My worry for women's happiness, or the lack thereof, has often come from other women. Although *most* the time we are pretty good at building each other up and supporting one another, there are times when I can do nothing but look on in horror as I see women slag each other off or worse, beat each other down.
There is nowhere that you can see this more, to my mind, than online. Even before I started blogging and basically living on Twitter I had concerns. I'd notice at school how being a girl was being made so hard by OTHER girls: I'd witness bullying, I'd partake in competitiveness, I'd see women, girls really, being trodden on or over looked or beaten down by their 'friends', by the very people who were supposed to be supporting them. A lot of the time, being a girl at school was really hard. Although many of my female friendships were beautiful and I came away with some of the best memories of the best people and the best times, I remember feeling let down by friends, by girls, a lot. Girls who picked boys over me, who talked about me behind my back, or ditched me in an attempt to be cool. You know the drill. Just 'being a kid' stuff right??
It seems not. In more recent years, since I've started blogging and the world has become social media obsessed, my concerns, these issues, have become more prevalent, or more noticeable at any rate. I have watched Twitter fights between bloggers and influencers, I have seen the subtle digs that appear in the shape of GIFs and I've been on the receiving end of some, often quite nasty, comments.
I've written in the past about the online trolling that I have been a victim of, and have expressed my shock and sadness that so many of the comments written about me have come from women. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how much the election made me hate social media after watching bloggers and twitter users go batshit crazy at others if their followers didn't agree, word for word, with their adoration of Jeremy Corbyn or their belief that Theresa May ate babies. And then of course there is the stuff that happens every day to all of us; the small stuff, the subtle stuff. The ignored tweets, the passive aggressive jabs directed mysteriously at "some people", the stuff that gets anxious, and somewhat insecure, people like me worrying at a rate of knots.
When done right, a female friendship can be the most beautiful and powerful thing in the world. When done wrong, it can be the scariest. Because, whilst we might not like to admit it, we have the power to be absolutely brutal, to destroy and break one another. The same power that, when channeled in a better direction, is unbelievable, unstoppable, truly beautiful. When we work together, amazing things can happen. Yet so often we do it so wrong.
At a time of true uncertainty in the world, as we are witnessing now, it is understandable that we want to shout a little louder than we normally would. We see injustices in the world and we want to call it out, we believe that our opinions NEED to be heard, because the solution that we have found seems so obvious and we can't believe that not everyone has realised it yet. We are angry and we are passionate. And we are shouting. But God I wish we were more careful with what we are saying. The right to shout about whatever we want is good, it is fair and it is deserved and important. But the right to abuse others, publicly, for not agreeing with us? I don't think that's good or fair or deserved or very important at all.
Not everyone is going to agree with me and the day I realised that was the day that my life changed so much for the better. Was I really going to change a person's opinion of me, or of anything, using 140 characters of cap locks and emojis written with the intention of shaming someone in front of all of my Twitter follower? No. I might hurt them though. Has being nasty to another woman, no matter how much I disagreed with her, ever brought me any joy at all? All it's ever done is hurt us both.
Stupidity and ignorance exist online, don't get me wrong. You'll find it by the bucketload, but it does not necessarily have to be your problem. I'm not saying that we shouldn't debate and discuss, but to use our voices to ridicule and humiliate in response to perceived 'stupidity'? That's not OK, nor is it a good way to channel energy. Energy that could be used a million different ways to bring other woman up.
Empowered women, empower women.
God I know this to be true. I am constantly empowered by empowering women. Friends, bloggers, celebrities, people on the bus, even Camilla on Love Island. I am empowered my amazing women, by passionate women, by powerful women. And I realise, there is one thing that all of the women who inspire me have in common: it's kindness.
I have had heroes, followed bloggers, adored friends who have let me down so massively I couldn't believe it. Over the last few months people who I genuinely respected have turned on other women in a way that leaves me so disappointed. Seeing negativity thrown around, showering women left right and centre is so depressing, it's so not empowering. It's just wrong. They might be empowering in a million ways but the minute they use their power to deliberately hurt and humiliate another woman is the day my respect falters. It's the day I unfollow, give up and walk away.
Be Strong. Be Kind. Be You.
The Pretty Normal Me mantra. Be true to yourself. be passionate, but always, always, be kind.
To me, kindness is the most beautiful thing of all. To me, kindness is inspirational. To me, kindness is so so powerful.
And I want to be powerful. I want us all to be so damn powerful. please don't underestimate how importance kindness is on the journey to success. It is lonely at the top, or so they say. So don't go there alone. Women are their most powerful when they stand together.
We are so much better together than we are apart. So please, rather than let trying times in the world right now divide us, let's work together, let's stand together and be strong together. Let's use our voices for good, pull each other up, educate each other and let's show the world what girl power, done right, really looks like.