It’s no secret that this world isn’t an easy one to live in, especially for women. Sadly enough, I’m not talking about the way that the world treats women, I’m talking about the way that women treat women. It starts in grade school — the bullying, the competition, the war amongst ourselves. What’s worse is the people trying to console the beaten down victims with phrases like, “Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you” and my personal favourite, “It gets better after high school”. This “advice” is bull, and everyone knows it. Yes, broken bones will hurt, but they will also heal. The emotional wounds from bullying on the other hand, will remain with these girls forever. And whoever said that things get better after high school clearly graduated and went straight to living under a rock: have you met some middle aged women?
There’s a reason that I, and many other women I know prefer playing on a men’s hockey team rather than a women’s hockey team. Sure, dressing room talk is a little… different, but the beauty of it all is the lack of drama. There’s no bullying, there’s no personal competition, no vindictiveness from teammates or players from the opposing teams (for the most part). I’m not saying that ALL women are the same and that all female hockey teams are to blame: I’ve played on some incredible women’s teams and made some life-long female friends through the sport, but I’ve also had to deal with a lot of women who get their kicks out of bringing other women down. Many of these women I speak of are in their 20s, 30s, and 40s… they’re old enough to know better, old enough to have witnessed several years of society attempting to tear women down, old enough to know that as women, we need to support each other rather than attempt to decrease the worth of other women.
If you’re a woman and you play hockey, kudos to you. It’s not easy competing in a sport that’s often thought to be a “man’s world”. This is changing thanks to people removing their heads from their you-know-where and the incredible women (and men) pushing for this sport to be seen equally for both genders. As women trying to change society’s idea of women in sport, we need to support our fellow female warriors. Sure, hockey is about competition, but at a healthy level. Jealousy, competitiveness, and vindictiveness should not overshadow the competition within the sport. Compete your heart out on the ice, but also celebrate your competition: these women are no different from you — there for the love of the game, the exercise, the glory of the win, or whatever it may be. If you’re there to prove something or create hardship for your teammates and/or opponents, you shouldn’t be there at all.
Nothing makes me more sad or frustrated to see women being at war with themselves and other women. All women who endure this cruel world are warriors in their own right: respect yourself and your fellow warriors, ladies. It’s time we stopped comparing ourselves to each other and stopped letting the resulting jealousy and spiteful competition win. We’re all human, and while some of us may have thicker skin than others, we’re all affected the same when we fall victim to bullying. We don’t all have to be friends, but we owe each other the respect that each woman deserves. Take a stand, celebrate your female counterparts, and empower each other to be great. This world has a lot more potential when we’re supporting each other.
There are multiple initiatives surfacing that are designed to empower girls and women, but if women aren’t even going to empower each other, how can we expect the rest of the world to? It starts with us, ladies. Be the difference.