Opinion

When women are their own worst enemies

JUNE 8 — Women can often be vicious and unkind... to other women. The so-called Obedient Wives Club is just another example of women disempowering themselves.

There are the overzealous, rabid feminists who make “strong women” seem synonymous with “manhaters.” I don’t hold with feminism, girl power and all the rah-rah about what sex I am. So I was born a woman. It’s not like I had any choice in the matter so why have pride in something I had no say over? Why shout to the rooftops about an accident of nature, something which I did not work hard to achieve?

But I do believe in equal rights, fairness, justice and compassion. The Obedient Wives Club reeks of blatant sexism, the kind perpetuated by women themselves.

When it comes to genders, it is important to acknowledge the differences and at the same time, understand that those differences must not justify discrimination. What a person has between his or her legs should not determine whether he or she deserves a better salary or position.

One caveat, though: I am leery about deploying women in the front lines of the military. That is because of the simple fact that women have much lower physical upper body strength than men and would be at a disadvantage when it comes to carrying equipment. But if a woman happens to be an exception to the rule — with enough body mass and strength to haul heavy gear, then by all means let her enrol.

Being (generally) smaller and less capable of carrying large weights isn’t a problem if the woman wanted to enrol in the air force. Nor should it be a problem if a woman aspired to the highest positions in government, banking and industry.

The problem, sometimes, is other women. Women deserve to be equal partners with men, complementing each other instead of being subservient. Yet women in the Obedient Wives Club want us to go back to the days when, if our husbands beat us, we would justify it by saying we “deserved” it.

When Arnold Schwarzenegger cheated on his wife, it was disgusting to see the vitriol being thrown at the other woman. It is often the case that when a man sleeps around, he is branded a stud while the women succumbing to his charms are hailed as “loose”, “sluts” and other derogatory terms.

The irony of the Obedient Wives Club is that its members are in polygamous marriages. So, ladies, you’re telling me that even if I wear the sexiest lingerie and am a skilled courtesan in bed, I still won’t be enough for my husband? That I can bend over backwards, make him the centre of my universe and still he will seek other beds besides mine? I find that so much more demeaning than being single and not waiting for my “turn” with my husband, once he’s done servicing the other three “sister-wives.”

Women, I find, can be disturbingly critical of other women. Because we know what hurts us, we use that knowledge to hurt others of our gender. The cattiness some women display towards other women is vile and it’s something that often pops up in the worst of places -- the workplace.

Let’s not get started with women who are only interested in men who are “taken.” Of course, part of the blame lies with the men who go along willingly when a woman tries to entice him away from his significant other. As they put it, it takes two hands to clap. Still, I feel like asking women who go after taken men: if he would leave his wife or girlfriend for you, wouldn’t he do the same to you someday?

I once overheard this undergraduate in UKM talking about her future plans. “Jadi engineer, ni kan, tak sesuai untuk perempuan. Kena kerja luar. Nanti habis belajar, saya nak jadi cikgu kot. (Being an engineer, see, is unsuitable for women. Having to work outside. Once I’m finished studying, I’ll probably be a teacher)”.

Many years later, I still regret not going up to her and slapping her silly. Getting a place in her faculty is difficult. If she had no plans to become an engineer, she should have given up her place and gone to a teacher’s training college instead. Yet there are so many girls like her, who don’t want to go to university but feel compelled to do so.

There is nothing wrong with putting being a homemaker above having a career. But the problem is that women like her are brainwashed into thinking that certain professions are “not suitable for women.” These girls often spend most of their time in university angling for a man, so they will be assured a husband. Being married is more important than getting a degree — that landing a man is a bigger achievement than getting a first.

Men are not the enemy. Women are not the enemy. The real enemy is the lack of reason, the lack of willingness to accept each other as equals, despite our differences. This applies not just to gender, but to race and religion.

If you want to be an obedient wife, go ahead. But don’t condone spousal abuse while you’re at it. If your husband beats you, leave him, despite whatever some club tells you.

* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.

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