05 Oct A Critique of Feminine Relations
Mean girls. Monster-In-Law. The Devil Wears Prada. The list goes on and on. There are countless examples in the media of women oppressing other women in order to get ‘ahead’ in life. This could mean, in terms of these rom-coms, getting that head dancing position in school, getting the high-flying job or getting the man. Women are often portrayed as competitive, petty and mean in regard to other women.
That being said, this notion of having to oppress someone else, especially another woman, is not restricted to the media. It happens in our everyday lives as well. We’ve been taught to internalise the misogyny we face as women. That’s one of the reasons why women shame one another for everything from our relationship statuses to our appearances. We shame mothers for the way they choose to give birth or raise their children, for not breastfeeding or breastfeeding publicly. We are prone to slut shaming women for being sexually liberated or not conforming to the beauty standard. We re-enforce the unrealistic standards to which women are held, even among one another, because it’s what the patriarchy demands of us.
In a patriarchal world where female-identifying individuals are structurally oppressed and violated every day, it is far easier for us to isolate ourselves from each other rather than stand together. After all, the aim of a patriarchy is essentially to render women subordinate to men and the best way to do this is, obviously, to divide and conquer. By forcing women to compete with their counterparts, there is less of a chance of unity among women.
As we have seen, there is definitely strength in numbers. From the 1969 Women’s March to the #MenAreTrash movement, women, united, have brought about significant change. We damage the patriarchy in irreversible ways when united. As such, the patriarchy does its best to keep up apart. It keeps us in competition with each other and causes us to oppress each other.
As such, I have listed some examples of what happen when women come together:
1) Selena Gomez’s best friend, Francia Raisa donated a kidney to Gomez during her battle with lupus. According to the New York Post, The National Kidney Foundation’s web traffic have increased by 350 percent since Gomez’s Instagram post on 14 September.
2) The Gulabi Gang are a group of pink-wearing activists who aim to fight against socio-political and socio-economic ills in India. Some of their projects aim to stop child marriages, advocate education for girls, train women in self-defense and fight abuse amongst many other. The history of the gang is definitely an interesting one: A woman named Sampat Pal Devi, witnessed a man beating his wife. When she asked him to stop, he abused her as well. The next day she returned with a bamboo stick and five other women, who then proceeded to beat the abuser.
3) The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls is an academy for girls opened in January 2007. Oprah pledged to build a world-class school for girls in South Africa during a visit in December 2000. In January 2007, the Academy officially opened its doors to girls in Grades 7 and 8, and now serves approximately 290 girls from Grade 8 to 12.