There are a lot of powerful women in this world. Unfortunately, for most of them, the more powerful or influential they are, the more controversy seems to follow them. The moment a woman has power and influence the more afraid the world seems to be of her. We are led to believe that it is unnatural, and society tries to tarnish women like this through unfounded rumors or scandal! And most discomforting is when women are at the forefront, gleefully encouraging pull her down syndrome.
Unwittingly helping the patriarchy to succeed
I greatly admired Winnie Mandela. Her death on 2 April broke my heart, I mourned the loss the world, and in particular Africa had suffered with her passing. In her wisdom, Mama Winnie once said:
The truth in that statement is painstaking real. Take a moment and reflect on the relationship you have with other women. Think back to a time you were standing with a group of men and a woman passed by. Remember their comments, how they probably played her down, mocked her body while YOU, a woman was in their presence. A woman you had never met, a woman who, on a different occasion you may have politely smiled at and moved on without thinking much of her dressing, hair or body. But the moment men are introduced to the equation, there’s a hunger that suddenly rises in most of us for approval, for validation and if it means demeaning another woman, why not?
Now, let’s turn the tables. If the same group of men were standing along the same path and a man walked by. The men would probably acknowledge each other and continue with their conversation. How twisted is that? How have we allowed ourselves as Winnie said, to be dominated by men through demeaning each other!
What is it about women that make us extremely hostile against each other? Threatened? Why are we so angry? So hurtful to one another? Why have we allowed ourselves to be agents against each other? What is it that empowers us when we dress down another woman with men, especially with men?
Strong women do support other women
I’ve witnessed the other side that I’m hungry for every woman to have access to. Women uplifting each other, in the work place, in homes, school, social circles – when that happens, legacies are created! I look at how my life has turned out and one thing I can say is that the major contributors in it were not men, but women. These phenomenal women were my Gogo, who sold maputi to raise my pocket money, my mum who worked tirelessly to raise my school fees, my generous aunt who made sure I had all I needed for school, and my great aunt who made sure I stayed in the best places I could once I went to University. These women poured themselves, their energies, passions, advice in me. They coached me, protected me, loved me and groomed me in a way that no men could ever do!
I recall a time when I was sent home for failure to pay school fees. I was young and my little heart was crushed. I had just lost my dad and now faced the embarrassment of being kicked out of school! As soon as my aunt found out, she paid off what was owing, held my chin, lifted it up and said, ‘Chin up, always.’ That statement has transformed the way I look at the world and the way I handle pressure and life’s problems. I remember and know the strength in lifting my chin up and staring the world dead in the face, with an unspoken confidence and assurance that “I’ve got this”.
I was in the park one day, chatting with a group of ladies from church while the children playing in the playground. I was surrounded by beautiful women with really amazing bodies (I am allowed to admire another woman’s body by the way, don’t judge me!). Back to my story – I was feeling extremely bloated and had zero body confidence that week. The way I had dressed for the park date was evidence of how I was feeling. Out of the blue, one of the ladies looked in my direction and said, ‘I love your body Emma, you are stunningly beautiful.’ Ummm, excuse me what?! That statement, which was said to me a few months ago has lived with me each single day. Whenever I’m about to bash myself, I remember those words, spoken by another woman and I lift my chin up and strut into the world with confidence. A woman, telling me I’m stunningly beautiful, without lust in her eyes, without a hidden agenda is extremely uplifting. I could share a thousand stories of how women have influenced and enriched my life.
We can all be strong women!
As you go about your day this week, I challenge you to take a moment to complement another woman, to lift another woman’s chin up, to buy someone a coffee, lunch just to say thanks and remind them how stunningly beautiful they are. The more we show each other kindness, the better we become, the more powerful we are and the more strength we have, the more confidence we have to strip down the stereotype of women who don’t get along, the strength we have to refuse to be agents against other women!
I understand that I’m in no competition with anyone, a flower’s beauty does not diminish because there are thousands in the field, each stands out, each has a purpose and each thrives without worrying about those around it! Look in the mirror today, tell yourself that you are unstoppable, that you are capable and that you, yes you, are going to make another woman’s day today.
Women, arise, the time is now.