FGM

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.

 

Has Africa Done Enough To Cub FGM?

Should these girls face FGM? Photo courtesy of globalhealthstudents.blogs.ku.dk

Should these girls face FGM? Photo courtesy of globalhealthstudents.blogs.ku.dk

In 2011, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) was outlawed in Kenya. A law was equally passed clearly outlining the illegality of practicing FGM or taking someone out of the country, to have the procedure done. However, despite a law banning FGM existing in my country, some communities still actively engage in the heinous practice till date.

According to a definition by WHO, UNICEF and UNFPA in 1997, FGM is the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. World Health Organisation (WHO) goes further to expound that an estimated 91.5 million girls and women above the age of 9 in Africa are currently living with the consequences of FGM. A further 3 million girls in reference to the report by WHO, are at a risk of undergoing the cut every year.

Indeed as I was going through the FGM related images on the Internet for this post, I couldn’t help but find a huge chunk of them to be too graphic for myself and I believe, my readers too. I chose to settle on a milder form of the images. But is there really a milder form of FGM for those women who have undergone the worst form of it and have to further undergo reconstructive surgery in order to consummate their marriages? Worst case scenario, die in the process or develop complications during delivery because of being victims of the cut?

I sought to understand what lies in the mindset of female circumcisers and ended up stumbling on an article dated July 3rd 2015, by Felicity Thistlethwaite on the website http://www.express.co.uk. Two female circumcisers had been interviewed by MailOnline in their village in Kenya (Names have been omitted for this post to avoid ethnic profiling).

Woman 1 had this to say about the deeply entrenched practice in her community;

Girls are cut to ensure they remain faithful because the sexual organ is not there anymore. When you are cut you will not be like a slut looking for men here and there like a prostitute. You are docile waiting for your husband because after you are cut, sex is for having children not for anything else.

Woman 2 further added;

When you are cut, that is when you grow healthily into a woman because the bad blood is not there anymore. In the body, there is good blood and bad blood. After a girl is cut, the bad blood is gone.

Just by looking at these women’s reasoning, it was quite evident to me that a female’s sexuality has always proven to be a bone of contention. In most societies in Africa and across the world practicing FGM, the main intention is usually to tame the girl child from being sexually active before marriage. We can also capture a patriarchal kind of brainwashing in women toward what marital sex constitutes.

If sex in marriage is only for making babies and nothing else, then happens a situation whereby the husband craves sex but with no intention of getting his wife pregnant, then will sex in marriage have lost its meaning? And is it in order to conclude that women do not desire to engage in intercourse with their husbands except in situations where they have a plan to conceive? How then can we explain troubled marriages whose main cause is them being devoid of sex?

Indeed, there lies quite deep connotations of patriarchy in this whole business of FGM in societies which actively pursue the practice. It may come out as cheap feminism banter if we decided to question the liberal nature that has been accorded men when it comes to their sexuality, in comparison to the subdued nature accorded to the women’s sexuality?

And while FGM has always been painted to seem like it advocates for morality in matters sex, truly, its main intention is to further oppress the weaker sex in society, and that is the woman. To deny her a voice and a right to own her sexuality. To equally deny her a right to exercise her own self control while giving the stronger sex, the upper hand to decide what to do with regards to what should actually be a female responsibility.

Some of you may argue that no man participates in the cutting of women and that women, in most cases are actually willing to undergo it. I attribute this fact to the patriarchal brainwashing I previously mentioned. When you live in a society where the major decisions are being undertaken by one gender, then it becomes acceptable over time and a way of life. Unless enlightened, sadly, the situation remains the same and you will find women echoing what has been put in place for generations. They will not even think of questioning its validity in their lives.

You may agree with me that most of the societies engaging in active FGM are societies that lie on the deeply entrenched patriarchal spectrum. And that after the girls are circumcised then they are considered ready for marriage. Why not ready for other aspects pertaining to their lives as women? I leave that for you to judge. Yet FGM is considered a must for women in these societies and a woman who has failed to undergo it is subject to malicious gossip, shunning and taunts.

Apart from the sexual aspect of FGM, the girls are equally exposed to a horde of other risks. There is the risk of contracting the virus due to the poor sterilization standards of the crude razor blades used, bleeding to death, experiencing difficulty in delivery as well as the whole experience being traumatic for the girl.

