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To Read #4

In Praise of Mediocrity

The pursuit of excellence has infiltrated and corrupted the world of leisure.

By Tim Wu

Izhar Cohen

I’m a little surprised by how many people tell me they have no hobbies. It may seem a small thing, but — at the risk of sounding grandiose — I see it as a sign of a civilization in decline. The idea of leisure, after all, is a hard-won achievement; it presupposes that we have overcome the exigencies of brute survival. Yet here in the United States, the wealthiest country in history, we seem to have forgotten the importance of doing things solely because we enjoy them.

Yes, I know: We are all so very busy. Between work and family and social obligations, where are we supposed to find the time?

But there’s a deeper reason, I’ve come to think, that so many people don’t have hobbies: We’re afraid of being bad at them. Or rather, we are intimidated by the expectation — itself a hallmark of our intensely public, performative age — that we must actually be skilled at what we do in our free time. Our “hobbies,” if that’s even the word for them anymore, have become too serious, too demanding, too much an occasion to become anxious about whether you are really the person you claim to be.

If you’re a jogger, it is no longer enough to cruise around the block; you’re training for the next marathon. If you’re a painter, you are no longer passing a pleasant afternoon, just you, your watercolors and your water lilies; you are trying to land a gallery show or at least garner a respectable social media following. When your identity is linked to your hobby — you’re a yogi, a surfer, a rock climber — you’d better be good at it, or else who are you?

Lost here is the gentle pursuit of a modest competence, the doing of something just because you enjoy it, not because you are good at it. Hobbies, let me remind you, are supposed to be something different from work. But alien values like “the pursuit of excellence” have crept into and corrupted what was once the realm of leisure, leaving little room for the true amateur. The population of our country now seems divided between the semipro hobbyists (some as devoted as Olympic athletes) and those who retreat into the passive, screeny leisure that is the signature of our technological moment.

I don’t deny that you can derive a lot of meaning from pursuing an activity at the highest level. I would never begrudge someone a lifetime devotion to a passion or an inborn talent. There are depths of experience that come with mastery. But there is also a real and pure joy, a sweet, childlike delight, that comes from just learning and trying to get better. Looking back, you will find that the best years of, say, scuba-diving or doing carpentry were those you spent on the learning curve, when there was exaltation in the mere act of doing.

In a way that we rarely appreciate, the demands of excellence are at war with what we call freedom. For to permit yourself to do only that which you are good at is to be trapped in a cage whose bars are not steel but self-judgment. Especially when it comes to physical pursuits, but also with many other endeavors, most of us will be truly excellent only at whatever we started doing in our teens. What if you decide in your 40s, as I have, that you want to learn to surf? What if you decide in your 60s that you want to learn to speak Italian? The expectation of excellence can be stultifying.

Liberty and equality are supposed to make possible the pursuit of happiness. It would be unfortunate if we were to protect the means only to neglect the end. A democracy, when it is working correctly, allows men and women to develop into free people; but it falls to us as individuals to use that opportunity to find purpose, joy and contentment.

Lest this sound suspiciously like an elaborate plea for people to take more time off from work — well, yes. Though I’d like to put the suggestion more grandly: The promise of our civilization, the point of all our labor and technological progress, is to free us from the struggle for survival and to make room for higher pursuits. But demanding excellence in all that we do can undermine that; it can threaten and even destroy freedom. It steals from us one of life’s greatest rewards — the simple pleasure of doing something you merely, but truly, enjoy.


Tim Wu (@superwuster) is a law professor at Columbia, the author of “The Attention Merchants: The Epic Struggle to Get Inside Our Heads” and a contributing opinion writer.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page SR6 of the New York edition with the headline: In Praise of Mediocrity.
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To read #3

Overtourism: a growing global problem

The summer holidays are in full swing – and protests against overtourism have begun (yet again) in a number of popular European cities. Overtourism is not a new problem.

Barcelona, in particular, is at the centre of these mounting concerns about the rapid growth of tourism in cities, especially during peak holiday periods. In fact, Destination Barcelona estimates that there were 30m overnight visitors in 2017, compared to a resident population of 1,625,137.

But across southern Europe protests and social movements are growing in number. This has led to the formation of organisations such as the Assembly of Neighborhoods for Sustainable Tourism (ABTS) and the Network of Southern European Cities against tourism (SET). They are at the forefront of the fight against overtourism and the impact it has on local residents.

