Monday Notes: Talking About Women Behind Their Backs and Women’s Empowerment

Where does talking about women behind their backs fit into women’s empowerment? I was faced with answering this question for myself after three different circumstances occurred over the course of two months.

talking_people2Situation #1 is a combination of many experiences. It usually starts in a group DM. One person may say, “Hey, did you know that Sally did blah, blah, blah?” And because we all know Sally, but Sally’s not in the group, a conversation and judgments about her may ensue. I have been known to either start this type of dialogue, participate in the conversation, or throw in an lol or appropriate gif.

Situation #2 is also a common one I’ve found myself in. Two women don’t know each other, but for some reason have crossed one another’s paths. I associate with both women. Sally does something Sue doesn’t like and because I know both, I’m listening to each share their dislikes. I may also interfere by throwing in a, “Hey why don’t you think about it this way” because I feel a sense of loyalty to both and I’m equally associated.

teaSituation #3 surfaces every now and then. Again, it begins with my knowing two women, who also may know one another, but aren’t necessarily friends. Sue asks me a question about Sally. Just for the sake of example, it could be something like, “Why does she always wear her pants backwards?” Because I know Sally and I have insight into why her pants are always backwards, I answer. I never tell Sally; however, I do secretly continue this defense of her and her backwards-pants wearing.

I’ve decided participating in any future, similar conversations is wrong. Here’s why.

Many of you know my overall goal is to raise women’s consciousness; however, how can I be raising women’s consciousness in one breath, while talking about women behind their backs in another?

I can’t. It’s out of alignment. And I won’t be doing it anymore.

From here on out, I will not be discussing other women in the confines of text messages, DMs, or lunch dates. I also won’t be listening to other women discuss and judge women I know (or don’t know). My new direct phrase will be: Let’s talk about all the amazing things going on in your life and what you’re doing (or something similar). And finally, if someone wants to know why Sally always wears her pants backwards, I’m going to suggest that they pick up the phone and ask Sally.

Women’s empowerment is about more than writing, blogging, or speaking engagements, where women share their wounds and heal. It’s about not creating more cuts for someone we each refer to as “sis.” It’s about the way we carry ourselves when no one’s looking. This includes private conversations.

Let me know what you think, if you can relate to either of these situations, or if you have another one to share.

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53 thoughts on “Monday Notes: Talking About Women Behind Their Backs and Women’s Empowerment

  1. I can’t give you just one example, it happens all the time everywhere around .
    As I am reaching 50, so now I have managed to ignore. And surprisingly we have so much to talk about so many different things, but still as you said, people are stuck with only…. Sally did this and that .. Blah.. blah.. blah.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Deeksha, you’re absolutely right. There are SO many other things to discuss other than someone else’s life and business. I think the more each of us ignores this behavior, the more we’ll shift conversation and actions.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. For me, it looks like a person becoming more self aware and less reliant on external “things” to bring her happiness. It looks a lot like taking responsibility for one’s life and making conscious choices along the way ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I can relate to this so much! I always get uncomfortable when people start talking bout another person and don’t know how to react. I often say nothing except hmmm or some similar response. I love the idea of saying let’s talk about the fabulous!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Becoming aware of not walking my own talk, was a very recent discovery I made about myself. Hence my proposal to ‘three ladies’ to talk about integrity 😉
    Indeed, it’s an easy trap to step into, talking about someone behind his/her back. One of the worst examples of this; making fun of someone behind his/her back, but in public engage with that person in a way the person thinks she/he is valued.
    There are situations I can think of, it is OK to talk behind someone’s back, however. For instance, in mental health related issues.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. For instance, one of my fathers went through a emotional breakdown last year and due to mis-medication he had an psychotic episode. For over 6 months the closest family members had to talk behind his back for his safety and that of my mother.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Yeah, those are all forms of gossip, and I stopped doing them some years ago. I am usually pretty good at deflecting/redirecting those types of conversations–or letting people vent but not participating. (Sometimes the latter is necessary, but I only allow certain people to do it because I can operate as a safe person for them. Still, though, I don’t participate or offer answers. I usually say something like “that’s too bad” or “I wish it could be different” and keep it moving.)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yep, those conversation always feel kinda dirty and wrong even though there could be relish in the moment of venting or having your ‘rightness’ validated. Nice one Kathy…also like you sample response bringing focus back to positive things the other person can share. It’s a good internal reminder too to shift that focus on ourselves and sharing what’s positive in our lives when we start descending into the lower vibrations.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely Mek. And thank you. Awareness is important to me (as you know), so I’m always looking for the lesson and the growth in each situation. This one is big and has already forced me consciously think about how I speak to and about others.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I feel like I am going through the very same process at the moment in my personal and professional life…can’t operate with integrity if I don’t tell it like it is to a person’s face rather than seek counsel (i.e. gossip) behind their backs.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I love this post. I would get labeled Little Farrakhan because as a very young woman I refused to talk about other women behind their backs. I saw this growing up among my Auntie’s and Neighbors. I saw the devastating effect it had on my favorite Aunt Essie.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Mozayik! That is awesome. I love how early experiences shape us to view things differently. That’s pretty cool that you chose to not participate because you saw the ill effects/affects.

