Raise your hands if you too grew up listening to – “Aurat hi aurat ki sabse badi dushman hai” or “Women are their own enemies”. I am sure most of you did. You’ve seen this play out in popular culture too. But did you ever dig deeper to understand why this is true and prevalent across countries and cultures?
Oppressive mothers-in-law and scheming daughters-in-law are standard entertainment fare, as are women pitted against each other vying for the attention of a man, and viral videos of ‘catfights’ breaking out on the street. The popularity of these themes both reflect and influence our culture, holding up a mirror, while also seeding fears and propagating stereotypes.
Women are trained to think of each other as untrustworthy
In real life too, we find that women are trained to not trust each other. For her book ‘Chup : Breaking The Silence About India’s Women’, Dr. Deepa Narayan interviewed hundreds of women across cities and found that middle and upper class women think of each other as unsupportive and untrustworthy. “Women should be other women’s natural allies. The fact that they are not is not accidental. It is the genius of cultural design – to ensure that each woman stays alone and isolated.”, she says.
Women, instead of supporting each other, pull each other down and instead scramble to find favour with those who have the power in a patriarchal society – men. It becomes a survival mechanism, an underhand way of gaining the power that is not directly made available to them. Insecurity and mistrust amongst women is the result of this unequal power structure – these are learnt traits and conditioned behaviour, not behaviour that is intrinsic to women.
What can we do to change this? Watch the full video to find out!
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