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Why there's room for only one queen

Living
 Popular socialites Vera Sidika and Amber Ray recently had a squabble [Courtesy, Instagram]

The storm that surrounds women and their relationships with each other often makes its way to popular culture through TV shows, especially reality TV.

It is not surprising to find the ladies on The Real Housewives franchise getting into arguments and fights that seem to have no end. Or women in the music industry battling it out on Love and Hip Hop, trying to figure out who is better than who.

And it is not just on TV and potentially scripted shows, this tense dynamic between the ladies is often clear in our day-to-day lives too.

Whether it is an air of anger and disagreement in our chamas, or it is gossip and fights among our friend groups and professional circles, the relationship between women is often rocky.

A recent squabble between two popular Kenyan socialites, Amber Ray and Vera Sidika is one example.

What should have otherwise been a beautiful moment for the two mums to be, their gender reveal parties; was tainted by a bitter exchange on social media.

Vera accused Amber of stealing her luxurious gender reveal idea of showing up to the celebration in a chopper, and the latter came out guns blazing to defend herself, insisting that grand gender reveals have existed long before Vera's.

The two ladies seemingly have it all - looks, massive social media following, and possibly the money. They are both queens in their own spaces, beloved by a strong fanbase of millions and with the world as their oyster.

Why, then, should they fight for one supreme position?

Psychologist Loice Noo Okello tells Eve that tension between women often stems from a lack of understanding for one another, coupled with the fact that ladies are often dealing with complex emotions.

"It is a fact that women often do not get along. A lot of it has to do with our emotional issues. Many times when people are working with feelings, they need to be understood," the psychologist says.

"Women also deal with hormonal changes from time to time, and they need support and sensitivity while going through the different intense emotions that come with these changes."

As for whether two alpha females can get along, Loice says that two women with strong personalities can co-exist cordially if they approach their relationship with awareness and tolerance for each other.

Speaking of alpha females- look at how the ladies in hip hop fight with each other. American rappers Nicki Minaj and Cardi B have had a long history of being at each other's neck.

Rather than working together and supporting each other, the two went from subliminal disses on social media and music lyrics to almost fighting physically at a New York Fashion Week party in 2018.

"The scuffle began after rapper Cardi approached Minaj over 'lies Nicki was spreading'. She was allegedly elbowed in the face by a security guard, before throwing a red-heeled shoe at Minaj, who appeared unscathed from the incident," BBC Entertainment reports.

"After Cardi was escorted out barefoot with a bump above her eye, both stars took to social media after the clash."

 American rappers Nicki Minaj and Cardi B have had a long history of being at each other's neck [Courtesy, Instagram]

Even before she disagreed with Cardi, Nicki was involved in a years-long dispute with the famous rapper Lil Kim.

UK's Capital Xtra reports on Nicki and Lil Kim: "Both women admit they first met backstage at a Lil Wayne concert, but both tell the story differently. Nicki says that she asked Kim if everything was cool with them, but Kim responded; 'Picture somebody saying to me, 'We good?' I will ring her throat, snatch her larynx out.'"

Dr Faith Nafula, a psychologist, explains that disagreements between women are common, and she attributes this to our different upbringings and personality types.

"We have people who come from competitive homes, say a household with many sisters. You may often find yourself arguing with your sisters for small reasons like they keep taking your shoes," Dr Nafula says.

The psychologist adds that this competitive nature, coupled with differing personalities, can be a recipe for tension.

"We need to understand that people are different, and they come from different backgrounds. There are the ladies who are loners by nature, maybe they were an only child; maybe they do not know how to behave around other ladies," she says.

She adds: "There are other people who are very sensitive and can easily get offended. At the same time, women are very competitive and often want to be the best at what they do."

Dr Nafula says that when challenged, the ladies can get jealous and critical.

"It is like when a woman takes a leadership position in politics. You will hear many women saying 'huyu atatudhulumu' instead of supporting each other and propelling each other forward."

The psychologist narrows down the problems women face in their relationships with each other to jealousy, competitiveness and even background and birth position.

She says that firstborns are often strong-willed and take on leadership roles.

"If you put a first-born boss lady and a last-born female employee to work together, there may likely be some strain in that professional relationship.

The psychologist says that two strong-willed women may also not get along, as poles repel.

"If you are two alpha women in a setting, one might start to feel outshone and threatened. It is also not easy for these two to correct each other as the one being corrected may take offence."

A recent battle between two prominent women is between actress and reality star Minne Kariuki and influencer and Marini Naturals CEO, Michelle Ntalami.

Their disagreement unfolded on The Real Housewives of Nairobi after the two rubbed shoulders at a dinner party on the show.

Michelle spoke about the beef on a radio interview last month, revealing that the cattiness that ensued was real and not scripted.

"Disagreements are normal. But when you start attacking someone personally, throwing low blows, calling someone names, it is not the right way to fight; fight fair," Michelle said.

When the actress Minne was asked about her fallout with Michelle on a radio interview with Radio Maisha's Mwende Macharia around the same time, she threw a subtle jab by saying; "Huyo ni nani? I do not know her. Nimesikia kumhusu lakini simfahamu."

"Why should I have beef with you yet I do not know you? On the show, she came and sat opposite me and mentioned me, meaning that she already had something against me. So I handled it like a mature lady. She is not a housewife, she just wants to be relevant," Minne said, adding, "I do not have enemies."

 Two prominent women; actress Minne Kariuki and Marini Naturals CEO Michelle Ntalami clashed on reality TV [Courtesy, Instagram]

The two psychologists who spoke to Eve agreed that women do not have to remain in this confrontational state, rather, with some effort, they can get along.

"Once we understand that we are all unique and that we come from different backgrounds, we can work on accommodating each other," Dr Nafula says.

"Communication is key. Take time to understand the other person, and if you feel offended, communicate. Women should also respect each other and watch out for each other's boundaries. If someone is sensitive, do not provoke them."

Loice says that speaking from experience, the ladies too can have real, lifelong friendships that survive storms.

"I have kept friends for over 20 years, so we have grown to know each other's boundaries. There are times when you want to withdraw and other times when you want someone to speak to."

"If we constantly create awareness about women's relationships and work towards improving them, we can fix the problem. Women's unions and groups play a pivotal role in this, as they bring the ladies together to bond and understand each other," she says, adding, "Even better if these groups are of women in the same age range, where they can talk about issues that affect them directly."

 Dr Faith Nafula, Psychologist [Courtesy]

The psychologist notes that rather than forcing another person to think and act like you, one should be aware that people are different and learn to cope with the differences.

"This is where the friction in mother-daughter relationships comes from sometimes. When the mother refuses to allow her child to have an independent mindset and insists that they should think and act the same way."

Dr Faith Nafula adds that selfishness plays a role in the arguments women have, with "attention seeking from the wrong places at the wrong time", causing sparks to fly- in a negative way.

"That if my way is not followed then we disagree. There is also an innate competitive nature in women, where they want to outshine each other and think they are more deserving than the other, wanting the best for themselves."

Let us call it a territory issue- where one puts her foot down as the "all deserving queen", but she finds herself up against women who are just as ambitious, competitive and coming from differing backgrounds.

No wonder the tensions are always at an all-time high when women come together. But, amid all that, beautiful, supportive female friendships can form and make it through.

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