I once watched a docu series where a circumcised girl in one of the communities in my country, had to walk kilometers after the practice under the hot sun in pain and bleeding. And all the while villagers awarded her with notes of cash. How that is supposed to prepare someone for womanhood beats my logic as the only interpretation I’m getting from it is that, this girl will probably conclude that womanhood is often traumatic. I fear that she may never view her womanhood as a cause for celebration and equally fulfilling.

An expose at the turn of the year by NTV’s Enock Sikolia on FGM among one of the communities in Kenya where the practice is heavily rampant, revealed that some trained nurses also perform the cut on unsuspecting, uncircumcised, pregnant women as soon as they go into labor. I found this unsettling in so many different angles.

First, a nurse is someone who has been to medical school and is therefore literate as well as enlightened on the dangers of FGM. Second, a nurse is someone a patient trusts to handle them professionally. Third, circumcising a vulnerable woman in the throes of labor pain is akin to maliciously abusing this woman physically and emotionally, while overlooking her right to stay uncircumcised. It would therefore be in order for parliament to pass a law that will ensure such rogue nurses, are liable for prosecution if it is ascertained that they indeed did circumcise a pregnant woman in labor.

The expose further shed light on the circumcisers change of tact. Instead of performing the practice during the expected periods by authorities, keen on pouncing on such offenders, they opted to circumcise girls at a much younger age or in hospitals. Here is where the role of some of the nurses came in. However, as a result of pressure from the community, many married women had voluntarily decided to get circumcised in a bid to save face. A sad state of affairs.

WHO states that the prevalence of FGM varies significantly between regions with ethnicity as the most decisive factor. The specific FGM procedure performed also varies by ethnicity. As of 2008/9 the prevalence of FGM in Kenyan women and girls between the ages of 15-49 years was 27.1% (www.compassion.com)

An article by Silas Irungu, a Compassion Kenya, Field Communications Specialist titled Fleeing the Knife on the website mentioned above narrates;

Young (insert tribe name) women undergo female circumcision as part of an elaborate rite of passage that initiates young girls into adulthood and ultimately early marriage.

The practice is deeply ingrained in the culture such that women who have not gone through it are not considered for marriage or if married, the bride price is heavily discounted much to the disappointment of the bride’s family.

Silas Irungu goes on to state;

The law in Kenya prohibits female circumcision and other cultural practices considered to be violence against women. It is difficult to prosecute the perpetrators of FGM because of cultural allegiance. Usually the practice is done in private under the cover of darkness.

To sum it all up, FGM is a thorn in the flesh and it is quite refreshing to witness many anti-FGM women crusaders up in arms against the practice in Kenya. Educational centres have been set up in communities where the practice is rampant, with an aim to shield young girls keen on pursuing their education, from undergoing the cut and being married off. Former Marakwet East MP, Linah Jebii Kilimo is one of the many high profile women against the heinous practice of FGM. She rose up to become a female leader in her community, despite being uncut.

Which firmly proves that if the African girl child is to truly prosper, then the practice of FGM needs to transform into a thing of the past. A retrogressive aspect of culture to be shunned and forgotten. Despite the many loopholes that we face in completely eradicating this practice, with one voice as Africa, it can be achieved.

What has your African country done to cub FGM?

 

Demystifying The “Bitter Woman”

I once came across this meme that someone had posted on Social Media;

Stop Taking Relationship Advice From Bitter Women

Well, I was naturally curious to see the comments so I scrolled down. Outrageously, several women had liked and equally commented agreeing with the whole idea. There were comments from women like “Yeah, these women are bitter that’s why they give these kinds of relationship advice”, ” Yes! Tell them” blah, blah, blah kind of crap.

It is not uncommon for women to sometimes tear each other apart so despite my slight outrage, I knew this was kind of expected.

But then I chose to look at it this way; There are women who have been so lucky, blessed even, to meet and date wonderful men who pampered them, respected them, protected them and married them. Such women have fortunately been spared the games that a section of men play in the dating world. Some of them do not even know the pain of being cheated on. Well, I have nothing against these particular category of women. In fact, they are my inspiration.