      Like

  7. I think the scenario you describe in all these situations is referred to as gossiping. 🙂 It is ugly yet enticing. That is, it’s easy to find oneself in the middle of it without realising, when you were sucked in. We all can be better off without it. Brilliant and thought-provoking post as usual!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. LOL I literally laughed really loud out loud Khaya. Yes, I suppose it’s just good-ole fashioned gossiping. It’s extremely enticing, especially when it comes with hushed tones as if you’re the only one they’ve told this thing to about this person. Thanks for the compliment ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I always find myself getting caught in the middle of gossip too. And it’s usually between people I feel loyalty towards each side. But, I have a severe condition of diarrhea-of-the-mouth, so I’ve started telling the women I know, “If you tell me anything you want to keep secret, I promise I’m going to tell the other woman.”

    Interestingly enough, I’m not involved in as many conversations anymore…lol

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That’s the part right there Lennon…would YOU want someone doing this to YOU??? The answer is usually no, but we forget the basics, do unto others…and all that jazz ❤

      Like

  9. Sneak Dissing? That’s a new one on me. It must be generational. I doubt people in their 60’s would even know about that. Lol. But I could totally see one of my nieces doing it. Holy moly! And we wonder why everyone is so negative? Wow! I learned something new today. 😳

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Lol. Yes. I’m not sure if that’s the “official,” name for it, but sneak dissing is what I call it. You are not directly speaking to the person or pulling them to the side like an adult. Instead, you log into Facebook and create a post about the situation, speaking of the person in a sneaky, indirect, and roundabout way. Sneak dissing 😂🤣

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Oh yes, you are so right, Yecheilyah! I know this first hand; the ‘sneak dissing’. Thanks for the term. 😀 People I deemed close and decent at that, have no qualms airing their disagreements with me on social media instead of picking up a phone or shooting an email. A very sad state of affairs. 😦

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Very sad indeed. That’s so childish. I’m sorry you had to endure that. It really just takes a second to email or privately DM. No need to shame people in public. As the saying goes, “learn to fix people’s crowns without letting the world know it needed fixing.”

        Liked by 4 people

  10. You are absolutely correct. If we want to empower ourselves and push for equality then we must stop this ridiculous behavior. We have to support our sisters rather than tearing them down. I’m usually the one who finds a positive thing to say about others. Not that I haven’t been sucked in now and then. Gossip can be enticing.
    The problem is that because of past historical roles of women, gossiping became a social event for our sisters in days gone by. Women were so consumed with cooking, cleaning and taking care of children that when they finally got together with other women in cooking groups, quilting or sewing gatherings, and they found themselves with an opportunity to chat, they gossiped for fun.

    If I think about my grandmother who was born in the 1890’s, and bless her heart lived to 103, she loved to gossip. It was her entertainment. I remember being little and after a funeral (children weren’t allowed to attend the actual funeral ) but we went to sit “shiva” and gathered to pay our respects at the home of the deceased, then all the families in the community brought food.

