Well, as we learned somewhere around third grade, the best response to this assessment is, “it takes one to know one.” I am loath to admit that these unpleasant tendencies begin at seemingly tender ages. Our oldes...t daughter is twelve years old and truth be told I have been literally astonished at how vicious these young vipers can be. I realize this sounds severe but the reality is that these sweet, young things can be flat out wicked. And unfortunately some of them never outgrow it, they just get better and better at it over time. They become near professionals at being spiteful and cutting. They dive into gossip and innuendo like it was a swimming pool in the desert. They occupy absolutely inordinate amounts of time judging others without so much as a passing assessment of themselves. An additional disturbing reality is that they tend to work in packs. Evil needs an audience and women seem inordinately predisposed to joint participation in this kind of carnage. Most will recognize the covert title of these group lynchings as “girl’s night out.” In fact, I would go so far as to say that the vast majority of the time, flat out jealousy and petty nastiness are the undisputed realm of women. The utter insanity of it all is that we do it to each other! No man has ever been as malicious as an insecure woman. As I’ve mentioned before, it usually goes something like this: If she has a better job than you, she slept her way there. If her boobs are better than yours she had them done. If she’s smarter than you she’s showing off. If she throws a better party, she must have hired someone to do it. If she’s a stay-at-home mom, she’s selling herself short. If she has a rewarding career she’s neglecting her family and her children are paying the price. If she’s on the PTO she’s a busy body and if that’s not on her resume, she is uninvolved and unconcerned. If her children are well dressed she’s preoccupied with appearances, if not she’s lazy and inappropriately indifferent. If she occasionally swears, she’s a bad influence and if she avoids expletives she’s a phony. If she wears a low cut top she’s immodest and if not she’s uptight. If she’s religious she’s high and mighty and if Sunday service isn’t on the agenda she’s morally bankrupt. If her house is bigger and better than yours it’s criticized for being gaudy and tasteless. If her hair is better it’s extensions. If her wardrobe is better she’s materialistic. If her circle of friends are intelligent and sophisticated she’s a snob. And God help her if she’s “prettier” than you. Then the gloves REALLY come off. I have a relative of mine and what the world sees is that she has what they seemingly desire. A large, lovely home that is spotless and beautifully appointed. She has an adoring husband, four impossibly beautiful children, a second home for weekend getaways and to top it all off is just as pretty as a girl can be. What many would rather not acknowledge is that she is one of the most thoughtful, kind and utterly lovely people I know. But I can absolutely guarantee that BECAUSE of all this, most women at best avoid her and more likely criticize and condemn her. Why? Because she’s committed the unforgivable crime of being spectacular and so for that, surely she needs to be punished or at least kept at a very safe distance. So why do we develop the defense of keeping other women at arms length? Allow me to offer an example of where the problem lies: I remember talking with a gal I met who by way of conversation went into reasonably colorful detail about being at some airport lounge area and how a married man was hitting on her. As she went on and on about their conversation all I could think of is, “why the hell did this conversation last more than 30 seconds? It can’t possibly take any longer than that to tell him he’s an idiot.” But SHE is one of the reasons why women so often succumb to the ugliness of jealousy. We don’t believe in each other, we don’t trust each other and we therefore have a tremendously difficult time supporting each other. Is this always the tragic state of affairs? Of course not. I feel beyond blessed to know some utterly astonishing, inspiring, confident, encouraging women. If you are one of those lovely creatures, God Bless and keep up the good work. We are all made better by your ability to show us the kind of character and confidence we are capable of not just possessing, but inspiring in others. We can’t all be Oprah, but let’s aim for the stars anyhow. We try valiantly to rise above our selfish ways and consistently declare that we want the best for those we know. But generally the unspoken caveat is that we want the best for them as long as that best isn’t better than what we can lay claim to or consider ourselves capable of. There is a gal I have recently come to know well enough to call and consider a friend. In getting to know her a bit I learned that she throws elaborate and terribly impressive birthday parties for her children. She creates a theme, sews costumes, creates hand tooled invitations and tends to every exacting detail of these extraordinary events. Many women would listen politely about the effort that she puts into these soirees but silently scoff and claim some sort of moral high ground because they are too busy for such concerns. But here is the reality of the situation. Other women can criticize these domestic persuits or acknowledge that her loving efforts take them to task. The truth of the matter is we admire the fact that she has given herself permission to be passionate about such things. This is relevant because I, personally, happen to be a complete lame ass when it comes to my children’s birthdays. So I could offset my own shortcomings by being snide and judgemental about the inordinate amount of time she puts into these unnessary events or I can deeply admire the fact that with every stitch she is creating the fabric of a lifelong memory for her children and I can learn much from her devotion. (I still stand by my philosophy on 1st birthday’s but that another matter entirely.) Imagine for just a moment what would happen if we all spent our energy encouraging and uplifting one another rather than finding ways to take your imagined opponent out at the knees. Imagine if our assessments relied on WHO a person is rather than what they have or how they look. Imagine if we trusted one another’s character and intentions. Imagine if we acknowledged that we are all mortally flawed and are deeply in need one another’s encouragement rather than condemnation. Imagine if we recognized that the only one who’s “judgment” we should concern ourselves with is that of our Creator and that His divine opinion of us would be impressively improved if we spent our mortal moments inciting the best in others vs. allowing the worst in ourselves. If this is not an argument you believe in or are compelled by, try this on for size. The most becoming aspect of another human being is not what they LOOK like, it’s what they LIVE like. Confidence is far more fetching than appearances will ever be. Said a different way, insecurity is an ugliness that will reveal itself much more boldly than the car you drive or the labels you wear. So the next time you find yourself amidst a pack of she-wolves remember that bitch…I mean beauty is in the eye of the Beholder.