Tag Archives: Feminism

The Day I hated Being a Woman

It was somewhere around the beginning of this year (I think) when I found myself sitting in the office of one of the top government institutions waiting to be interviewed by a man who in that moment had the power to make or break me in my path as a rising entrepreneur.  Continue reading The Day I hated Being a Woman

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Marriage: the Ultimate Goal for Women?

wedding

When Abraham Maslow talked about self-actualization – which is at the peak of his hierarchy of human needs, did he picture in his head that for women, perhaps their peak experience would be achieved through marriage only and nothing else they dared deceive themselves believe was self-fulfilling? I seriously doubt that.

However, it has come to be accepted by many in societies around the world that no matter how successful, confident, psychologically balanced or secure a woman is, if she is not married, then she is one sorry miserable and lonely individual. The adjectives even get worse when she gets pregnant out of wedlock!

All that money and she still can’t get a man to marry her?

No man would wanna marry such a successful woman. She would intimidate him.

She is so beautiful yet no man wants to make her his wife.

Oh wow congratulations on your engagement, finally!

Whenever a woman announces her engagement, the most common reaction from her friends and relatives is a positive one, ‘congratulations!” Unfortunately, it’s not always the case for men. For the latter, the pronunciation of an engagement is usually received by this reaction, “oh hell, there goes freedom!”

When I was being prepared for my marriage just a few weeks before the traditional ceremony, I remember one woman saying to me, “you wanted marriage right? This is what you get and you should work hard to attain that goal. Do you think it comes easy?” Because these statements were delivered in the local vernacular, the impact was thrice the intended outcome.

K-party pic
On my bridal party (kitchen party)

I was very stressed during that period because as most African women know…and especially Zambians in this case, getting ready for the traditional marriage ceremony is most likely the most stressful and humiliating process a woman can ever go through during her journey to marital bliss…especially a woman who was not raised very traditionally!

I cannot emphasize how many times I thought about giving up on marriage during that whole experience. Despite it being done mostly for my own good, I did not appreciate the fact that almost all the women that surrounded me during that time kept on telling me how lucky I was to be getting married and how I should prepare myself mentally to deal with my husband’s infidelity in the future.

I kept wondering, is my future husband also going through the same lessons as I am? Is someone also telling him, “Watch out for that Annie, you better treat her well so that she doesn’t run off with another man.” I don’t think so. They were most likely telling him about the things he should expect from me as a perfect wife and very little about what he should do to be a good husband. If I remember correctly, not once was I told what I should expect from a good husband! It was like it was enough that he chose to marry me in the first place. I did not appreciate that.

Being the kind of person who is not very used to being told what to do and being stamped on by women whose names end in the suffix ‘inlaw,’ that experience and many others after that were very awakening. I did not take kind to the fact that such behaviour was not from men, but by women themselves towards their fellow woman!

If anything, I was only able to make it through that whole process due to my husband’s support, a man who does not buy into the concept of wives being a man’s slave.

How is it that when a wife becomes pregnant and delivers, it is the man’s swimmers that are congratulated on their delivery but if a wife fails to become pregnant, it is her womb that is cursed and insulted? I think that as long as no tests were taken to prove the efficiency of either party’s productive parts, if the man’s swimmers are the key to a woman’s pregnancy, then the swimmers should be shamed publicly for failing to deliver.

I mean, why would anyone kick and trample an oven for failing to produce bread if no dough was put in it in the first place? It doesn’t make sense at all. If you start out believing that the swimmers are kings of pregnancy, then keep with the trend all the way. Don’t change ships just because the weather is bad.

From my experiences, I have come to understand that sometimes…and mostly, women opt for marriage as a symbol of commitment; a means for them to be exclusively committed and dedicated to that one person, to raise a family with that person and to have someone to lean on during life’s journey. It’s a companionship thing, I am sure Maslow would agree with me.

It is not always that a woman will get married just so she can have exclusive access to a bank account or have someone take care of her because she has failed to do so on her own. When these things come, they are like a bonus and sure as hell they should be if she is going to dedicate the rest of her life being his helper. Yes it is very likely that a woman will choose marriage as a means of attaining self-actualization but marriage in itself is not the actualization being sought after…it is simply a means to an end. And this end can be attained through other means as well but it is always fun and fulfilling if the journey is filled with love and companionship.

