LCI Learning

Share on Facebook

Share on Twitter

Share on LinkedIn

Share on Email

Share More


A woman is not a woman’s worst enemy.

A woman is not a woman’s worst enemy. Patriarchy is.



This post began as a response to a comment on the last post, and in response to - ‘Can two women really become friends?’ and ‘Why women hate women?’:(


As little girls, women hear of the importance of things they have little control over. They hear about their skin colour, their physical beauty  and even today,  concerns about their happiness with their future in laws.


They are brought up to see marriage as the goal in their lives. Divorce or separation, staying unmarried or being widowed is seen as something they must avoid. This puts pressure on women to be ‘happily married’ or ‘happily in a relationship’, across cultures. And since much of this is not in their control – women have a lot to feel insecure about.


What’s more, Patriarchy is also responsible for why very little in this all-important relationship is in the control of those it involves.


Traditionally women’s partners are discouraged from seeing their marriages and their wives as important parts of their lives. It’s common for men to be shamed and taunted for showing they care for their wives or marriages. Jokes like ‘Shadi ke laddu, jo khaye wo pachtaye‘, or taunts like Joru ka gulaam are common. And this when women must move in among near strangers and depend on the spouse’s support to feel at home in a new environment.


Traditionally men’s partners are brought up to believe that finding a partner and ‘keeping him’ is their only goal in life. The education they receive, how they talk (softly), walk, look , respond to questions (always respectfully), the careers they choose (no jobs that require traveling) – everything is permitted keeping the comfort and approval of a future husband and his family in mind. Women are brought up to seek approval.


In Patriarchy, men are conditioned to fight for their egoes and ‘honor’. Jealousy in men is seen as manliness. Since the partner must depend on them, men might get away with being unfaithful.


Patriarchy also keeps women dependent on sons and brothers (Manusmriti is not very subtle about it) which makes them insecure about losing them to other women who depend on them, i.e. the women they marry. Basically the entire system puts women one against another.


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 birth-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.


In a traditional set up,  the respect and awe for male members at home and the insecurity and lack of self worth in the female members at home passes on from one generation to another. Even when they know they need not depend on male approval, the conditioning remains. The husband 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.


We 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 asked to stay and make her marriage/relationship work. And then there maybe financial dependence. So more insecurity.


Women don’t hate each other any more than the rest of the population does. It seems women bond even when there is so much insecurity and dependence.


Movies like ‘Mirch Masala‘ and ‘Delhi 6‘ and awe inspiring stories like ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns‘ show how well women bond, even in unlikeliest of circumstances.


Sex and the City‘ is also about women bonding, supporting and being there for each other.

In real life and in the blogosphere, women are seen supporting, encouraging, taking out the time to counsel or just to listen to women.


Also consider, who exactly are women expected to get along with the most, but often don’t? Do they have a choice here? Often women are expected to get along with their spouses’ female relatives of all ages, backgrounds, expectations and attitudes. Traditionally, they are not encouraged to stay in touch with their friends. So they are deprived of the support system that friends could provide and are expected to get along with those who see respect (etc) from them as their right.


Patriarchy does not put the rest of the population under pressure to win the approval of their spouse’s relatives, so the rest of the population has little  opportunity to find out just how unfair and dis-balanced the system is. [Read Desi Girl's take on this here and here]


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, male jealousy or machismo.

Patriarchy being a system that allows a few to control the lives of many, does not benefit most of those it controls, not men, not women. Not even those who it seems to benefit… but that’s another post.





 9 Replies

Ambika (NA)     30 January 2011

very good posting....

Jamai Of Law (propra)     30 January 2011

Good one!!

Sarvesh Kumar Sharma Advocate (Advocacy)     30 January 2011

great post.....................



Women are not each others' enemiies....WHAAAAAAT!!!


Who conditions men through childhood "Beta,boys kitchen me nahi kaam karte?"

Who taunts the women most if she can't conceive,by calling her "baanjh"?

Who creates max. problems for the new daughter inlaw,due to fear of losing the son?

Against which family member of husbands,do females complain the most to their friends,parents and at LCI ?Are they father inlaws,brother inlaws,husband's friends,etc?

Who plays max. kitcken politics with the new daughter inlaw?

Who is fond of doing "kabza" on the new bahu's streedhan like ornaments,in the name of traditions?

Who's fond of comparing daughter with bahu,devrani with jethani(divide and rule game)?

Who makes sons dance to their tunes,so that he never actually "falls in love" with wife and gets labelled as "mamma's boy?

"Have you heard of "papa's boy?"Is a father really so possessive of his son,unlike a mother,so as to create hell in daughter inlaw's life?

Last but not the least-Fill in the blanks:

_____________________, thy name is jealousy.


Uff...My hands are paining after writing so much.So enough for today.Bakki baad me sochke likhungi.


Ambika (NA)     03 February 2011

Meenal the article explains why ...


I responded only after reading the article.


Men are conditioned "not to give importance to wives" from their mums,sisters and female relatives only.Since their childhoods,men have always spend max. time with mothers,sisters,etc.

Even if you go back 100 yrs. ago,women were mostly housewives.I agree they were too docile,but they only spent max. times with sons and conditioned accordingly.Fathers were often out for work and did not communicate much.If we say this mother was pressurised and therefore wrongly conditioned her son,the so called pressure also came from her mum inlaw.

However,lets 4get the ancient India and live in the present.

We women crib that we have always been suppressed,but we only are responsible for our plight.Why have we not been united?Simple reason is that in marital homes,jealousy is the main factor.If a mother inlaw starts supporting daughter inlaw,bahu may become rani of the house,which she doesn't want!

If men raise their hands,,usually it's due to complaints from mother inlaw or sister,that the bahu isn't following norms.His father is usually not home to take side of his wife and taunt the bahu.Even if this father inlaw is home,he's also usually provoked.Very rarely we hear of a father inlaw bullying a bahu!

We women were never united in the first place.Men mostly danced to their mothers'/female relatives' tunes only,and we pass the buck to men that they are violent.

However such a provocation is no reason for committing violence on wives.

Then, females are taught to "tolerate injustice" from women only,not so much by fathers,brothers.

If you notice,in a workplace also,females form "groups" and like to backbite while men bond with all.

All these are harsh truths but I still say this,being a female.

The remedy to all this is not to engage in power struggles in kitchens,or in offices,so as to get importance.But treat all women as own sisters/daughters.It's high time we stop blaming men for everything(except violence in provocation) and realise that we too are reponsible to a VERY large extent.

Ambika (NA)     03 February 2011

Relax Meenal.

No one is blaming men, not even this article. It is the system of patriarchy which conditions men and women both. How? well lot of good literature on patriarchy is available. Kamala Bhasin's Pitrasatta deals with this question exactly. I would not mind reading more even if I were of different opinion. 

Mallik Karra (Done with AIBE)     04 February 2011

Woman conditions son... not to come into kitchen...... but the same woman wants her husband to help in the kitchen.....mmmmmm..... 


planly put, does change in womans attitude will bring semblance in society and misuse of laws......

Mallik Karra (Done with AIBE)     04 February 2011

*** plz read as... an end to misuse of laws

Leave a reply

Your are not logged in . Please login to post replies

Click here to Login / Register  

Start a New Discussion Unreplied Threads

Post a Suggestion for LCI Team
Post a Legal Query