Putting an End to Female Rivalry

Original title: La Rivalité Féminine

Publication Date:

September 2022



Original language and publisher

French | Les Arènes

Territories Sold

Spanish (World) (Peninsula)


Practical Guide

Putting an End to Female Rivalry

Original title: La Rivalité Féminine


Neither sexist myth nor taboo, rivalry is a reality.
A guide to understanding female relationships and cultivating solidarity.

A paradox

At a time when the fight against patriarchy is unfolding, who could believe that another, secret war is being waged between women themselves? In all areas, from the boardroom to the delivery room, for their success, their power, their appearance, their love affairs, their figure, many of them seem to compare their lives to those of others in a tacit contest to establish who is the “best”. This book, illustrated with numerous examples, shows the rivalry between sisters, mothers and daughters, mothers-in-law and daughters-inlaw, friends, colleagues, etc.

A taboo

Why can’t and won’t women admit their rivalry? Because it is taboo. Among men, it is accepted, valued, even ritualized: may the best man win! The conquerors, the warriors are defined in the fight. But society and history have assigned women to values of gentleness, solidarity, empathy, excluding aggressiveness, competition, struggle. Rivalry is therefore hidden, repressed, denied, because it is contrary to female “nature”. However, from birth, it is part of life for all living beings.


It is because it is denied that this rivalry becomes dangerous. This is why we must understand its historical, sociological, psychological and biological roots. Conformity to the current values, even the internalization of a mysoginistic thought, the fear to be considered as a “hysteric”, the lack of self-confidence or a distant heritage of our sapiens ancestors, so many explanations which allow to understand in what the rivalry of the women is different from that of the men.

Finding solutions

Understanding how a healthy and natural rivalry can become toxic is already a first step. To gain confidence in oneself is the next step to a calmed apprehension of competition. Finally, the authors offer advice for a better mutual understanding, a true sisterhood, inspired by modern examples or traditions. Because solidarity is not a myth. Except that it must be cultivated.

For the record

While collecting testimonies for the chapter “Women among themselves” of their book on the syndrome of imposture, the authors discovered the unspoken and violent relationships between women, sometimes within the same family. They wanted to dig into the subject to understand how we were still there, without feeding the sexist myth of “women worse than men”, and to know how we could get out of it.

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