I have been told so many times before that the major problem men have with women is that they always tend to portray themselves as victims of society or men, always forgetting that the women themselves are catalysts of that reality. And they are very right! It is a bitter pill to swallow but the truth is that most of the times my femininity has been bruised; it has been at the hands of my fellow women.

A few years ago I saw a post on Facebook from a female friend that read;

Stop walking tall and acting as if you own the world because everything you have belongs to your husband. You were nobody before he married you. You did not work for any of that…. Success is not a sexually transmitted disease.

I cannot even begin to tell you how offensive I found that post to be. In fact, I was mostly offended by the author of the post than the contents of the post itself! I do not know about the woman who was being talked about but whether she was a ‘nobody’ or not before he married her, she must have contributed her efforts somehow to whatever she became after marriage.

Whether it was her beauty, her laughter, her ability to care for someone enough to cause them to want them to marry her…and whatever else went on between them behind closed doors, if the man was still with her, then she was definitely doing something to earn her keep in that marriage.

I refuse to believe that marriage is the ultimate goal for women. The only reason it works is because it has a legal clause to it and with it comes the possibility of proudly raising a family of your own that will love you unconditionally.

Just as Maslow stated, it is not guaranteed and its certainly very rare that during the course of their lives, people will actually attain self-actualization.However, to reiterate a point here, marriage in itself is not what makes a successful and fully self-actualized female.

You have to remember that by society’s standards, a man is the one who gets down on one or both knees to beg a woman to marry him. Why would anyone stoop so low just so they could make something out of the person they are asking to marry? Can’t we conclude then  that there is a dame good reason why anybody would get down on his knees to ask for something? Isn’t it obvious that they need something from that person?

It is that which they need and that which the woman expects from them that makes them equals, although we all know who actually gets to wear the pants. But, the bottom line is that they are both bringing something to the table. Any person who gets the chance to get laid on a daily basis or reasonable basis is dame lucky in my opinion.

And certainly any person who as a result of a few seconds or minutes of pleasure gets another person to carry the proceeds of that pleasure for nine months and then release the heavy product through a very small and narrow gate…if you have anybody that has ever done something like this for you or you are hoping that they one day do it for you, believe me you are the luckiest bastard to have ever lived!

And you better recognize.

YES I’M A WOMAN, BUT AM STIL NOT VOTING FOR DR. KASEBA

We are at it again. The drama of Zambian politics right now is enough to impregnate even the most barren woman of them all. It’s preposterous!

I don’t know how many times some of my friends have called me or texted me over the fact that Dr Kaseba is thinking about contesting in the next presidential elections – be they By, or General Elections. Somehow, and I don’t know how this came to be, they expect me to be happy about this development. And every time her name is mentioned, the fact that she is a woman is repeatedly mentioned…and with impunity.

Most of my friends are of the idea that I am a Feminist, a belief I have not disputed. Because of this, they naturally expect me to be head over heels excited that a female candidate has been presented to the nation. Unfortunately, I have to disappoint my friends because the truth is I am not voting for Dr Kaseba.

I know some people out there keep thinking, ‘women, they just don’t support each other yet they keep preaching women empowerment and gender equality.” And this is where the problem is; people thinking that just because a female is contesting in the political race then all women should give her their support. This has got nothing to do with gender equality or women empowerment.

Yes I understand that generally women don’t like each other but who can blame us, we were raised to look at each other like rivals….and rivals over what you ask me? Sadly, over men! But that’s not my issue here. My issue is that just because I will not be voting for Kaseba does not mean that I do not want to support a fellow woman.

When men vote for their fellow men, do they do it just because they share the same physiological or biological setup or they vote based on their own standards of merit? I refuse to vote for someone just because she has a womb. I want to vote for someone whom I feel deserves my vote because they have worked hard to earn it…and Kaseba is not that.

Now I am not saying that my statements are fact, they are simply opinions. But before people crucify me for being anti-feminist, let me reiterate the fact that feminism has totally nothing to do with me supporting a woman I feel does not deserve my vote based on standards of mine that constitute merit.

I don’t care about ‘mourning period’ and all the traditional staff people keep sprouting every time the widow’s name is mentioned. Grieving for me has always been an issue of mind over matter. If I never convinced myself to get over my mother’s death, I would still be down and miserable to this day. But just because I chose to accept her death does not mean I don’t cry every now and then. As a matter of fact, there is still a huge part of me that feels that despite the two years, I am still in mourning. So, don’t expect me to judge anyone over how they choose to mourn their loved one.

