Women vs Women — why is that?

Why is it, women are in such a hurry to tear down other women? I thought by now we’d be over this notion and have become supportive of each other but no, on more than one occasion recently I’ve witnessed something that bears resemblance to the following scenario.

“What do you do?” A woman with expensive clothes, purse, shoes, asks a woman with babe in arms and another playing on the slide in a nearby playground. It isn’t apparent why the first woman is on the bench and it doesn’t seem as if they know each other.

The second woman looks at the first somewhat incredulously as if the answer should be obvious, “Do?” she asks faintly. “I’m a mother.”

“I can see that,” says the other. “I meant for work. What do you do for work?”

Finished buying my ice-cream at a nearby vendor, I turned around and openly stared at these two, wondering what the mother was going to say.

To her credit, she spoke up. First she asked, “Do you have kids?”

“No…” Miss “all about the business world” sounded almost offended.

“Well, maybe there’s no way you could know then,” the mother continued. “I’m lucky enough to be able to be a stay at home mother. I’m raising my kids myself. That’s my job.”

The other woman seemed to be at a loss for words. I guess she was. She got up and walked away, shaking her head.

I sat down near the mother to eat my ice-cream and after a few moments I spoke to her, telling I’d overheard the exchange and that I thought she’d handled it beautifully. She sighed and said something about how tired she was of defending her decision to be a stay at home Mom, as if it was something inexplicable or something to be ashamed of…

I sympathized and wondered at this gap between women, wondered if she felt women with children should stay home, or did she think it should be a choice. As I had already begun to suspect, she felt it was a personal choice and wished women would start realising that, and just salute each other for their choices and not denigrate anyone for anything, short of child abuse.

We went on to discuss the whole uphill battle women face in the workplace, outside the home still — equal pay for equal work still not being a reality — and how feminist or feminism have once again become a murky terms, in some circles.

On one hand it was discouraging to have witnessed the earlier tableau but on the other, it was delightful to have a spirited discussion with this bright, stay-at-home mother with definite feminist leanings who knew herself well and was all about raising her children. I left the park feeling pretty good.