“Women are their own worst enemy,” is one of the easiest expressions circulated without being looked into. I don’t know why this expression is immediately referred to when two women quarrel or when a woman uses money or power to confront another woman.
On the other hand, we haven’t come up with a saying for when men get angry with each other. What should a dispute between two male bosses be described as? What about when men gossip?
What about the men?
What should a dispute between two male bosses be described as? What about when men gossip?Dr. Badria al-Bishr
What happens between men is often described as fights over power, low moral values or immaturity. These interpretations, which are part of normal human behavior, are not adopted when describing women’s rivalry. If a woman doesn’t vote for a woman, she is considered her enemy. They do not consider that she didn’t vote for her because she was not convinced of her electoral agenda. But a man who grants his vote to a woman and doesn’t grant it to a man becomes a supporter of women’s rights.
In the Arab world, many men have spoken out against the teaching of modern sciences to young men. Many men have also called to putting an end to teaching girls, but these men were not described as women’s enemies but acting to “protect society.”
Just a folk tale
In the Arab world, “Women are their own worst enemy” is sparked by a folk tale about a wife and her husband’s second wife. It is normal that a woman builds hatred towards another woman for sharing her lover. She is deranged if she doesn’t do that. But men market this expression as a joke on women.
Meanwhile, women’s use of this expression further increases negativity, hatred and self-enmity. What happens among men happens among women as well. But men were the ones to adopt the belief that women build enmities among each other for their sake. This is why we must stop saying the expression. Enmity is a vice. He who practices this vice, practices it against everyone, be they man or woman. A woman who provokes another woman will provoke a man if he stands in her way because feelings, not gender, are the basis of such behavior.
This article was first published in al-Hayat on July 17, 2013.
Dr. Badria al-Bishr is a multi-award-winning Saudi columnist, novelist and a PhD graduate from the American University of Beirut, and an alumnus of the U.S. State Department International Visitor program. Her columns put emphasis on women and social issues in Saudi Arabia. She currently lectures at King Saud University’s Department of Social Studies.