However, there are quite a number of women who have been unfortunate enough to date every Tom, Dick and Harry who came in tow with a bagful of lies and tricks. Some of these women happen to be bloggers or writers, let’s say. And they decided to share their experiences with their readers. I must admit that some of their posts may come out a little too blunt or direct or sarcastic. I do not blame them.

All those ‘no good men’ they have encountered in their dating lives have taught them quite a number of lessons. Sorry to say this, but these women are way savvier in relationship matters, than the former category I have spoken about because they have not only tasted the good, but the ugly too. They are better versed at giving practical relationship advice to other women in similar predicaments.

Does that make them bitter because they seem to be settling scores with men? To many, yes! And so we brand them “bitter women”.

1a4ad0ceded1c18e7803b67ebe1f7bc0Apparently, I ought to cower in shame for identifying as a Feminist. Why?

Because over time, Feminists have been branded bitter women, who have failed at love and marriage and therefore, are out to spew their toxins to other sober minded women in successful marriages and relationships. They may be successful in their careers as a result of their confidence and assertiveness but deep down, they are crying torrents as they mourn their f***d up love lives and messy divorces, from husbands who wouldn’t put up with their shenanigans. They are women who ought to be avoided at all costs.

Let us try and understand Feminism.

Who is truly a Feminist?

Is she the woman who protests down the street, with female underwear against some sort of injustice committed by the government, that has no relation whatsoever to multicolored undergarments? Is she the woman who dresses skimpily and hangs onto a bus while enacting some form of sexual activity, all in the name of preaching that women should be allowed to dress the way they want to? Is she the woman who kills her own infant son because she claims that she is a feminist therefore desired a girl for a child and not a boy?

Indeed, there are acts which have been committed by self proclaimed feminists, that have actually led society to brand them “bitter, disgraceful women” who do not give a hoot about what others will say or do about them. However, we know for a fact that acts of feminism in the past, have changed some of the deeply rooted oppressive mentalities toward women.

A true feminist;

  • Speaks up against sexual violation of women
  • Asserts for the right of a woman to vote in an election and to actually own a driver’s license
  • Emphasizes on the need to educate girls in the society
  • Will not take oppression in marriage coated with claims of “submission” to the husband
  • Pushes for gender equality in the workplace and country
  • Speaks up against detrimental practices to the girl child such as FGM
  • Opposes early marriages of the girl child to older men
  • Has strong views on matters relationships, marriage and career development
  • Cannot stand to hear the opposite sex trashing the woman
  • Knows the rights of women and their contribution to society
  • Will clearly state her desire not to participate in tradition, that does not favor the woman and may put her at risk of even getting infected with HIV…

And the list is endless.

So for all those branding feminists as bitter women, are you indeed justified in doing so?

For all those branding women who have had their fair share of troubles in dating and marriage as bitter women, are you indeed justified in doing so?

Before you embark on finger pointing and stereotyping of a fellow woman, take a minute and ask yourself what you would have done had you faced a similar situation?
Nobody chooses to be bitter. Everybody reacts to situations differently. Women ought to uplift one another so much that in the process, the bitterness of one is dissolved. Men on the other hand need to spare a thought for the woman. Branding never helped anyone.

Young Women Need To Change Their Mentality First In Order To Succeed.

So everything is now back to normal, I presume, after a weekend’s visit to our country, from the President of the United States, Barack Obama.

I particularly liked something he said concerning women yesterday, when he addressed the nation from the Safaricom Indoor Arena. He cautioned us against treating women as second class citizens. Something that many feminists are very familiar with in their common quest for gender equality. He further mentioned that when you educate a woman, then her offspring will surely be educated.

It was indeed very refreshing to hear someone speak so passionately about the need for women to be respected and protected from FGM, early marriages, Sexual Assault as well as Domestic Violence. These are injustices that happen on nearly a daily basis in several parts of the world. I have read chilling stories of women from the DRC who have had to endure continuous gang rape from soldiers.

One particular story stood out for me, of a Female Activist from the same country, who got gang raped as a result of her Activism. She is currently in one of the refugee camps in our country. It was heartbreaking to read about the kind of horrors that women from war torn countries have to endure.And especially women trying to advocate for change.

