Girls are made of sugar and spice, and everything nice. That nursery rhyme should have ended at “sugar and spice” because women are people first, not an undifferentiated mass of femaleness.
Let us talk about the dark side: the perpetual undercurrent of conflict and competition among women.
Sometimes this has to do with men, but not as often as one might suppose. After all, women are competing and conflicting over the two things everyone craves—power and freedom.
Here is how the patriarchy comes into play. By conferring power to older and wealthier males, it creates a situation where the underclass—women, children, youth and males of lower status—must fight for their rights and for status, and ultimately for power.
There are two distinct camps to be aware of: women who are part of the patriarchy and benefit from it, and women who are fighting the patriarchy.
Women who support the patriarchy are not ‘unconscious’ about gender politics.
Many of them are in fact exploiting the fact that their assets and resources are best employed in the support and perpetuation of the patriarchy. These are women who wield their power via men—as mothers, as spouses and other relatives, as lovers, as daughters and as allies of patriarchs in whichever capacity they can garner.
On the outside they are very adept at projecting the traditional female social role of being submissive and ‘sweet,’ domestic, pleasant, whatever you need them to be. They are chameleonic out of necessity, able to blend in and adapt to the situation so as to take the best advantage of it.
Women fighting against the patriarchy might have come to that point due to trauma or revelation. Some just do it because it is in their nature to fight injustice and inequality.
We are often considered abrasive and ‘mannish’, unnatural females, controversial and so on and so forth. Not all feminists are like this, mind you, plenty are quietly and pleasantly going about their day undermining the patriarchy like ninjas in the night who leave no trace of their sabotage.
And so we fight. Women fight women all the time, and more often than not chauvinists will have no idea that there is a power struggle going on right in front of them.
My favourite is when a cisgender man is so clueless as to not even realise that he is the prize being fought over because he might confer money or status or whatever resource he has to offer to the victor. Upon occasion cisgender women might fight over affairs of the heart, but this is fairly rare.
On that note, I dedicate this column to the dudes at my stone who are always saying that women are evil and they are their own worst enemy: oh, honey. You have no idea.
Long may you remain so sweetly blind to what is actually going on around you all the time. I haven’t had to buy my own drink in months now, thank you.
Elsie Eyakuze is a consultant and blogger for The Mikocheni Report: E-mail: [email protected]