Why women fight over men

Delta Ndou
Posted October 29, 2010 from United Kingdom

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.

Comments 2

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  • Sharese
    Oct 31, 2010
    Oct 31, 2010

    First let me say thank you for writing this article and it is beautifully articulate as always :)

    I would like to expand on your point some- I completely agree that many times one person (usually a woman) must rely on a another person (usually a man) to obtain status and need within a patriarchal society.

    In my experience, especially in Jamaica though it astounded me how few men actually provided anything for women, in fact it was the women who were working all the time to put the roof over the head of the family and to put food on the table, all while bearing the children and making sure they got to school (and paid the school fees!). The men predominately found excuses to not be employed, smoked ganja on the side of the road and at rum bars and gallivanted with other women. Of course this was not everybody, but certainly seemed to be the vast majority.

    So to expand further on your point, I think that sometimes it is not that the women need there basic needs met, but that women feel that there inherent value is placed on being found desirable by a man! And this is what they are willing to sacrifice EVERYTHING for. From the society in the US, to South Africa and back to Jamaica I have observed that often times women place so much of their value on being with a man- just to prove to society that they are valuable, i.e. sexually and emotionally desirable- that they are willing to protect that bar none. Hence why there is the woman fighting issue (an example you gave in one of your articles on your website about a a woman who had an affair with a married man in politics whose wife found out and arranged to beat her up). I think that it is often less about basic needs and more about pride and value.

    That being said, I completely concur with everything you are saying about women finding value within themselves outside of being defined by a man. I think this should be true of all people. Unfortunately in many places custom, and more and more often advertising, dictates that a woman's value is only within the male gaze finding her desirable enough to commit to her. In some societies this looks like men spending money on a woman (the fancy car and expensive clothes example you gave in this article) or in some cases it looks like a man simply having respect for them not having sex with other women (which seems to be the hope for most women who live in the community where I was in Jamaica).

    Either way you are completely right that women (and all people!) need to find value inherently within themselves, in their ability to articulate themselves, to work hard and to be productive citizens of the world. I think that a call to action for advertisers and leaders of communities to recognize and promote this is much needed.

    Thank you for writing such a wonderful article, you raise so many wonderful and much needed points!

    As always, in sisterhood,


  • Delta Ndou
    Nov 01, 2010
    Nov 01, 2010

    Hey Sharese

    Thank you for your enlightening response... wow! This Jamaican community you refer to seems to have quite a bit in common with some relationships that we have here in Zimbabwe.

    During the economic meltdown many formal jobs were not financially rewarding and women were the breadwinners and the men mostly left for neighboring SA to take up menial jobs. Now as they return they find that the women have becoming financially independent and feel threatened then go on to use violence to assert themselves in the home.

    But you are totally right often times it is how women have been taught that their worth is somehow tied up to being found desirable by a man.

    Reminds me of Marcus Garvey : Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery. None but yourselves can free your minds.

    In other words (to borrow from you this time, lol): "...women (and all people!) need to find value inherently within themselves, in their ability to articulate themselves, to work hard and to be productive citizens of the world."