Month: September 2013

Hit me! Only if you are my husband?

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If your husband beats you, it is OK. Excusable. By virtue of him being your ‘beloved’ husband, he has a right to thrash you. Not any man. Just your husband.

That was the insinuation by one lady who exchanged some choice words with a guy she was quarreling with a few weeks ago.

I was minding my own business when I stumbled upon a man and a woman trading insults, throwing them back and forth relentlessly. I couldn’t figure out what the argument was about, or whether the two were acquaintances, friends or total strangers. They definitely were not lovers, that I could tell.  The man was furious. He seemed more incensed by the audacity of the woman to pick a fight with him, a man, than anything else. The lady was equally upset. Seemingly from the demeaning way the man regarded her.  Whatever their beef was, I got the impression that this was a gender warfare veiled as a disagreement. The argument had ‘Adam Vs Eve’ written all over it.

If he bothered to speak his mind, the man would have said it blatantly: ‘You are a woman, how dare you answer ME back? Don’t you know your place? Don’t you realize what you, a weakling, are putting yourself up against? I can shut you up with one swing of my fist!’ He chose to bark at her instead “Nitakutandika!” when all the insults of “Malaya! Mjinga! Ghasia!” did nothing to cow the woman.

Every insult directed towards the woman only helped to bring out her claws. While she responded with; “Bure Kabisa, Mwanamume aina gani wewe…Ati Mjinga? Mjinga ni wewe!” I was almost sure she was thinking: ‘Who do you think you are? Where do you get off  talking to me like that? I am not scared of you! Why should I be scared of you anyway, because you are a man? What gives you the right to insult me?’ She had been doing well. She stood her ground and gave the arrogant bloke a piece of her mind. I was even rooting for her inwardly. Then she said it. “Utanitandika?!” she asked, more amused than surprised. “Utanitandika, kwani wewe ni Bwanangu?

See? I told you – Her husband was the only person in her books, who had authority  to hit her. Not some stranger who picks an argument with her on the streets of Nairobi!  I walked away feeling sorry for her. And for all the women like her. Good thing is that the man was all talk but no action and he did not follow through with his threat.

The infamous Kidero to Shebesh slap landed a few days later. Shebesh gave a statement, as would be expected, to vehemently condemn Kidero’s actions. Then she said it. That her beloved husband, had never hit her, not once, in all the life they’d known each other.

Was he supposed to? Had she been hit before by her husband, would she be ok with Kidero having a go at her too? Do we subconsciously expect abuse in marriage? In relationships? Should we count ourselves extremely lucky when we end up in a non-abusive marriage?  Does a marriage band come with a license to hit? At the risk of coming off as a Kibitzer, let me put this out there: Your husband is not supposed to hit you and if he doesn’t, please understand that he is not doing you a favor!

There are men who will justify abuse by swearing that women have to be whipped to form from time to time. That in essence, “they whip not the woman, but the devil inside her” – and I am quoting someone here. Sick, innit?

I am reminded of the movie D’jango unchained. Tell me if you don’t despise Leo’s character. Tell me if watching this movie, you don’t wonder, just for a millisecond, where the romantic, artistic, oh-so-handsome young Dicaprio from Titanic went to. What’s with the ugly beard anyway? His character Mr. Calvin Candie (who is no candy if I might add) is a proud slave owner who uses arrogant  lines like “Broomhilda is my property. And I can choose to do with my property, whatever I so desire.” (Picture him sticking out his chest and dropping his voice a notch deeper while saying that). He tries to justify slavery using the Science of Phrenology. He takes pains to demonstrate his point using a human skull taken from one of his deceased slaves. Pointing at a part of the cranium which phrenologists believe to be associated with submissiveness and ‘tameability’, he observes that it is enlarged in Africans more than in any other species. What does that mean? That Africans, are psychologically wired to slavery. “Why don’t they kill us?” he asks. He wonders why the slaves, in all their numbers, do not rise up and fight back, insinuating that Africans must have a master. All he was doing is giving them what they needed – The privilege of being their master.

Are you repulsed yet?

To abusive husbands, could it be that sometimes the line is blurred and you feel like you kinda, sorta, purchased your wife- what with paying all that dowry from your hard earned cash – and like Calvin Candie, you can choose to do with ‘your property’ whatever you so desire? You may be tempted to think that she is yours to do with as you please; love, hit, dress, abuse, insult, praise, keep, throw out in the cold… You are human. You get carried away? For real?

Evidently, oppressive people will go to great lengths to justify their behavior. But do you know what the real tragedy is? The real tragedy is not that some men try to sell such abhorrent practices to the masses. The ultimate tragedy is that there are women who believe that bullshit.

A real man knows how to control his anger. Hitting a woman is archaic behavior ill behooving of men who claim to be an advanced, more civilized version of the homo habilis. Hitting a woman is deplorable as it is abominable. Say it, Kidero! Say it like you mean it!