    Being the oldest girl cousin I sat with the women and listened. A lot of the conversations were in Yiddish and so I couldn’t understand it but I remember my grandmother talking about the deceased and saying she never looked better. At least she was dressed nicely. Everyone laughed. I recall being shocked. Later I asked my mom about it. She said the lady who passed was a known gossip so the women were finally getting back at her. It still bothered me.
    I heard my mother and her friends talk about others too when they gathered to play maj jung. It was entertainment to them. These women didn’t work outside the home. They didn’t have modern conveniences and so when they got together and weren’t consumed with housework, they talked about other people. Society set up social gatherings as gossip meetings. This was the middle-class of the 1950’s I saw growing up.
    I was a working mom in the 70’s. A single working mother often going from one job to another. So, I never had time to worry about gossiping. Plus being divorced I was the target of gossip. Not very many women were divorced back then and I might as well been wearing a scarlet letter D on my chest. And because I was young and attractive and single other moms didn’t want me around their husbands. As if because I was divorced I’d want some one already taken? So I’ve never liked gossip.
    And now that I am retired and living in an over 55 community I find it’s a past time for many of my older neighbors. They have nothing else to fill their lives so gossip is their entertainment.
    Ive been a feminist for most of my life. I’ve always danced to the beat of my own drum so judging others for anything but unkindness has been off my radar. If we want to advance in society we can’t tear one another down. It’s pretty simple. United we stand, divided we fall. ✌️

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lesley, I love to see your name in the comments because I know a good, juicy (and relevant) story is going to follow ❤

      With that said, man…your examples really show how cultural gossiping is. I can see how this has been passed down through the generations, and even though we have busier lives, we still find time to gossip, especially given today's instant messaging feature.

      Also, I have to add I'm amazed by how insecure we are as women. Not inviting you to functions will not stop their husbands from cheating, if that's what they wanted to do…and it shows how they don't trust you. I always say, "if I can't trust someone around my husband, then we don't need to be friends."

      Liked by 1 person

      1. KE I can’t help but share a story. Lol But there is certainly “Method to my madness.” For women it is indeed cultural. No matter where we are from… it began because we had but one function really, to become wives and mothers and take care of the family. Our own creative needs were denied since the beginning of time. So women did the best they could do to make their time together with other women creative. They talked. They made up stories.
        If you think about it, why are Jane Austen ‘s books still popular today? Her realistic dialogue is still unbelievably 3 dimensional. She had to have listened to women around her and gave them a voice in her novels. Think of “Emma” and all the gossip…. and if you’ve ever read her unpublished (until after she died) “Lady Susan” – a terribly dislikable heroine -yet wickedly self centered and charming in her own way. You just know she based it on someone who was gossiped about in her country community. It’s like we women through the ages were raised to gossip. Probably because we didn’t have careers. It’s what women did. And I suppose it’s carried over til this day. That was my point. It’s always been around. I thought my generation would change it. But clearly that didn’t happen and the Kardashians have made it more popular than ever. And yes, every culture gossips. Hopefully, we as modern women can take the right steps in improving our girl’s self esteem. With empowerment comes self esteem and less need to gossip and shame other women. The one thing I notice working with young spoken word poets is that there are so many young writers who find their voice thru poetry so they don’t feel the need to gossip. They’d rather write instead. And that’s a beautiful thing!

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Very well put. I think we’ve all been in a situation like this before. It’s so easy to get caught up in a conversation that, if we’re not careful, turns into a gossip session about someone else. Reading this made me think about another most disturbing thing about this topic that I notice and that we now have to consider in the age of social media: Sneak Dissing, also known as talking negatively about people indirectly through SM posts. (as if people are too stupid to know you are obviously talking about them smh lol)

    Sneak dissing is like the new technical way of talking behind someone’s back. In the age of information (when we have text messaging, group texts, email, tagging, DM and the like), it’s weak for anyone to choose instead to speak about someone else indirectly through a post. We must be careful when sharing our thoughts and emotions online and cautious of using SM to vent, especially about other people. (I wouldn’t actually recommend venting on SM at all. I prefer people to find them someone trustworthy they can talk to and then if they decide to, share the experience on SM only as a lesson learned so that it’s coming from a healed place.)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for adding this girl!

      I’ve sneak dissed a couple of people lol However, I typically say something to the person first (not that this makes it any better), then if their response is wack or non-receptive, then I’ve done my sneak diss post. I’ll add this to my list of things not to do anymore too, because you’re right. It’s an immature way to handle any situation.

      Liked by 1 person

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