‘Cause Girls Should Stick Together*

As this is posted, it’s International Women’s Day. It’s no secret that women still have a long way to go to achieve equity. I could list all sorts of examples to show that, but I won’t. You know them, I’m sure, already. One of the ways that we can do something about that inequity is for women to support each other. When women support one another instead of competing, this makes all the difference. Case in point: I have a friend who writes quality crime fiction. Instead of competing (because what’s the point?), we serve as beta readers for one another. Her success helps me, and I hope mine helps her. That’s the sort of support I mean. It’s there in real life, and there are some interesting examples in crime fiction, too.

For instance, in Agatha Christie’s The Man in the Brown Suit, Anne Bedingfield is drawn into a case of international intrigue, stolen jewels, and murder. After her father’s death, Anne is left at loose ends. She knows she doesn’t want to stay in London, but she’s not sure what else to do. She spontaneously books passage on a ship bound for Cape Town, and that decision gets her in quite a lot of danger. On the ship, she meets Suzanne Blair, a very independent older woman who befriends Anne. She supports Anne, gets her out of trouble, and becomes a trusted ally. And, in the end, it’s clear that they are going to be lifelong friends. Suzanne reaches out to Anne, and that makes all the difference for both women.

Lisa Scottoline’s Mary DiNunzio is a skilled attorney. Benny Rosato is the owner of a Philadelphia law firm. Together they get involved in several different mysteries as they take on different legal cases. Benny is in the position of authority, but rather than undermining or running down the other attorneys (including Mary), she supports them. She helps them get the resources they need, she takes an interest in them, and she brings her own expertise to the firm. These lawyers don’t compete; instead, they work together and help each other. In that way, the whole firm does better.

Fans of Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs will know that she started life as a maid. And in the pre-WW I society in which she lived, she’d have been likely to stay in that position for the rest of her life. As it happened, though, she worked in the home of Lady Rowan Compton, who took an interest in her. Lady Rowan saw Maisie’s intelligence and promise and decided to sponsor her. She arranged for Maisie to be educated and supported her idea to become a private detective. And Lady Rowan has been very helpful in getting Maisie’s career going. She’s referred clients, and otherwise makes sure that the ‘right’ people know about Maisie. Instead of keeping Maisie ‘in her place,’ Lady Rowan has boosted her.

Leigh Redhead’s Simone Kirsch is a Melbourne-based former stripper who’s started a career as a private investigator. She originally wanted to be a police detective, but wasn’t able to make that happen. Still, she’s making progress as a PI. Her best friend Chloe Wozniak is also a former stripper who now owns her own escort business. The two find ways to help each other, and it ends up boosting both of them. Chloe has background information on a lot of people in the industry; for her part, Simone is able to find answers that Chloe sometimes needs. Together they do better than either would separately, particularly in an industry that can be hard on women.

And then there’s Lauren Roche’s Mila and the Bone Man. Mila has always had the instincts of a healer. Her mother and, especially, her Aunty Cath, have done what they could to teach her the skills she needs to know. But tragedy leaves the family devastated. When Mila is a child, her younger sister tragically dies. Everyone is torn apart, but the family members do try to help each other. Then, a few years later, another tragedy strikes, and this time, Mila leaves. She makes her way to Auckland, where she begins to train as a nurse. But she is eventually drawn back to her hometown at the northernmost part of New Zealand’s North Island. As she puts the pieces of her life back together, we see how Aunty Cath supports her and helps her get started. Mila’s mother has her own issues, but Mila stands by her and helps. And all three of them teach and support the next generation.

