In a gender training I recently concluded, a participant stood up the ask the question, “what do we do about women being their worst enemies?” I was a bit irked by that question. Of course, this is not the first time I’m hearing something like this, but like I’ve done in the past, I maintained that the phrase is a dangerous myth used repeatedly to create the divide and conquer mechanism against women. The truth is, if we pay attention, we will be able to get stories of the ways in which women have pulled through for each other rather. To show you exactly what I mean, I spoke to five Nigerian women on the issue. This is what they had to say.
When I was in the university, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure. It wasn’t something I was willing to talk about so after my diagnosis and I got back to school, one of the lifestyle changes the doctor wanted me to make was to take walks and exercise. So I just started walking in the evening with no explanation whatsoever to my two besties who I lived with. In the middle of conversations, my alarm would go off and I would stand up and say I’m going for a walk. After a couple of times, by the rule of unspoken agreement, they started going with me. Sometimes one of them as long as they made sure I wasn’t alone because of safety reasons. We didn’t even have to talk because they understood that I just had to be in my head and without even knowing why I was doing this, they offered this strong unwavering support.
See, I so love this energy, especially because it’s so low stakes yet very high on the rank of support initiatives. I mean, your girls probably can’t fight off criminals but just knowing that they are willing to stand with you can ramp up your confidence.
I have multiple instances where my girls have come through for me because of how close-knit our sisterhood is. They have always come through for me when I needed them. Last year, I had a terrible toothache that needed surgery. When I told my friends this, and showed them the bill, without letting me know, they contributed money for it. Also, I remember when I started my MSc, I told my friend that I needed to get a job so I can fund my education, and then she just sent me money, another friend told me that if I needed to write IELTS, she was ready to support me.
This one is for all the guys who think women just want to spend their money. Like fam! Women are not just making their cash; they are spending their paper on other women too.
The most memorable for me was when I was unemployed, I had 2 friends who were working and would both send me allowance from their salaries every month. One would take me shopping and tell me to fill my cart with a certain amount. They also contributed to my first apartment and after law school, they contributed to getting me a wig and a gown.
Talk about your girls coming through at a very important career milestone. Where’s the tissue, please?
There are lots of examples but one I will never forget was after my suicide attempt last year. My friends held space for me in a way I didn’t know was possible. There was Zainab who sent me the longest, kindest, email, and who kept checking on me even though I wasn’t entirely emotionally available. Ope who never got tired of my failure to respond to her constant messages and kept reaching out to me, affirming me.
So glad to know Hafsat had emotional support when she needed it. Sometimes, all it takes is that extra phone call, text message, or email.
Growing up, friendships have been an extension of sibling relationships for me. I have several female friends I grew up with that influenced me a lot. I have my female friends come through for me in so many ways, mentioning my name in important places. This is not just financially but also emotionally, mentally and sometimes physically. My friends have sent food to me and paid for things I like.
I’ll all for friends who mention your name in important places, because really? What else are we here for if not to root for each other?
Finally, remember that the best way to dispel the myth that women are their worst enemies is by being the woman you want other women to be for you. Give love, care, and support just as much as you want to receive it.