A Special Place is a new weekly series in which we’ll cover all of the special places in hell and who might reside there. Since the series was inspired by the great Madeleine Albright, it only made sense to kick it off with the OG inspiration herself.
When Hillary Clinton was campaigning for President, Madeleine Albright said, “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.” The time and place might have been off; not every woman in the United States could (or should) have been expected to support Hillary just because she was a woman (Albright herself acknowledged that after the fact) but that doesn’t mean her statement, when applied to the day-to-day occurrences, the workplace and our general approach to life, doesn’t ring true.
As a woman, I know what it feels like to be insecure in my own body, in my career, in my role within my household, in my place within society and even within my own social circles. Insecurity plays a big role in the things we say and do, the way we treat people and the way in which we interact with the world around us. I know what it feels like to want to hide in the shadow or cower in the corner. I know what it feels like to want to believe everyone has it out for you. I know what it feels like to not feel worthy.
I know first hand how crippling and toxic insecurity can be, but I also know my insecurities are my responsibility and no one else’s. They’re mine to sort out, to take time to work on and to own. If not handled with care, my insecurities are bound to rear their ugly heads and begin to affect the quality of the lives around me. And I think we can all agree there is nothing worse than an insecure woman who can’t find the willpower, especially within the workplace, to at least pretend to care about the wellbeing of the women around her.
So many of us know what that feels like to be the target of a woman’s insecurity, to be treated as less because a woman in power needed to feel like more, to report to a woman who abuses her power and takes advantage of the women around her in order to climb that proverbial ladder of success, what it feels like to be backed into a corner because you refused to play a significant role in an insecure woman’s master game of mindfucking and how tiring it can be to fight every urge to play said game, especially when you’re confident you could do it better. We’ve all known that one boss, classmate, manager or coworker who just couldn’t help herself, who triggered collective eye rolls whenever she spoke or an instant feeling of dread whenever she walked in the room.
As a younger generation of females, high on the female empowerment and inspired by women’s movement, begin to infiltrate a working environment spotted with women who came before us, specifically the women who have been hardened by a lack of support throughout their career, the women who were trained and influenced by women before them who got where they are by backstabbing and manipulating their female counterparts while working hard to charm the men in charge (and are now trying to do the same), how do we maintain a position of support and understanding? When our greatest enemies are the women we’ve been raised to respect, look up to and call our mentors, how do we stay above the fold, maintain our composure, continue to show them respect and support and still climb towards our goals without having to stoop to their level?
I don’t have the answers but I do know one thing. We’d all be much better off if more women owned their insecurities and handled them with care, because if there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other and we can’t even help ourselves, we sure as hell won’t be able to help anyone else.