Why do Women Hate Each Other?

women fighting.jpgThis time I want to talk about something that baffles both men and women. I remember a few years back when Zambia had a female presidential candidate and there was a lot of talk about women coming together to give her support so that she could win the elections. Of course it was ‘naturally’ expected that just because a woman was standing, fellow women should give her support irrespective of her qualifications for the post. But that is not my issue here. The issue is about the actual reasons some women gave as to why they would not be voting for her. At first, I never really thought much about it until a few years later when reality and the wisdom that comes with experience happened to me.

Why is it that it is common for men to provide alibi’s for each other when they have been up to no good and their wives/girlfriends start suspecting that something is amiss? I have a group of male friends who have a code, ‘together’. All one has to do when in trouble or about to do something that he might regret is simply call his buddy and just say or text one word, ‘together’, and the friend will know exactly what to do from there. Should the suspicious wife or girlfriend call, this man who might lack any conversational skills or whose skills in marketing leave much to be desire, you should hear him deliver the testimony of his life just to protect a friend who is about to be laid on the chopping board! But this is not mostly the case for women.

A woman can be involved in a long term extra marital affair or juggling two or three boyfriends and her friends will not know about it! Yes it’s possible they might have their suspicions but she will not validate them directly to them yet she will still use her friends as her alibi’s when she is about to get busted without even giving them a heads up expecting that they will cover for her. Unfortunately, the outcome is not always the desired one. The backup female friend might not necessarily reveal that she knows nothing about the situation she’s being asked about, but it’ll be in the way she responds…she will either respond immediately without giving a thought as to why she is being asked such a question and inevitably render anything else she says afterwards void, or she will just take too long trying to build the perfect impromptu cover for her friend. Worse, others will just laugh their way through the conversation whilst saying, “Yes she was with me… (Laugh)…we actually did… (more laughter)…” and she continues chuckling through the rest of that conversation. Is she serious?

I am not sure if this is simply because women are terrible liars by nature or that they just can’t fathom the gravity of not providing the perfect cover even if it’s for a friend they feel deserves to pay for her mistakes. It is either men have somehow managed to perfect the art of lying or they really know how to protect their fellow species from being annihilated by the opposite sex. Or could it be that women simply cannot lie unless the lie has been rehearsed or that they just love it when their friends are faring worse than them be it in life or relationships? Or could it be that they just don’t trust each other enough??

Consider for a moment how a group of women going out whether it’s clubbing or just hanging out…consider how they dress. Haven’t you ever experienced a moment where you looked at the group and immediately could tell who the leader of the pack was, who was a follower and who was a ‘wanna be’? It is not often that you will see a group of friends who share a good eye for fashion or style. Once I heard someone say, ‘I don’t like hanging out with people that are hotter than me.’ There have been times when I’ve found myself wondering silently…’why couldn’t she tell her friend to wear a different outfit or coordinate her colors when she looks so fine herself?’ well, it is always easy to judge simply based on what we see but I might not have known whether the friend had tried to help and was turned down or the poorly dressed one simply does not have the natural flare to pull off sexy in any way possible…if there is even such a thing! I certainly wouldn’t tell for sure but I know that I have seen enough of these situations to warrant my concerns.

Personally, there have been times when I had to think long and hard about whether to tell a friend who confidently thought that they looked fine for a particular outing that they actually didn’t because I was afraid I might offend them or bruise their confidence. But over the years I have learnt that there are way more subtle ways of delivering ‘bad news’ without making it sound as bad as it should. I know because I have friends and sisters who can be so brutal at times in their delivery of ‘truth’ that it can shake the very core of your being. I can recall numerous times when my sisters have told me to my face that I look an old woman or my that my make-up and clothes make me look like something that fell from a horror movie. But that could be because we are very close and comfortable with each other. Unfortunately, this is not always the case with everyone.

When I got my first job and I realized that my overall supervisor was a woman, I had this sinking feeling in me. Up to now I cannot clearly explain why I felt like that but the feeling was so strong that I immediately put myself in defense mode only to realize that she was the coolest boss I could ever ask for. Why did I take the idea of having a female boss to be so daunting and not feel the same about the possibility of a male boss? What is it about women that frightens and threatens the life out of women? If we cannot even stand for each other, do we expect to fight for equality of the sexes in the long run? In fact, how can we expect to be treated with respect by the male folk when we harbor vicious thoughts towards each other?

Numerous times I have heard…and I have even said it myself that I prefer having males friends to female friends because women cannot be trusted and they just talk too much. I remember the last time I said it, I was so full of it as if I was saying something that would win me a Nobel Prize. Right now I am not sure if my opinion has changed or if it’s still the same…but it is something that I am not proud of.

