|Beyonce and Serena when they were pregnant|
It saddens me that I have to take this stand today but it has become necessary.
Let me make this assertion; in many instances, women are the drivers of patriarchy and a hindrance to other women’s advancement.
Even though I have always known that many women are not supportive of each other, I get angry when people say it out loud. I believe those statements are always said in poor light and usually used to describe women as these petty, jealous and bitter beings. I also felt that it was a rhetoric meant to push the idea that we can’t be trusted to be functional outside our ‘emotions’. But even more than that, I desperately wanted to believe that the men who said things like this were wrong; just as they were wrong about our abilities, capabilities and equality.
But the past few weeks has got me really assessing my stand on the issue. I knew I had to step out of the idealistic bubble I had put myself in and address the fact that women give misogyny life. While some men and their applies-only-to-women rules are a big problem, women can sometimes look like they are our ‘biggest’ problem.
Here is why I am sad about it.
Women are quick to put other women down. Say ‘men and women are equal’ and a lot of times, it is a woman who says we aren’t. An unmarried woman gets to the height of her profession or business or political peak and women patriarchists would be the first to classify her achievements as rubbish because she has no husband. A group of us are making the decision to keep our names when we marry and guess what? Some of our biggest opposition are women! Moving on, some women are beginning to come out of abusive relationships and marriages with evidence of abuse and women ask what they did to get beaten or abused! A woman says she is being sexually abused and other women ask what she was wearing. She says she was raped and women ask ‘What took you to his house?’ She says she wants to run for office and women label her a prostitute. In many communities, women who have gone through the pain of female genital mutilation are themselves the ones who ensure younger generations get cut. Like what the hell?!
Of course there are men who do these too but our desire is that they will become less vocal as women become more aware of our rights. But how do you deal with women who are helping these men to keep the walls of patriarchy and misogyny from falling down? And why can’t they see the irony?
Let me give you some examples that got me in a fix.
When Beyoncé got pregnant and said it was a miracle, the backlash was quick. Many people challenged her for daring to call her pregnancy a miracle. Naomi Schaefer Riley of The New York Post even published this piece trivializing her pregnancy.
I am a Beyoncé fan and could be labelled jaded but isn’t it weird that we all say, ‘The miracle of childbirth’, ‘A child is a miracle’ but when Beyoncé gets pregnant, pregnancy isn’t a miracle anymore? I could almost understand the ignorance of the men who wanted to dictate how a woman should feel about something happening to her, but for the life of me, I couldn’t understand women who felt they needed to put her experience down because she dared to call it a ‘miracle’. I am of the school of thought that pregnancy is not an achievement but I would not put any woman down who wants to celebrate it as such. I wasn’t always like this but I learned to evolve my ideologies.
The same thing happened when it was discovered that Serena Williams was pregnant when she played – and won – her 23rd grand slam in Australia. Most people were excited and genuinely proud of what Serena had done. It spoke of a strength that was admirable. Well…the excitement was good until trolls reared their ugly heads. One in particular got me so pissed with her tweet.
See how much engagement she got for that? It made me wonder; didn’t she get the memo that she could extol the qualities of one woman without putting down another? And dear ladies, by show of hands, how many of you would choose to pound yam at your third trimester? Or walk long distances? Or break firewood? Or do any hard work for that matter? But according to Miss Lady above, Serena’s experience didn’t matter because it wasn’t as hard as someone else’s. Well, it may not be as hard as some other women in the world but all their experiences are valid! Missy above could have done better by mentioning some of the underlying factors that force women to do these hard chores whilst pregnant but no…that wouldn’t have brought in the likes and retweets.
If we were to use the logic of the trolls in Beyoncé and Serena’s cases, and in cases of all women whose ‘achievements’ are brought down, I think it is safe to say we shouldn’t celebrate anything! Anything at all! This is because, no matter what you do, say or achieve, there will always be someone who has gone through worse to achieve the same. But many of us cannot help but be crabs and it is that mentality that is keeping us women from achieving so much more than we are now.
Not talking about our role and contribution to misogyny fuels it even more. We must call out women who contribute to the culture of putting other women down. It makes no sense to keep quiet just because we don’t want some man somewhere saying, ‘I told you so’. Well, I was told! I heard you loud and clear! And…I have seen it firsthand too! Trust me, it sucks! But patriarchy and misogyny sucks too!
Imagine a world where women banded together, not to keep the other down, but to lift each other up. Imagine how much sooner all of us would have been able to vote, run for office or own our properties. We probably wouldn’t be dealing with unequal pay for the same work, or Female Genital Mutilation or Vesico-Vaginal fistula or child marriage or maternal and infant mortality or rape and victim blaming/shaming? Imagine what we could achieve if we. just. supported. each. other.
But no! Misogyny is how things have always been and how dare some women think they can change it? Well…we can! And we will! It may not be today or tomorrow but it will happen. So dear women-hating women, get over yourselves! We will change things, whether you support us or not!