Month: March 2017

Breast Ironing And The Fear Of Sexually Active Pubescents

Just when I had been tempted to think that FGM was the only remaining barbaric practice targeting the female sexuality, I was recently awakened to the retrogressive practice of Breast Ironing. Apparently, some African cultures such as the one in Cameroon find it okay for grown women, to heat grinding stones, spatulas, hammers and what nots, then proceed to press them on the chests of young girls, who are just starting to grow breasts.

The common belief behind this archaic and oppressive practice being that breasts are attractive to males. And so to prevent this pubescent girl from getting noticed by the opposite sex and possibly get pregnant if she gives in to their advances, these African mothers have taken it upon themselves to subject their young daughters to the unimaginable pain, of having their breasts pounded or massaged with these hot objects. The result; traumatized girls, shame in adulthood, malformed breasts, damaged breast tissue and sadly, in some cases, difficulty in breastfeeding their young ones later on in life.

Speaking up against breast ironing practice. Image courtesy of 9jas.com

The disheartening part about this practice is that it is carried out by mothers, believing that they are preventing their daughters from early marriages, unplanned pregnancies, unwanted sexual attention and incidents of rape. In reality, the only thing that this retrogressive practice succeeds in achieving, is promoting the lowest self esteem in women and furthering the stereotype that a female’s sexuality, is to blame for sexual violence or societal ills. These women have sadly been conditioned by their environment to think that by doing so to their own daughters, they are in fact helping them. Perhaps in the hope that they will thank them later in life for it.

I doubt whether these Cameroonian women, who have been subjected to breast ironing and are now forced to live with the negative consequences of the practice, actually thank their mothers for trying to cub the growth of what makes them beautifully female. It should be noted that most of these barbaric cultures sugarcoated as “tradition” and “helping the woman” do little or nothing to that effect. All of these cultures are characterized by one thing in common. And that thing is often to deny the sexuality of a woman by tampering with what was designed for a woman’s own good in that aspect. In the process, empowering the male’s sexuality.

In this breast ironing case, denying the sexuality of a woman and hampering the nurturing role of a mother to her infant. If this woman who has had her breasts ironed by heated crude tools in puberty, cannot be able to breastfeed her young ones and therefore nurture them, then she has been denied one of the crucial roles in motherhood. In addition to being repulsed by the image of her own breasts, flattened and ugly, from what transpired when she had just started to blossom as a woman.

Just recently, I was shocked and saddened by the fact that some young men actually thought that FGM was beneficial for a woman. We often say nowadays that the boy child has been neglected at the expense of empowering the girl child. However, that recent discovery I made on social media when I read a post from a young man encouraging FGM, makes me think that the girl child has hardly been empowered and that the boy child, is currently enjoying the benefits of being male and in a position to further oppress the female.

Breast Ironing and the tools used. Image Courtesy of Daily Express

The female’s anatomy and what makes her beautiful has constantly been considered a threat and something that needs to be kept in check, if these breast ironing and FGM practices are anything to go by. Society has since led women to believe that they are to blame if a man cannot control himself sexually. We have been conditioned to accept some horrific cultures as things intended to help the woman, even though the only thing they contribute to a woman, is causing her emotional and physical scars that are often times hard to heal.

Women have since been made to feel ashamed of identifying themselves as feminists, in the event of trying to speak up against some of these retrogressive practices that interfere with womanhood. A feminist who is trying to help the girl child escape some of these practices that do her more harm than good is often branded a bitter, wayward, male basher. But perhaps it is time that we decided to actually pay attention to what these feminists are trying to preach, in efforts of allowing a girl child to blossom as the woman she was intended by God to blossom into. In certain cases, only a female is better placed to understand the underlying consequences of some of these harrowing practices.

I tend to feel that the boy child is still very much empowered than the girl child. The boy child still gets to experience his puberty without much interference that will cause him permanent scars in future. Of course I’m not blind to the fact that some boy children, are denied the right to being children and going to school in the event where they have to herd the family’s livestock, get forced into being child soldiers and the likes.

