According to bully researchers the number of women participating in bullying activities is actually on the rise. And whereas men tend to bully equally across genders, we women tend to prefer bullying other women, and are reluctant to bully men we aren’t married to, or aren’t related to.
Figures released a couple of years ago said around 40% of workers have been bullied, and that it’s mostly men who are bullies. But the figures also showed that about 40% of bullies are women.
And apparently male bullies are more ‘fair-minded’ and bully both genders pretty much in equal measure. Women on the other hand tend to prefer bullying their own kind, choosing other women as targets more than 70% of the time.
An excerpt from “When the Wrong Woman Wins – Building Bullies and Perpetuating Patriarch” says, “One expectation is that much of the bullying is perpetrated by males, perhaps threatened by the increased number of women in the management ranks. Sadly, however, this is not the case. According to Namie’s U.S. Hostile Workplace Survey, men and women are equally responsible for the bullying behavior, and 84% of those employees targeted for the abuse are female.
Surprisingly, women bullies target women employees more often than they target males. Bully behaviour is the amplified acting out of masculine behaviours that range from blatant demonstrations such as aggressively screaming, yelling, and threatening dismissals to subtle, underhanded displays. Making unreasonable job demands, criticizing abilities, and excluding targeted employees from meetings and necessary information are all found in the bully’s repertoire. Research on bully behavior and harassment concludes that bullies, like harassers, are driven by a need for power and control and choose to seek out a perceived weaker employee to dominate.”
Women Bullying Women Is Not Cool
Female bullies often enjoy the sport of bullying other women and ‘get off’ on the sense of power it gives them. These are serial bullies. Considering the surfeit of bullying information available, and how many of us already understand that ‘women bullying women’ is a problem, why are the numbers still climbing? Add to that, bullies can only be effective if they have a power base … a cheer squad. That means that if the number of female bullies are on the increase so are the number of bully cheer squads …. and that’s another serious problem.
I strongly doubt the suffragettes fought for us just so future generations of women would continue the dishonorable tradition of devouring one another. I also doubt they’d be very impressed if they knew we were facing a pandemic of women bullying other women in the workplace and elsewhere.
Imagine if men were doing that amount of bullying of women!
Imagine if the statistics I just cited said men did that amount of bullying women. If 70% of the bullying male bullies did was directed towards women! Can you imagine the furore that would ensue?!
Every woman and feminist group in the western world would be up in arms, burning their bras, and marching down Main Street waving their G-strings until somebody listened. But because it’s women bullying women there’s nary a nipple…. I mean ripple.
So why are so many women passive on this subject? Could it be because women have been desensitized by the bullying itself, and have come to accept female bullying as a normal part of life, and therefore of the female pecking-order as well?
Do we fear that by discussing the topic we are validating the ‘catty’ female gender stereotype label women have been tarred with? Or worse, is it possible both genders consider it normal behaviour for women to bully other women?
I certainly hope not because I don’t believe most women are bullies. Having said that, I do suspect many women (and employers) don’t recognise it when they are supporting and propping up a bully. Or they don’t want to acknowledge it because a bully can easily be used as a tool, and even serve an employers purpose.
These are all real human issues needing to be discussed, and solutions found, if the next generation of young women are to experience a healthier woman-to-woman environment than ours has.
And if our generation doesn’t deal with this, and find some real and practical answers, which generation will? Why would we want to leave that ugly challenge as a legacy to our daughters, instead of defeating it ourselves?
True gender equality means the freedom for both genders to weigh in and discuss problems that affect both men and women. Women bullying women is a conversation that everybody needs an opportunity to participate in – because we are all affected by it one way or another.
Have you ever been bullied in the workplace, your social circles, in business or online? How did you deal with it? How did it affect you? Have you ever bullied anyone at work, in social circles, in business or online? Why did you? How did it affect you?
I’d love you to share your thoughts.
PS: Celebrate International Women’s Day with me by helping 1 woman achieve a greater level of freedom. Please go to Kiva and read how easy it is to help 1 woman on her journey to independence and freedom. Thank you.
Copyright Gaye Crispin 2012
Gaye Crispin has a Debt Collection and Credit Management Agency in Sydney, Australia. Gaye also collects Gruesome Business Stories from her clients on a daily basis, analyses them, and turns them into helpful business lessons for SME operators.