Wednesday, February 8, 2012


I am convinced there is nothing more formidable in the 
world of human interaction than that of female relations.

And I'm not speaking solely of the blood-related kind.
When I say female relations, I mean the all encompassing 
experience of one female encountering another throughout a lifetime.

On the one hand, the interaction is nothing short of poetic and beautiful. The satisfaction that comes from female kinship, validation, understanding, and camaraderie can be the very bread and butter of a girl's existence. Women can circle wagons around fellow women in such a way to provide a bulwark that even the nastiest of enemies couldn't hope to penetrate. Our ability to lighten another's load, cry with those who cry, and gently ease each other through life's most difficult passages is nothing short of miraculous. We are warm, charming, funny, engaging, playful, and intensely interested in the plight of others - others ranging from our closest relatives to complete strangers halfway across the world. Day to day, the world is continually lifted from small and large actions that act as the undercurrent, the very immune system of humankind - all often propelled by women: sisters, mothers, daughters, wives, friends.  I'm convinced that inside of each woman lies a quiet giant of Nobel-peace-prize-worthy charity and strength.

On the other hand, it is a friggin' nightmare. Nobody can wreak havoc in a female's world like another female. I lack hard data but am willing to go out on a limb and boldly declare that almost every instance of the most supreme heartache in a girl's life has at its root the actions or presence of another female.
In war, we can learn about the difference between overt versus covert tactics. Overt operations are done openly, un-secret and not hidden (think dropping a bomb on a city capital for instance...pretty hard to miss or misinterpret the message intended). However, rather than an all out bomb-dropping, you can also have the subtle -often amply more effective - covert operations, defined as "so planned and executed as to conceal the identity or permit the plausible denial by the sponsor". 

And here we go with bold claim numero dos, also completely unsubstantiated by hard data: women are the masters of covert operation. We are the soldiers of manipulation, gossip, back-biting, jealousy, and cruelty of the most sinister and often unrecognizable order. And thus, inside of each women's inner sanctuary...right next to that fluffy white robed Nobel peace prize lover playing harps and whispering kind promptings in your ear geared towards more good deeds and altruistic behavior...ironically lies a primitive jungle hunting biotch. She's a mixture of insecurity, competition, and skill: skill which she employs to shoot toxic little arrows expertly targeted to the Achilles heel of the unsuspecting little harp player in white. 

Am I speaking a bit harshly here? They didn't invent the term 'frienemy' for nothing.  If you are a girl reading this and all of my personal assessments seem wildly off the map I submit to you this: you are one fortunate human being, or you are still under the age of 17 months. You'll soon learn my dear, I sadly promise.

I suppose what I am speaking of is the ever classic battle of the two sides of human nature. You know, all the stuff commonly referred to in scripture smacking of "the natural man is an enemy to God". There is no shocking revelation in what I described above: women can be wonderfully wonderful and miserably miserable. I also don't mean to make it sound like all women are equally divided into some sort of 50/50 wonderful : miserable ratios. There are too many saintly women I know who would completely turn such an evenly divided hypothesis on its mistaken head. I am merely making the blanketed assumption that the two sides are there, they exist. Whether one is more dominant than the other is up to the female holding the reigns.

I wish I could say to my daughters that navigating the female interaction department gets easier with time and more experience on a school playground. Unfortunately I have not found this to be the case. Instead, I shall present my evolving philosophy and corresponding strategy in dealing with my female counterparts. Whether it is good or bad or even accurate is up for question, but what isn't up for grabs is that fact that it really did evolve out of a myriad of personal experiences ranging from pain to happiness to inspiration to frustration to defensive technique. It is pretty straight-forward:

Recognize the duality in your own nature first

Let's give some names:

Sheera!, your inner jungle biotch
Lula!, your lovely harp playing sweetheart: 

Both have something to teach.
{Do you like my names? they are good names.}

Sheera is sometimes needed to recognize the other Sheeras out there and not succumb to their tactical strategies. For example, it is she who will recognize primitive behaviors and can act as a siren to alert you of other jungle biotches sounding mating calls to your man while pretending to be your friends. She also provides you with the fierce biological urge to protect and defend your young, coaxing your protesting and groggy self out of bed at 2am to breastfeed a crying infant for the nineteenth time in an eight hour period. But be careful because Sheera's nature is almost entirely physical. She recognizes no greater achievement than self-preservation and domination of other jungle biotches. Sheera was designed to be the ultimate contestant on The Bachelor. Therefore, she can be ruthless, hateful, and entirely self-serving. The best way to keep Sheera contained to her rightful compartment in your soul is self-awareness. Recognize the gnawing jealousy within your heart when she observes another woman's success, notice how she does a victory dance upon hearing of another rival female's troubles, and call attention to her incessant whisper that you can only achieve final domination of your livelihood once you are ten pounds lighter or look more like so-and-so. Sheera ducks for the bushes when you notice these inclinations in your nature, because remember: Sheera can only operate under mostly covert conditions.

Lula is needed to transcend. She knows how to build bridges, reaching out to the other females of the world to find commonality. And she finds it, wherever she goes. Other Lulas. They are delightful. She is a constant reminder that all females are better served in formation as allies rather than splintered as enemies. Lula understands that differences, be it age or life vocation or marital status or parenting technique or outward appearance, are often windows of opportunity to look through for learning and inspiration rather than cautionary markers of foreign or enemy territory. Lula also knows that each woman carries with her a message, and Lulu seeks it out and listens. And she finds that the more she listens, the better she feels.  Lula perceives that the core yearning for both herself and of most women is clear: we want to love and be loved. Our female nature finds most satisfaction and meaningful depth in that simple desire, even if it can be woefully misdirected at times. Creating security for herself  doesn't involve the ransacking of others resources to stockpile her own. Tribes and silly female allegiances are useless to Lula, as she comprehends that the exclusion of other females never works towards forming a lasting peace.  Lula is the best version of woman.

Once you've discovered these elements {or self-titled personas masking an underlying and very serious multiple personality disorder..?} in yourself, they become easier to discern and either forgive or appreciate  in other women. Everything becomes less serious once I've viewed relations through this dichotomy, this split-screen way of interpreting interaction. It's made my life much more simple as I try to emphasize the Lula in my persona and keep better guard of that devilishly wicked little Sheera.

And when you really think about it, it's a marvelous thing to be a little complicated...isn't it?!
If we weren't, then what would the world be left with?


And heaven knows we can't have just that.


Alexis said...

I was just lamenting to the secretary at school that Larissa prefers playing basketball with the boys rather than huddling with the "girl drama" on the sidelines. My female friendships have been the source of some of my greatest memories but also some of the most painful. It is important to be a strong woman but a hateful woman is never justified. Hopefully, we can all channel our inner Lulas more than our inner Sheeras and know the appropriate time and place for both:)
Great blog. Insightful...especially considering you never graduated from college and just pump out babies...(Just me channeling someone elses Sheera:>

Sarah Gurries said...

Awesome. Genius. Needed to hear this today :)

Ali said...

I second Sarah!