We hear it often, “By nature women are nurturers.” Just not always with each other.
We easily speak about how men hate on women, but let’s talk about our propensity as women to hate on each other. And we do it frequently. Almost habitually, that unbeknownst to us, sizing each other up has become a skill we can perform in a matter of seconds.
Women are often harder on each other than men. At home, at work, even at play, appraising and judging each other constantly. We have entered each other in a competition where the only prize on offer is an unfounded feeling of short-lived self satisfaction. In a never-ending pageant, we are contesting with and judging each other on our dress, marital status, occupation, smarts, social disposition, walk and talk.
No matter how much girl power we profess to have over men we’re still insecure about it. We are strangely threatened by another woman possibly “stealing” our power that it drives us to wield that so called power over each other.
A lot of women will tell you that they have either survived the torment served by at least one mean girl in their past, that girl who dismissed, belittled, or socially tortured them. There might be some who will tell you they are going through it right now. And chances are you’re actually the bully.
Take for example that most mother and daughter – in – law relationships are based on mutual dislike or worse. The line between letting go and grabbing on too tightly is thin. Mother – in – laws are more often the ones abusing what’s meant to be a respectable seniority in these cases, to such an extent it results in the failure of some marriages.
Most times these mothers – in – law suffered under the iron fist of their husband’s mother but instead of breaking the vicious cycle, they continue the “tradition”. One would think rearing one’s own kids would incline one to be more accepting of another’s. But instead power play has pushed some mothers – in – law to take out a hit on their new daughters. Because of this young women enter marriage with their guards up thinning the chances of a mother-daughter bond from forming. Sisterhood is dying.
A recent study has found that two women are less likely to co-operate than two men when one is more powerful than the other. This contradicts the accepted notion that a woman’s nurturing nature makes it normal for them to help each other. Aside from this asphyxiation of one woman’s growth by another, the female newbie at a company undergoes all types of tests by those already there.
If you’re too quiet, you’re labelled a snob. Speak up and you’re a big mouth. Take the initiative or push boundaries and you’re a suck up. Disagree with others views and you’re outcast and given the silent treatment. This happens with women in the same profession, of different professions and generally outside the workplace also.
This strong arm tactic of mocking or shunning other women, and denying them a social connection works because according to experts, relationships are a source of solace and power to women and girls.
But female bullying is not restricted to the real world only. Twitter and Facebook have opened up new arenas for it, with complete strangers slinging verbal vitriol at each other. Never mind that woman make silent deductions about other women based on their dress within seconds of meeting women across seas are openly typecasting each other.
Social media has allowed women to betray, backstab and trash-talk each other without face-to-face conflict, to the amusement and glee of their friends and followers. It sets apart the real friends from the pseudo ones. Disagree with a woman on her status or tweet and you might earn the cold shoulder at work or even worse be unfriended.
Constantly images of what the perfect woman should look like bombard us. It isn’t a surprise that the reason for women hating on women is self hate. Not being able to identify with this ridiculous slim, flawless, cellulite-free, and perfect image of beauty has created angry women.
Envy, insecurity and feelings of intimidation drive women to knock other women down. More often than not these unhealthy feelings develop because of this visual assault, rather than a deep rooted psychological problem. Women with a strong sense of self and high self-esteem are less likely to hurt others, if they aren’t prone to making judgments about women of other cultures and religion.
Sisterhood is drawing its last breaths. Unfortunately even amongst Muslim girls and women. We are choosing the wrong examples to direct our identities and so weaving flimsy friendships and relationships based on the superficial.
If sisterhood in Islam transcended the surface levels of friendship, Muslim women could enjoy a very special bond with each other. As Muslim women we share a gift more special than any other, we share the belief in the Oneness of Allah SWT. This shared belief and testimony of faith should go beyond our differences of race, nationality, culture or language. Being a sister in Islam is one of many blessings but it also comes with a responsibility to each other.
As Muslim women we are taught that there is great reward in loving each other for the sake of Allah SWT, that we should be trustworthy and show a cheerful face towards one another, that we should not abandon each other, that we should be faithful, forgiving, kind and tolerant to each other, that we should conceal each others flaws, and that we should love for each other what we love for ourselves.