Indeed, I felt very lucky to be a Kenyan and from a country that has endured relative peace since Independence. And as much as ethnic clashes happen in certain parts of our country, as well as the 2007 post-election violence, majority of the women in Kenya have been safe.

I believe that the President of the United States had a very strong point in suggesting that the rights of women should be respected. He seemed particularly impressed by the young women in our country, with an entrepreneurial spirit as well as a zeal to champion for women’s rights. As a father to daughters himself and the president of a Superpower, he indeed understands perfectly the contribution of all genders to a society.

However, I think that the young women of this generation in our country, need to first change their mentality in order to be successful. When compared to other nations in the world where oppression of women is rampant, it is evident that Kenya is way ahead on matters gender equality.

Nowadays, literally every home in Kenya would love to have educated daughters. Educating daughters in more recent times has stopped being seen as a waste of time. And educated women in our country, have gone ahead to do amazing things as evidenced by the likes of, Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Maathai, The Honorable Phoebe Asiyo and the first Kenyan woman judge, Lady Justice Effie Owuor among many others.

With changing times though and an over emphasis on vanity at the expense of intellect, an ever increasing number of young women, is no longer interested in being recognized for their extraordinary strides and contributions they have made to the society. This phenomenon is worsened further by the emergence of the socialite trend as well as the excessive glorification of celebrities.

Young women of this generation, whether educated or not, have been led to firmly believe that with the right looks and physique, then instant success will land at their doorsteps. Focusing on a specific area of specialization in their quest for success is dismissed as drab and uninspiring. This outlook has become deeply entrenched in the young women of today, that they do not imagine themselves taking up a venture that is considered for the “lower, uneducated class”.

It is evident in our country at the moment, that unemployment levels are particularly high. Most of the lecturers who taught me a couple of units in Campus, would occasionally encourage us not to anticipate for employment as soon as we graduated. Each one of us is gifted in certain areas and according to one Myles Monroe, we go to school to perfect our giftings. Our lecturers’ point was to utilize our giftings as well as the knowledge we have since acquired in school, to be able to gainfully employ ourselves.

But who wants to work so hard at self employment, when a sexy body, further perfected at the gym, numerous invitations to social events, a rich boyfriend as well as a horde of selfies on social media, can make you the money you would like to have. The society of recent years, teaches young women to exploit their vanity to their maximum benefit. It teaches young women that sitting behind a desk in the corporate world, driving the latest car model and living the good life is all that entails to be accorded the “successful” status.

Many young women have since ceased to exploit their talents. They would rather stay in uninspiring jobs than take up a business venture, that may need them to start low, may be unpredictable financially in the initial stages and may demand a lot of dedication from their part. Most of these successful entrepreneurs we see today started from somewhere. And if you follow up on their stories, they may have started from the lowest point that you could ever imagine. It only took a step of faith and zeal on their part, to be where they are today.

World leaders such as President Barack Obama and the likes, may ramble about the need for young women to be empowered and educated day and night, to no avail if at all the mentality is still the same. If young women are not willing to stop viewing other occupations as those reserved for the classless and uneducated in society. If young women want to take the easy route to success by using their bodies and looks to that effect. And if young women decide to pay attention to what other young women think of them.

As a young woman, I believe that the path to success starts when we are willing to focus on something we know we are good at, no matter how challenging it may seem. When we stop bothering with what society says about women in general. And when we open our minds to other different, possible prospects other than what is being portrayed to us as the trend.

Have a thoughtful week!

“Busty Women Love Sex”

I have put the title of my post today in quotes because it is something I heard from someone else quite recently actually. And sadly, from a fellow female. I don’t know how that came about, but this minute we were talking about something else and the next, she was like she has heard that phrase being thrown about. And the way she said it seemed like she really believed in it. My first reaction was rather personal, as I took it as a direct jab to my physique which falls in the said category. My next reaction was, appalled. In that state, I wondered who had come up with such a nasty truth sexual stereotype which I had never heard of before.