And that’s the thing about women supporting other women. We all do better if we boost each other and help each other, and together, we do more than any of us could alone. So, if you have the chance, look behind you and help younger women making the ‘career climb.’ Lend an ear (or a shoulder) to those who need it. Other women don’t have to be competition – they are allies.

ps. The ’photo is of Nikki Hamblin (NZ)(L) and Abby D’Agostino (US) (R) who were competing in the women’s 5,000 m race at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. During the qualifying run, D’Agostino accidentally bumped into Hamblin from behind. Both women fell, and D’Agostino hurt her ankle. Instead of leaving Hamblin on the ground, D’Agostino stayed until Hamblin got up. Instead of abandoning her injured fellow runner, Hamblin helped D’Agostino across the finish line. They might not have won that race, but both made it to the finals. That’s women supporting each other.

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Candy Dulfer’s Girls Should Stick Together (For Nada).



14 thoughts on “‘Cause Girls Should Stick Together*

  1. Yes, indeed! Apart from anything else, it makes the world a much pleasanter place when we all reach out to help each other rather than trying to beat each other! I like in Val McDermid’s current series how her established detective Karen Pirie now has a young woman officer working for her in a junior position, and Karen sees it as part of her role to give the newcomer all the support and benefit of her experience that she can. It makes a pleasant change to some of the bullying bosses that infest crime fiction!


    1. Oh, absolutely, FictionFan! It’s so much better, I think, when people reach out rather than try to sabotage others. And I think things just get done better with more than one head, so to speak. Thanks, too, for mentioning the Karen Pirie series. I do like it that McDermid shows her supporting the newcomer and helping make that transition easier. I hope that happens more in real life than it does in some crime fiction stories! And honestly, it makes for a better team, and therefore, better work.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Margot, Thanks for this excellent post celebrating women supporting other women in their endeavors. It is good to have literature that showcases this behavior too.


    1. Thanks, Tracy. I’m really glad you enjoyed the post. And I agree: it’s nice when books show this side of people’s characters. I think it helps us all to be better.


  3. So much to agree with in your post, Margot. I wish all women felt like that, I really do. I’ve read two of your examples, The Man in the Brown Suit and the Maisie Dobbs books, Maisie is a great mentor herself, helping Billy to improve his and his family’s life by teaching him to detect. And there’s a woman she helps by giving her a job in the office but I can’t remember her name. Athletics (Track and Field) is my favourite sport to watch so I loved the example you gave of the two female athletes helping each other.


    1. You’re quite right about Maisie, Cath. She really does reach out and help others, doesn’t she? I’m glad you’ve read The Man in the Brown Suit, too. I’ve always thought it was a fun story. And the Hamblin/D’Agostino story is, to me, one of the shining lights of the 2018 Olympic Games.


  4. Good post Margot. I would be interested in your thoughts on the following. Women athletes especially in sports such as hockey and soccer have been trying hard to establish professional leagues. As I have watched efforts I do not see women professionals and businesswomen putting significant money into women’s sports. There are occasional examples but not sustained money. There are many women who could invest in women’s sports. Do you think my observation is correct? If so, are women putting their money to other purposes or is there a different reason money is not flowing from women into sports.


    1. Thanks, Bill. You really raise an interesting question about women in sports. You’re right, of course, that women’s sports are not funded, and several sports don’t have professional leagues. I don’t have your background in sports, but my impression is that there isn’t a push to support women’s professional leagues. I think you’re correct about that. I’m less certain of exactly what the reason is. Some would no doubt say it’s because there’s not as big a return on investment as there is in, say, men’s hockey. Perhaps it’s also related to less of a popular culture around women’s leagues as opposed to, say, men’s CFL or NFL football?


      1. I agree with your thoughts but I believe it will need to be women who create the culture and it will take money. There are women with serious money. In particular, with soccer I think women of wealth could develop leagues but I do not see signs they are willing to dedicate the money needed. Governments are not a resource for financing professional sports. I would like to see a study comparing where women with money spend v. men with money.


      2. Oh, that would be an interesting study, Bill. And I think you have a point that women of wealth will play a central role in creating a culture that truly supports women’s professional sports. As you say, they’re out there, and it would interesting to see what would happen to sports if women’s leagues were truly supported.


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