“Together we stand, divided we fall”
So you’re a feminist woman or you’re not. But you care about “women’s rights, equality and empowerment”. Yet have you looked into your thoughts, words and actions that are sometimes oppressive to other women? A recent experience of female on female oppression made me question and reflect upon the various ways we as women become obstacles to the success and growth of other women and girls. In a heartfelt discussion with my older brother, he pointedly remarked that it must be much more painful when the hate is channelled and women’s progress sabotaged by other women. He was correct. It was painful and hard to swallow indeed.
Even beyond the master plans of sabotage, the slightest and subtlest remarks and actions corrode the spirit of sisterhood. The haste to define and label HER looks, actions, mannerisms, and development when it is contrary to ours is detrimental not only on a women’s movement level, but on a much more deeper and personal level because that criticism or attack is either a manifestation of an unmet need or a feeling of threat to one’s own self-esteem. Yet why is one’s self-esteem tied to another’s success or failure? Especially given that we all are unique beings and excel in our different ways, making impact in our own special paths. If we think creatively, more slices can come out of that pie and we might even be able to share each other’s fork.
To understand our own value and worth as unique women in this world is to embrace the fullness of who we are as individuals. Instead of expending energy in the oppression and character assassination of another woman, a worthwhile venture would be to dedicate time to reflect upon what our authentic place in this world is and use that knowledge to contribute towards greatness. The expression of hating on or trying to bring down another woman is simply the internalization of patriarchal misogyny, where in our imagined process of deconstructing patriarchy, we are effectively acting as its vehicle every time we drag another woman down.
There are enough sayings and quotes that diminish the capacity of female connections without us becoming the agents that tarnish our own solidarity. So next time you hear the saying “set sibeza gomen teneza” (too many women spoil the cabbage) and you laugh along, take a moment and think about what your agreement means to women’s circle building. The climb towards equality with men should not be at the expense of unleashing an avalanche for those women climbing right behind you. Our individual journeys and step ups pave the way for all of us to rise up together.
I invite all of you phenomenal women reading this to create a supportive circle of sisterhood and encourage others to do the same. That circle of sisterhood need not remain exclusive but grow and include for there are many stories to share, to write, to create and to realize. When you see a woman who has what you secretly desire, choose to be inspired by rather than threatened by her. Celebrate her!
To all those women in my life and in my sisterhood circle supporting and sharing my experience of growth and whose growth I love to support, thank you for your divine feminine energy!
Love & Light