You’ve heard of the phenomenon known as crab mentality, surely.
Let me give you the literal picture.
Have you ever seen a bucket of blue crabs?
One crab, on its own, can easily climb up and get out of the bucket. However, just as this one crab reaches the rim, the edge of escape and gets a whiff of the sweet smell of a successful, freeing climb, the other crabs pull it back down – dooming the crab to suffer their collective, miserable fate.
Now, picture women as blue crabs.
The reasoning behind crab mentality is actually pretty simple: envy and competition.
“If I can’t have it, neither can you.”
Some women are just not capable of allowing another to get ahead, to better themselves, even for the greater good. It happens in the workplace, in education, and – in my own experience – in social environments.
I stopped going to PTA meetings a very long time ago. Why? It’s not because I don’t support education or my children in their learning environment. I do. Emphatically. It was the moment I realized the room was full of women who forgot to leave their “mean girls” back in high school.
They carry their designer bags, wear their designer watches and sunglasses, and smile at each other while sharing only the stories they want you to hear. Then they retreat to their cookie cutter homes, drink wine, play bunco, and stab each other in the back. Sometimes, they even punch each other in the face for ridiculous reasons, breaking a nose.
Another day in suburban paradise. No thank you.
I’ve been out of the workplace for a very long time but found the same scenarios of envious game playing. Instead of putting a bug in the ear of a neighborhood peer about someone’s drinking problem or extramarital affair, information gleaned in a mock-sincere heart to heart, the boss is made aware and regardless of of how well one performs their duties, THAT is the information that sadly sticks.
Success and failure dictated by the company we keep is ridiculous. Why does there have to be a better or worse than? Why do we secretly (or not so much) revel in other women’s failures?
If you begin to succeed and find yourself in the company of women who continue to drag you down, it’s time to make choices. This isn’t always easy because sometimes we have to leave people we love behind. However, we need to surround ourselves with other women who, though they may not always agree, allow and respect choices and opinions, are constructive in their criticism, and don’t hold us back with back-biting, petty jealousies.
True friendship and genuine camaraderie is found when the other women around you not only support you when you are down but celebrate you when you are succeeding.
It is very important that you find out who you share your bucket with.
Men compete with brawn but will most times leave the fight in the ring, shake hands or give that ridiculous bro hug and move on.
Women are less forgiving and social isolation is their weapon of choice.
Crab mentality is real. I won’t sit here and proclaim innocence, as if I’ve never participated in the act. Unfortunately, I think it’ the nature of the beast. The curse of the double X chromosome.
However, I have made a conscious decision to do my best not to participate. As a human being, of course I envy and I’m competitive. But, I now see other’s successes as motivation to do work harder, do better. BE better.
I compliment the work and achievements I admire. These women have worked hard and who am I to demean that?
If someone is flailing I don’t revel in it. I offer to help. It’s called getting by with a little help and we all need it.
Most importantly, I try to be a role model for my children, especially my daughters. Crab mentality will never disappear but it can diminish. I’d like my girls to realize that we rise by lifting others up. Not tearing them down.
It’s time to let the crab climb out of the bucket.
Sandy is a wife/mom/cheerleader/chauffeur/tutor/referee/psychologist/nurse to five kids: hers, his, and theirs. When she’s not on a sports field or court of some sort (or the laundry room), she can be found writing about life in it’s sordid reality at Mother of Imperfection.
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