While many tourists want to “live like a local” and have an authentic and immersive experience during their visit, the residents of many tourism-dependent destinations are seeing the unique sense of place that characterised their home towns vanish beneath a wave of souvenir shops, crowds, tour buses and rowdy bars. They are also suffering as local amenities and infrastructure are put under enormous strain.

It is a truly global issue. Other destinations where overtourism has reached disruptive proportions include Palma de Mallorca, Paris, Dubrovnik, Kyoto, Berlin, Bali and Reykjavik. Recently, Thai authorities were forced to act when the number of tourists visiting Maya Bay, the beach made famous by Danny Boyle’s film The Beach, led to shocking environmental damage.

What does overtourism look like?

We define overtourism “as the excessive growth of visitors leading to overcrowding in areas where residents suffer the consequences of temporary and seasonal tourism peaks, which have enforced permanent changes to their lifestyles, access to amenities and general well-being”. The claim is that overtourism is harming the landscape, damaging beaches, putting infrastructure under enormous strain, and pricing residents out of the property market. It is a hugely complex issue that is often oversimplified.

It can have an impact in multiple ways. The international cruise industry, for example, delivers thousands of passengers daily to destination ports. While comparatively little is returned to communities, cruise activity creates physical and visual pollution.

City residents also bear the cost of tourism growth. As cities transform to cater for tourists, the global travel supply chain prospers. This coincides with increasing property speculation and rising costs of living for local communities. AirBnB, for example, has been accused of reducing housing affordability and displacing residents.

Graffiti in Barcelona. © Claudio Milano, Author provided

Amsterdam wants to take direct action to prevent this by banning short-term rentals and directing cruise passengers away from the city centre. AirBnB is also making efforts to address the problems they are accused of creating.

Things are made worse by the fact that key destinations are mostly unprepared to deal with overtourism. According to the Italian sociologist Marco d’Eramo, in 1950 just 15 destinations were visited by 98% of international tourists, while in 2007 this had decreased to 57%. This indicates the rapid expansion of global tourism beyond established destinations.

Overcrowding and the establishment of typical tourism-focused businesses, such as clubs, bars and souvenir shops, overwhelm local businesses – and rowdy and unmanageable tourist behaviour is common. This diminishes the unique ambience of destinations and leads to crowd and waste management pressures.

Kyoto: beautiful view, shame about the crowds. Shutterstock

Clearly, tourism brings jobs, investment and economic benefits to destinations. But overtourism occurs when tourism expansion fails to acknowledge that there are limits. Local government and planning authorities have so far been powerless to deal with the overwhelming influence of the global tourism supply chain. This has led to widespread “tourist-phobia” – first described by Manuel Delgado more than a decade ago as a mixture of repudiation, mistrust and contempt for tourists.

Dealing with overtourism

Dealing with overtourism must now be a priority. But despite the mounting howls of protest, tourism promotion endures – and unsustainable hordes of tourists continue to descend on cities, beaches and other natural wonders.

Managing the flow of tourists seems an improbable and unwelcome task. But some cities have taken drastic measures to limit the effects of overtourism, including the introduction of new or revised taxation arrangements, fines linked to new local laws, and “demarketing”, whereby destinations focus on attracting fewer, high-spending and low impact tourists, rather than large groups.

But it’s a fine line to tread. If tourist arrivals to a destination decline suddenly and dramatically it would likely have considerable economic repercussions for those who rely on them.

‘I just want to get home.’ Shutterstock

Overtourism is a shared responsibility. City administrators and destination managers must acknowledge that there are definite limits to growth. Prioritising the welfare of local residents above the needs of the global tourism supply chain is vital. Prime consideration must be given to ensuring that the level of visitation fits within a destination’s capacity.

The global tourism supply chain also bears a major responsibility. It must ensure that product development achieves a balance between the optimal tourist experience and a commensurate local benefit. Tourists must also play their part by making travel choices that are sensitive to the places they visit and those who live in and around them.

Tourism should be part of the wider destination management system, which must also consider transport and mobility, the preservation of public spaces, the local economy and housing, among other aspects of daily life. Research, planning and a close and ongoing dialogue between city administrators, the tourism industry, civil society groups and local residents are essential.

Perhaps overtourism is a symptom of the present era of unprecedented affluence and hyper mobility, a consequence of late capitalism. We need to urgently rethink the way cities are evolving to uphold the rights of their residents.

