Why I Feel threatened By Successful Women

illustrated by Natalie Foss

illustrated by Natalie Foss

In the last 10 minutes of class our teacher asked the women in the class an interesting question, "Do you feel threatened by other successful women? because I do." It was more of a statement than a question. At first I felt let down, that successful educator respected by her students and fellow faculty for her wit, and skill would feel this way towards other women. Though, as I started to analyze this question, I began to feel the same way. More times than not, I noticed myself being overly critical of women I found more successful than me. Was it professional jealousy, competition, or was I down right Bi*ch. One student felt very opposed to the question, answering; “No, successful women only motivate me and inspire me to do better”. Her answer only angered me more, as if she was “too good” to feel threatened, and never felt an inch of self doubt, or was I a mean girl only capable of putting other women down?

As the day went on, I began to feel even more conflicted. I consider myself a feminist in the loosest terms. I consistently advocate for women's rights (equal pay, female genital mutilation, sexism, education) and because of this, I feel a pressure, or responsibility to applaud any and every positive success a fellow women has. I looked to google in hopes to ease my internal turmoil.   

What the universe of “google” taught me was limited.

*note: while researching I clicked on an article entitled “The Reason Some Men find Successful Women Unatractive” (eyeroll)  

I read articles on “why women hate other women”, “professional jealousy” ecc…. And nothing seemed to stick. I then went on to ask my friend what she thought. the response I got was enlightening. 

I live in Vancouver, one of the most livable cities in the world. I have not experienced real struggle, or suffering, I have not experienced direct prejudice because of my gender. Yet, the shadow of a male dominated society still effects me. I feel threatened by successful women not because I'm a mean girl, but because I envy them. I feel "threatened" by them, but because they expose my fear of failure. These women broke through the seal of gender binaries, they have felt and overcome real struggle, they are titans. Envy, and fear of failure, makes me over critical of successful women, because finding flaws in people is sometimes easier than applauding them for their ACCOMPLISHMENTS.    








Misa YamaokaComment