Women are not each other’s enemy.
All women should be saying this. We are not our own worst enemies. We are not in competition. We are each other’s pillar of strength. There is more to us than just our shapes and the rings on our fingers. We should all be saying this. Unfortunately, we don’t. We rarely do.
The first thing I saw this morning when I went on my social media feed was a video of a woman viciously attacked by a mob of angry men. The caption read: men mercilessly beat a woman accused of adultery. The men went ahead to strip her completely of her dignity: literally and figuratively.
My heart broke not just because of the lurid violence, but also because of the reactions and attitudes of spectators, especially women. Instead of coming to the defence of the helpless woman, they cheered and encouraged the men to continue their abuse. Not a single person made a move to intervene. Not even the person recording the video. Here are some of the social media reactions to the grisly video:
We live in a world that has turned adultery into a gender issue. When a man cheats, it is simply his nature. The story is very different when it comes to a woman.
Society erroneously believes that a man cannot sleep with one woman only. So whether married or committed to someone, it is generally accepted that a man will at some point in that relationship cheat. And he should be forgiven for that.
However, things change when a woman accompanies the man in his ‘nature-quenching fest’. Whether she is single or committed, it will not matter. Her peers and society at large will treat her with disdain and contempt.
Day in and day out, reports and videos surface of women and even men brutally treating women and for sleeping with married men. Sometimes the man in question would be standing in the background, nonchalantly watching the attack on ‘his woman’.
Most times, he is nowhere in sight, almost as if he did not participate in the cheating. As if he is only a theory only to be tested by thoroughly dealing with the other only variable in the equation: the woman.
Women are not enemies!
The whole world believes that ‘women are their own worst enemy.’ Unfortunately, it has been proven to be true more often than not. It’s something that needs to change. And only women can change that.
As long as women continue to view each other as competition or as enemies, chances of achieving gender equality will remain slim. Some men know that when they tell their wives, “she seduced me,” their attention and blame will shift. Suddenly, the person who failed to honour his vows becomes a victim and the woman who supposedly ‘seduced someone’s man’ become the problem.
Unless men are held accountable for their actions, they will not stop cheating. Removing leaves from an Orange tree will not change its nature of producing oranges to producing mangoes. When you deal with the roots, the leaves change too. Not vice-versa. We will protect each other from abusive vices that wish to work on our weaknesses. There is strength in numbers.
Marriage does not make a woman complete
In one of her keynote speeches, the legendary Chimama Ngozi Adichie echoed the following words;
We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you would threaten the man. Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important. Now marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support but why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same? We raise girls to see each other as competitors not for jobs or accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing, but for the attention of men. We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are.
When we believe that marriage is the ultimate form of a woman’s self-actualization, we are saying that she cannot exist to her fullest potential unless there is a man in her life. This should not be the case.
Indeed, marriage is a beautiful thing. But the more women continue to place importance on marriage, the more men will believe they’re doing women a favour by marrying them. The more women aspire for marriage as a means of finding their worth, the harder it will be to raise girls that find strength within themselves. They will always need ‘a knight in shining armour.’
It is the responsibility of parents to raise their male children to look at marriage the same way they want their female children to.
Rather than looking at marriage as the final destination, women should view marriage simply as ‘one of the achievements of their lives.’ They should consider their ability to successfully hold a relationship that has the potential to grow them emotionally, physically, spiritually, financially, and mentally as the achievement.
Just because a woman chooses marriage as an avenue for this kind of growth does not in any way mean that it is the only way. It is simply, one of the many ways towards greatness that women can take.