I had a class in women development recently and it was quite a controversial class.

Most of what we discussed were the factors that hindered the development of women, and how these factors were directly or indirectly connected to men.

Hence, the controversy!

Over the course of the class and our discussions, a particular classmate would always make the claim that women were their own enemies.

To be honest, his argument struck a cord and I couldn’t argue against his logic… I tried, but I could not really deny this truth that I had believed in at times.

It is undeniable that women have suffered a lot in the face of misguided patriarchy, but we also cannot deny the fact that, at times, women have also been at the forefront of the mistreatment of other women.

Women are usually the custodians of laws in many societies. If we really wanted to stop barbaric cultures, we would.

How do you expect rape victims to get justice when it is the voice of women that are the loudest in shaming rape victims?

It would be delusional for us to believe we can get men to stop certain things when we ourselves excuse it.

Mother-in-laws are usually the thorns in their sons’ marriages – you hardly find fathers there – and somehow they believe some other man would not mete out same treatment to their daughters.

Apart from the law of karma – that never disappoints – we cannot expect men to treat their wives like queens when their mothers have made them feel like what she deserves is oppression.

And have you noticed the number of women present, when a widow is treated with all kind of scorn and suspicion just because her husband had the misfortune of dying before her?

It seems to me that they would have been satisfied if she had died first.

When I hear women who believe that when a man cheats, there is something the woman is not doing right… Or if a man forcefully have sex with his wife, it is right because he owns her body, I am appalled.

I cannot help but imagine where and how these women were raised. It amazes me that they cannot see how sickening it is.

Women are, after all, who a cheating husband cheats on his wife with. Am I saying the man is exonerated? Absolutely not!

I would never advise an aggrieved wife to go take up a case with the mistress when after all, the husband is the one who took a vow to be faithful?

But I cannot help but wonder how awesome it will be, if we sisters stuck together and chased these men with their tail between their feet back to their wives.

How do we expect to win against abuse of patriarchy if we do not stick together?

How can you expect to win a battle when you are in alliance with the enemy (understand that this is metaphorical and I am in no way suggesting that men are enemies but the abuse of patriarchal system is).

I am just thinking aloud really. If we want to want the culture and voice of the society against women to change, then the change has to start from us.

We have to start treating each other right, before we can expect others to treat us right.


This article was originally published on Teakisi, The Voice of African Women.