I have seen and heard of men marry new wives just a few weeks, and sometimes days after the death of their spouses and nobody has ever crucified them for defying a mourning period. So why should the mourning period be so pronounced just because it’s a woman? I hate that women are expected to spend years mourning their spouses at the expense of their sanity and emotional well-being.

Sata should be turning in his grave if he’s seeing what he’s wife is up to,

I keep hearing that. The dead are conscious of nothing and Sata was turning and tossing even while he was still alive. That man had been ill for a bloody long time and if at all he is conscious of anything down there, it is only to continue turning and tossing in pain. So let’s just pray that he is resting in peace for now, I can bet you there is a stone somewhere in the world with those words on it. So no, he is not turning at whatever is happening in Zambia. Forget it. Leave the dead be. There is usually a reason why they are called…what’s that word again, oh yeah, dead.

Now back to why I am not shipping Christine’s candidacy.

I hate that she is riding on the wave of emotions that the nation bestowed on her as a grieving widow. I hate that she might be of the illusion that just because she was a first lady then she qualifies to become president of the state very so suddenly. I hate that she thinks she has done enough to prove to Zambians that she deserves that seat. I hate that she claims…like many from the Sata family that they wish to continue the late president’s legacy!

What legacy I ask? And if at all there is such a profound legacy, it is certainly a legacy I never bought whilst it was still in motion…and I definitely won’t like it any better the second time around. And most importantly, I think there are other people that are more deserving of my vote because they have done enough to prove that they deserve it. Unfortunately, it just so happens that those other people have a higher testosterone level than the doc. I know politicians are liars; but anyone that can lie through their teeth and convince me otherwise even though I know at the back of my head that they are lying, that’s called hard work.

If within this short period of time, this woman with whom I share certain biological and physiological traits can convince me that she actually has what it takes to be my president, then hell yeah, I will give her my vote. Otherwise for now, I am still not convinced. And this has nothing to do with her femininity whatsoever. It is absolutely based on what I feel is merit.

I think that what is insulting to women is the fact that people naturally expect you to give support to each other based on your sex. Yes it is fun to see men provide cover for each other when they are swimming in the juices of infidelity but that kind of support is at a whole different level when compared to the kind of support that is expected when talking politics. I would hate to empower someone into a position that I know very well might lead to them causing more harm than healing on a national, or even global scale.

Yes, I agree, Dr Kaseba has the right to stand for presidency. In fact, I applaud her for that! I am a feminist after all! I love that she has the courage to stand up against all the expected norms and shoot for the stars. I bow to her for that. It takes courage to go against any traditional norms and culture whether you have grounds to defy them or not.

However, she is joking if she thinks, or if anyone else out there thinks she deserves support from all women just because…yes, just because. I wish she could have waited, not because she needed to mourn or whatnot – coz that’s a whole other issue; but because she needs time to assert herself as a viable candidate against everyone else who is standing. People shouldn’t vote out of pity just because she is a widow or because she is a woman who deserves to be empowered. This is not gender equality, its standard foolishness 101.

This country is in this current state of chaos because without thinking, people voted for ‘change,’ and they didn’t care much about the form in which that change came. For once I hope Zambians can think long term and not short term when it comes to politics. Presidents have the potential to either build or destroy a nation. Just because one feels they can rule does not mean that they actually can. As the late president discovered, that position is way too heavy and whoever sits in it should be deserving of it and prepared.

When the Woman is the Breadwinner: A Shift in Power Dynamics

women in power

There is this beautiful woman I know. I will call her Mary.

Mary is a vivacious 30 year old lawyer who recently made partner at one of the most respected local law firms. Her salary is fatter than the waist size of her 10 year old overweight daughter and she drives one of those fancy vehicles with a name she can hardly pronounce. Mary is the ultimate working woman.

Unfortunately, Mary’s husband Joe has been jobless for over three years now, a fact that has caused a dramatic shift in the power dynamics in her marriage.

He still expects me to treat him like a man when he hasn’t been able to act like one for over two years now.” I have heard Mary say this many times.