Aquest article va ser publicat originalment el 18 de juliol del 2018 a The Conversation per Claudio Milano, Joseph M. Cheer i Marina Novelli. Llegeix l’original.



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To read #3

Pudge Will Keep Us Together

They were headed for a painful breakup. Then a stray dog wandered in.

By Maura Lammers
Sept. 21, 2018

I had a dress pulled halfway over my head when my phone rang. Despite my insistence that I be left alone for a few hours on my day off, Jeff was calling me. I was trying on vintage dresses I couldn’t afford in a shop a few blocks from our house. When he asked me to come outside, I said, “How do you know where I am?”

“I saw your car,” he said. “I have a surprise for you.”

As I pulled my clothes back on, grumbling, I tried to give my boyfriend the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he wanted to make a nice gesture, like buying me a cup of coffee.

Instead, I found him waiting on the sidewalk next to a knee-high, tan-colored dog. The dog trotted up to me, panting in the humidity, his jowly mouth smiling. I let out the involuntary sound I make whenever I see a new dog, something between an adult cooing at a baby and a child crying over a Christmas present.

He was stocky with fine fur and a square head like a pit bull. His small ears folded over into symmetrical triangles.

“Whose dog is this?” I said. “What’s his name? He’s so sweet!”

Jeff said he had seen Pudge from his car wandering about a mile away. Worried about the dog being lost in the heat, he followed him for a block. “Eventually, I got close enough to pull over and open my door,” he said. “And Pudge jumped in.”

“How did you know his name is Pudge?”

“I don’t,” Jeff said. “I named him that. I know you have plans, but do you think you could help me find his family?”

This was something I had always loved about Jeff: his knack for derailing my plans in the best way possible. I hadn’t indulged his spontaneity lately, and with Pudge wagging his tail at me, I couldn’t say no.

Jeff and I had been a couple for two years back then, and we’d been living together for a year and a half. When we first moved in to the three-bedroom house we shared with two friends, I wanted us to get a dog. This became a nightly topic of conversation, until it became an argument.

Jeff had logical reasons against us becoming pet parents: We were trying to save money, our jobs had odd hours, and we both wanted to leave Kansas City, Mo., soon.

I countered that he was simply avoiding the commitment of a dog. And by “the commitment of a dog,” I meant a commitment to me. We didn’t argue often, but when we did it was about this. I never doubted that Jeff loved me, but he was more comfortable living day by day than making plans for a future with me.

In the weeks before we found Pudge, life had only gotten more complicated. Jeff’s sister had learned, at 33, that she had brain cancer, and he decided he would return home to Minnesota to care for her. Around then, I decided I would attend graduate school in Spokane, Wash.

We had one month left on our lease. Neither of us wanted to break up, but we knew it was right given the circumstances. With the same sad optimism, we agreed we would remain friends.

Since Pudge didn’t have tags or a microchip, we walked the neighborhood where Jeff found him for three hours. We crisscrossed streets, Pudge plodding along as we knocked on doors and asked passers-by if they recognized him.

“No,” we kept hearing. “But he sure is cute. You should keep him.”

Jeff and I laughed — and avoided eye contact.

After two days of long walks and numerous social media posts, we were no closer to finding Pudge’s owners. The day before, we had a vet check him over and learned he had a serious ear infection.

When we squirted the medication into his ears, he squeezed his eyes shut but didn’t pull away or snap. He never even barked, only whined softly if Jeff or I left the room and wagged when we returned.

We couldn’t believe that such a well-mannered dog didn’t have a real home. But despite Pudge’s good behavior, our roommates were, understandably, ready for the furry interloper to leave.

The no-kill shelter we looked into in Kansas City had a policy that strays kept longer than 72 hours required a surrendering fee. Our other option was to call animal control, which would take him to the same shelter for free.

On the third day, Jeff made the call, and the officer showed up within an hour. Pudge pushed his way out the screen door and greeted the officer the way he greeted everyone, as if she were a long-lost friend.

“Can we say goodbye?” I said. I tried to hold myself together, but as I crouched down to pet Pudge, I started sobbing. So did Jeff.

The officer looked at us like we were crazy. “I don’t have to take him, you know. He can stay here.”

“No,” I said, choking out the words. “We can’t keep him.”

As the officer led Pudge away, Jeff and I hugged each other.

“Did I mess up?” Jeff said.

“No,” I said. But we both cried even harder.

