A few months ago, it was that New York Times article on “Emerging Adulthood.” Now the thing that people can’t stop telling me about is The View‘s former co-host Lisa Ling coming out about her miscarriage.
Don’t get me wrong. I am glad that celebrities also have miscarriages, and I am glad when they are brave enough to talk about them. (Lily Allen said of her first miscarriage, “I was really depressed… and I… kind of lost the plot a bit,” which is heartbreakingly accurate.) And I am glad that my friends are making the connection between celebrity miscarriages and my blog, because I’m pretty sure this means they also consider me a celebrity.
Back to Lisa Ling. I guess the story goes that her miscarriage inspired her to start a website, The Secret Society of Women, where women could anonymously confess their secrets, ask their questions, and share their wisdom with each other. A good idea in theory, especially because many women are afraid to talk openly about things like divorce and miscarriage. (I know I am an anomaly in this.)
The problem with Ling’s website is this: it allows women to anonymously confess their secrets, ask their questions, and share their wisdom with each other. And women – especially women who know they won’t have to answer for themselves later – are catty and bitchy and haughty creatures. Couple that comfortable anonymity with the touchy subjects of love, marriage, family, and babies, and you have a virtual plague of unsolicited advice and berating. From what I read, perusing the site for a few minutes, I would be terrified to post anything there, knowing that for every woman who answered with the intent of building me up, there would be five more who were all too excited to tear me down.
Maybe this is a little rash and unfair. But I am slow to trust women I don’t know as it is, so opening myself up to a whole internet of unfamiliar women just sounds like a nightmare. Even though, technically, that’s what I do here, I feel safe here; like I have all the time and space I need to prove myself and explain myself, and like the people reading this know me because of it (even if they don’t all know me in real life). We women were biologically programmed, I believe, to love and support each other – to hold the tribe together while the men were out hunting – but somewhere along the way, we’ve been conditioned to do the opposite: we make snap judgments about each other; we constantly place ourselves in competition with one another; we use each other as stepping stones, to make ourselves look better and feel better.
We are ridiculous.
As for Ling’s Secret Society, maybe it’s because the conversations are all in print, where tone of voice and intent get lost in the uniform lines of letters, but I do not believe the site is serving its intended purpose. Or maybe I’m just looking at it through the eyes of a woman who is quick to make snap-judgments about other women.