You might have come across statements like “female managers are the worst” and that they are particularly bad with women employees.
Even in the recent Bulli Bai App case, a girl aged 18 was one of the prime accused in the auctioning of Muslim women. Her involvement as a mastermind has created a storm on social media and raised questions about women being their own enemies.
So, are women really women’s biggest enemies and hindering their fight against existing inequalities? Let us find out in the article.
Where does the notion “women are women’s worst enemies” come from?
While we commonly hear such statements and see instances where women are shown as other women’s enemies in cinema and TV shows, the reality is not excluded.
Kelly Valen’s The Twisted Sisterhood revealed over 90% of the 3000 women who were a part of the survey have felt negative around women in some or the other form.
In fact, we see women downgrading other women in our everyday lives. Not convinced?
Remember Soma Chakrabarty, the Gurgaon-based aunty who went viral about two years back for slut-shaming women in short dresses and casually instigating men to rape them for their audacity to wear short clothes? That wasn’t the only instance. The country witnesses such cases every other day.
Unfortunately, our homes aren’t excluded from such practises. Our own mothers and mothers-in-laws perpetuate patriarchal norms and beliefs in us.
Mothers are seen at a dominant role in marrying off their daughters in childhood itself as they seem to be a “burden on their shoulders”.
Similarly, some mother-in-laws restrict the mobility of their daughter-in-laws, harass them mentally and physically for not giving dowry or for giving birth to a female child.
The saddest part here is women are oppressing their own gender and rights. And this is what the concept of the patriarchal bargain is all about. To simplify, instead of breaking gender stereotypes and patriarchal norms, women push these down the pyramid to step over each other just because they were at the same place some time back, and they normalized it or didn’t choose to fight for themselves.
But if we try to find the roots; women are made to think and stand against each other. The men counterpart lays down the very idea of oppressing women. They tell women what to do, how to behave and think. It has resulted in women blindly following what they’re being asked to and also pushing it down against other women. This makes the men go scot-free and blame the dreaded relationship of mother-in-law and daughter-in-law.
Another reason why women are considered women’s enemies is because owing to personal disliking, jealousy, competition, and showing themselves superior in front of men, a lot of young women pass critical comments against other women at some point in their life.
Women passing comments against other women like “just look at her clothes, it’s disgusting”, “she’s revealing too much,” “she’s a bitch,” “she hangs out with ten men”, etc., normalize such stereotypes.
Such instances have led to the popular notion that women are their worst enemies and that women haven’t been able to come out of the vulnerable position only because of women.
Not surprisingly, these are originally set up by men who have a role in pitching women against women as it is feeding the norm where women are pulling each other down and in effect being unequal to men, who are prospering as ever!
The notion “women are women’s biggest enemies” is also made popular by misogynists who have a leading role in downgrading and exploiting women and their rights. This is one of the characteristics of patriarchy that uses it as an excuse to pit women against each other.
Is the notion true or exaggerated?
So, the real question is: Is the notion “women are women’s biggest enemies” true or exaggerated?
Based on the instances we’ve shared above, the notion is true to an extent but isn’t an absolute truth. In fact, it is exaggerated for a lot of reasons.
- Most women are supportive. When instances like the above happen, we see women standing together to support vulnerable women. Hashtags like #apologiseaunty became a trend, supported by lakhs of women online.
- Our generation is also witnessing a change in the mindset of elderly women who are trying to be more supportive towards their daughters and daughters-in-law.
- Women bosses and managers are often called autocratic because the male counterpart cannot whole-heartedly accept working “under” females, which hurts their ego. Similar was the case where Indian Soldiers weren’t “mentally schooled to accept women officers in command”.
- Films and soap operas present such ideologies as they act as their fodder to boost their TRPs. These serials win the “relatability” factor by employing these ideologies and propagating the same kind of practices.
- Men are gossip mongers, they too talk shit about other men in front of men and women, but that’s not brought to the limelight.
- “Men too are men’s biggest enemies” as more men are murdered by men and less by women. However, this isn’t a popular notion, and the reason is simple: misogynistic narratives run in the mainstream.
- More importantly, reports show men being more involved than women when it comes to crimes against women.
Hence, the notion is exaggerated and serves different purposes for different categories of people and acts as an obstacle in women empowerment and the fight against patriarchy.
How can the notion be reversed?
It’s easier to spread fire than to douse it. The notion of women being women’s worst enemies, no matter how exaggerated, is shameful and needs to be reversed. More than anything, it is limiting women from realising their potential and making them distrustful of other women – who might otherwise turn out to be highly supportive. This is in effect making it difficult for them to bridge gender inequalities.
Instead of pulling each other down, women should unite and support one another. They should be more respectful and less judgemental towards other women.
Women should also stop normalizing gender stereotypes and patriarchal norms and strengthen this fight. Just because some women have been through it, it doesn’t make sense to pass this on to the younger women and put a never-ending full-stop to this cycle.
Most importantly, cinema and soap operas act as the mirror of society, and they play a huge role in propagating ideologies. We have to make the right choice of differentiating good content from non-sense shows and make our families and friends aware about the same.
To conclude, women are not women’s worst enemies, and the notion is exaggerated. However, to unpopularize the notion, it is important that women support each other personally and professionally, refuse to accept the patriarchal notions and choose to stand together because patriarchy and feminism cannot co-exist.
Can you relate to the notion?
Have you ever thought ill about another woman?
Comment below and be a part of the conversation.