I mean, everyone loves sex. But we are all a bunch of pretenders who tend to paint sex as something dirty that resides only in the minds of perverted oversexed individuals. And that a woman who sleeps with several men is a whore whereas a man who sleeps with several women is macho blah, blah, blah…

favim.com

favim.com

Indeed we do believe so much in the latter stereotype that two rappers we know of in the music scene ended up concluding that the woman, both of them had slept with, was a whore. They didn’t look at themselves and see that they were probably lacking in integrity, for lusting after the same woman or the other one in the picture, who decided to sleep with his pal’s girlfriend was actually malicious. Since they are typical men full of themselves with their ego, successful rapping careers and money, they both decided that she had to be a whore for accepting to get laid by the two of them. So automatically, the woman is lacking in morals and is therefore cast aside and the men assume they were manly for sleeping with her and carry on being buddies. How warped??

Relationship blogs tell women that they should wait certain durations before giving themselves to a man they have began dating recently. I’m equally guilty of stating the same here in this blog. However, never have I stumbled upon a relationship blog which stated the duration of time a man should wait, before bedding a hot lass he has just started seeing. The story usually goes, men will always be men and that sex is a constant feature in their minds, which of course drives them to try all sorts of tricks on women in order to get laid. If the women in question fall for the tricks, usually because they are a bunch of clueless females, who believe that sex equals emotional bonding with the man, then they have themselves to blame for being too cheap.

Certain societies go ahead to further claim that a woman needs to have certain parts of her genitalia removed so that she can be tamed sexually. For men, it is a rite of passage. For women, it is to curtail her desires to want to have sex. As if God was nuts in designing a woman’s genitalia to include all those parts it has. These societies do not factor in the fact that by tampering with what was initially designed for a purpose, they are denying the woman the right to have a fulfilling sex life. Worst case scenario, causing her further unnecessary complications during childbirth and her menses. It is all for the sole reason that if left the way she was, designed beautifully, then she will automatically transform into a promiscuous female. Indeed there are women out there who point fingers at their fellow uncircumcised sisters as being dirty or whores.

This practice is so deeply rooted in some societies, to the extent where learned individuals residing in urban areas, still see the need to take their girls upcountry to get circumcised. It has actually taken the intervention of female activists to try and get some societies to understand that an uncircumcised girl is not flawed in any way. She is not inadequate as a woman and therefore does not need to be cast aside and subjected to ridicule. However, there is still a stretch of a journey left before FGM is totally done away with.

As a female, I feel as if we have been brainwashed to the extent where we have started believing in some of the nasty sexual stereotypes being thrown around with regards to women. For someone to actually point out that women endowed in a certain way are lovers of sex, is totally absurd. For some to go ahead and state that women from certain communities can’t keep their legs closed is even more absurd.

And then this same people are the ones who will go whining to radio stations that their wives are total logs in bed. Or they are ever laden with excuses as to why they don’t want to get intimate. If loving sex for women is a crime, how then do you expect this same women to enjoy the act of sex? Personally, I do not believe in anything such as someone loving sex. We all do for a fact. If we didn’t we wouldn’t be getting highly dissatisfied in relationships or marriages which are lacking in sex. We would be totally content and carrying on with our businesses as if nothing is amiss. As a matter of fact there would be no such term as “sexual frustration” neither would there be extra-marital affairs.

For women to be given a time limit on when they should get intimate in relationships is actually furthering a sexual stereotype that should have long been buried. For the self-righteous moralists, who are already pointing fingers at me for stating that, I’m not in any way encouraging immorality. And should women who sleep with men so soon after getting into relationships with them be branded loose or immoral, then the same should be applied to men who actually take the next step in sleeping with those same women so soon into a relationship. There should be no double standards as the act being carried out is the same.

Sex has always been a tricky subject and I’m totally convinced that it will be a long long journey before equal standards in this issue are attained. More so due to the patriarchal thinking by some.

When women are treated as lesser beings because they are the weaker sex.

I have come to realize over time that this word submission has been highly misused. I think some cultures assume that women being the weaker sex should submit to the husband no matter what kind of treatment is being meted unto them by that same husband. If he is the philandering type, then the woman should turn a blind eye to his actions and not question him about the women he has been spotted with, going into a lodging at daytime or having drinks with at a bar somewhere when purporting to be working late. That she should accept the blame when the husband infects her with an STI as a result of his `can’t keep my zipper closed’ ways and actually denies being the one who infected her with it. Or worst case scenario, if he infects her with the deadly HIV virus and unfairly makes her carry the cross never mind that the woman has only had one sexual partner (her husband) ever since she got married.

