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Are women their own worst enemy?


I was discussing with a friend over lunch yesterday and she mentioned that one of the most successful restaurants in this country is owned by a woman but she doesn’t have female staff! I stopped to wonder why? Is it that she isn’t getting the kind of results she expects of them or the women themselves aren’t interested in the laborious drill of working in that such a successful establishment?

While ruminating on this I immediately remembered that our NGO, a WOMEN support group that called out for volunteers to educate market WOMEN got only MEN volunteer. Not a single woman has volunteered to help her fellowwomen!

Most women openly say that would prefer to work for a male boss and women bosses have been criticized for being more accommodating and supportive to male employees. I thought about women like me who would rather confide in a man than a woman. I remembered women who said they didn’t stand a chance at a pitch or interview only because a woman was involved! Even in the homes, girls have to fight for love within a family in way boys never, or rarely, do. Then married and single women can rarely be friends!

I also remembered that often times the grave persecution and antagonism of women are perpetuated by women themselves. For example, when a woman loses her husband, the agonizing widow rites of shaving her head, forcing her to sleep with his dead body and drinking the water from cleansing his corpse are all carried out by her fellow women in the family! I haven’t met one woman who says her Father In Law is her problem. The Mother-in-laws are always the adversary, proudly and ably supported by sister In laws!

Though most women hate to admit it, they still judge each other on looks, age, physical appearance, social status and sex appeal. This is terrible, but true. Women are relieved when another woman is not more attractive than they are. I remember a friend of mine feeling really excited that I gained weight when she saw me last Saturday. In a crowd, she was screaming at the top of her voice how “fat” I was! I couldn’t help but wonder how my size had affected her previously!

Many women are instinctively wary of another woman who is better looking. Those who spend a lot of time and money trying to look good are the worst culprits. Some of them even feel threatened by those who look simple and the reason is not far-fetched; the more insecure a woman is, the more time she is likely to spend on her appearance, because she is desperate to be accepted. When you see a woman who cannot be caught dead without her make-up, outrageous attire and accessories, chances are that she is highly insecure and seriously seeking attention. The message she is communicating by spending so much time grooming herself is that she is needs yourvalidation and approval!

Women will hardly give way to a fellow woman when driving…but will yield to the men even without him asking. If a woman has an issue with a man…most women will immediately take sides with the man against the woman. As painful as this may sound…there is no denying…it is the truth!
The argument goes that it’s really women who hold each other back, because most of us are petty, jealous and can’t stand seeing other women succeed. Women rarely admit, acknowledge, commend, compliment or celebrate the successes of their fellow women the way they would of a man. When a woman wins…in most cases her fellow women won’t clap! They turn a blind eye to her achievements and pretend they didn’t notice. Why? Because they are just not happy for her! They are quick to pray for you and wish you the best but when you get it, they become mad!
Worst of all is that, the very same women singing the praises of girl power, women empowerment, women’s right, feminism and female friendship…the women who ought to be role models and mentor to younger women are the very ones waging these battles, in many cases!

So, what’s at the root of this unhealthy rivalry? Why do relationships between women often turn sour?Why are women so critical and almost cruel to their own sex? Why don’t we support another woman when she is discriminated against? Why do we ourselves continue to discriminate against our own daughters and other women in the family, at the work place, and even in Church? As bosses, why don’t we mentor our female employees and as employees why don’t we support female bosses?

One reason could be that women have been conditioned to accept the patriarchal view of things – that is, women need to be put down, bullied and discriminated against. So unconsciously or sub consciously, we do the same! We are cruel and vicious with women, but not with men, because we accept that men should not be criticized – we believe they have the right to their idiosyncrasies, follies and defects and so we make excuses for them while we condemn women who attempt same and expect nothing faultlessness!
Another possible reason why women aren’t so friendly towards one another is that we feel competitive because of our confused place in society. In fact, femininity and competition go hand in handbecause men show their nice possessions primarily to impress the opposite sex, while women on the other hand do so to impress the same sex…their fellow women!

Also women may justifiably feel that they have to compete more viciously with one another because the resources “reserved” for them are scarcer. Therefore they cannot afford to have their fellow woman outshine them!

As a result of all this passive aggression, women simply endure their female friendships behind frozen smiles and afacade of intimacy but wage merciless internal battles beneath the surface leading to many women feeling unsafewith one another. Female friendships are often characterized by intense, sinister underbelly, intrafemale incivility and insidious gratuitous negativity.Nonetheless, that is not to say there aren’t some women enjoying wholesome friendship.

My fellow women, if we want to address our own inequality, we have to look at ourselves first. I mean, look at how the fellas do it!They’re not obsessed with all the thing that consumes women. It doesn’t matter to them who is the best looking, who has six-packs, whose car is the finest or whose house is the biggest…they are more concerned about how they can synergize to strike the deals and make the dough!

Granted, politics, cultures, society, religion and all systems discriminate against women. But that is not an excuse for us women to be against one another. The fight against gender inequality can never be won if we ourselves continue to propagate gender injustice. Women need to stand together in support of each other and work together to bring about a change in attitude of the society. And no, we don’t need to start protest marches or burn bras – I think we can achieve a lot if we simply choose to support each other and stand together as a sisterhood starting with that woman next to you know are secretly envious of and nudging a grudge with. Rid your heart, spirit, body and soul of all contemptuous and sinister feelings about any woman doing well that you are hating on… or like Nigerians would say, “beefing” right now and make a vow to love and support her!

Let’s do this, Sister! Let’s support and care for each other and make sure that when a woman needs help, it is always available to her – especially from us, her fellow women!

God Bless You!

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