However, society still gets to treat the boy children gently in terms of tampering with their anatomies as men. Circumcision for males is a rite of passage from childhood into adulthood. A badge of honor. Circumcision for females signals the onset of early marriages and is actually aimed at preventing the female from being sexually active or promiscuous to put it that way. In the case of breast ironing, subjecting the female to an unnecessary practice, so that the male can not be attracted to a blossoming female as if the male cannot interpret by himself, that he shouldn’t be messing with this young girl who is just but a child.

I’m in no way trying to bash the male with my sentiments as you can see both FGM and Breast Ironing practices are carried out by women on fellow women. However, what I would like to bring to the fore is the motivation behind some of these practices. Often motivations that come about in relation to the privilege that most males are accorded in patriarchal societies that do not value female contribution. Perhaps a father’s intervention could have stopped a mother somewhere in Cameroon, who had picked up a hot grinding stone ready to massage her hapless daughter’s chest with.

But males you will learn, do not hang around environments where the females outnumber the males in such societies. There are in fact oblivious to the going ons and may not really see the need to speak up against some of these practices, only choosing to openly agree with them if it so happened that someone sought their opinion. And so only a feminist’s voice can come in handy in such a situation, of condemning a practice that should have long been done away with. My heart bleeds for the Cameroonian or African female somewhere who was forced to undergo breast ironing.

 

Are You Happy Being Single?

My tastes in men have been changing over the years.

In my late teens, I fancied any guy who had a stable job and was pursuing a Masters degree. Sounds really weird right now when I’m writing about it, that I would have wanted an already established man then, when I hadn’t even joined any higher learning institution at the time. But I did date a couple of guys in their mid twenties who had stable jobs and were pursuing Masters degrees at the time. And some broke my heart so it wasn’t smooth sailing.

In campus, I became realistic and surprisingly dated a guy in campus for well over two years. It wasn’t the all bliss kind of relationship and probably he was a wrong pick for me or I was the wrong pick for him, but we shared lots in common including having our tea sugarless. Anyway, who wasn’t dating on and off with the same guy in campus? At least our on and off thing lasted well over two years. Plus at the time, I had a thing for anyone with height and he was well over 6 ft tall. I still do, by the way. Biceps are a plus too haha!

Fast forward to the real world and after that on and off thing I had in campus, I have largely been single since then. A couple of try outs here and there, never lasted long enough to qualify as courtship and eventually, I decided to stop trying. This week, I got thinking about my single status. Am I really happy being single? Do I need someone in my life? Will I ever find that someone? Am I getting used to being single? What do I consider ideal in a man?

Happy African Couple. Image from Google

First of all, I nowadays have near zero tolerance for things I consider a waste of my time. So definitely at the moment, my decision to stay single is because I don’t want to get into something, then regret almost immediately why I got into it. I have nursed broken hearts in the past and it was never a good experience. For me, that is.

Now I admit this begrudgingly, but I’m kinda starting to get used to being single. Like I’m not attached to anyone and I can relocate to whichever country if need be and not have to worry about distance stuff and whether we’ll survive it or not. I don’t have to constantly keep contact with one particular person. I get to do my stuff and not feel like I owe someone my time. Sounds selfish I know, but if you haven’t been in any serious, lengthy relationship from mid 2014 like I have, you get used to the single life bliss. And you actually get to enjoy life just being you, interestingly. Call me out on that last fact, later.

A friend of mine recently put me on blast for fancying significantly older guys than myself. Not people’s husbands though! Don’t even start thinking on those lines. At 19, I dated a guy who was 7 years older and frankly age, doesn’t really concern me. That doesn’t mean I’ll go for an old, wrinkly guy. I never really see a 10 year age gap being a big deal. Relationships to me nowadays are more about respect, genuine support, care, getting along, sharing ideals and just enjoying being in each other’s company. If I do get that in a guy who is 12 years older, that’s fine. If I do get that in a guy who’s my age, that’s fine too.

Finding someone eventually will happen. We all know the dating advice that someone comes along when you least expect him/her to. I tend to find some truth in that. I think the best relationships started out rather randomly. You never really plan to talk to this particular guy and date him for 3, 4 years to come. Frankly, relationships I have been in that lasted really long, I never kept tabs on. It just happened and I looked back one day and realized that I had been with the same person for this length of time.