I remember watching a certain comedian who said that it is typical to find that in every group of women who call themselves friends, there will always be that one friend they cannot trust with their man and they all know it. And at times you will find that they all don’t trust each other around their men! I remember clearly a male friend I was watching the comedy with turn around to ask me, ‘is that true?’ and my response was a definite, ‘yes.’ The truth is that at that time there really was a ‘friend’ like that in my circles and all of us knew her to be like that because she really loved things that belonged to other people, and that included their men. Her situation was so fatal any psychologist would have said she was born like that and she couldn’t help herself. But there is a word society coined to call people like that. But it still scares the vitamins out of me thinking that there are more people or should I say women like her out there. This is why some women would rather stay quite with their problems, never confiding in their friends all because they fear their friends might steal their loved ones from them.

How many of us women have gone to the salon and had our ears attached by a certain type of woman who just never seemed to stop bragging about her man? How many of us have silently thought…or in this case the moment such a woman leaves everyone in the salon starts gossiping about her? And the most uniting phrase is always; “she should chill with her bragging before another woman snaps her man up.” And there have been situations where some women have even gone as far as seducing the man in question just for the sake of it! Women…we can be nasty sometimes.

And how is it that amongst us women, if someone who lacks the looks, education or class finds herself a ‘good’ man, we feel she doesn’t deserve him? Funny enough, it just might be that she is educated, beautiful and all that and her man buys her, say a vehicle…to her face you will congratulate her but behind her you will say, ‘atase, after all she didn’t even work for it or buy it for herself’…or, ‘all she does is sleep around to get men to buy her vehicles.’ I have heard that so many times! I wonder if it’s the same case from the point of view of men. Back when I was at Uni, my boyfriend who I can safely say is now my husband bought me a vehicle as a gift. My friends were happy and excited for me but a few years later when one of them started working and bought herself a car, she came to me and said, “I am very proud of myself because I bought a car with my own money instead of relying on a man to buy it for me.” The truth is she actually wasn’t dating any man at that time who could afford to buy her a vehicle and I had just been fortunate enough to have a man who could. I was also proud of myself for having the ability to attract a man who was willing to make certain sacrifices for me and I was not ashamed of it. My friend’s statement was delivered with an intention to injure and everyone was surprised that she had carelessly uttered such words in my presence.

How many of us have heard of or even seen Hugh Hefner (think Playboy?) and the kind of women that keep him company? And he is not the only man like that. I have seen very old and sometimes ‘not so good looking’ men with extremely beautiful and intelligent and sometimes just young women on their arm. Amongst men it’s such an achievement. It’s an art. But not amongst women. A woman like that is seen as a gold digger, desperate or simply lacking the ability to find a ‘handsome’ man. Of course sometimes it might be true and sometimes it might not be. But what most people don’t realize is that women have numerous talents. Some women are book intelligent, some women are just men intelligent. Others are both. The intelligent one will have the ability to wow many with her intelligence but absolutely fail to attract the sort of man that would be deemed ‘fit’ for her standards. It is very common to hear men say they prefer a woman who earns less than them (again, it’s not always the case but it does exist and it is always being talked about), or that men feel threatened by women who hold more power than them career-wise. The fact still remains that we do live in a patriarchal society.

The other type of woman…the man-intelligent one…this one knows exactly what to do to attract the ‘right’ sort of man to herself and she will go all the way to get his attention.  Frankly, I don’t think it should matter how one wins the affection of another provided those people are available for the taking and they are not being stalked or blackmailed into the relationship. We might not admit it out loud but apart from love, there are also other selfish reasons why we choose to be in relationships with certain people and not others…why despite being in love we would refuse to get married to certain people or have children with certain people. I know that apart from love, my husband had seen that I had the ability to take care of him and the family physically, emotionally…and all those things. He needed stability in his life and he wanted to start a family of his own. He also needed someone to cook for him, wash and iron his clothes, prepare him a bath in the morning and before he goes to bed…he also needed someone who loved him back as much, if not more than he loved her. Yes love is a major factor in all relationships, but it is not the only factor.

 

I had my own selfish reasons for choosing this particular man and not any other. Love is above them all but I also looked at his potential as someone I would want to spend the rest of my life with without feeling like waking up in the middle of the night and chopping him to bits. Those reasons were all looked at from my point of view and not his because the love part of it had covered that. So why should we judge others just because our reasons are different from theirs? And while you are calling a fellow woman a gold-digger just because she got married to an ugly or older man whose filthy rich, think about whether she forced him into the relationship or he willing got into it? Society might have its own standards about how much of a difference there should be between a man and woman for them to date but if the two have found some common grounds, so be it. Yes I might cringe at the idea of having to imagine an eighty year old man or woman in bed with a 20 year old someone but at the end of the day if the two feel strongly about their own interests they won’t care much about what you and I think. And there is certainly no law that forbids that.

