The reason women fight over men is simple – lack. To many women, a single man can represent a roof over their head, food in their belly, clothes on their back and most importantly – a pride in their bearing.
And quite frankly, I don’t know of many people who wouldn’t fight to protect an “investment” that guarantees them most of life’s basic necessities.
I know that I would fight anyone who tried to take my shelter away, grab my food from me and snatch the sweet out of my mouth.
I would fight anyone who made the mistake of trying to leave me nude by pulling the clothes off my back or even worse, expose me to public ridicule by making me an object of pity.
I would fight anyone.
The problem though is not that we want to fight for these things or indeed that we desire to have and keep them.
The problem is that not many of us exert ourselves to pursuing these things for ourselves because we have been raised in a society where having a man equates to having all of the above – shelter, food, clothing and respectability.
So women fight other women because they fear to remain homeless, hungry, naked and ‘ashamed’.
I know many women who fight to have shelter, to have food, to have clothing and whose sense of purpose gives them all the dignity they require – these are the empowered women; clawing their way to the top; understanding that they can succeed on their own.
I know many women; and I am one of them, who don’t summarize other human beings (read men) into shelter, food, clothes and status.
I find it irksome when women who have the potential to accomplish whatever they want in life opt to take a “short cut” by just getting a man to provide all the things they need and because they have chosen this dependency they make themselves vulnerable to abuse from their benefactor (read man).
Not only that, they find themselves obsessed with chasing off other women who will have had the same idea as they did, which is, “Let me find a man to take care of me.”
It seems clever, especially to the young 24 year old involved with a married older man; because she gets what she wants faster and easier than her age-mates who may make the sensible choice of just working hard and slowly attaining the things they wish to have.
I don’t pretend to know it all but what I am certain of is that there is nothing for free in this life – one way or the other – people pay for what they have; through sweat or tears.
Sweat or tears.
Many women prefer to pay through tears; they prefer life’s billing system to charge them through tears of pain, suffering, abuse, rejection and misery as long as they get to drive around in flashy cars they don’t own, live in houses on whose title deeds their names don’t appear; eat food their money didn’t pay for and wear clothes they didn’t lose a cent to buy.
But men are raised differently; they are raised to expect life’s billing system to charge them in the currency called sweat; they sweat to work, to achieve because they have been told that they have to expect to “keep” someone else, to provide a shelter, food, clothing and ‘protection’ to a woman – they can even marry her so that in return she’ll wash, cook, clean and have babies.
Seems like a reasonable arrangement, right?
Well I don’t think so, I think it is unfair to expect another adult who happens to be male to carry the weight of responsibility for another adult who happens to be female by giving him the sole obligation to sweat all life-long while the role of the woman could just be to enjoy the fruits of his labour.
It seems to be such a parasitic arrangement to me.
One way or the other, we’re gonna pay – women need to start deciding whether they want to keep settling life’s bills through tears because as long as the culture of looking for a man to “take care” of you remains, violence against women will remain a vicious cycle.
But more tragically, the violence perpetrated by women against other women as they compete to keep their “source of livelihood” (read man) secure will continue unabated and undermining what little progress we have made towards social justice and equality.
This article is written ahead of the campaign for the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence set to kick off on the 25th of November and it conveys sentiments I have struggled to articulate since I began advocating for women’s human rights at the age of 19.
At that age, I did not have the theoretical grounding I presently enjoy, or the necessary understanding of power relations that obtain between men and women.
At 19, I did not appreciate the complexities surrounding the notions of love, expectation and fulfilment so I settled to write a play that was later broadcasted on ZTV interrogating the marital institution as a major site of women’s oppression.
7 years since then, I still hold the same views that the marital institution is a major site of women’s oppression; the difference now is that I can qualify this sentiment by adding that women have been encouraged to depend on their spouses, partners or lovers to a degree where they are incapable of surviving without them.
This extreme level of one-sided dependence is unhealthy, parasitic and creates a fertile environment for women to be abused and to resort to violence when they feel their relationships are being threatened by other women.
So women fight over men because it is matter of survival for most of them; it is a matter of escaping poverty and lack, of defending a relationship that guarantees the basics they desperately need – shelter, food, clothing (and because of society’s skewed patriarchal thinking) some semblance of human dignity – but this “dignity” aspect is fodder for another article.
I know of some men who abuse women and tell them “you’re nothing without me” – the sad reality is; many women truly HAVE nothing unless a man grants it to them.