On April 4th, Caroline Jurie humiliated Pushpika De Silva in front of a live audience, including online viewers at the Mrs Sri Lanka beauty pageant. You see, the previous winner had just crowned the new winner and from her body language in the video I watched, she seemed quite ‘off’. I have watched enough of these things to know that previous winners act graciously and pass on the crown with a smile – however, I did not see much of this, perhaps it was because of the information the previous owner claimed to have had. However, not long after crowning the winner, she proceeded to announce that the winner was a divorcee therefore the rules of the contest had been breached – I kid you not, divorcees are not allowed, maybe there is room in the market for a pegeant just for divorcee (these pageants are toxic in the first place). To participate in Mrs Sri Lanka, one has to be married – that in itself is problematic as it is – however, this is one of the rules and Caroline Jurie felt that the rule had been violated by the new winner and she was ready to rectify that violation on stage without any regard for the new winner, Pushpika De Silva.
Caroline Jurie proceeded to then strip the title from Pushpika and then yank the crown off her head – while she was in the process of doing all this, another woman joined her on stage with both acting very aggressive towards Pushpika who later stormed off stage after her crown was yanked from her head. They then went on to crown the first runner up and I could see the shock on the faces of other people on the stage and I am sure on the faces of the audience and the many people watching – I most certainly was shocked as I watched the footage. I asked why these ladies could not wait to have a meeting with the organisers to allow the new winner to offer any explanation regarding her marrital staus. Because it would later come to light that what the ladies did on stage was unnecessary because the winner, was actually separated and not divorced so she was legally married and therefore no rules had been violated. When Pushpika asked for a public apology from Caroline – she refused and Pushpika went ahead to file an assault charge with the police. From anyone watching, you could see pure jealousy at work and another woman was humiliated unnecessarily by other women at her time of being celebrated.
This story got me thinking of the many times I had heard people say women are their own enemies – and while I have always thought there was an element of truth to it, some recent incidents have made me look at this issue closely as well as start conversations this week with friends. When the movie, The Devil Wears Prada came out, people raved about how great a movie it was – however, the movie seemed problematic to me. Meryl Streep’s character was this mean boss who bullied her staff until they bent to her will. There was no room for mistakes – because staff were relegated if they ever made a mistake. How does anyone grow if they are not given the room to make and learn from their mistakes? So I watched Ann Hathaway’s character lose herself to please this toxic female boss and eventually had to leave her role – (and don’t get me started on her unsupportive friends and boyfriend). From my chats with friends, it seemed women bosses are particularly difficult to deal with especially when other women are involved. It almost seemed like these women got a seat at the big table with the top men and they suddenly do not want other women there. I can appreciate how difficult it is to climb to the top as a woman especiallt with the many obstacles in our path – but one thing I have always believed in is mentoring people to attain their full potential.
A close friend spoke of her former female manager – whom we came to nickname ‘Cruella”. This dear friend had to be signed off work for a long time due to the stress and anxiety caused by this female boss. All her efforts were never enough and her ideas would get shot down with no constructive feedback on what needed to be done to achieve what this manager was looking for. So my friend kept submitting reports, ideas and over working herselt until she became ill from all of it. When she brought up her concerns she was labelled aggressive in how she expressed herself and she found herself having to defend herself constantly from this woman’s accusations. Luckily, other people started complaining about this woman and she was removed from her position. I remember talking to another friend who had a female boss who would hold meetings and talk over everyone at the meeting – every time someone tried to explain something, she would correct them unnecessarily and ignore people’s comments. My friend observed that this woman did not act this way when in meetings with her male colleagues in senior management – this behaviour always came out when she met with people who reported to her and most times it was women at the receiving end. My friend eventually left the organisation – she recalled when an opportunity came for another woman in the organisation to progress, against the objection of members of her team, this female manager went ahead and refused to allow this person to progress opting to look outside the organisation. This was a pattern with this female manager and the only way to beat it was to leave the organisation.
When I looked at all these stories, I could see why people said women are their own enemies – being a religious person, I have seen this same behaviour in church also. There are several instances where women leaders in church have ostracised other women because they had not met a certain standard set in the church without room to understand and support. A particular issue is women marriage counsellors in church who blame wives for their husband’s infidelity – at a time when they could hold their sister’s hand and help her through a difficult time, they apportion blame. I know people that have become weary of females in leadership especially women they report to. I also know that many women have used this same saying when it comes to the other woman in their relationships – I still stand by my post about why men cannot be snatched. It is hard to navigate life as it is already – no one needs the added pressure of a tyrannical female in a place of privilege standing in their way.
The ladies in the beauty contest incident in Sri Lanka could have resolved their issues off stage therefore protecting the dignity of the new winner. And when it comes to female bosses, when other women join your team, look for ways to mentor people and allow others to bring their ideas to the table with a view of encouraging other women to attain leadership – there is strength in numbers. We women have so many obstacles before us as it is already – if you are not able to help another woman reach their potential, please don’t stand in her way. I know we cannot help everyone and not every woman may want to be a in a place of leadership – but that does not mean you talk over them, belittle/humiliate them or make their feelings irrelevant. Not everyone will. be a leader – but we are all human and respect is mutual.
Thank you for always getting in touch and sharing your stories – please continue to share your experiences so we can effect the change we need.