Ending female rivalry: the excesses of envy and jealousy

Ending female rivalry: the excesses of envy and of jealousy


Is it possible to maintain a healthy and natural competition between women without it becoming toxic? Journalist Élisabeth Cadoche and psychotherapist Anne de Montarlot questioned solidarity, sisterhood and the excesses of female envy and jealousy in a hard-hitting book, >End female rivalry.

From the meeting room to the delivery room, on social networks, in the corridors of schools, in leisure activities, female rivalry is at work and the authors expose and dissect it in their book. 

Women, they note, seem to compare all spheres of their lives to those of others: appearance, success, power, love, everything goes. How does this happen and what are the consequences?

During their research on female rivalry, Élisabeth Cadoche and Anne de Montarlot made shocking findings. 

“We realized that female rivalry was not confined to the professional environment, but that it seeped into everything: in friendships, in relationships between sisters and even in mother-daughter relationships, which gave rise to to chilling testimonies,” writes Élisabeth Cadoche, in an email interview.

How can this toxic behavior be explained? 

“This behavior is explained by the fact that, unlike men whose rivalry is accepted, even valued, female rivalry is taboo. Women are always expected to be gentle and kind to others,” she explains.

“So women are deprived of anger and rather than saying things, they nourish the unsaid, resentments, end up spreading rumors and gossip which are formidable weapons. They choose to circumvent, not to confront each other and take the path of passive-aggressive. »

The rivalry is exercised in the same way, whether the women are known or not. 

“What differs is the echo given by the media to their behavior. »

Burn-out and ruptures

This behavior can do a lot of damage, whatever regardless of the person who is the target. 

“It can go as far as burn-outprofessional, to a friendship break-up, or even to a family break-up. We collected the testimony of a young woman who “fleed” the family home at the age of 18 because her mother, narcissistic, was jealous of her and could not bear the femininity of her daughter who sent her back to her age, to the inevitable aging, menopause.

The authors add that female rivalry and backbiting can destroy lives.

“Rumors kill more surely than poison. We evoke in the book a news item that cost the life of a young girl. Without going that far, hateful comments can do considerable damage, destroy your self-confidence for many years and make your life miserable. »

Admire instead of envy

And what can we do, collectively, to change the situation? “If rivalry is one of the consequences of patriarchy, perpetuating it is our responsibility,” explains Élisabeth Cadoche.

“Younger, more beautiful, slimmer, richer: we have all experienced the poison of jealousy. Accepting it is a first step. Stop peddling gossip, commenting on the physique of other women, saying things instead of feeling resentment, bitterness, so many things that will lead us on the path of sorority. »

In a post #MeToo era, the authors found it essential to break the taboos of rivalry, to understand where it came from in order to fight it. Their most important message? “Make women realize that the talent of one does not erase the other and apply the advice of psychiatrist Christophe André: “A remedy for envy is to learn to admire instead of envy.” »  

♦ Élisabeth Cadoche is a journalist and author. She has written fiction, programs and documentary series for television.

♦ Anne de Montarlot became a psychotherapist after a career in New York in finance and advertising. She has been practicing in London for 16 years.


How do you recognize a true friend? Probably because a true friend talks to you openly when something is bothering her, doesn't feel in danger because she thinks you're prettier (which you dispute), sincerely rejoices for you, applauds your successes, enough confidence in her not to feel threatened by your successes, sometimes lacks confidence in her and opens up to you. Conversely, we should not feel guilty for our success or our happiness and be able to share it with our friends. »