On evil “bitches”, queen bees, and mean girls

Patriarchy is the system we have been born into at present and in many ways it operates much like a religious institution (or in some cases it operates with religious institutions). It is an archaic, enduring form of governance in which at birth men are given and maintain certain societal advantages that women do not. And this system isn’t just a passive form of dominance for men — it actively works to harm and oppress women so that those with masculine energy and traits can get ahead.

While perhaps not all men benefit from patriarchy, by and large, it reinforces the idea that men are and should be the more powerful and dominant of the sexes. Men should be taken seriously, women should be questioned. Men should govern, women should obey. Men should pursue, women should yield. Men should affirm, women should seek approval. Patriarchy is an inherently abusive system based on the repression and oppression of entire populations of people (women as well as children, non-”heteronormative” peoples, peoples of color, and other minorities).

Patriarchy forces women to jump through certain hoops to be taken seriously and have their experiences heard and validated, and for them to get an equal seat at the table. Because women are operating within this intrinsic disadvantage, they very often hold back their true thoughts and feelings for fear of being written off as mentally unstable, work hard to hide the truth because they do not think they will be believed, change who they are and what they look like, and become masterminds at perpetuating the cover story for other people. We hide, hide, hide. Only when we have hidden for so long that it makes us physically or emotionally sick and fed up do we allow what has been bottled up to come spewing out. And perhaps, because we have never said anything to the contrary before, no one believes it. And this is when the patriarchal system digs it’s heels in even deeper: you are told you are wrong and therefore can’t trust yourself and cannot be trusted by others. Patriarchy talks us out of ourselves.

Within this system we have to work hard to become our best, healthiest, actualized selves. Women are subjected to an onslaught of trauma, bullying, or abuse at early ages, all appropriate within the system of patriarchy, and often in more nuanced ways that men may even have to consider. Women have to prove they’re not sluts, while proving they’re fuckable at the same time. By and large, we dumb down our natural intellectual and emotional intelligence for the benefit of others. We choose roles that are expected of us, but that we may not enjoy. We say yes when we really want to say no, or when we do say no, someone tries to talk us out of it because how dare you trust yourself.

Additionally, females have to painstakingly plan for and consider their safety at all times. Women suffer underlying external sexual tension in inappropriate situations such as the educational system, their jobs, and even from biological relatives. Women also often have to hold back their true personalities for fear of being called a “cunt”, “crazy” or “hysterical”, whereas similar qualities in men are often called “competitive”, “direct”, “sensitive”, and “hardworking”.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.

It’s extremely important to note that men are not the only ones perpetuating the oppressive system of patriarchy. Women also do this often without realizing it. Sure, this can manifest as the plastic surgery women think they need in order to be considered attractive, the lipstick and heels we buy to feel more “womanly”, or going into debt for the perfect outfit, car, wedding, or home. But it is most often the way we get quiet and deny our true nature to please others.

Notably, patriarchy also enforces a long list of abuses and “mean girl” tactics women use to protect their egos and the ego of the men in their lives: cattiness, mean looks, destructive gossip, judgementalness, shunning, and even extremes like female genital mutilation and foot binding are typically perpetuated by women themselves. As Winnie Mandela, wife of the famous politician and revolutionary Nelson Mandela, said, “The overwhelming majority of women accept patriarchy unquestioningly and even protect it, working out the resultant frustrations not against men but primarily against themselves, in competition for men as sons, lovers and husbands. Traditionally, the violated wife bides her time and off-loads her built-in aggressions on her daughter-in-law. So men dominate women through the agency of women themselves.”

In the book Mean Girls Grown Up: Adult Women Who Are Still Queen Bees, Middle Bees, and Wannabees, author Cheryl Dellasega says, “When I was a victim of female aggression, I realized that the vendetta of the women involved ultimately didn’t have anything to do with me. The roots of their behavior were deeper. They were simply carrying on the work of upholding the system of oppression, taking out their own wounds on other women. When women do these things, we are often unconscious that is what we are doing. Our wounds may not be physical; we do not starve or beat each other. Yet, we are wounded in our ability to have respect for each other’s wisdom and experience. We are wounded in our ability to have compassion for one another. But most importantly, in this kind of destructive mind-set, we are wounded in our ability to have compassion for ourselves. We are taught to take care of everyone else, and we are also taught that we dare not take care of ourselves and of each other. This is a wound of spirit.”

Dr. Neema Caughran has specifically studied women whose relationships were affected by bullying and exclusivity. She says, “In very patriarchal societies, it is women who are enforcers of their own oppression. In traditional Hindu societies where a young woman goes to live with her husband’s family, she becomes like a slave. It is the mother-in-law who might beat her into submission or starve her to gain control. These women have never had any power, they were once daughters-in-law, beaten, starved, abused, and those who carry on this behavior cannot help themselves; it is now their turn. Women all over the world were and are somehow conditioned to treat each other without real respect. Women all over the world were and are somehow conditioned to enforce the rules of patriarchy, which taught that power shall not rest in the hands of women.”

It is a symptom of a sick society where victims have to change the dynamics and power structures themselves in order to become balanced and whole. But I believe this is where we are at. Women, it is up to us to change the patriarchal system and usher in a new era of the sacred feminine, in which all are equal and honored. This means calling out mean girls, not giving into their bullying or mind games, and uprooting systems that are bad for people or perpetuate abuse. It is up to us; let us stop the division. It is perpetuating karma and keeping us sick

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