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Real Talk: Your Sisters Aren't Your Competitors

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Rihanna 8
Rihanna's been making the rounds on late night promoting her debut film Battleship (out this May), and along the way she's been sharing some interesting thoughts. Recently she visited British TV’s The Jonathan Ross Show and shared her point of view on Adele, who recently swept at the Grammys.

"It will always be a competition," Rihanna said. "[Women are] very competitive beings and we cannot stand to see another woman do better than us, you know, that bothers us a lot. As much as you guys have egos, our egos are a little bigger. We're just a lot better at hiding them."

Eh... Of course, women have egos; all humans do. But I'd argue that not wanting to see another woman do better isn't a female trait — it’s the mark of an insecure person.

There's a type of woman who loves to see other women shine, especially if she's in the same field. She knows that acceptance of her colleague makes it easier for others coming behind her, and she looks at the woman making moves she hasn't yet as a woman who opens doors. She also looks at that woman’s successful moves and finds ways to adapt them so she can also reach the same heights and even go beyond.

Then there's another type of woman, the one Rihanna speaks of, who feels upset over another woman getting what she doesn’t yet have. This is the type of woman who sees every other woman with potential as getting in her lane and threatening what she’s accomplished.

"Many women are caught up in being the only," a female friend of mine explained. My friend is a popular TV personality, one of the few faces of color on one of your favorite channels. We were at a meeting discussing why there are too few brown female faces in high places, and what women could do to change that. Of course, there are many reasons that we're scattered instead of saturating markets, but one of them, she argued, is because we’ve bought into the hype that there’s only room for one of us.

In recalling her ascent from the woman who was struggling to be put on to the woman who is making her mark, she recalled the way that she was shaded. There were women — black and white alike — who were far ahead of her in her career, women she’d reached out to for mentorship but who weren’t receptive to helping her. In fact, they seemed to go our of their way to block her at every possible turn. They weren’t obligated to help her, of course, but she wondered how much stronger women’s numbers could be at the top if they let go of thinking of themselves as singular entities and worked together. “Men see other talented men and see collaborators,” she said. “We see competition. And it’s killing us.”

Do you see other successful women as inspiration or competition?

Demetria L. Lucas is the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria), in stores now. Follow her on Twitter @abelleinbk
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