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The pull her down myth

12 Dec 2021 at 19:37hrs | Views
DURING the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, which started on November 25 (the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) and December 10 ( Human Rights Day) is the best time to reflect on issues focusing on the upliftment of women.

The campaign over the 16 days throws light on the scourge of violence against women and strives to reduce and end it and improve the lot of women.

It is an opportune time to highlight one of the most debilitating but useful weapons of patriarchy used against women.

It is a centuries old myth that women hate each other and that they do not and cannot support each other. It is a tool that is used intentionally to keep women fighting and suspicious of each other. It keeps women scuffling with each other for crumbs while men make off with the dough.

It is true that women do not always treat other women well be it at professional or personal level, but then again neither do men.

Men do not always treat women well either nor do they always treat their fellow men well. Women on women hatred is hyped up and exaggerated to the extent that it appears more serious than it really is.

This is detrimental to women's interpersonal relations. There are many stories and examples about the hatred of women for each other and how they are ever ready to pull each other down at any given chance.

It even has a name - PHD - pull her down syndrome, but it is just an exaggeration as the sisterhood of women is not an imaginary thing.

The exact same things said about women can be said about men. Human beings will always have differences of opinion and ideology and people will not always get along wherever they interact. It does not matter if it is women interacting with women or men interacting with men or women interacting with men. The outcome is the same.

Women themselves believe the myth and rarely ever stop to examine its truth. In fact they are its biggest purveyors and the ones who perpetuate it the most.

They usually just live out the stereotype and anticipate trouble when they encounter another woman.

Many women have simply accepted  the myth that women cannot  live with or work with each other. However, this is not true as women live and work together all the time.

The only evidence used to prove that women cannot live or work together is personal testimonies and personal testimonies are not good or sufficient evidence.

Women didn't help themselves because they mindlessly accepted and celebrated the stereotype over a long time. They have continued to fulfil it by anticipating and living it out in their interactions with other women.

If a new woman co-worker joins an existing team with women they  are usually expected to be natural rivals. Sparks are expected to fly and  indeed they sometimes do as happens in all human interactions.

This is usually due to inevitable and normal ideological and personality differences between human beings. However, when women are involved more is read and inferred into the interactions than may actually be the case and this feeds into the myth.

When sparks fly between women co-workers usually just shrug and dismiss it as the expected petty girlie jealousy fights. When men on the same team clash, noone says men cannot work together and need to be separated.

There is absolutely no scientific evidence that shows women hate each other  more than men hate other men or more than men hate women.

However the belief is stronger than the fact and, therefore, impossible to reverse. Misogyny is the cause of this. Misogyny is the hatred and mistrust of women. Women can  also be misogynistic and this is due to a lot of reasons and conditioning.

Cultural critic HL Mencken defined a misogynist as a man who hates women as much as women hate one another. This  suggests that all women hate each other  and therefore  it gives tacit permission for men to hate women too.

It is true that women can hate other women but this is exaggerated and blown out of proportion. The opposite is actually true.

There is more evidence that shows men hate each other more than women hate women. The violent crimes that men perpetrate against other men is ample evidence of this.

This includes the wars, rivalries and generally all testosterone -fuelled unhealthy competitions that take place between men. When men fight, it is never over-simplified and reduced to simplistic gender dynamics the way it is done for women.

For centuries it has been relentlessly said that women are each other's worst enemies. The relentlessness resulted in confirmation bias.

Confirmation bias is the tendency to cherry-pick information that confirms existing beliefs or ideas. This explains why two people with opposing views on a topic can see the same evidence but still feel that the evidence supports their view.

They only see what they want to see based on their existing beliefs. Cognitive bias is most pronounced in the case of ingrained, ideological, or emotionally charged views.

If someone believes that women hate each other, that is how they will perceive any situation involving women's conflicts.

The evidence will be perceived as supporting the views they already hold and hardly any other evidence can be proffered to change that mindset.

Miriam Tose Majome is a lawyer at Veritas and she writes in her personal capacity

Source - NewsDay Zimbabwe
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