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MAKING IT BETTER : The Psychology Behind Women Blaming And Shaming Other Women

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Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019

‘Woman’s lip bitten off by the girlfriend of the man who gave her a free ride’; that was the headline to a recent story in one of the dailies. It immediately made me think of the numerous stories in the papers, on the radio, on TV reality shows, real life crime stories and one of my favourite shows, the American court show Judge Judy; in which women focus all their rage and angst towards other women for acts, crimes, hurts, actually carried out by the men in their lives. I can’t recall the number of times a woman has gone Rambo on another woman who she finds out is involved with her husband, boyfriend even at times when the other woman may not even have an idea about the wife or girlfriend.

It never ceases to amaze me and I have wondered what the psychology behind this behaviour is. I can understand the grey areas or maybe I should call them the more explicit situations where a woman knowingly enters into a frisson, liaison, and an affair with a married man. It makes sense that the other woman can be called out and feel the full rage of the wifey. Even though I would think a wives’ contract and promise is with her husband and if he betrays it, that’s where all her rage should be focused. Of course I understand that emotions are not logical. However I cannot understand why and how the aggrieved woman sometimes completely shields the man, absolves him of all blame.

Treating a man as a passive bystander and as if outside forces are able to make him be unfaithful, treat his wife disrespectfully and breaking the sanctity of his marriage vows encourages the woman to enter a world of denial and bolsters all those unhelpful superstitious and cultural beliefs. Paradoxically when a woman treats her husband as though he is not responsible for remaining faithful, she invariably condones and colludes with that behaviour and makes it her responsibility for keeping him faithful. Then a woman goes on that slippery slope of feeling not pretty enough, not smart enough, not sexy enough, simply not good enough. It’s a pretty desperate, dark place to box yourself into because you can’t win! There’s always someone prettier, smarter etc…

Men are perfectly capable of making decisions as they do on a daily basis to rebuff the advances of a woman who isn’t their spouse. I remember chastising a much loved, respected, close male relative long ago for engaging in sexual relations with an older woman who was the wife of an acquaintance of his. To my complete incomprehension he retorted by asking what I expected him to do when the woman had asked him directly for sex. I felt both disgust and incredulity in equal measure. What he said made no sense to me at all, but I was sure it was a male ego, beating of the chest thing and other males would probably get it! My interpretation or understanding of what he was saying was that he didn’t have a choice in the matter, once the gauntlet was laid down he had to follow it through to save face or prove his manhood? This is a man who has a very high IQ, an intellectual, a man with numerous achievements. I wondered how he could give and believe such asinine reasoning. To make matters worse I asked him if he was attracted to the woman and if he had enjoyed the experience and he gave a resounding no! He said he was actually repulsed by her but he still had to follow it through. Really? Wow! I was actually horrified and my estimation of him dropped. This was one of the times I really believed the expression, men are from Mars and women from Venus…we are wired differently! I digress.

When women buy into this erroneous assumption or belief that men are unable to fend off the archetypical temptress, the femme fatale and that they are gullible, not in control of their urges, incompetent when it comes to matters of their libido, as women we immediately create an atmosphere where the person to blame is the woman; because someone has to be blamed for hurts, pain and the chaos created. Men make powerful life changing decisions all day that alter the state of world. It’s unfathomable that they can’t and don’t make the choices in their personal or sexual interactions.

By saying a man is helpless, unable to control his sexual urges or proclivities, we are saying it is the woman’s responsibility for making sure the man doesn’t cheat, women are expected to or are responsible for managing their husbands sexuality. This is very different to men wanting to control women’s sexuality.

From a psychological understanding, it is easier to be angry with someone you don’t know, in order to minimise your pain and hurt. However that pain and hurt that women are trying to avoid by focussing and projecting all their rage and blame on to the other woman, is exactly what they need to be in touch with, it is where they will find and get their strength.

When women blame other women, we go against everything that works to empower women. We need to understand how women have been socialised and programmed for hundreds of years, which has intensified in the 21st century, to be suspicious, envious of one another, we are taught to denigrate, to be envious of one another, to be competitive where men are concerned. We learn or are taught to feel guilt, shame and to have low self esteem. This is all done very deliberately in the knowledge and fear of the power and strength women can generate when and if they stand together. So women get wise, we are in a new era, a new agenda is on the table, build on it, love and support your fellow woman/sister. To our male supporters, our brothers and friends, husbands, uncles, who stand with us, there’s nothing to fear; your lives will also be enhanced!


Gloria Ogunbadejo writes a weekly column for Punch Newspaper. She is a Psychotherapist, a life coach, a holistic counsellor and an ordained Minister. She can be reached at

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3 Responses

  1. Women should make men accountable. Men must be accountable for their actions. If the man cheats, hit the man not the woman he did it with.

  2. I strongly support these notions. The society can only be better if men are held responsible for all their sexual decisions and women wholeheartedly embrace themselves

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