Mary has even gone further to withdraw sex from her relationship because she feels her husband does not deserve it; a move that she’s paid for in more ways than the obvious. Ever since Joe lost his job, he has come to hate the word ‘man’ because his wife tends to use it quite a lot in most of their conversations…and it always carries with it a negative connotation.

These words: Man….Woman

I have always been of the belief that people are born either male or female… (or sometimes both) not by choice but because a group of chromosomes somewhere decided that it was best for this particular individual to be born that way. However, one does not become either a woman or man by default; this one is a conscious decision that one makes and to do so, they need to meet certain requirements. It is never just a matter of what lies below the belt and I think this is what Mary is always referring to.

Nevertheless, Mary’s attitude towards her husband left me thinking; why are the relationship dynamics so different when the woman is the breadwinner and the man isn’t? Isn’t Mary just being an ungrateful and disrespectful woman now that she has become such a hot shot lawyer? Human nature…eh? Always quick to judge. But as I listened to Mary’s reasoning, I couldn’t help feeling a little sympathetic towards her.

When women get married, they are meant to believe – directly or indirectly that the man will take care of them, provide for them financially whether he likes it or not, protect them, and love them eternally. Men too enter marriage with their own set of expectations from the woman; she will care for him, tend to his every need whether she likes it or not, take care of their kids, make a home for the family and love him eternally. These expectations are not necessarily written in print but they are there. And once these expectations are not met, problems will surely arise. Let’s for a moment put issues of gender equality and feminism in a little box we will open later. For now, let’s focus on what happens when there is a shift in expectations and the woman takes up the role of the man and becomes the breadwinner of the family.

I have heard people say that a man does not stop being a man just because he cannot provide for his family. What they should be staying instead is that a male does not stop being a male just because he is not in a position to be the kind of man that his woman expects him to be. A wise King will feel uncomfortable wearing the crown when he has found himself in a position where he cannot be the kind of King that his people want – when he cannot deliver. He might still wear the crown yes, but that won’t change the fact that he has failed somewhere. However, irrespective of all these issues, it is commonly accepted and rightly so that a man shall be the head of the house. Now I don’t know if that statement still applies when the man is incapable of providing for his family over a prolonged period of time or not. I am guessing issues of religion will have a lot to say about the answer to that.

But here’s what am thinking:

The vows – for better or worse, through thick and thin. What do these words actually mean?

Naturally, it is expected that when a man is down on his luck, the woman will be patient enough and trust that he will soon rise again and be the kind of man she expects him to be. But what if that never happens for say, two, three, four, and sometimes even five years or more? What happens to the power dynamics in the relationship? Because I am woman, I tend to see things clearly from the point of view of a woman…but I can try to imagine that of a man’s.

When two people get married, they become equals…well, not necessarily since the man we are told is the head of the house. But whatever either of them does, it should be for the interest of the family and should never be about “I, me, myself, you…” If the man is not in a position to provide for his family, what is wrong with a woman taking up that role? Why should it be a big deal when she is the one holding the financial realms of the family and not when it is the man? Why is it that women are so selfish with their money – the money they make is theirs but the money the man makes is for the family? I have heard most of my male friends ask that question quite often!

My answer to that question usually is that because we were socialized to believe that the man is the financial provider of the family. The woman is simply a helper. Just like a man expects that his wife will wash his dirty boxers, clean the house, carter to the children and to his every need, cook for him, iron…the list is endless, a woman has only one expectation – that the man will provide for the family financially. To use words that might lead to my crucification, I will say, the woman agrees to act like his maid with benefits and the man lives to pay his dues.

It is hard for women like Mary to continue playing both roles of the sexes and it is foolish of men to believe the power dynamics will remain unshaken if such a development occurs. While the woman works to earn an income for the family and then gets back home to play the role of the dotting wife and mother, what is the man doing to seal his role as head of the family? Just because it is written somewhere that by virtue of him being a man he is head of the house does not mean he should expect to be treated as such even when he has not done much to earn that title. And don’t get me wrong, it is not always a matter of financial responsibilities. There are other responsibilities that men have towards their families that make them head of the family. But right now I am mostly interested in the financial aspect.

Additionally, I feel I should mention that I am not assuming that jobless men are in that position by choice or that they are not doing enough to change that situation. I know of a number of men that strive every day to make ends meet because they know exactly who they ought to be for their families. However, the reason I found myself sympathizing with Mary is because her situation was quite peculiar.

