The truth is– people don’t like the truth. They love deception. Even if they insist on getting it, when they do, they reject it. If you spoke the truth all the time, you would have no friends, no job, or worse, no life. The truth puts you in harm’s way. Our lives are full of the little deceptions we contrive first for ourselves and then for others in order to survive. We have evolved as a species veiling our intentions behind verneers of verisimilitude—saying things that fit the occasion in a glossy finish. We could not really expose the raw truth—that would be too much to bear.
I remember as a young naïve journalist publishing an article that criticized the Greek church for racism and bigotry. I put it out there how undiverse it was as a social institution it served only the insiders and was a way for all those respectable fathers of families and heads of church and state to feel so good about themselves. That was the last article I published. The editor pulled my weekly column and the publisher paid me only one-third of what he had agreed to pay in the contract. The other writer on staff abjectly commented, “You know we are never to write about those things. Don’t you know that?”
Apparently I believed a journalist was supposed to tell the truth no matter how offensive it might be to readers.
It turns out not only the public can’t stand for the truth, women in their communication with each other cannot stand to tell it either. Women are good at building on layers of deception. They have been masters of the art of camouflaged nuanced conversation due to their secondary citizen status. When you are unable to yield power head on, you resort to plucking it from the sides, from behind, torqueing your chiffon veils around it and tickling the bearded hairs under its chin.
This is why I have trouble relating to women. I am led to believe that I can disclose intimacies without fear because of my natural inclination to support them as the underdog. This has led to my disappointment and betrayal at my uncovering the ostracism, cynicism, outright aggression sugarcoated behind passing commentary or more likely non-speech and smugness. Women have a way of shouting through silence. Just when I think I can trust a woman they turn out revealing how much they don’t trust me. They turn from trusted confidante to wackadoo rogue bitch. This has not only happened on one isolated occasion. It keeps happening to me so much so that with each successive broken off relationship, I suspect this is a pattern. None of my female friendships has lasted. Not one.
I believe this is partly due to the way women communicate. Underneath so many layers of concealing/revealing and veiled hints of innuendo, I can never really tell where I stand. The way women communicate with each other is perplexing. It starts while they are still young. Two or three girls may share an intimate bond and sometimes just before the first fit and start of a hormonal spurt, two will gang up against the third. The verbal/non-verbal bullying will begin. Mary and Jane will “forget” to invite Jessica about an event. They will appear apologetic on the surface but underneath they will be seething or hiding contempt. Perhaps its stems from insecurity; each follows the magnetism of the social hierarch registering just an iota above the crowd for that day.
In time shifting allowances will leave a girl by herself. Her “frenemies,” trusted individuals who she spent many a happy birthday and sleepover with, will no longer consider her part of the inner circle. Female friendships will be forgotten. Your “bestie” becomes your “beastie” who will refuse to talk to you for years
Women cannot be honest with each other because they fear the repercussions of exposing their psychological truth—that they are envious, competitive, insecure. They have never been taught to relate their differences and disappointments in a direct way, in a way that does not insult the subject or humiliate the discloser. Unlike boys who overtly display aggression, talking through their differences in fists on the playing field, girls attack behind the back and launch missiles from afar. They harbor resentment for years because they do not play fair. They become masters of coating and recoating the truth so that someone not trained in the subtleties of women’s (non) communication will not be able to parse the real message from the overlay. They will not be able to discern the truth. Speaking to women can be mystifying because of this—they say one thing but mean another. It’s your fault if you cannot decipher what they really needed to communicate. The complexity of what women really mean over what they say or express is more dense than a chunk of the Grand Canyon. Men, whose communication strategy is more direct, are left scratching their heads.
The inability for women to trust each other and support each other through their communication strategy is at the crux of why feminism is doomed to fail. Unless women, especially women from traditional patriarchal cultures, can put aside their internalization of the patriarchy—the gnawing undercurrents of self-doubt, mistrust, and envy that arise during their interactions with each other, women will always remain second-class citizens. Their social bonds will be fragile, not allowing them to connect socially, financially, or politically. And that, my friends, is the honest-to-God truth.