I stumbled on this post from Violet Coleman on my Facebook feed. I thought it was so brilliant it deserved it’s very own post. Lots and lots of gems in this! Make sure you read till the end, where Violet gives you some pretty amazing tips on how to maximize your network across race and culture.
The Case of the Jealous Beckys
If this election has taught us ANYTHING, it’s that Becky and her ilk are all talk and will selfishly be Machiavellian in the protection of their position at the top of the feminine hierarchy.
Growing up in a predominantly white, middle-class part of town in the 1990s, I was used to never being “first pick” when it came to boys…or anyone’s pick, really. Essentially, I was out of the middle school/high school dating scene and really only started dating in college where the campus was big and the eligible men so plentiful, I never realized how brutal women, especially white women can be until the past year. Keep in mind I’m almost in my mid-thirties.
This past July, my friend Amy invited me to an invite-only happy hour at a very exclusive bar downtown. I accepted—while Amy and I aren’t the best of friends, we connect and always manage to have a good time together. She’s older than me, in her early-40s, Eastern-European background, blonde, incredible sense of fashion, very pretty, unlucky in love but still optimistic.
I met up with Amy, not bothering to change out of my “librarian chic” work outfit: a shift dress, low heels and hair in a chignon…which is fine, because it fits the “professional happy hour” vibe of the place. Amy, of course, looks fab in her black leather shorts, halter and espadrilles. As we head into the event together, she tells me we’re also meeting up with her friend Kate, another Eastern European girl, though brunette and somewhat less attractive than Amy. I’ve met Kate a couple times before and always found her pleasant. Amy gives me the heads up that Kate is bringing a guy to the party that she JUST met off of Tinder that evening. “Ha! Fun!” I thought.
It was a balmy summer night, the music was getting lit, the crowd was gorgeous, and the mood was fun and light. Amy and I circle the party until we find Kate, who is with two blond men, both attractive, but one of them, Sven, is drop-dead gorgeous. Sven and his friend Karl are Germans in town for one night on business…Karl decided to tag along on Sven and Kate’s “date.” We all introduce ourselves and I make a joke about Sven’s gigantic dimple. It was a teasing joke and Karl riffed off of it with another joke about the dimple and everyone laughed.
Sven and Karl buy everyone a round of champagne. I believe at this point, he asks if I’m single and makes a joke about how the two of us need to combine our genetics and have a kid. I laugh it off and go back to my girlfriends. When we were done that glass he looks right at me and asks if I want another, and I say, sure. He tells me to follow him to the bar and I do. While we’re waiting for the bartender to pour our drinks he flirts with me and doesn’t stop! He tells me I’m beautiful and that we should ditch our friends and find a nice cozy bar to be by ourselves. I, being the “good friend,” refuse and insist that we rejoin our friends. Amy and Kate look like they’re having a great time, but I don’t want them to get the wrong impression of what’s going on…considering he was supposed to be Kate’s Tinder “date”.
I rejoin the group, but Sven doesn’t leave my side, completely ignoring Kate. Amy, Karl, Sven and I decide to go to another bar. Kate says she’s tired and goes home. Sven ignores everyone else and dances with me all night. Amy looks unhappy…pissed off even. When I ask her if she’s okay and put my hand on her shoulder she VIOLENTLY shrugs it off and says “DON’T TOUCH ME, I’M FINE. I didn’t even get to talk to Sven once. I’M GOING HOME” then stomps out of the club.
Sven, who witnesses the whole thing tells me, “don’t worry about it, she’s just being catty.” I know deep down it’s true but I find it hard to believe, that beautiful, fashionable, sweet Amy would be threatened and jealous of me! She didn’t seem so pissed off two weekends ago when the nerdy British tech entrepreneur bought us bottles at a table at one of the most exclusive clubs in the city AND a bottle of champagne after I chatted him up in the elevator on the way up to a rooftop lounge. No, she’s never pissed when she’s BENEFITING from my attracting men who spend money on us, especially if those men aren’t her type (read: older, not conventionally attractive). Interesting.
Sven and Karl send me home in a cab at the end of the night, and next morning, I wake up to the wrath of a scorned Becky via a string of INSANE text messages. I’m accused of “trying to steal Sven away from Kate,” “staking my claim in him,” “not giving anyone a chance to talk and get to know him,” and “throwing myself at him,” and on and on.