That women should still respect a man who beats the daylights out of them on a daily basis often times over imaginary mistakes. And should they gather enough courage to stand up for themselves then they should be prepared for another beating for being hardheaded bold. That women should only follow the husband’s instructions and decisions and never chip in because the husband being the head of the family, is a know it all and deserves total obedience even when he is being downright unreasonable.  And even if the husband is a potato couch who does nothing, his wife should never complain despite the pressure he is putting upon her to be the sole provider for the family. If she happens to complain then she is dismissed as being haughty as a result of her increasing financial independence and immediately branded a no good wife. In fact, the money she makes should be given to the husband whether he has contributed in the business or not.

I know some sensitive men out there reading this will definitely go `also women cheat and act unfairly toward the men in their lives. It’s not only men.’ As a matter of fact, when i started this blog, i had to contend with a commenter who chose to take everything i posted personally like i was directly hitting at him when in the real sense, i didn’t even know him. I don’t dispute that fact by the way that women can also be abusers and cheaters. I know for a fact that there are women out there who still sleep around while married and take their husbands for granted. However, the nature of my blog favors the woman and for those who may be feeling a little aggrieved that i am not addressing the women who are putting the men in their lives through untold stress by their philandering or evil ways, kindly bear with me.

Patriarchal societies have ensured that women have been thoroughly oppressed and men given the upper hand never mind that some don’t even deserve it. There are communities in my country in this 21st century which would not allow women to mix with the men during a meeting. In fact, the women are relegated to the very back, a distance from the men. Does this mean that since women are the weaker sex then they are also equally stupid and have nothing of value whatsoever to contribute in a community meeting? Does this mean that women who carry babies in their wombs for 9 months, bring them forth into this world in excruciating pain, nurture those children until they become adults, till the land, carry firewood, cook, build houses (in some cultures in my country), have absolutely nothing to offer in the society except total submission to men who do not value them? As if that is not enough, some women have to endure FGM and suffer all their lives sexually as a result of the distortion of their genitals then still be treated as if their only mission in this world is to please the man sexually in marriage.

According to me, i believe that submission is earned and while i totally agree with submission to the husband in marriage, i know that a man who hardly places any value on a woman in his life makes it very hard for this woman to truly respect and obey him. I know that a woman equally deserves her respect no matter her level of exposure and literacy. It is women who keep the family together and running when the husbands are caught up in this fast paced world trying to eke a living and better themselves. Women have this hidden strength in them that enables them to persevere in situations like widowhood. For most men, they are known to marry immediately or a bit later after a wife’s death. For a sizable number of women in my country for example, they opt to raise their kids as widows and do not remarry. Mostly because society sometimes frowns upon a woman who remarries after her husband’s death. And even though it may not be easy raising children singlehandedly without the support of a husband, these women persevere. If at all the men did not really need the women in their lives and considered them an unnecessary bother, why then do they remarry after the death of a spouse or a divorce for that matter?

When this word submission is misused, then we have men treating women carelessly while reveling in the fact that since they are men and the heads of the family, the women will automatically submit to them. And should they show other signs not related to submission, then the men have a right to force them into submission. But what these men seem to fail to understand is that a very thin line separates submission from oppression. If you as a man is giving your bare minimum to a woman in your life and expecting submission in return or forcing it out of her, then that is oppression. All these other words such as culture, tradition, society are only being used to try and sugar coat the oppression of women by men who think they can get away with being tyrannical. And sadly, the women who deserve love and good treatment from their men end up suffering gravely largely because they are equally the weaker sex. In patriarchal societies, men bullying women is acceptable. Women standing up to the bullies is an abomination.

 

A woman’s tribe and sexual prowess??

I come from a country of 42 different tribes but the number could be higher, judging by the fact that, a few smaller tribes claim to have unfortunately been excluded in the number and also the fact that a section of Kenyans, including moi, are of mixed tribe. Of the 3 East African countries (there are other East African countries too but i would like to talk of the 3 now), Kenyan women are the ones known to be more outspoken, less submissive (according to some) and more aggressive when compared to their Ugandan and Tanzanian counterparts.

