Letting the Catty Out

I forgot for awhile why I don’t usually attend Christian women’s events, so I went to one this week, and that helped to jog my memory.

I found myself at one this past week, at the behest of a new friend who thinks I should get out and meet people more. (She’s probably right about that.) It was a women’s brunch. It so happened that the speaker for the event was seated at my table, so I chatted with her for awhile. In the course of conversation she mentioned that she was retired from a nursing career.

She was so relieved not to be in nursing anymore, she said, because all (or most) of her co-workers were female, and it was the worst. “Ugh, women are so catty; always competing with each other. So much drama. They’re always trying to climb the corporate ladder. Women are horrible!”

Considering where we were at that moment, I found this information bemusing. “Really! But you don’t mind speaking at women’s events…?”

And she said, “Oh, no, that’s fine, because here no one is competing with anyone else.”

Okay, sure. I tried to insert a little balance into that perspective. I told her that I used to work in pyrotechnics as a member of an all-male crew, and that had its challenges as well. (Did it ever!) She was incredulous. “Oh, I don’t know! Everyone always says it’s so much better to work with men!”

“I think what kind of co-worker someone is mostly depends on the individual, not on their sex,” I said. “Some people are trouble; others aren’t. It just depends.” She pursed her lips and shook her head as if I were trying to tell her the earth was flat, but she was too polite to argue any further.

The meal was served, and while we were eating I overheard some less-than-flattering evaluations of other attendees coming from her and the ladies seated on her other side:

“Look at her. She looks so young. How does she look that young? Just wait till she has a few children under her belt, we’ll see how she looks then….”

“How is she so thin?! What does she eat? She must exercise a lot!”

Well, so much for not competing with anyone.

After brunch, the speaker went up to the podium to begin her talk. “I’m so honored to be here, and I know you’ve already formed an opinion about me, because women are like that…”

Sigh. Clearly, whatever I said to her fell on deaf ears.

I always speak up against gender stereotypes whenever I hear them. I consider it the right thing to do. Sometimes, though, I wonder why I bother, when it seems like people are hell-bent on doing everything they can to perpetuate them. Do I keep bailing water out of this leaky boat, or not?

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