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You made your bed, care to lie in it?

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“Choose your love. Love your choice” Thomas S.  Monson

Bailey was supposed to get married to Ben. She was excited. Happy! She had found the love of her life.

Ben asks: Do you love me?

Bailey replies: More than I can hold in my heart.

She had tears in her eyes. There was something about the way she said those words. Like she was trying all she could to hold the love in as it threatened to overflow, to choke her – in a good way (If there’s such a thing). Ignore the fact that she hadn’t showed up for her wedding. That she had left Ben standing like an idiot at the altar, waiting for her to walk down the aisle in vain. No, forget that, and let’s wallow in  mushiness for a while. “…more than I can hold in my heart’, she said. They eventually got married nonetheless and I had tears in my eyes when I watched that episode of Grey’s Anatomy.

Elsewhere, Christina and Owen’s marriage was coming to an end…and needless to say, the mushiness ends here too! What is it they say; In one part of the world, a child is born, while in another part of the world a funeral is underway? In the same way, a couple gets married and declare their undying love for each other, love they can barely contain, in one part of the world, whilst another couple, unable to bear the sight of each other anymore, stare divorce in the face in yet another part of the world. C’est la vie, neh?

Owen says: We should have never gotten married in the first place Christina. When we did, we took something beautiful and we put it in this box, and for the last two years, all we have done is beat against those walls and tear each other apart. Now we sign these (divorce) papers, that ends, we get out of that box, and we don’t hurt each other anymore.

An interesting way to look at marriage: A ‘box’ that keeps you caged. A bombardment of rules, do’s and don’ts. Where you ‘get stuck’ with someone so that all you want to do is break free before you hurt each other irreparably.

Strong – but not so positive – words. A far cry from the mushy stuff that should come with marriage, yet used to describe the same union between man and woman.

How do you get from that point where your heart is overflowing with love for someone, to that point where you can barely stand the same person?

What happens in between? Do people change? At all? That much?

Interestingly, should you ask most married men whether given another chance, a do over of sorts, they would leave their wife to marry another woman, chances are that a good percentage of them will opt to stick with their choice. Should you however, ask most women if they would choose their husband over again, a very good percentage will give the suggestion a serious thought. The bold ones will opt for a swap.

Admittedly, men put some thought into the kind of woman they want to marry.They vet. They could be swayed from time to time by trifling physical appearances; hip size (Linda Ogutu will definitely back me on this one), boob endowment, skin complexion… but when it comes to settling down, all you hear about is the much sought after ‘wife material’. Can she be a good mother to my children? Can she cook? Manage a home? Can she be faithful? Is she respectable? Check! Check! Aaand Check! Ring please?! One knee goes down and POP comes the question “Woman, will you marry me?”

Women on the other hand don’t do much vetting. Husband material? Check list? What for? All she needs to know is; Is he interested? Is he rich? Does he have minions for twitter followers? Is he tall? Dark? Handsome? Check, Check and Check? “Well then handsome, Marry me! Marry me! Marry me?”  

We have men who marry well, paired up with women who marry horribly. She is a good wife, call her Alicia Florrick if you will, but he is no ‘husband material’. She will play ‘wifey’ and dance to the man’s rendition of ‘chop my money’ and life will be good. But only for a while.

Then comes the realization that a fat wallet will not tuck in the children at night. The same bulging wallet, can’t give hugs nor wipe tears. What it will do is, it will be a magnet to other women (Don’t be too harsh now, you fell for the wallet too, didn’t you?) When Ipsos Synovate come knocking for some statistics and ask him if he would leave his wife for another woman, his response: No way, No how! He made the right choice the first time round. The wife will however see this as a chance to redeem herself and focus on the important stuff. The stuff that money can’t buy; love, integrity, responsibility, kindness, commitment. Jermaine Dupri was right then? ‘Money ain’t a thang’ after all, is it?

She might even take out that checklist now and ask; will he be a good father? A loving husband? When the rubber meets the road,  will he care about my happiness? Does he love? More than he can hold in his heart? No? A little bit then? Even a teeny weeny bit?

What do you look for when choosing a spouse? Is a loving man enough? Love won’t pay the rent you say? What can’t you compromise then? The answers to these questions play a part in that transition from overflowing-love wedding phase to the ‘I-can’t-stand-another-second-being-with-you’ divorce phase.

If you choose to marry for money, be content with rolling in cashmere, a luxurious life like Egyptian cotton a la Gwen Stefani and don’t expect anything else. If you marry for love and companionship, then accept him for who he is and be ready to laugh atop a boda boda a la Sauti Sol. If the money comes packaged with love, good on ya, girl. Good on ya! Problems begin when you marry an irresponsible jerk of a rich man and expect him to abracadabra into a responsible, loving and compassionate man. Now that gets really confusing!

The choice on who to marry stays with us for a long time. So why not make your bed in such a way that it will be comfortable when you lie in it, huh?