Often the word “feminism” is misunderstood. The word, itself, holds absolutely no weight, especially if we use it to simply “bash” on men for the way they oppress and mistreat women. And I’ve noticed that this “men-bashing” mantra is primarily used as an explanation for the existence of female oppression. And then I wonder: Why do such so-called “feminists” only blame the man? This is not feminism at all, but rather playing the blame-game, because it’s very easy to point fingers and say, “I am the way I am because of him.”
However, can we say that men always benefit from this oppression? Should the blame constantly be placed on the man? I mean, is that even fair? And are the majority of men necessarily performing these horrible acts most of the time? Of course not! Yes, it’s true that some men treat women lower than dirt and are beyond despicable; I absolutely loathe such pathetic men. (Heck, I don’t even consider them men!) However, this doesn’t imply that that is where it should end now, does it? Most so-called feminists are so biased that they only look at things from one side of the spectrum – from one point of view – and that is of a woman being a saint and the man being the devil. Clichéd much?
I recall having a conversation with a close friend about this a while back, and we both came to the conclusion that albeit men are to blame for oppressing/dominating women, making them feel inferior, raping them, physically abusing them, etc. At the same time, women are equally to blame for their own subjugation, if not more so by men.
I’ve come to realize that women can be just as oppressive to each other as their male counterparts are to them. And this oppression of females often begins at home. Especially the way mothers oppress their own daughters, without realizing it – mothers who favour their sons more than they do their daughters, especially in eastern cultures (one of them being my very own culture). These mothers not only treat their sons differently than their daughters, but they even go as far as reinforcing the idea that women are subordinate to men because men are superior, both mentally and physically. Some, or perhaps even most, women are convinced that because men have uncontrollable feelings of lust, then women, by default, should cover up so as not to “lure” or “excite” the men. And failure in doing so will inevitably result in rape, which they believe is their own fault, and NEVER the man’s. As disturbing as this may sound, this is the reality that many women have to face. But it doesn’t just end with mothers, for there are mothers-in-law who are far worse to their daughters-in-law. Some loathe the idea of sharing their son with another woman so much that they end up mentally abusing their daughter-in-law, cursing her, and some even go as far as physically maiming her, or perhaps even worse. Basically, they do/say anything in their power to make another woman’s life a living hell!
Nevertheless, while most women may not be aggressive in the same way men are, cross-cultural studies confirm that girls and women are equally aggressive in “indirect” ways, and mainly toward each other. Women envy and compete against other women, instead of men, and often tend to deny this; even to themselves. Women compete to be the prettiest, the thinnest, the most talented, and perhaps even the smartest. And, especially in the west, popular culture is full of anorexic, surgically modified women. It almost seems to me that many women try to maintain themselves just so that they can beat out the competition with other women, ensuring that they are envied. And it is usually this envy which gives them some sort of uncanny gratification – a sense of power that is unmatched.
Of course, that’s never where it ends. Like men, many women also hold sexist beliefs and are often unaware of it. While women depend on each other for emotional/intellectual bonding, their inevitable power to form cliques, gossip about/backbite, and shun one another enforces conformity, and hence discourages self-confidence and psychological clarity from girlhood on. As a matter of fact, women all over the world seem to oppress each other in one way or another. They say and do anything in their power to put other women down. From calling each other derogatory names such as “slut” /“bitch” to backbiting to causing physical harm to emotionally blackmailing them. It’s never-ending.
And then I can’t help wonder why, we women, do this to each other – women, who are educated and supposedly civilized. Can we strive to better ourselves without hurting others? Can we make ourselves feel good without hurting others? I feel this is possible but it will take a lot of work from all women, no matter what colour, age, race, culture, religion, or nationality we belong to. We need to all work together and accept each other for who we really are.
So, to conclude: Are women oppressed by other women? Yes. Do oppressed people internalize the oppressor’s attitudes? Yes, again, and without a single doubt. Women, and particularly these so-called feminists, must therefore acknowledge their own sexism before solely blaming the man for every single thing. They also need to realize their gendered double-standards in order to practice sisterhood; they need to resist sexism, treat other women ethically, and forge realistic and compassionate personal as well as political unions. Otherwise, the words “women’s oppression” becomes synonymous and vacuous, lacking any iota of credibility.