The #YesAllWomen hashtag made me remember all the ridiculous experiences I’ve had because of my gender. No eye rolls please.
I’m a patriot but Nairobi annoys the hell out of me. It’s full of small irritations. My mum calls them Mang’ore (spelling?) which means extremely tiresome, bothersome problems in Kikuyu.
We can start with the Kenyan pastor, based in one of Nairobi’s slums, who asked women to come to church without their underwear. Disobedience had serious consequences.
Why this directive you ask?
So that God can enter the women. I’m quoting this directly. It made news on some global sites of course. Good Lord. I mean riali, really?! It’s embarrassing how some of my fellow Kenyan women are willing to blindly debase themselves in the name of religion. I was sufficiently mortified on their behalf.
I hate it when my country represents me in this way. You think people remember that the FIRST AFRICAN WOMAN to win a Nobel Peace Prize, the late Prof. Wangari Maathai, was KENYAN? Nope. Majority remember the insane things we do as a nation.
Pastor aside, there are our wonderful Members of Parliament a.k.a. MPigs (most of whom are overpaid, over glorified figures of nothing), who decided to remove the clause that requires a husband to seek consent from his first wife, to marry a second.
Fix the cases of children in the Northern provinces missing school because of the lack of food?
Examine why it is that Kenya is losing so much money from never ending scandals like Ango-leasing etc?
Don’t be foolish.
Pay the Kenya Police enough so they can stop taking bribes and serve the nation better?
Hire better private security services like KK Security, and stop annoying us.
Address the threat terrorism is causing before raising your own already bloated salaries?
Don’t be silly, peasant.
In response to outraged female MPs, one MP on the floor of parliament (dunno what they call it now under the new /not so new constitution), said and I quote,
“When you marry an African woman, she should expect a second wife, a third, a fourth….” Cue laughter from the floor of MPigs.
As an African woman, I find this incredibly insulting. My brother tells me I can’t handle African men, and maybe he’s right. In my opinion, polygamy is unnecessary. I’ve seen it stress out a relative who would be so far if he had only kept one household.
Why, why, why do my African men go out of their way to enrage me? Technically it’s not all African men and more like an 80% majority.
But it’s not just the men. One of my family friends saw me at Galleria the other day and was all, “You better keep that figure of yours until you find a husband.”
She was beaming, like she’d just given me the biggest compliment ever.
Like that’s my goal. So after I get married I should what? Drown myself in KFC and Mayo?
Women are socialised to aspire to marriage. I can’t remember what Sociologist said that. My mum hides it but I know deep down she’s worried I’ll never get married. She winces every time I tell her that marriage may/may not happen for me. I love men it’s just that… story for another day. Whenever I recount how I declined a date with some guy, her face drops. She nearly cried when I hinted at how I may/may not want children. I was told to spit those words. She’s old school. By the time she was 23 she was working, married to my dad and expecting my older sister.
But she isn’t all bad. She has complete and sometimes irrational faith that I can achieve any goals I lay out. The archaic view of women that plagues Kenya annoys her. She nearly choked when my aunt from shagz (upcountry/countryside) told me to leave my mum with a baby if I ever decided to leave for my Master’s.
Family aside, there’s those strangers who after sizing me up give the classic, “What? You don’t have a boyfriend?! Aii!” Since they don’t know me, they have no idea that my singledom stems from my social ineptitude, gamophobia and a deep distrust of people in general. I’m flawed, who isn’t?
Honestly though, must I attach myself to a man to be validated?
We had a family emergency last month and I had to go to a police station. Do you know what my brother said when I called him?
“It’s better you wait for unko(uncle) so he can go with you guys.” He was dead serious.
Now why do you think, a woman would need to be escorted by a man, to a place where she’s meant to feel safe and heard?
“Because they won’t take you seriously,” he said in a flat tone.