About two hours later, when Jeff left to buy beer so we could drown our sorrows, I received a message on Facebook from a woman who recognized Pudge from one of my posts. She said his name was Buddy and gave me the name of the owners. I messaged them to say Buddy was waiting at the shelter.

“That’s probably for the best,” the man wrote. “We already have three dogs. We were thinking about giving him away anyway.”

By the time Jeff returned, I needed something stronger than alcohol.

Knowing that Pudge’s owners didn’t want him back changed everything. We were still broke. Our relationship was still on the verge of ending. And it was true that if we were to leave Pudge at the shelter, he might find another home. Yet we couldn’t let him go.

We had two weeks left on our lease, but we had not talked about breaking up. We only talked about getting that damn dog back.

So we made a plan. Since I had farther to move and a busier schedule as a student, we decided Jeff would be the one to take Pudge. We begged our roommates to put up with Pudge a little bit longer, and for Jeff’s father to let a dog move into his house at the end of August, along with his adult son.

Our friends and loved ones met these requests with more grace than we probably deserved. Perhaps they guessed, correctly, that Jeff and I were both about to fall apart.

We brought Pudge home in mid-August and had a normal life together for one week. We took him on walks, bathed him in the backyard with the hose, scolded him for begging for food. Pudge would spread out on the kitchen floor anytime I cooked dinner. He took approximately 10 naps per day yet slept soundlessly through the night.

Days before our move-out date, I looked around at our suitcases and half-packed boxes, and at Pudge napping in his bed.

“You know,” I said to Jeff, “it bothers me that we never really talked about long distance as an option.”

Before, I had tried to slowly disengage from Jeff to lessen the looming heartbreak. But having a dog connected us. Rather than going out separately, Jeff and I took Pudge to the park or to brunch. We debated brands of dog food instead of fixating on the end of our relationship.

Most important, neither of us ever could have afforded to adopt a dog alone. Splitting the cost of vet bills, adoption fees and supplies was our saving grace; it revived the generosity we’d once shown each other.

That night, Jeff and I weighed the pros and cons of staying together long distance, then took a break. We talked about it again the next day, then changed the subject. Took Pudge for a walk, talked about it some more. Talked about it in bed, with Pudge sleeping on the floor.

Despite the distance between us, the daunting costs of airfare and the uncertainty about our futures, we couldn’t let each other go any more than we could let go of this dog.

One year later, Jeff and I are still together, though living hundreds of miles apart. I wish I could say Pudge was still with us too. But in early December of last year, four months after I had moved away, our vet discovered that Pudge had cancer throughout his body. The day after New Year’s, we had to put him down.

Pudge isn’t the only reason Jeff and I didn’t break up, but he played a crucial role, uniting us when we needed it most. By giving an old dog a new home for what turned out to be his final months, we gave our love a new place to live too.

Maura Lammers is a graduate student at Eastern Washington University.

A version of this article appears in print on Sept. 23, 2018, on Page ST6 of the New York edition with the headline: Pudge Will Keep Us Together

Look at it in The New York Times, here.

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To read #2

Why feminism still matters to young people

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Kristin Aune, Coventry University

It has been 100 years since women won the right to vote in Britain. More accurately, it’s 90 years since young women were able to vote; 2018 actually celebrates 100 years since suffrage was given to women over 30.

Feminism is held up as one of the most successful social movements of the 20th century. But ten years ago, when Catherine Redfern and I were planning our book on reclaiming feminism, some said young people just weren’t interested in “the f word” anymore.

Back in the 1990s and early 2000s, young women were portrayed smashing glass ceilings in Louboutin heels, and feminism seemed rather outmoded. Many women thought of themselves as post-feminist, feeling there was no need for feminism, since gender equality had been achieved. But this wasn’t really true, and a lot of the fear about calling yourself a feminist came from the negative stereotyping of feminists as bitter “killjoys”.

It’s still needed

Things have changed. Feminism is now less despised because it’s more obviously needed. Women in the UK have been living under a regime of austerity since the 2008 economic crisis. They have shouldered 86% of the income loss from changes to the tax and benefits systems since 2010, simply because they are more likely to be welfare recipients in the first place.

Meanwhile, the resurgence of the far right has led to violence and harassment against ethnic minority women, with Muslim women bearing the brunt of virulent Islamophobia. There is a stubborn gender pay gap (now 14% for full-time workers), and women pensioners in the UK face one of the worst gender income gaps in Europe.

