Sunday, August 1, 2010

Can two women really become friends?

Can two women really become friends?

Two girls may bond extremely well with each other but in the dark recesses of their heart and mind, they always fear that the other girl may be backstabbing her, planning to deceit her or even worse, trying to be her!

Would welcome response from people.


  1. Do women hate women?

    I think men and women all hate anybody who makes them feel insecure. In a Patriarchy women seem to have a lot more to feel insecure about.

    Little girls hear a lot about things they have little control over (a lot more than little boys do) Things like their skin colour or their physical beauty for example. They have to live for the approval of an entire community. Everybody watches how loud they laugh, how they dress, who they talk to…

    The society, the community and their families raise them to see marriage as their goal in life. Divorce/being abandoned/separated/unmarried is seen as something women must avoid. Widowhood was also the end of a woman’s life. Men could remarry if widowed, or stay unmarried or separated without as much finger pointing . All this puts pressure on women to be happily married/happily in a relationship, across cultures.. And since a lot of this is not in their control – women have a lot to feel insecure about.

    Women are also brought up to believe that finding a partner and ‘keeping him’ is their ultimate goal in life. The education they receive, how they talk (softly), walk, look, respond to questions (always respectfully), the careers they choose (not modeling and not jobs that might make them travel too much) – everything is done keeping the comfort and approval of a future husband and his family in mind.


  2. Contd.
    So is it not natural that women see ‘getting and staying married’ as settling down and as the most important thing in their lives? The way men are conditioned to fight for their egoes and their family-honor, women are conditioned to depend on the men in their lives (Manusmriti is not even subtle about it) to save their relationships with men. Perceived threats results in common observations like 'women are women's worst enemies' while the truth is Patriarchy, not women, is women's worst enemy.

    Patriarchy ensures that the partners they are looking for have been taught to put their careers, parents and ‘bread winning’ as their goals in life. (Some men may not like to make careers, but they are given no choice, homemaking, raising children is seen as emasculating and also as inferior, unpaid jobs).

    In a Patriarchy - the partners women are made to fast, pray and work to one day find, are taught to remember that they must not become ‘joru ka gulaam’ or forget their priorities (their parents and families) – so although they too want life partners – they are warned against giving as much as they expect to get.

    The men expect to be the top priority in their spouse’s life but they are told she should not be their top priority or she might take them away from their parents. (But they are also told she must leave her parents, friends and family for them.) This naturally makes them take the women a little for granted. This makes the women insecure again.

    Patriarchy also keeps women dependent on sons and brothers – making them insecure about losing them to the women they marry. Basically the entire system puts women one against another.
    In a traditional set up they struggle for the approval of the male and the more powerful members of the family. The respect and awe for male members at home and the insecurity and lack of self worth of the female members at home passes on from one generation to another. Even when they know they need not depend on male approval, the insecurity remains. The spouse is still being brought up not to forget his parents come before his wife, and women are still being told the spouse is their world.

    They also know that unlike a man who can walk out on an unfaithful wife (or honor-kill or throw her out etc) a woman is more likely to be blamed for not making her marriage/relationship work. And then there maybe financial dependence. So more insecurity.

    Often the insecurity and ‘meanness’ against other women is a result of centuries of deeply ingrained social conditioning. Women don’t really hate each other.

    It seems women bond even when there is so much insecurity and dependence. And finally men do compete as much as women do – they have fought wars, fought duels, killed or got killed – but we ignore it as male aggression or machismo.

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  4. Bravo IHM, Thanks for typing all this. It was so much needed.
    Here I put my 2 cents on women's friendship.

    Desi Girl

  5. IHM,

    Thanks for replying in such detail.

    Whatever you have said in your reply is only in the Indian context.

    If Patriarchy is the sole reason for the woman's problems, then this phenomenon of women against women should not be an issue in advanced western countries.

    However, this is not the case. We all know that this has been observed around the globe. Reams have been written on this.

    I have a tendency to attach human behaviour with biology. There are some behavioural traits which are hard wired into us. Some are neutral and some are gender-specific.

    I agree with your point that Patriarchy increases insecurity among women. But it only increases it and is not the cause of it.

  6. Western Cultures are also Patriarchal.

    Men need to be 'macho' and women must get married or stay on the shelf as old, spinsters. Men couldn't cry and women swooned and wore corsets to look agreeable and to find 'suitable husbands' often much older in age so they could take care of them... like knights in shining armour. Women in the west still take on the husbands' name and move into their homes. For a long time women did not even have any rights on their own property and the husbands were to be 'obeyed and served'...

    Remember 'Pride and Prejudice', 'Gone with the wind', 'Little Women', and even Enid Blyton's books though wonderful are very sexist. While they have come a long way, the society is still patriarchal.

  7. //There are some behavioral traits which are hard wired into us. Some are neutral and some are gender-specific.//

    No doubt, but 'women hating women' doesn't seem to be one of them. If it was true then all the women would be this way. Also secure and confident women would hate other women. This doesn't happen. Despite the terrible circumstances, women bond well and form strong support systems with other women.

    Also similar kind of insecurity is seen amongst men and women both, when put in similar circumstances - like in offices where more than one person is equally suited for a promotion, or when men are insecure in a relationship, men also tend to hate their rivals in love/relationships.

    Some of the reams you mention have been written by those with prejudiced (or perhaps ignorant?) minds like Manu who wrote Manusmriti.

  8. IHM,

    I read your follow up post on your blog. Its fairly detailed and well illustrated.

    I, too, have always believed that the "rules" of our society were formed using brute power which was in the hands of men.

    This in turn led us to so many stereotypes we observe today.

    I think I will say that society shapes the way men and women think/behave.

    You can flaunt this comment on your blog :)

  9. //I, too, have always believed that the "rules" of our society were formed using brute power...//

    That's some observation! I agree. So we know how these 'rules' continued to be followed though centuries until they became the system, custom, tradition and a habit. Well said Vivek.

  10. A compliment from IHM !

    I must say that I have been a very keen follower of your blog.

    I have shared numerous posts of yours via my Google reader to which I have subscribed your blog

    Keep enlighting..