Ugandan culture requires the women to kneel while addressing the men as a sign of respect. Something that our Kenyan men dream of one day happening here. As a typical Kenyan woman, i can confidently attest to the fact that kneeling for our men will never happen. First because it is not a part of our culture and second, i can almost imagine a Kenyan woman going `What the hell??!’ `Nimpigie magoti kwani yeye ni Mungu?’ (I kneel for him what for? Is he God?). Yep, the hard truth. I once read an article where foreign men (mostly European and American) who had at some point dated a Kenyan woman, were currently dating one or married to one were being interviewed on what they thought of us. The interesting bit is that most claimed that we were too aggressive (careerwise) as well as outspoken but overall good or exciting if you may.

When it comes to sexual prowess, according to rumors flying around for years, Ugandan women have been said to rate higher. There is talk of traditional sex aunties in Uganda who train the pubescent girls as well as those about to be married on how to treat a man in bed. If there is any Ugandan woman reading this, kindly clarify. There also has been talk of if a Ugandan woman manages to nab a married Kenyan man, then his Kenyan wife should prepare herself to forget him for good cuz word out there is that he aint coming back. Again, i need clarification on this. Back home, Kenyan women’s sexual prowess has always been rated according to which tribe a Kenyan woman belonged to. There are those women from certain tribes who according to our men, are tigresses in bed, others from another tribe who are supposed frigid and boring in bed, others from yet another tribe who are purported to want sex morning, afternoon and night time…and the list goes on.

About 3 weeks back, i was travelling to a small town on the outskirts of Nairobi and there was this guy who was sitting next to me that decided to start chatting me up immediately after we left the city. He was basically a stranger to me so i was very guarded on how i engaged him but he was the very chatty type and soon he was telling me about a past girlfriend of his from a particular Kenyan tribe. Now the thing that caught my attention was a statement he made regarding her which went something like `you know (tribe name) are naughty.’ I immediately interpreted that to mean naughty in bed because of the next thing he continued to say…`she had gotten me used to some things which i found hard to adjust after we broke up.’ Well, i didn’t bother prodding him further about the `things’ as i didn’t want the conversation to head in a direction that i wouldn’t be comfortable with. But i couldn’t help making the conclusion that there are so many deeply entrenched stereotypes regarding the Kenyan woman’s sexual prowess.

Of course society and culture plays a huge role on how women view and engage in sex. In conservative societies, sex is mostly associated with procreation purposes and women from early childhood, are trained to know that sex is dirty and something that shouldn’t be enjoyed by the woman. Sex to them is actually an unnecessary bother for the enjoyment of the husband. So if he asks for it, he shouldn’t be denied and in most cases, since society and culture prohibits the woman to use contraceptive methods, she may find herself pregnant each time she has sex with her husband. No wonder some societies go as far as encouraging FGM to further cub the enjoyment of sex by the woman. The idea behind societies engaging in FGM is to make the girl not to engage in sex acts before marriage so those parts in a female’s genitalia designed to bring pleasure and satisfaction to a woman during sex are usually cut off or tampered with. And soon after FGM in some of those societies, the girl is married off as a sign that she is now woman enough. I don’t want to go further on this particular female circumcision issue as it could still be a highly sensitive topic to some which may generate a lot of negative as well as positive debate. However, the point i’m trying to drive at is that changing some deeply entrenched societal and cultural matters in an individual and a woman for that matter, could be very difficult.

But then sexual prowess may also depend on the open mindedness and exposure of the woman never mind the fact that she could be from a community where the women are considered `boring’ in bed, if there is such a word even to describe the sexual prowess of a person. In such a case, i don’t think it would be fair for the men to generalize. Just because there are rumors flying around concerning how women from a particular community are in bed, doesn’t mean that all the women in that tribe are actually the same. This is the 21st century and most Kenyan women are enlightened and learned. Most are also interested in having fulfilling sex lives with the men in their lives and therefore, they may not be that inhibited in bed. If indeed there are those who still choose to be inhibited, then it is a matter of personal choice and not the tribe she comes from.