He was just stating a reality that apparently I’d denied all my life. I watched this docu by Kenya Human Rights Commission which highlighted the worst of post election violence. There was this one victim. Seeking justice, she went to report how she had been gang raped during the chaos. The police laughed her out of the station but not before they insulted her: she was told that she probably enjoyed it, and anyway, she didn’t look like a virgin. Virgin, non-virgin, why is that the point of focus here??? Rape is rape, fools. Also, because virgins have a look. Such infinite wisdom.
I saw this doctor for a check up and after I told him I wasn’t sexually active he said with a lecherous grin on his face, “So you retired?”
I never started you fool.
I had a retort ready but I just let it slide. Why? My mother had lectured me so many times on my angry outbursts against chauvinism that I second guessed responding to a man who was clearly out of line.
Most of my life, my brother has called me a feminist.
I never put a label on it: I’m just aware of the discrepancies between the treatment of men and women.
When I was younger, questions on why my brother did not wipe the table or wash the dishes were met with “that’s not what boys do”. I’m talking a couple of years ago, when I was a teenager formulating my self-identity and image of what it meant to be a woman. In his defence, my older brother did cook for me when it was just me and him. Still, we need to reassess what we are teaching our sons and nephews in regard to women and how they should be viewed. But what am I saying when kids nowadays are bombarded from all directions by multiple rappers and musicians calling women ‘bitches’ and ‘hoes’. Women saying, “These my bitches” isn’t any better either.
The other day I was driving my little Vitz, which may I add gets so bullied on the road, that I have abandoned all attempts at getting over my cursing.
I was driving along after I’d left Junction, trying to join the other road so I could drive back to Karen. But oh no, Mr. Big Stuff in his second hand Prado was being an ijiot(idiot) and refusing to yield so I could join the next lane. I had indicated and everything. But when he saw me, he wouldn’t yield and accelerated instead. This is common in Kenya, people refusing you way as if you’re in a race to their house. This time I thought it was completely unnecessary and reckless. We both stopped because we would have crashed into each other. I rolled down my window and said, “Please, go ahead.”
Guess what he said?
“Are you trying to insult me?”
On what planet is ‘please’ and ‘go ahead’ an insult?? I wanted to shout that my mum drives a better car than you, which she bought with money she’d made, so don’t try and make me feel threatened you ingrate. But I didn’t, mostly because he’d already driven off. His son in the passenger seat had watched the entire thing and was grinning. The situation was entertaining to the kid because his father was showing him that women should be degraded, and that it’s a fun activity which should be done often, and as a source of amusement.
It’s just exhausting being female in Kenya (I’m fully aware things are worse elsewhere e.g. Saudi Arabia).
Most men are either:
- Looking at your posterior when you walk by: I unfortunately cannot hide mine. My friend was like, “You walk towards someone and they think you’re slim then whaaat?! You pass and they start thinking “A$$ A$$ A$$ A$$” à la Big Sean.” Yup, I hate my over sexualised society.
- Brushing you off: I was at a convenience store when this guy comes in. I was at the till, had my money out to pay and errything. The guy passes me, places his milk on the counter, pays and leaves. I ignored it. Before I even recover from affront number one, another man comes in and starts asking the cashier if she has change for a thousand. Was this for real? I’d had enough. He was rude and I told him upfront. He apologised saying he hadn’t seen me. I proceeded to tell him that of course he hadn’t, because women were nothing in this country so why should I be seen? He apologized again and walked away shamefaced as the female cashier said, “Ni kweli.”
- Endlessly churning out taunts: Any attempts at standing up for yourself as a woman are quickly met with mockery. Sadly, hardly ever are there many variations from the standard “Go join Maendeleo ya Wanawake” or “You’re from Nyeri”. If you’re going to be mean, get some new material.
Given that some of my leaders, the ones who are meant to set an example for men nationwide, go around making a sport out of slapping women, the only trickle down effect we’ll have in Kenya is misogyny.
I’m not a feminist. Not a man basher. I’m not a cold bitch.
I’m just me with my opinions.
If you can’t stomach the video, the audio only is below.