The list goes on: gender-based violence is alarmingly high. Crime statistics show that one in four women, and one in seven men aged 16 to 59 have experience domestic abuse. The most harmful forms of abuse – sexual violence, especially – affect mostly women. Yet three-quarters of councils have cut funds to domestic violence services due to government budget cuts, and a third of referrals to refuges are now being turned away because of a lack of room.

It’s gaining popularity

These examples of gender inequality explain why more people are identifying as feminists – especially young women. A 2013 Girlguiding survey found that 35% of girls and young women aged 11 to 21 were happy to call themselves feminists. In 2017, this was the case for 43% of 18 to 34-year-old women, according to a poll by Plan International, or 54% of 18 to 24-year-old women, according to UM London.

Today’s feminist movement is more diverse than ever before. Feminism has become more attentive to the wider range of experiences of those oppressed by gender norms and stereotypes, including men, non-binary and trans people.

There’s also greater awareness of the way that racism, anti-religious hatred, disablism or homophobia work alongside sexism, creating complex forms of prejudice and oppression. It’s not so much that feminism has moved “beyond” sexism. Rather, a wider range of voices is now being counted as feminist. The HeForShe campaign, which encourages men to become advocates for gender equality, and Muslimah Media Watch, a forum where Muslim women critique how they are presented in the media and popular culture, are examples of this.

It’s already happening

If the current situation has anything positive to show, it’s that where there’s injustice, there’s also resistance. Young people are already challenging the forces feminist author bell hooks calls “white supremacist capitalist patriarchy” with style and skill – they don’t need to be told how by older feminists. What’s crucial now is to recognise the work they are doing and draw even more people to the cause.

Campaigns such as #TimesUp in the US and #tystnadtagning in Sweden have used the star power of famous actors – many of whom are young women – to draw a line under sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace, across all industries. Yet even worldwide movements can start with the actions of a single person: activist Tarana Burke has been credited with starting the #metoo movement more than ten years ago, based on her experiences as a youth camp director for Just Be Inc.

As these examples show, feminist activism takes many forms, from a single person signing a petition, to group protests on local issues such as the campaign to close Yarl’s Wood detention centre in Bedfordshire, right through to large-scale actions coordinated by women’s organisations, such as Women’s March. Feminist acts can be taken through formal political routes. For example, by lobbying a local member of parliament, or by informal means, such as sharing information about a topic on social media or boycotting a company known for exploiting women employees.

Individuals can make a difference by working for a women’s charity, becoming a local councillor or calling out sexual harassment wherever they encounter it. Even the conversations we have with our friends in our spare time can be a productive way to raise awareness about sexism.

There is no “right” form of activism and no one issue of greatest importance. A century ago, women’s rights activists weren’t all fighting for suffrage – some of them were working on other campaigns, such as equal access to university education, or a decent wage for working-class women. Nor did getting the vote solve other instances of gender injustice. So this 100-year anniversary is about much more than just “the vote”. Feminism is a movement for gender justice, and it needs to be fought by many different people, in many different ways.

The ConversationThis article has been corrected to reflect the fact that Tarana Burke started the #metoo movement based on her experiences as a youth camp director for Just Be Inc, not Brooklyn-based Girls for Gender Equity, of which she is now senior director.

Kristin Aune, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Trust, Peace & Social Relations, Coventry University

Este artículo fue publicado originalmente en The Conversation. Lea el original.



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To read #1

Why Women Compete With Each Other

By Emily V. Gordon
Oct. 31, 2015

Los Angeles — I HAD a tightly knit group of female friends in elementary school — we called ourselves the Sensational Six. As the dominant girl force in our little universe, we felt important and exclusive; a unit in matching handmade sweatshirts. Time went by and all of my classmates and I watched as puberty reached down to form us, shapeless little lumps of children, into young men and women, into haves and have-nots.

I had an early growth spurt and was a full head taller than the boys in my class, dwarfing the girls. This made me a have-not, and I made it my life’s effort to shrink down and be like my friends, tiny and adorable. One day on the bus as I chatted with a fellow Sixer, I watched her examining our legs, propped up on the seat in front of us. “Look,” she said, innocently enough, “your legs are, like, twice as big as mine.” And she was right.

