisterhood that I'm talking about.
Perhaps 'sisterhood' is too nerdy a term, or one that has negative connotations around, but we should be in a place where we back each other up rather than compete for some level of acknowledgement from the men around us. Unfortunately it isn't so easy, or at least it is easier said than done. In a world still mostly run by men (sorry Beyonce), acknowledgement and preference by the patriarchy adds an awful lot of social capital to one's account, and usually opens up more doors to achieving. Females who do in some way tap into that without compromising their integrity (perhaps by being a woman in a male dominated field...). Still working on ways around that one...
Whatever it may be, at the end of the day we should consciously choose to shift our attitudes in each and every interaction. Let's support each other and not pretend life is a zero sum game where only one woman may win.
Let's create our own worth and be proud in that.