We often talk about gender equality and the significance of female empowerment. Women honour female strength in a positive light, and we command respect from men. However, before that, let’s sidetrack for a moment. We’re for all kinds of female empowerment: men to women, and — note this — women to women. We tend to forget that sometimes, women don’t respect other women too.
Let’s be honest: as fellow women, we have been on both receiving ends. Whether done deliberately or unconsciously, we have been guilty of passing judgment on other women, and vice versa. If we, as women, can band together and inspire one another, then we’re taking a big step onto stronger foundation towards women empowerment — don’t you think?
Do you dare take that step? In collaboration with the Downy Parfum Collection, watch the video above and keep reading as three #TeamClozette women — Kersie, Azleena, and myself — share our personal stories and ways on how women can empower other women.
Kersie: Dare to build a good support group
“This happened to a friend of mine when we were in our early 30s. She was finding her way around in a new MNC she had just joined. Over dinner with close friends, this friend proudly shared that she had a recent breakthrough at work. The VP of Marketing had commended her on a long overdue project that she had brought to fruition after she took over. "You deliver!", her boss said. To that, another friend, who often speaks her mind all too quickly, joked: "It’s because you're pretty, my dear!"
Upon hearing this, the rest of us jumped to her defense, and my friend promptly apologised. While we all laughed it off, it was an awkward moment for us. Many thoughts went through my mind. If a close friend, a fellow female, thought this way, how did the rest of her teammates think when the boss praised her? Do others judge “good looking” women this way at the workplace, and that the “good-lookers” can get away with a better review?
At the end of the night, we agreed that while it’s important to present yourself well, we should not judge a person's merit just by the way they look. More importantly, as fellow females, we must support each other. Many years have since passed and as close friends, we continue to share our joys and successes with each other — no qualms attached. Though we still speak our minds, we learn to be more mindful of each other’s feelings, and address issues in a positive and kind manner. After all, a good female support group is not easy to find, so we work hard to keep our friendship stronger then ever.”
Azleena: Dare to act
“I remember a friend at school who always felt judged based on her appearance. Her droopy eyes and lips made her look a little bit dazed and ditzy. Because of that, she often got teased. There was one incident when a female lecturer — a supposedly respected figure — made blunt remarks about my friend’s appearance to her academic grades. I could tell my friend was heartbroken and on the verge of tears.
I felt unjust for her, but as I was not an outspoken person, I did not know what to say or do. All I did was befriend her after the encounter, and to be there for her. Yes, I could have said something — but I never did know the right words. What’s important is that I decided that actions speak louder than words, so I gave her my friendship and support.
No one should be judged based on how they look, especially not by what they can do or achieve. As fellow women, we should feel the same. Such remarks can affect our confidence. We should be encouraging fellow women — not shame them.”
Becks: Dare to avoid making premature judgment
“I didn’t know when it started. But when I entered the workforce, I already had a preconception that female superiors were more challenging to “deal with” than the opposite gender. The Female Boss, to me, was always a Miranda Priestly-type — the domineering alpha female magazine editor-in-chief, played by Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada.
I was right, female bosses were indeed harder to work with. The first female boss I had was overly emotional, her mood swung from one end to the other. The next female supervisor “suffered” from the Queen Bee syndrome, a 1970s management theory on how successful women put down other women in a professional setting. I remember thinking: “Why can’t women be professional?”
But a couple of unpleasant encounters with male superiors, and landing my next gig under an amazing female boss later… I realised I had it all wrong. It was never about the gender. It was a matter of character. Whether male or female, a good leader is a good leader. I was simply too hasty and quick to pass judgment that I discriminated my own gender, womanhood. How can we women support and empower each other if we’re against each other? Reminder to self and everyone else: avoid making premature judgment on the social misconceptions of the female gender.”