Divide and Rule

I  couldn’t let this week’s news go un-noted, but first some backstory.

Back in my early twenties I worked on the phones at a pizza shop. Workers were segregated according to sex. Women were put to work on the phones and men made and delivered the pizzas. The men were paid more.

To my left was a Pakistani woman and to my right an Indian woman and we stood for hours without breaks taking orders. The men of the shop had created an interesting little hierarchy for themselves based on the fact that the owner of the shop was Pakistani. The hierarchy went like this: Pakistanis, followed by any muslims (Afghans, Iranians, Syrians), White British of no religion/Black British of no religion, and finally at the bottom, Indians.

And below that, any women.

The Iranian guy of the shop explained to me that in his country there was a saying which went something like “hate between brothers can be greater than among enemies” or somesuch. What he meant was, Pakistan and India, being neighbours, despised each other for historical reasons. That was the best explanation he could give.

The Pakistani woman to my left was not concerned about lording it over the Indian woman on my right. She was more concerned about the fact that her husband,who worked as a driver in the shop, had stopped  calling her beautiful and had recently taken to calling her ugly. She was also very much concerned about her baby, who was back in Pakistan being taken care of by her mother in law. She told me that when she went back to Pakistan on holidays her boy didn’t recognize her and didn’t call her “mother”. This had broken her.

The Indian woman invited me for dinner and sat me down and gave me a better explanation than the Iranian guy about the hierarchy of the shop. She gave me a great historic account of British colonialism, which educated me in a very particular way. She told me precisely how the British colonized India and Pakistan and their tactics were unashamedly based on divide and rule. Divide and rule. Divide and rule. She repeated it so that I would never forget. The troubles in India and Pakistan were invented by the British, who knew the first rule of war, the art of war, which is if you can divide your enemies you will rule over them effortlessly.

Which brings us to patriarchy. A judge this week in the UK ordered that a man be given a longer sentence for rape than normal because the rape victims were from a particular Asian background where there was a greater shame surrounding rape and therefore their suffering was greater.

Female suffering, of course, is measured by the impact of the rape on the males they are associated with. If virginity has a market value, the fathers, brothers and future husbands suffer more by her rape hence the longer sentence for the criminal. If the girl is a piece of trash with no particular market value then we can conclude her suffering is less. If the rape victim has children then by this reasoning she hasn’t really suffered at all because we know for sure she’s not a virgin. If the rape victim is an old woman then what’s the point of even jailing the rapist at all if the men in the victim’s life have long ago died off… If we’re measuring suffering, that is. Measuring female suffering. Now that’s food for thought.

And if any woman protests this verdict they know they will be told to #checktheirprivilege which is why you will find women very quiet around this issue. And the stroke of genius is that the judge was female. A woman messenger carrier. A clever stroke. Divide and rule, in all directions.

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9 thoughts on “Divide and Rule

    • Whenever women try to articulate anything about this online they are being told they are “vile” for wanting to shorten the rapist’s sentence. So the longer sentence is a good thing, we all agree, but apparently it’s not possible to make all rapists serve a long sentence. The only option in response to protest about this verdict is that his sentence will be shortened. Ridiculous.

    • It irks me that women aren’t wise to it. I’d rather deal with NAMALT (not all men are like that) from a feminist than have to deal with the naivety? innocence? head in the sand? that comes with not understanding that men divide women on purpose, as a tactic. It’s a tried and tested war tactic.

  1. nice to see you back for a bit, even if it’s because of yet another piece of horrifying female-proxy bullshit. men giving women fake power is still exploitation. yeesh.
    it’s really interesting that an indian woman would tell you this in great detail. “apolitical” women look out for each other and don’t seem to follow divide and rule in the way mens and colonized women would love them to–thank christ. they know what’s up.

    • Thanks for your comment endlessleeper. I have come across so many situations in my life where being a woman overrode any other factors and or/identities in that particular situation that I am surprised that a lot of women seemingly haven’t. I mean, it’s boggling that a surprising percentage of women actually do identify with other factors before identifying with being a woman.
      But thankfully in my experience most women do first and foremost see themselves as women and identify as such. That Indian woman inviting me for dinner to chat about the shop and the world was an example of our shared womanhood being an overriding identity.
      Of course it’s horrible to be a member of such a despised,weak and powerless group so many women prefer to think “I’m a doctor”, “I’m a student” “I’m muslim” I’m a vegetarian”.. and I therefore have more in common with vegetarian men than with meat-eating women…. Well, that’s the thinking isn’t it.
      But it is nice when you come across women who have no shame in being women. There are more out there than we’re supposed to believe.

      • absolutely agree! women are so divided it’s unreal. you’re allowed to identify with anything as long as it isn’t womanhood. it’s such a sick game sorting through the options to decide how you can gather a shred of humanity for yourself.
        it’s also really sick that men lie and cry about feminism being “oppresive” or “privileged” or “non intersectional” and then tell women to do feminist/other political work until they drop dead from it, because to not align with male reality is to be oppressive, privileged, and non-intersectional. loooooooool. there really isn’t any way to win. non-aligned women are so wonderful to be around, especially since they all avoid men fairly easily. interesting that when left to our own devices, we know to stay away from dicks. 😉 give me a black cat and a spinning wheel any day.

  2. What irritates me to no end is that men do the “divide and rule” towards women’s class over and over again theoughout all the history (especially in 20th century), and we keep falling for it.

  3. I’m curious about whether the intense push to ‘find one’s identity’ that seems to be more prominent of late is doing more harm than good. I think we’d get more done if we could all just (not using that as a diminisher) be women and find common cause. There is room for everything else, but I think if we could make some progress on misogyny, we’d find that the ‘everything else’ would not be as big of an issue as it is right now. That just my hypothesis, but I do find that if I start thinking about all the things I am, there is absolutely no one else out there like me. I have no need to feel special. But I do want some people to be strong with on a fundamental level regardless of specific affilliations.

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