Are Women Their Own Worst Enemies?

Sir Lawrence A Joseph

By Dr Lawrence A Joseph

Over the last thirty years or so, our womenfolk have made tremendous strides all over the Western hemisphere including the Caribbean region. In many other parts of the world, this is not the case. In fact in some countries, women are not even permitted to drive motor vehicles on the streets.

Some of the gains made by women can be attributed to the fact that very conscious efforts were made by various feminine movements led by stalwart women leaders. These efforts undoubtedly gave rise to the positioning of many women in many crucial leadership positions within societies.

As a consequence of this upward mobility of women, some people have even considered that there is a serious threat to the male of the species. As crude as this may sound, this thought may not be far wrong as various studies have revealed that females in modern times do make more progress academically than their male counterpart. This phenomenon includes the Caribbean region where girls are continuously outstripping boys at primary, high school and university levels. The consequence of all of this is that some professional women may not be able to find appropriate husbands to raise their families. They may then resort to just having a child or children out of wedlock thus negatively impacting on the family structure.

However, notwithstanding the many strides which have been made by women, it comes as a puzzle to some social scientists that women generally seem to be consistently carrying out psychological warfare against each other and in the process pull each other down. In her book which was published in 2010 entitled “The Twisted Sisterhood”, one Kelly Valens stated, “These secret social battles are waged in many cases by the very same women singing the praises of girl power, feminism, and female friendship.”

Valens had conducted a study of over 3000 plus women, and almost 90% of those surveyed expressed that they felt “currents of meanness and negativity emanating from other females.” Almost 85% admitted having suffered serious life-threatening knocks at the hands of other women and more than 75% had been hurt by the jealousy and competition of a friend. Valens concluded that these women correctly identified that the primary threat to their emotional security radiates from fellow females.

In her March 2014 publication entitled “Women are their own worst Enemies”, another woman author Lucille Keen stated, “While men raise their voices and sometimes end up in fisticuffs with each other, women secretly plot to bring each other down over a long and slow process of psychological torment. It is not because we generally think other women are incapable, rather we see them as a threat.”

Preliminary studies which were conducted by one Jaime Confer in 2011 when he was a PhD candidate at the University of Texas-Austin, indicate that while men try to impress women by their actions and statements in order to pursue emotional goals, women on the other hand try to impress their own women folk in an attempt to indicate that they are superior to them. Dr Raj Rashunathan in his 2011 publication entitled “Are Women their own worst Enemies?” surmised that women tend to compare themselves to others who are superior to themselves and thus undermine their own sense of self-worth and self-esteem. This is perhaps the main reason why they tend to attack each other.

After studying all these findings, one is left to ask the question: Are women really their own worst enemies? If so, can they help being their own worst enemies? One would therefore have to give reflection to the origin and development of homo sapiens in order to try to find an answer. In the beginning the species were cave dwellers when the men would go out for days to hunt animals for food. The women would stay in the caves to tend to the garden, do the cooking and tend to the off-springs.

Whilst at home, were the women fearful that their menfolk would run away with other women and leave them stranded in the caves? Were other women a threat to their own security? Is this sense of vulnerability on the part of the women cave-dwellers the origin of today’s concern? Is today’s concern a back-lash from cave-dweller mentality? Is it a natural phenomenon or is it cultural?

Whilst these questions call for more scientific research, life experiences however seem to indicate that there is something significant about the question as to whether women are their own worst enemies. Perhaps there is a dire need for more social conditioning on the part of our womenfolk in order to counteract the unconscious hangover from the cave dwelling days.

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