During the first month of her husband’s joblessness, Mary understood his position and what he must have been going through. Here was a man who was once used to being on top of his game career wise and now he had no job. They both kept hoping for the best as days went by and the applications kept being written. However, after eight months or so, Joe became frustrated and depression slowly kicked in. Joe began to change. To Mary, he became nothing like the man she had married. The late nights, the rude responses, the phone calls from different women during the early hours of the morning…how his ever sombre face would suddenly light up when he received calls from those women. Why was he treating her like that? Was it her fault that things had turned out like that for him? Why was he taking it out on her?

Mary had done her best to become both man and woman of the house. Initially, Joe would try his best to help out his wife but as time went by; he completely gave up and stopped trying. Mary was human enough to understand his frustrations but just because she understood does not mean it made everything okay. Being human also meant she could get frustrated at times too. And the stress was killing her. She would come back home to find a dirty house, dirty kids, dirty plates, no cooked food, a drunk husband dead asleep on the living room floor…a complete mess. Here’s a woman who had just spend the whole day in a verbal war trying to convince a group of corporate giants to surrender their money and she comes home to this mess. Of course she was not pleased and she made that fact known in very precise terms.

What was worse for Mary is that on several occasions, she had to deal with confrontations from her in-laws who naturally assumed that she had lost respect for her husband now that he was jobless when all the while she had been ‘chewing’ his money with impunity. Mary had not changed except her husband’s family had gone into defensive mode thinking she was going to leave him. They were expecting her to leave him. At some point their frustrations towards her had become a matter of her not living up to their expectations of leaving.

Mary believes it was not her fault that her husband changed but it’s his guilt over his failure to get back to being the man he used to be that led to him turning out this way. And I agree with her. The trouble with such a development is that the one that has to deal with all of this is Mary and I find that very unfair. Love is based on feelings and feelings as we all know are fickle. If they are not nurtured, they tend to die. While Mary insists she is still in-love with her husband, it is very clear her perception of him has greatly changed over the past few years. He is no longer the man she married and whether that has something to do with him being jobless or not is still a matter of debate. What is clear however is that she cannot look at Joe the same way she used to.

Always, people will assume women are ‘unloyal’ especially towards a husband who is jobless. A man being jobless for a year or so isn’t a matter to cry over. Women understand that the world of employment is unfriendly. The problem most women have is if for over a prolonged period of time, a man is still jobless yet he does not help out around the house. He still expects his wife to do the home work and to work a job at the same time. What’s worse, he expects her to give it to him in bed with as much vigour as she used to when he used to have a job. Unlike men, women tend to associate sex with feelings. They don’t just respond just because something naked is standing in front of them. This means that if she is feeling tired, stressed, frustrated and very pissed, she won’t give it to you the way you want it. It is not that she doesn’t love you anymore; it is because you have done enough to consider her feelings.

Yes there are certain types of women who will lose interest in their men once they become jobless and those women are what we call gold diggers. But not every woman who gets frustrated over her husband’s joblessness is a gold digger. It is the circumstances that arise from such a development that might lead one to change completely. I wish we would not be quick to judge.

career women

Now to open the Feminism and Gender Equality box, I think it is only fair that if a husband or man is jobless and the woman is the breadwinner, let him at least take up certain responsibilities around the home to ease the wife’s work load. And I think it is because this is rarely done that women get frustrated. Do you think a working woman would complain about her husband’s joblessness if he did his best to meet her half-way despite his situation instead of leading himself into a depressive state and trying to rediscover his fading masculinity by sleeping around with any woman that can scream his name in ecstasy?

Not every woman who can take care of herself financially wants a rich or working man. They just want a man who can meet them half-way. Personally I think it’s unfair for such a man to expect his hard working woman to still carter to his every need and do all the chores around the house while he does nothing. He was the first to cause the power shift in the home whether by his own doing or by nature’s doing. And once that happens, other things around the home will change too.

This excuse of ‘I was out all day hustling and trying to find a job so am tired too,’ does not cut it. Just don’t let the woman do both your job and hers at the same time and still expect her to treat you the same way. Just because she understands your predicament does not mean she will not feel frustrated every now and then. If she is doing your role as provider of the family, why can’t you do her role as home maker instead? If she is man enough to step up to the challenge, what can’t you?