"Sometimes healthy competition for what we want turns into a problematic desire to have something merely because a rival already has it. This is not just based on what we want, but also on what we don’t want our perceived rival to have,” writes author, Susan, Barash in her book “Tripping the Prom Queen: The truth about Women and Rivalry.”
Seventy percent of the five hundred women interviewed said they were familiar with the concept Barash writes about. Barash is a professor of gender studies at Marymount Manhattan College in New York and became fascinated by women's relationship. Can sisters, mothers and best friends be jealous and supportive at the same time? In fact she found that rivalry and envy often pervades female relationships.
The women were interviewed on female competition. The study revealed that many women are competitively mean. In her book, Barash outlines why women compete with each other differently than men do with other men and why women often want to sabotage powerful female rivals.
Envy and jealousy provide the basis for most of the competition and rivalry between women. This is clear through Barash's examples of women's friendships ending when one is getting married and the other is perpetually single, or one gets pregnant when another has been tirelessly trying to have children sans success, or one is promoted to a position another has had her eye on for longer. When someone gets something you want, it's natural to feel jealous because you have lost this supposed competition between the two of you.
Male competition is goal-oriented and limited, Barash says, while women compete over appearance, children, the workplace and relationships. Why? According to Barash, for women, competition is about identity and relationships, and they have a harder time setting boundaries to competition.
Barash devotes chapters to specific areas of competition, from looks to career, and then presents real-life examples of situations in which resentment and jealousy can be used to improve one's life without destroying anyone else's. Overall, the study provides a helpful starting place for any woman wondering if it's possible to get what she wants without hurting or being hurt."
The unfortunate yet undeniable fact drawn from the interviews and her book is that all types of women of all ages are constantly in competition with each other unless they are able to realize it and make an effort to stop.
“Chaldean church leaders have long taught of the sins of envy and its nurturing root; jealousy,” says Frank Dado, writer and student of theology and psychology. “Many don’t want to hear this, because they are drowning in the competition of consumerism and their self-identify is tied to what they have that others do not have. I am sure I will get plenty of hate mail on reminding people that the tenth commandment states, ‘thou shall not covet’ and in Mathew chapter six paragraph 21 we are told, ‘For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.’”
Dado says the Catechist teaches that the tenth commandment requires that envy be banished from the human heart. “The Bible gives numerous examples like in Samuel 12:14, when the prophet Nathan tried to get King David to repent he told him about a poor man who had only one lamb that he treated like his own daughter. But there was a rich man who, despite having flocks of sheep, envied the poor man and stole his rival’s one lamb. Envy can lead to the worst crimes. The wise have often said, ‘Through the devil's envy death entered the world.’”
For Chaldeans and others who embrace the Catholic faith, envy is a capital sin. It refers to the sadness or anger at the knowledge of another's goods. For some people it is so bad it grows into the immoderate desire to acquire the goods for oneself or obstruct another from their rightful gain, even unjustly. When the person wishes grave harm to a neighbor it is a mortal sin. St. Augustine saw envy as "the diabolical sin and from envy are born hatred, detraction, calumny, joy caused by the misfortune of a neighbor, and displeasure caused by his prosperity and lack of voluntary humility."
The Bible speaks of voluntary humility as "poverty in spirit"; clarifies Dado. “The Lord grieves over the rich, because they find their consolation in the abundance of goods.”
Both Barash and Dado agree that to combat the urges of envy one might practice good-will, humility, charity, and strengthen their faith to the providence of God.
Personal Development professional Charles Gallozi writes, “Envy is the mud that failures throw at success. To be envious is to regret one's failure to achieve good fortune or to regret the successes of others.”
He continues that those that envy often have a false sense of entitlement. “Instead of working for what they want, envious people may believe they deserve it merely because they want it. Also, in their twisted perspective, they may imagine that the gains of others have been taken from them, so they are filled with resentment. The envious suffer twice, when they don't succeed and when others do. Their negative attitude makes them unpopular, which further escalates their envy.”
Gallozi’s take on envy is categorized in two stages. The first is does not harm others, but as envy grows and more resources are made available to an envious person the enter stage two. In Stage two envious people, groups, or businesses act maliciously.
Gallozi writes, “they usually begin by criticizing and maligning others, as well as lying and spreading rumors. Although the envious are troublesome to others, they are a torment to themselves.”
Like Dado and Barash, Gallozi writes that the cure for envy is goodwill, benevolence, and generosity.