Sisters pull each other down

2014-11-04 13:45

Women hate women. Men know this – and strategically benefit from it wherever they can.

Women know this too – yet don’t stop it. And most of us peddle this, consciously and subconsciously.

In fact, women hate women so much that they habitually factor this behaviour into daily life.

For instance, women in business recognise that even though men easily make other men wealthy, when it comes to women, it is the sad norm that you will be hard-pressed to find one woman who is willing to actively empower another woman.

Hell, we even have an expectation that if we are bidding for a deal and another woman happens to be in the power seat, we are likely not to clinch it for “obvious reasons”, of course. This deep-seated conduct even extends to how we, women, make our way from point A to point B.

We accept that if you, a woman, get stopped at a roadblock – by a female officer, coincidentally – you will rarely depart from there without scooping up some female malevolence, especially if you are a woman of consequence.

And when it comes to intimate relationships between the opposite sexes? Well, there we find a key area where the stage is set for us girls to really play and showcase the different levels of our gladiator skills.

While on the subject of levels, there are three incidents of “woman-on-woman” hate I identified last week after the tragic death of Bafana Bafana captain and Orlando Pirates goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa.

First was the fact that it was the greater female public that quickly sanitised the goalkeeper’s moral and matrimonial indiscretions, and freely took a large collective dump on his mistress, Kelly Khumalo.

This is a woman who would really have had to be a Hitler incarnate to deserve having to go through what she is going through.

I offer the Hitler illustration because the common suggestion, made the minute the catastrophic news went public, was that the events that occurred in that Vosloorus home were perhaps some kind of karmic imbursement to Khumalo for having “stolen” another woman’s man.

The second layer of the pink hate cake was the Meyiwa family’s extension of an on-again, off-again ban on Khumalo from attending her lover’s funeral, even though society at large was free to attend.

Now, inasmuch as I am familiar with traditional gender roles – where it is widely accepted that it is the head of the family who makes the important decisions – I also fully appreciate that in reality, the woman in the family structure strongly influences where and how things go.

You just have to look at the public interactions from the Zimbabwean first family in the past few weeks to appreciate this.

So, if women didn’t so inevitably hate other women, I imagine that a key Meyiwa woman would have maybe stepped into Khumalo’s shoes and realised that retribution at a time like this does not bring back; it takes away.

I am going to take a wild stab at this and speculate that Khumalo’s baby daughter from Meyiwa will not go the distance in upping her chances of access to, and acceptance by, the seemingly traditional family. After all, there are two more in the fold. And we all know that in broad African culture, girl children are less valued.

One of my all-time favourite bad jokes is of a young African chief who asked his wife if she was “having a boy or an abortion” when he found out she was pregnant.

The last layer to this hate – which perhaps should be the chronological first – the thing that started all this chaos on one level or another is the fact that Khumalo, even after learning of her lover’s marital status, took the decision to further explore a relationship with him and to publicise their dalliance.

This decision was taken amid the anguish and humiliation of his wife, Mandisa, a woman who, it would seem, was really made to “eat it”.

Any woman who has had to stomach her partner’s infidelity will tell you that the stench of it is much more potent when everyone else sees and knows about it.

Perhaps I am no different. I am pointing out the various “wrongs” done by women in this particular situation without highlighting anything from the men in and around this state of affairs.

My basic observation is that the “wrongs” the men are particularly guilty of – whether it was Meyiwa or the vile social-media comments made by men to Khumalo – were indeed catalysed by us, the women who just cannot help but fall into the trap of pulling down another woman.

So while the worst did happen in this case, death has placed a halo on Meyiwa, while the one who actually did not make any vows to anyone gets to remain with unimaginable grief and the “concubine” tag.

One can’t help but wonder what could have been avoided had one woman not wanted to win over another.

Gudlhuza is managing partner at communications agency blackcumin

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