And yes, nobody should ever lie to you that it doesn’t sometimes get lonely being single. It does! I think this week has been that loneliness phase for me. We are social animals who desire to feel loved and so some days, you are reveling in your single life bliss, other days, you feel cursed for not finding the one person that makes your insides turn into jelly. Or that one person who will take you to an idyllic setting one day and look straight in your eyes while proposing.

Yes, I would love to be a wife and mum someday. That would be nice. But hey, being single does not signal the end of life plus one particularly positive thing I have learnt while single, is that you can only give love to another when you finally understand what kind of love to give to yourself.

I would love to hear your single life experiences if any. Do you feel left out in the dating scene sometimes? Has it been hard finding someone that you click with? Share below.

 

 

Why I Haven’t Been On A Proper Date In Ages

Let’s talk about disastrous dates whether first, second or third if you get lucky enough to be asked out on a third date. The ones that make you cringe and wonder why you even agreed to a date in the first place. I’m reminded of my sister’s friend who went out on a date with a guy whom I would like to believe, unintentionally farted at some point. He then proceeded to pretend like he didn’t notice the gross combination smell of cabbage, eggs, beans and whatever foods you might think of, that transform into nuclear weapons of mass destruction, once there is an emission of gas from the body. Needless to say, any forms of attraction toward him from my sister’s friend evaporated that very minute.

I have had my fair share of bad dates, barely there dates and good dates. There are men I met who were chivalrous enough to take me out on proper dates to really nice restaurants. There were also men I met whose idea of a date was, a pretence of requesting I pay them a visit in their homes, in the hopes of getting some from me that night. And they were clueless enough to think that I would believe the visit would be entirely innocent and would only comprise of a dinner and singing of religious hymns before I got escorted back home. There are also men, who for some reason decided to take me out on what looked like a proper date at first in a nice place or setting, only to proceed to behave in the most neanderthal of ways.

I once went out on a date with a guy I really fancied, who decided to spend the entire period, stealing open, obvious glances at an Ethiopian girl’s back in a bare back top. To make matters worse, with the most silliest of grins on his face, he proceeded to mention that he thought the people sitting on the table where the Ethiopian girl was, were students. Now when you take me out on a date and I have spent hours getting ready for you, including doing my toenails in the most luscious of purple color, then you proceed to ogle at another woman, I will be thoroughly pissed. Even more pissed when you decide to trivialize your bad manners. Since when did university students become tourist attractions to be stared at?!

Bored couple on a date. Courtesy of Google Images.

Bored couple on a date. Courtesy of Google Images.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I can barely remember the last time I went on a proper date. It has been a lengthy period of time. Some years, I’m totally sure of that. Of course in that duration, I have been invited out for drinks, dinners or lunches by people, who thought it would be lonely enough to have a meal or drink by themselves and I equally thought, having restaurant meals and drinks once in a while broke the monotony of me sitting by myself, in the house. But I wouldn’t qualify them to be dates because there was no mutual attraction and we were probably feeding the need of having someone else’s company. We were just but two lonely individuals wondering why the odds were always against us in this oh, so cruel, cruel dating world. Trust me, there are many lonely millenials walking around.

Most of the time I have declined random suggestions that were packaged as dates but came at odd hours of the evening or night. Plus I have experienced lengthy periods of time when I have been out of work and therefore, too broke to even think of agreeing to go out on a date. Reason being, that an increasing number of men nowadays assume that you come for a date with your own fare back home. And if you seem like you never carried extra money, then it would be easier to accompany their sly selves back to their houses. So even if I desperately wanted to be asked out on a date, the thought of being broke scared the wits out of me.

Let me emphasize on this, being asked out on a date in a pub or club or to a man’s house or to accompany him and his football loving friends are in reality not dates. So to avoid tainting my image as the girl who is always available and down for whatever shenanigans thrown her way, I have steered clear of dates for a long, long time. Chivalry is pretty much dead in this generation of millenials who have a wide array of booty calls at their disposal. It’s simply the sad reality of how things are. Plus I’m just tempted to think that people are too broke nowadays, with too many needs to even remember how proper dates are supposed to be conducted. Or we simply became too lazy and selfish.

So to save myself the horror of a disastrous date, I would rather let it pass. Which disastrous dates have you ever been on?