 

If anything, instead of calling each other names, can’t we stop and look at things from other people’s point of view? instead of assuming that she must have fed him some herbs for him to love and treat her like that, can’t we also think about the possibility that the man might see something in her that others don’t see and simply wants to appreciate her? Would it be too much to hope for a world were women leaped to each other’s defense when necessary instead of always skipping with joy in our hearts whenever we see someone who was doing better than us suddenly fall down…or reeling with envy when someone we know or used to know has progressed in life, and perhaps even doing better than us? Instead of wishing for each other’s downfall, can’t we just support each other? We are not enemies so why should we behave as if we hate each other? For Pete’s sake let us support each other!

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Is Feminism actually feasible?

Is Feminism actually feasible?

emancipation-156066_1280From the moment I decided that it was time to get married and I said yes to the marriage proposal from the man who is now my adorable husband, I started to think critically about where I stood as a woman. I guess the issue here would not be so complicated were it not for the fact that I am not just any woman; I am an African woman…a married Christian African woman. There are so many dynamics to all these adjectives that every time I think about it, I can literally feel myself losing a couple of pounds.

I have always believed in the power of a woman, independence of a woman, and all those nice things that make us all women feel good about ourselves. But then something happened that made me stop and critically evaluate myself. I consider myself to be a young wife mostly because it has only been less than a year since I got married. I am experiencing all sorts of things that I never imagined I would find myself going through. And hell no, I am not complaining! I am absolutely happy in my marriage. I guess you are wondering where I am going with all of this.

It was on a Thursday morning. I had woken up early to prepare breakfast for my husband who was still lying in bed. As I was serving him…in the normal Zambian way (where a wife has to kneel down before her husband if she is addressing him or serving him food)… so there I was on my knees with a tray of breakfast in my hands, wearing a solemn and pleading look on my face. I served him the food and as he started to eat, I went in for my mark. I was still on my knees by the way. “Honey, can you help me out with lunch today…I already boiled the meat and all that’s remaining is to make gravy. I really need to study for the exam I am writing this evening.” I am a part time student which means class for me starts at 5p.m to 7p.m. Like I mentioned earlier, I am a young wife. I have a first degree already but I am in the process of acquiring my second degree. The first degree was a little easier because I was not married then. But it’s rough this time around because I have other commitments that are actually more important than acquiring this degree; marriage. I digressed.

I was there on the floor, waiting for my husband’s reply which came in a nonchalant form of, “let me enjoy being a husband, won’t you?” He then went back to his breakfast and whatever TV show he was watching. As I mulled over his response, still on my knees, it struck me. I was by all accounts a woman.

There were a lot of questions going through my mind but one thing was clear; I was hurt. I wondered, why was I feeling so hurt? Even if his intention was not to help me out, shouldn’t he have found a better way of responding instead of using those words? What exactly was it about his words that I found so offensive? Looking at his whole demeanor, I realized that he completely had no idea what effect his words had on me…and that made me even more upset. With my pride beaten to a pulp, I got up from the floor and went back into the kitchen. I did the rest of my chores that day running to and from the stove to the kitchen table where my books were laying. Suffice to say, it was a very tough day.

Now let me revisit my husband’s response… Let me enjoy being a husband, won’t you?

What exactly did he mean by that?

Did he mean; you are the wife, cooking is your job so do it even if it means you failing your exams?

Or perhaps; cooking is not part of my duties as a husband?

Maybe; I just want to relax like a normal husband should?

I have tried to look at that response from different angles but all the conclusions just make me feel like hitting something. They have a raw bitter yet familiar taste to them But here is the thing, as I kept thinking over that response, I realized that I was not hurt by the fact that my husband thought that it was not his duty to help out his wife when she was very busy or that he had just implied that my place was in the kitchen. What I found very upsetting was the fact that he had refused to help me out when I desperately needed his help. I was looking at it the same way I would had it been my own sister who had refused to help me. And this is where the real problem lies. Why did I find my husband’s attitude towards cooking so acceptable?

I was brought up in a Christian home you see. On top of that, I am an African woman. Mix these two and you come up with this conclusion; a woman’s place is the kitchen. The work of the husband is to provide the food and the woman’s to cook and serve the food. However, I am not just a Christian African woman. I am also educated and I live in the 21st century. I have read about feminism and in my line of work I have advocated for it on numerous occasions. And this is what gives me a headache. Is it even possible to believe in feminism or the power of women empowerment and still be a married, Christian African woman? For me that is like asking Nelson Mandela, Adolf Hitler and Mahatma Gandhi to eat from the same plate.  One might try, but he/she might not like the results. I understand that generally feminism has to do with the advocacy for equal opportunities for both men and women. There are times when I have been tempted to believe that such a reality is feasible. Unfortunately, the real reality does not seem to support this fact. Consider this with me firstly.

