We’ve all see it by now, the glorious pictures of the beautiful, dare I say radiant, Duchess of Cambridge standing on the steps of the hospital next to her beaming husband, the future King of England, a mere few hours after giving birth to the angelic Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana.
Kate, markedly unlike most of the rest of us, is a glow of post-partum perfection in her little yellow dress, with her long, dark, perfectly coiffed tresses blowing in the breeze.
And what have I been reading all over the internet? Bitterness. Lots and lots of snarky female bitterness.
Here’s some quotes about Kate taken directly from my Facebook feed:
“I sure didn’t look like that after I had a baby!”
Pictures of “real” women just hours after giving birth themselves have been filling up my Facebook feed reminding all of us that yet another woman has gone and made the rest of us feel shitty about ourselves by daring to be who she is.
How dare she!
While I get that it doesn’t seem fair that Kate has a full staff of attendants at the ready to make sure that nary a hair is ever out of place, I am appalled at the backlash against her as though she has somehow betrayed our gender by showing up the rest of us.
Which leads me to one of my ever-constant thoughts about women:
WHY IS EVERY FUCKING THING WE DO A COMPETITION?
and even more disturbing to me:
Why do we take another woman’s success as a personal attack and a personal failure?
Why Does Kate Make Other Women Feel Insecure?
Kate’s ability to look positively stunning only a few hours after birthing her second child says exactly nothing about you or me. That’s her, and good for her. It has nothing to do with us. Why do we need to take away from her to feel better about ourselves? Why do we even make it about us? Why can’t we just be glad for her good fortune, admire the things about her that are admirable, and GET ON WITH OUR OWN FUCKING LIVES?
I’ve spent a lot of the past couple of years pondering why women do this to each other. Because I don’t think it’s benign. It’s a symptom of the deep sickness within our gender that we need to face and fix if we’re ever going to grow the hell up and get on with the serious business of saving our planet.
One comment I read that really struck me is that Kate needs to “dial that shit back” because she’s “making strangers want to slap [her]”. Why? Why does she need to dial it back? For whom? What is it about her visible perfection that makes the rest of us want to slap her?
Do men ever feel this way? If they do, they certainly keep it to themselves.
For the movie, Troy, Brad Pitt achieved a level of physical perfection that probably bested even the mythical Achilles. Sometimes, for no reason at all, I pop Troy into the DVD player and watch it with the sound off just so I can admire his god-like beauty. But when that movie came out I didn’t see one article anywhere written by a man calling for Pitt to “dial that shit back” because he was making other men want to slap him.
Men flocked to see the perfectly computer-enhanced Gerard Butler meet his heroic defeat at the hands of the Persians in 300 and didn’t feel the need to take up arms on the internet demanding that all that photoshopping of Butler’s abs be removed because (boo-effing-hoo!) it was setting an unrealistic standard of beauty for men that was affecting the self-esteem of boys.
Old Spice hasn’t launched a campaign of masculine beauty, and I’ve yet to see some Instagram photo of a guy with a bloated beer belly go viral because FINALLY we’re getting to see what a real man looks like.
Yeah, you can say that it’s because men aren’t judged on their looks that we don’t see that crap, but I say it is deeper than that, and that if anyone is to blame for this bullshit it’s us women. If we want this competition that we all feel we’re in with other women to stop we’re the ones who need to dial this shit back.
Competition and the Biology of Women’s Survival
Human beings are extremely competitive. As a species we’ve competed against every other organism on the planet, and so far we’re winning. But we’re also in a life and death struggle against each other. While men have been busy competing against other men, wild creatures, and the forces of nature for their survival; women’s competition has had a very narrow focus. Specifically, we compete against other women for what we’ve rightly perceived as our single most valuable resource: MEN.
Throughout history a woman’s ability to get and hold onto a man of substance was (and still by and large is) her best chance for ensuring her survival and the survival of her offspring. One reason women haven’t been as successful in business and politics as men is because women aren’t programmed to compete in the same way men are.
Men are programmed to win; women are programmed to defeat other women.
Women and Other Women
As dependent as we are upon men, we’re as dependent–if not more dependent–upon other women for the survival of ourselves and our children. Women cannot biologically afford to alienate other women while at the same time defeating them which is why we’re so damned sneaky about the competition, pretending it isn’t happening even when it most obviously is.
It’s critical to survival for a woman to win a man who will protect and feed her and her children, but a woman forced to go pee on her own on the Serengeti is less likely to come back alive than the woman who has friends who like her enough to risk going out to pee with her. In this way, biology has forced women to develop subtle and manipulative interpersonal techniques that allow them to simultaneously compete against and defeat other women while at the same time winning them as friends.
Kate Middleton smartly beat out all of the competition and married the most eligible bachelor in her kingdom. Every little girl knows that you can’t do any better than to get the prince to fall in love with you, and she did it. But the skills and craft she used to win Prince William’s heart are the very same things that make other women hate her guts and want to slap her.
These comments about Kate show the dark underbelly of womanity, and how we’re constantly being forced onto that tight-rope of being perfect enough to win the prince, but not too perfect lest the rest of the bitches want to slap us.
Kate Doesn’t Owe You and Me Anything
Had Kate walked out in a house robe and slippers with greasy hair and bags under her eyes maybe some of us would feel better about ourselves, but would Kate have felt good about herself? Should she have sacrificed her own happiness just so the rest of us wouldn’t feel like shit in her shadow? Why do we feel she owes us that? Why are we making her ability to look great about us at all?
This bitter snarkfest shows our underlying feelings that somehow our success depends upon another woman’s failure. This is one reason we women revel in other women’s failures, be they fashion or otherwise. We glory in another woman’s catastrophes because we think it makes us feel better about our own small and meaningless lives. And that’s sick. And we really ought to dial that shit back if we ever want to grow the fuck up.