Flashy Weddings And Keeping Up Appearances

Some years back, when I was still figuring myself out and what I wanted in life, I had this Kakibarua (small job) I was doing in my hometown of Nakuru and it so happened, that one of my workmates had a wedding coming up. He was a nice guy and of course all of us who worked with him got invited to the wedding. At the time, it was the advent of wedding shows which frequently showcased flashy Kenyan weddings on our TV Channels. Inevitably in our young, inexperienced minds, we expected such a grand wedding with an evening reception in tow.

The wedding turned out to be farely modest and ended by 5pm. We thought there would be a wedding reception afterwards which of course was not to be. Oddly enough, this is one of the weddings in my lifetime that I have attended dressed in jeans. I mean, literally all of us workmates to the groom who fell in the 20s age bracket, showed up in jeans as if we were attending a casual weekend event. I still have that particular photo on Facebook and it does not look anything like we were attending a wedding ceremony.

He must have been so disappointed in us although he made a good show of successfully concealing it. We didn’t even think of getting him individual wedding presents and only tagged along, to present the collectively bought table as the wedding present from the workmates of the groom. As if that was not enough, in our apparent disappointment with no wedding reception, we decided to spoil ourselves silly with drinks at a pub in town later on.

An African bride with her bridesmaids

An African bride with her bridesmaids

About a year back, I had accompanied my cousins for a goat eating party as we call them in our country. Now this, for my foreign readers, is a coated term for a wedding fundraiser. They call it goat eating party, just to attract more attendees since there will be nyama (meat) and Kenyans are known to love their meat.

If you have ever attended some of these parties, you definitely know how annoying they can get because you have to part with more money, than you had budgeted for. These are the kind of ceremonies where you get fined some amount of money for not introducing yourself loud enough for everyone to hear, speaking while the MC is speaking and just for being there.

This particular goat eating party was no different. And all because you want to fund a wedding that will be grand and remembered for years to come. By the time we left, we wondered why people didn’t simply save for their own weddings yet they could afford to hire an umarpket venue for a goat eating party.

I remembered these two incidents when one Kenyan man, decided to wow his in-laws by arriving in style for the dowry proceedings of his wife-to-be, complete with a convoy of vehicles and a helicopter, that caught the attention of Kenyans and the media. A flashy wedding would cap it all off. Just last Sunday, the guy in question was in the papers for all the wrong reasons. Apparently, he had made his millions to afford such a wedding, from swindling foreigners into buying gold. Well, we are yet to see how the story unfolds.

A wedding venue. Image courtesy of Google

A wedding venue. Image courtesy of Google

Kenyans will agree with me that there has been an over commercialization of weddings in recent times. A wedding nowadays, is gauged by how much money was used in arranging it and not so much on the value of a wedding, for a couple who have decided to spend the rest of their lives together. Kenyans are increasingly trying to outdo one another in just how they conduct their wedding ceremonies.

Since an increasing number of middle class Kenyans earn good salaries and are exposed individuals, a grand wedding is indeed made possible. But because we often have a budget beyond our means despite the good salaries we are earning, the annoying wedding fundraising cannot be totally ignored. So we will arrange for these and have disgruntled workmates and friends attend, some deciding not to attend the wedding out of their dissatisfaction from being forced to help in funding it.

We understand that African weddings are a community affair, but we do not want to part with our hard earned money, yet we can clearly see that both the bride-to-be and groom-to-be, have good jobs to sustain themselves. And so, in the wisdom that I have since attained over the past few years, I would gladly congratulate my former workmate for holding a wedding within his means. None of us was asked to contribute a dime to the wedding and therefore, it was shameless of us to come with our own selfish expectations.

Asking other people to fund your weddings and going overboard with the ceremony, just to make an impact, takes away the initial value of a wedding as a ceremony of being joined in Holy matrimony to the one you love. I have no issue with someone who can afford the helicopters, imported gowns and 10 tiered cakes on their wedding day complete with a honeymoon around the world. If they are making the money with their honest means, then it’s theirs to enjoy. However, it would indeed be a tragedy if stories such as the one mentioned above, came up just when they had settled down to start a family.

It kind of puts a dent in the perfect image that their weddings had created in the minds of the public whose attention they intended to capture. So if you intend to do a flashy wedding and lack the means to do it, why not scale down the budget a little bit? It may not be considered that entertaining or grand of a wedding but in the long run, it is the couple who matter and not what the attendees think or imagine.