You didn't even need a stethoscope to hear the collective hearts of women across the country last week. The angst was deafening as yet another embarrassing, sad, and entirely avoidable setback for all women played out.
The women of The View going mean-girl mockapalooza on Miss Colorado Kelley Johnson--and seemingly every nurse on the planet--was not a fine moment for women.
It was an epic feminine fail, in my opinion, except for one, powerful thing. This particular women-on-women pile-on occurred in Plain View as millions watched. Which now has sparked widespread, long-needed conversations about how women can better lift up one another.
Typically, women vs. women bullying is usually done secretly and passive-aggressively, and the blows are silent, unseen, and undetected. You know, it's the whisper in your ear, "You are such a loser," or the lies that block you from a well-deserved promotion. It's a colleague you commiserate with over cocktails on Friday evening, who steals your work and stabs you in the back on Monday.
It's the toxic side-eye or hostile freeze-out from gatherings, even volunteering at the school book fairs. Come on! Why are we doing this to each other? Miss Frizzle lets everyone on her magic school bus, not just the cool girls!
At least in last week's televised takedown, a way-bright lens was focused on something many want to keep in the shadows, ignore, downplay, or deny even happens: women bullying other women. So while that teachable moment still hangs in the air, and likely on many nurses' hearts, let's ask: how can we all do better?
Before this moment fades from View, here's three reminders it gives us about being wiser, kinder, and more amazing women. So these kind of setbacks can stay firmly in our rearView mirrors as more women choose to lift up, not tear down:
1) Respect between women has to rise for more of us to thrive. The View's blistering of one woman undermines all of us. We need less jeering and more cheering, women! When you tear down one woman, you take down all of us. We all lose respect and value just as opportunities to lead and achieve gender balance are rising. Let's lift up women now. And if you find that tough to do, say you have a dim View of other women, then get a clearer picture. Do your homework and study the amazing accomplishments of women. Get to really know your colleagues at work or other moms instead of judging them. And start to champion what other women achieve, whether in an operating room, classroom, parenting, or boardroom. Women are stars, on air and off!
2) If you pounce on another woman's passions as your personal punching bag, the problem lies with you. Heal that. However women blister other women, how do we heal the wounds? And how great that a nurse is the catalyst for this discussion now. A nurse knows more than most that when a wound isn't healed, it festers. We all play a role in writing this prescription for all women's empowerment.
3) A woman's words and actions are powerful and can circle the world. Anything each of us does or says elevates all women--or holds them down. In the age of instant, global community, a snarky eye roll, backhanded insult, and attack can circle the world. Whether the cameras are rolling or not, it's time to be wiser, smarter, and more powerful with how we communicate our value and power. The world--and girls coming up behind us--are watching and modeling our every move, as I say in my book, Mending the Sisterhood & Ending Women's Bullying.
"As with any good superpower, women have to decide whether to use words for constructive or destructive purposes," say authors Katherine Crowley and Kathi Elster, some of the experts I've interviewed about how women can better connect, collaborate, and lead. Mean sarcasm is lazy talk. It can never replace mighty communication. Let's all pick our superhero words wisely, to champion one another and help all women rise.
Like Kelley Johnson, I also call Colorado home. And we Coloradoans love our mountains. We love to climb them, be inspired, and envision what could be at that amazing elevation. I'd like to imagine a time when more women will use our best superpowers to bring out the best in each other.
I'd like to imagine more mornings when women will be inspiring and lifting one another up, so women can go as far and high as we can. And as we do, we'll be tuning in to stop and enjoy that View. Together.