Women compete, compare, undermine and undercut one another — at least that is the prevailing notion of how we interact. It’s considered exceptional, or at least noteworthy, that famous women like Amy Schumer and Beyoncé and Taylor Swift acknowledge that other women are talented, and frequently work with those other women without, in most cases, being catty about it. This makes them feminist heroes. Feeling on guard around other ladies is normal for a lot of women, and it’s exhausting. I exhausted myself for years trying to understand how other girls could have gone from my closest allies to my scariest foes. I write an advice column and get a fair number of questions from women asking how to handle not trusting other women, so I know I’m not alone.

A good amount of research has been done on female competitiveness, both in condescending and eye-opening ways. A literature review by Tracy Vaillancourt in 2013 found that women by and large express indirect aggression toward other women, and that aggression is a combination of “self-promotion,” making themselves look more attractive, and “derogation of rivals,” being catty about other women.

There are two main theories of why women are competitive in indirectly aggressive ways. Evolutionary psychology, which uses natural selection to explain our modern behaviors, says that women need to protect themselves (read: their wombs) from physical harm, so indirect aggression keeps us safe while lowering the stock of other women. Feminist psychology chalks up this indirect aggression to internalizing the patriarchy. As Noam Shpancer writes in Psychology Today, “As women come to consider being prized by men their ultimate source of strength, worth, achievement and identity, they are compelled to battle other women for the prize.” In short: When our value is tied to the people who can impregnate us, we turn on each other.

I watched this happen among our Sensational Six — watched as our pastimes shifted from having goofy singalongs, to trying on clothes, to pointing out one another’s flaws, to primping before a mirror, and the final stop, making boys laugh. We were still friends, but we were suddenly aware of a new dimension. I went to a different middle school than my friends did and that new dimension persisted, except that now I was taking it in with fresh eyes. And because of my size and my status as a new kid, I stayed an outsider.

Here’s where I took a page from nature and decided that my indirect aggression, rather than self-promotion or discounting my rivals, would take the form of what’s called warning coloration. I took myself out of the battle. If I was unappealing, then I would advertise — like those butterflies with the warning spots — that I was not to be considered a worthy opponent. I would be ugly on my own terms. I wore artfully ripped clothes and enormous combat boots and old men’s pants.

In high school, I decided that all of my female friends were stupid and traded them for guy friends. I loved horror movies and heavy metal, and used these interests to become a “guys’ girl.” I thought that by segregating myself, I would save myself from the awareness that I wasn’t ever going to be pretty/perfect/cool enough, and occasionally I would get to make out with a male pal because hormones were running rampant. When another guys’ girl joined our group, she and I became fast friends by lamenting how stupid girls were, and when we met new boys, we threw each other under the bus to flirt with them. I felt sick when she did this to me, felt a sick thrill of power when I did it to her.

Instead of openly hating women, I used hate’s sneaky little sister and told myself that I pitied women who worked hard to be conventionally attractive, who had jobs that utilized their feminine wiles, who were “too girlie.” “Poor her,” I’d cluck at parties, “wanting attention so badly. I wonder who hurt her. Let’s discuss this art rock band I saw last week.” Self-promotion: check. Degradation of rivals: check.

In my 20s, there were two girls in my social group in New York — brash, gorgeous creatures — that owned every single room they entered. I hated them on sight, even as I couldn’t take my eyes off them. I thought they were magical, but with a dark magic that could steal my husband. Once I found myself in a bar bathroom alone with them and, feeling cornered by their spectacular perfection, mumbled something. One responded by complimenting my coat; the other started talking about the guy she was there with and how he was acting funny. I saw them for who they were: magnanimous, charming creatures, but also kind and obsessive and weird. My negative view of them had nothing to do with them at all. It was just a warped mirror.

Research tells us that women are compelled to level the playing field by any means necessary to make sure we have access to the best genetic material, but since these are not real concerns in our modern lives, our competitiveness becomes something a bit more private and understandable.

That’s the third theory of female competitiveness that I’d like to propose: We aren’t competing with other women, ultimately, but with ourselves — with how we think of ourselves. For many of us, we look at other women and see, instead, a version of ourselves that is better, prettier, smarter, something more. We don’t see the other woman at all.

It’s a fun-house mirror that reflects an inaccurate version of who we are, but we turn on her anyway, because it’s easier. But we don’t need to lower the stock of other women, either for the future of the species or for our own psyches. When we each focus on being the dominant force in our own universe, rather than invading other universes, we all win.

Emily V. Gordon is the author of “Super You: Release Your Inner Superhero” and an executive producer of “The Meltdown With Jonah and Kumail.”

A version of this article appears in The New York Times on the opinion page on November 1, 2015.