Sven later told me that at the first lounge, Kate went up to him and said “You have interesting…taste…” in reference to me. We all know the innuendo there. Heh. At that point he said, he lost all respect for her and was only polite to her because he was her invitee.
I text Amy, apologizing that it must have been crappy for Kate and that I should have said something to her, but that’s as far as my “girl code” obligation went. However, I don’t apologize for the fact that Sven ignored her all evening. That’s not my fault. He’s a grown ass man who can choose who he wants to spend time with! That didn’t stop her from sending me the rudest, most vile text messages all day long.
This whole lesson really opened my eyes to the how angry Becky gets when her position is threatened. It also opened my eyes to how I’m actually perceived by them. Once they learned that I was fair game, the denial set in and the claws came out. Throughout Amy’s texting tirade, she NOT ONCE acknowledged or admitted that maybe, just maybe, Sven was genuinely attracted to me and liked me over the other girls. Either she refused to believe it, she wanted to convince me that he couldn’t be possibly attracted to me, or she intentionally ignored it in an effort to cut me down. BM aren’t the only one with jedi mind tricks.
Regardless, I learned a powerful lesson in those 12 hours, one that unfortunately, shed a new light on unpleasant situations in the past – from work drama, to bickering with friends—could it be that at different points in my life, I threatened a Becky who then decided to “take me down” and remind me of my “place”?
When you spend your life conditioned by society and the media at a time when Becky was the ONLY feminine ideal, you don’t realize that your own beauty, character and personality could pose a threat to their perceived top spot in the hierarchy. If they are threatened, they will ruthlessly do whatever they can to take you down and maintain their position. THIS IS A ZERO SUM GAME, LADIES. And we see that with this U.S. election. This is Becky, collectively fighting to maintain her spot on the pedestal, and so much so that she’s willing to sacrifice the rights and personal safety of others.
How to manage the Becky in your life – A cheat sheet
1. Never, ever, EVER give away too much personal information about yourself. It can be tempting, even when she opens up herself. What I like to do is have one or two stock “secrets” (that have no real weight) that I’m willing to give her if I feel obligated to return the sharing.
2. Keep your personal/romantic life separate from your friendship with her, unless both of your partners are friends.
3. Befriend/align with the unavoidable (i.e. a work colleague) Becky ASAP and infiltrate her clique. If she thinks you’re “one of them” you will disarm her and she will be less threatened.
4. It’s just business, nothing personal. She’s doing what she has to do, and you must too.
5. Go where you’re wanted, if the Becky in your life are causing you too much stress, let her go. If she’s your friend, distance yourself from her. If she’s your colleague be polite but keep your guard up. If she’s your boss, excel at your job and make her look good until your opportunity strikes. If your Becky boss is terrorizing you and intentionally sabotaging your career, consider finding a new job or transferring departments, if you’ve exhausted all other options.
6. Mirror her tactics. We BW are not subtle. We MUST learn the art of nuance or risk coming of confrontational and rude, therefore putting a target on our back and basically handing Becky the evidence needed to shut us down. Be more like Becky: smile to her face, while rallying her allies and appealing to the higher ups, her friends, etc. Backstabbing is Becky’s specialty and a dirty business, but you must learn to out-maneuver and out-master her in it.
7. She can be one of your greatest allies and resources. Her connections, her knowledge and her loyalty can be a powerful tool for you.
8. She can be a loyal friend in your time of need. She’s really not a bad person…she’s doing what human nature dictates: protecting herself and her interests. To be honest, If I’m in trouble or need help, I can count more white people that I’d sooner call than black people…my own family included.
9. Never lose your shine. It’s never worth it.
I’ve mentioned before that two of my best friends are white, but I don’t get it twisted. After the drama this past July, always remember that quiet as it’s kept, Becky will fight tooth and nail to maintain her top position. By any means necessary. Just know that, and strategize accordingly.
P.S. As for Sven? We’re now good friends, and a great option if I ever find myself single. He sends me little gifts and postcards from his business travels around the world, and he was in my city last month, where he treated me to an amazing meal at a five star restaurant. Amy eventually met up with me and apologized for her behavior, I accepted. Though I do notice on social media she doesn’t invite me out dancing with her friends. I’m very okay with that…I only really go out in the summer, anyway and have better things to do. Apparently Amy has also had beefs with two other women (one Jewish, the other East-Indian, hm) in our extended circle…we keep meaning to meet up to exchange notes.