It’s fair to say the opposite is happening. We place each other in boxes of too religious, too modern, too pious,too quiet, too intelligent or too homely. The list goes on. We choose our friends based on the superficial and fail to make lasting friendships with other women because of our increasing envy, self-hate, insecurity and feelings of intimidation. If we are failing to build a strong sisterhood in Islam how do we expect that sisterhood to extend to women of all faiths to build a sisterhood in humanity.
Drugs Scourge: Muslim girls being hooked
The De Deur Health Centre has been inundated with calls and patients since opening its doors four years ago. The centre, in the Vaal, is South Africa’s first to cater for female patients struggling with drug abuse. Being outpatient in nature means that patients commute there daily. But, renovations are underway and once that is done and the centre, run by Crescent of Hope – a Muslim organisation – secures the necessary regulatory approval from health officials, it will operate around the clock.
“On a daily basis we see girls from all walks of life. To give you some idea, our youngest patient that we’re seeing at the moment is 13 and eldest is 69,” Moulana Riyaad Limbada told Sabahul Khair on Monday. More shockingly, Crescent of Hope’s male-only rehab centre once accepted a boy aged just seven. Moulana said kids this young, seen as safe agents because they don’t get searched by the police, are targeted and recruited to courier drugs by merchants who then pay them in kind (or drugs).
“(The problem) is across the spectrum of age… colour, creed, religion. This is the scourge that has hit our country tremendously. The nature of the drugs: heroine, crystal meth, crack cocaine (all) highly addictive. Withdrawals are intense,” Limbada told Cii listeners.
The fact that the centre is yet to open day and night has had an adverse effect, Moulana said. “It’s compounded our efforts because the sooner we get them in an environment where they can be able to be detoxified totally – mind, body and soul, Insh’Allah – the better chance we have of reconnecting them to Allah and his Rasul SAW and then perhaps on the way to recovery and rehabilitation.”
Limbada expressed shock at how easy ordinary people fall prey to different types of addictions, adding that, with this in mind, the De Deur Health Centre’s attitude is to tackle, not just drug addiction, but also lifestyle addiction. He noted that, for instance, some people can only enjoy their meals if it goes with a glass of Coke. The soft drink isn’t quite a healthy beverage and the number of people who suffer from its side effects is downside keep drinking because they are addicted to nicotine.
“Now imagine when you come to drugs of intense nature like heroine and crystal meth. (Look) at the numbers. Although people are still in denial in many quarters but I don’t think there’s a single extended family, especially so in the Muslim community in South Africa, is not affected by some family member that is on drugs or who’s trying to (quit) – or something to do with (drugs),” Moulana said decrying the fact that the community tends to avoid or hide the issue.
“There’s definitely a drug problem amongst the girls – and the Muslim girls. More so we’re dealing with that, you know, predominantly, although we’re open to all (religious and ethnic groups). They’re all coming to us from all (walks of life). So there’s definitely a big problem amongst the girls. We’re totally inundated. The absolute need and necessity for an all-female Muslim center, as such, should highlight that already,” he said. “Parents are in denial.”
This is probably because parents get shocked when they discover that their children, no less daughters, are addict. On the other hand, some parents see their children’s drug addiction as a bad reflection on themselves and thus prefer to not discuss the matter openly, Moulana said.
Taking a look at some of the reasons driving addiction in the corporate world, where some of his highly-qualified patients come from, Limbada said one of the De Deur patients said she became addicted after discovering that her junior colleagues were outperforming and “flying past” her all because they were using enhancers such as coke and tik. “For her it was the case of ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’,” Limbada told Cii, adding some people use tik, and other types of appetite-killing drugs, for instant slimming.
Another reason spurring drug abuse is it’s become socially acceptable, thanks to the media notably Hollywood films, while many countries are legalising drugs, according to Moulana. “How many of the listeners that are listening now wouldn’t agree that, you know, they tried some sort of thing – whether it be a little bit of weed or whatever it was in their youth? Alhamdullilah you managed to get out, it was an experience in your life and you carried on,” he said.
But things have changed radically in the past two or three decades when weed was the coolest yet most-dangerous drug. “The nature of the drugs today, just a little experimentation is instant addiction and the guy gets caught up and now he’s reaching out for help,” Moulana warned.
“By us sweeping it under the carpet by denying, by trying to find other excuses we’re doing that (family member – whether a daughter, son, wife or spouse) a great disservice… We’re past the stage of judging families and judging people on the fact that he’s taken drugs or he has succumbed to the addiction of drugs,” he said. “This is so widespread in our society.”