I was once part of a sensitization group on Gender Based Violence and the Empowerment of women. Men and women were put into two separate groups and each was asked to write down what they liked about being either male or female, what they did not like and what they liked about the opposite sex. Suffice to say, the very things the sexes liked about each other were the very things that seemed to perpetuate gender inequality. I took this opportunity to scrutinize myself. I love that I have the power to know exactly who the father of the child in my womb is and that the man will have (for some time until he feels otherwise or there comes a need for a DNA test) to trust me. I hate going through the menstrual drama, I love the feeling of being loved and protected by my spouse. If we were taking a walk together and dogs appeared out of nowhere, I would love it if my partner would jump in to try and protect me instead of him running off and not worrying about my safety. I love being pampered and taken care of (financially) by my spouse. But are all these reasons enough? For instance, just because I enjoy being taken care of by my spouse does not mean that I cannot take care of myself or that I cannot take care of him (financially that is).

In my home, I naturally expect my husband to be able to change the bulbs, fix things around the house and what not. How many of us women have felt a little disappointed when our men neglect the things that need fixing around the house, or they feel lazy to replace the bulbs? Is it that we can’t do these things on our own? I am a strong believer of equal opportunities for all yet there is still that part of me that gets disappointed when my husband fails to fix things around the house. If we go out shopping together and the groceries are heavy, I expect my spouse to carry the heavier load to the car without me having to ask him to. It is because he is a man that I expect him to do these things for me.

So then I ask myself, is gender equality really possible in this world? Why should it apply to certain things and not to others? Yes I want to be given an equal opportunity at that nice good as much as that equally qualified man…but I will feel disappointed if my spouse lets me carry a heavy bag of groceries. Yes, I love the fact that I am educated, I have a good job and also have a great husband (and possibly kids in the near future), but I also get frustrated that even though both my husband and I had busy days at work and we both got home at the same time, I am the one who has to rush to the kitchen to prepare food for us while he plops himself down in the couch. There are days when I find this very upsetting…absolutely frustrating.

feminismHowever, there are people who have candidly made it known to me, willy-nilly that I have options here. I know that if I quit my job and left husband to take care of things financially then perhaps, maybe…just maybe I can get rid of some of these frustrations? Others have even told me that the Good Book says a few things about this, and boy don’t I know it too! But you see, and I am speaking for myself here, a job for me isn’t just about covering financials, it really means a big deal to me that I cannot even go into all those details right now. But still no matter how much I try to explain myself, my fellow women, the older ones especially will tell me that the frustrations I feel are a result of my own doing; that by forcing myself into a man’s world, I am facing the repercussions. Had I just stayed at home like a good woman should and concentrated on taking care of my family, then I wouldn’t have to suffer through all this and I wouldn’t be out fighting about equality between men and women.

Because I am a Christian, it is very tough to challenge people that are busy throwing down scriptures in your face about what it is you are doing wrong. There is always that feeling I get whenever I try to challenge the way something in the Good Book has been intepreted…like something will strike me down or I might get into an accident on my way to or from work. I know it’s ridiculous, but that doesn’t stop my brain from processing such ridiculousness. Does it mean then that if I have to fight for equality, I should forsake religion and tradition? You have to remember that there are many good things about tradition and even many other great things about religion. Then what should I do about these conflicting issues? By the way, how does one even go about creating equal opportunities for women culturally when the very act of doing so could have fatal consequences? I have read about such cases almost every day in international papers.

Even as I ask myself all these questions, I automatically know that I am the one responsible for making the bed when we both wake up in the morning and if it ever happens that he does it, I will be so happy about it that I will run to give him a kiss. Worse, I will start wondering if he is having an affair or if he has done something bad behind my back when he brings breakfast in bed for me. One time my husband was doing all sorts of things for me around the house that I went into the bathroom, knelt down and said a little prayer to God, begging him to spare his life. I thought the man was dying!  Sadly, I also know that I am the one who has to clean up the mess after him when he comes out of the bathroom.

The natural response for us (women) mostly when our spouses do something ‘out of the norm’ is to get surprised, get suspicious or offer praise. But what would happen if we reacted to these actions the same way they do when the roles are reversed? For example, he messes up the bathroom floor after a shower, cleans it up before leaving the bathroom and when I discover this development, I should neither praise, get suspicious nor say a simple ‘thanks’. What do you think he’s reaction will be? Believe me, he will find some way to make it known that he did something for me and I should recognize it. It might not always be the case of course.

I sincerely think that there are some areas in which equality would work and some that it just wouldn’t. In a society that has been patriarchal since the beginning of time, and where women themselves are responsible for perpetuating contrary behavior knowingly and unknowingly…feminism will continue to be nothing but propaganda. I have never believed in Marxism or all that talk about a classless society, but I do believe in some of those theories. Likewise, as long as we remain men and women biologically, the scale of opportunities will never be at equilibrium. However, and most importantly, I desperately hope that I am wrong.

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