Women‘s egos have been intentionally characterized as either non-existent or unbecoming. The goal is really to preemptively defuse her basic instinct for justice when her rights are being trampled upon (as is often the case). A woman getting married is told “You know men…you have to manage their egos”. Reinforcing yet again that whenever conflicted, the right answer is to deny herself any sort of fair hearing in order to salve that delicate, easily bruised ego flower of her lord, master and owner. Women are tasked to perform this self flagellation dance over and over until both parties clearly understand who matters and who doesn’t in the relationship. The reminder for women to disregard their ego is yet another way women are taught that their instincts and needs are wrong, dispensable, and most importantly, secondary to everyone else’s.
As a consequence of such indulgence, women have to be taught to concede to men’s egos as a survival tactic. Not massaging a mans ego has repercussions including passive and overt aggression. Women who demur have apparently “asked for it” when assaulted by men in return. This is problematic as is, but also fosters an acceptance of mens anger as justified in any instance of ‘disrespect’. Egos arent bad. They are actually necessary for self affirmation, preservation and a sense of worth. But when men learn gendered ego entitlement AND are permitted to lash out as they please to self-interpreted ego bruising, women suffer without recourse. This isn’t hypothetical. It’s real life.
“The man beat her? How was she talking to him? Women’s mouths are too sharp!”
When my ex-husband tore my clothes off my back, head-butted and assaulted me in our home, he told his mother (with no hint of self awareness or sarcasm) that it was because I was walking away from him and verbally abusing him. I grew up sympathetic to the idea that men are physically stronger than women and so should never hit them. I learnt in the same vein, that women’s tongues are sharper than mens so women should not speak to men ‘anyhow’ to avoid getting beaten. As a child, I often wondered what kind of gymnastics womens’ tongues did to be considered so much more powerful. Now I recognize that men are just as verbally abusive. Remember when Buhari publicly rebuked and dismissed his wife? And I cannot begin to count the number of verbal attacks Trump has mounted on both women and men (and without consequence). I’ve since learned that the focus on women’s tongues is a sexist diversionary tactic to justify even deadly violence towards women.
Let me paint a picture for you who are still in doubt. Let’s say you have a disagreement with someone (regardless of gender). And the person pulls out a gun (knowing you are unarmed) and shoots you dead. Aggravated assault. Men use their physical strength like that gun, because they know 9/10 times, they will win. Ok let’s say you don’t die. Imagine then being asked how you were speaking to the person to make them almost kill you? As though it could justify almost taking your life. Even worse, imagine being told to go back and give that person another chance to kill you. *deep sigh*.
Men come out of those events feeling like they have taught women a lesson in respect. Women come out of these events maimed, traumatized and still expected to forgive and soothe the mans guilt especially since it was ‘her fault’. Cue the devil’s advocacy. It’s hard to break out of this cycle as it is typically reinforced from childhood. We must reject violence from men as a supposed ‘natural’ response. Women’s lives depend on such change. We must also stop constraining girls’ and womens’ egos, as this binds their bodies and minds long before they even get started. Our future depends on it.