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A letter to the ‘Unproblematic’ Woman

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Dear ‘Unproblematic’ Woman,

What’s new?

So Shebesh endured a slap from Kidero the other day, remember? Ok, it was the other other day. You must be asking why I’m revisiting the incident now when so much time has elapsed, so much has been said about it, various reactions have been expressed, status updates posted, meme’s created…you are thinking; we’ve gone the whole nine yards on this one. We’ve milked it dry of jokes and quotes and laughs. So why now? Why now when Shebesh has already forgiven her aggressor? It is now water under the bridge isn’t it?

Well…No. Not according to me it isn’t. I will not address that slap so much as I will address the reaction to the slap. Your reaction to that slap.

See, I boarded a matatu today. The radio was tuned to a typical local fm station. Shortly, as is wont to happen, they were taking views from listeners. That is when I heard you. You came on air to add to the discussion of the day – whether vasectomy should be encouraged among men. I wondered why today they decided to ‘hit below the belt’ – so to speak, instead of discussing their usual obnoxious topics like mass infidelity in marriage, the exodus to incest and all things immoral, sex (yes, this is a morning show) and all the ‘juicy’ evils that they advocate for in the name of discussing family issues. Psssch!

Anyway, you called and delved right into the discussion without mincing your words; that men are naturally polygamous, that they should be allowed to practice what they know best – polygamy. Mid-sentence, you remembered that the discussion was not about polygamy but vasectomy (who knows if you know the difference) and you quickly added that asking men to have a vasectomy is not right, since you know, they were (in case we missed it before) polygamous! You must have heard how the host guffawed at your expense, right?

I wondered how the two issues were connected. I would have loved to hear what men think about vasectomy; whether they would consider it, how their partners felt about it…constructive stuff like that. But no, you had to steer the discussion elsewhere. I have to tell you that I was disappointed when you opted to go on a polygamy crusade. I was doubly disappointed that you are a woman!

I shook my head and felt something rise inside of me. Why are you hell bent on putting us down? What did we ever do to you? First it was after the infamous Shebesh slap, and I stumbled on you on Facebook where you wrote “Finally, someone gave her what she deserved!” I ask, REALLY? You actually think that because Shebesh is such a loud mouth, kimbelembele, an outspoken flibbertigibbet, nameit, that she should be slapped at a man’s whim? REALLY?

By the way, did you know that when we condemn a vice, we condemn it in its entirety? Slavery was unacceptable when it happened to Solomon Northup and would be as disgusting had it happened to Adolf Hitler. Violence against women is deplorable even when a man you happen to like slaps a woman you don’t like very much. It is still as abusive and undignifying, regardless of the victim!

Then came the remarks attacking single ladies “We must not elect leaders who do not have family values. I ask you women who are more than 35 years old and not married to get married as you are the reason men have problems.” The reason men have problems – did you get that? Again, as if on cue (God help us!) you came out to support the skewed sentiments. You even went on Twitter to point out that married women indeed hold more clout than single women. Why? “Even the bible says that a woman should be married”, you recited. You however didn’t show us where the bible says that an unmarried woman should be discriminated against.

I am doing this now because I have had it with you! I have to say something. Whether forgiveness has been sought or apologies traded, someone has to end your madness!

These incidences made me conclude that there are women, like you, who so want to be abused that they don’t know how else to live without abuse. Women who need infidelity in their lives and cannot function in a functional marriage where faithfulness prevails. There are women who believe that they deserve a slap and a beating, when they utter anything unpalatable to a man. And you, my dear, are their crusader. Should we then break out into a chant of “All Hail the Queen?”

I don’t think so! I instead choose to write to you to remind you that your time is up! How is it that you did not get the memo anyway? Society does not need you anymore. We will not have you infecting our future generations with your malady.

You feel that you deserve to be slapped like a wayward child when a man disagrees with you? You think that your man should have multiple affairs while married to you because he is a man and that is just how men are? You strongly believe that you are nothing without a man and you don’t deserve to be heard unless of course you have a man joined to your hip? Give us a break!

Is it so unbearable to you? Is it so painful to imagine that your fellow woman who is not married could in fact be happier than you a ‘Mrs’? Do you feel betrayed? That what you were promised in marriage is not forthcoming? You cannot stomach seeing a woman speak her mind and have people, even men almighty, listen to her, can you? Is it oh-so-abominable that women in marriage are demanding faithfulness from their husbands and they are actually getting it? Scary is it?

You must be one sad woman!

Why don’t you crawl back to the caves and live out your idealism. You do that while we, who believe in our self worth and expect some level of decent treatment, we who do not seek the approval of men to justify our existence, how about you let us get on with our lives?

What we will not do though, is crawl back to those caves with you. Nuh-uh!



Perfectly (Problematic) Woman – PPW


PS: Can I just thank every man who stood up for these women when the above incidences happened; men like you are a gem to society.

And finally, can I get an Amen? 🙂

For the sake of the children

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I know a woman. She is in her fifties. Life has taken its toll on her for she looks nothing like the vibrant, beautiful girl she used to be.

She loved life. She was adventurous and playful –  was even somewhat of a bully in school. She was the life of the party, leader of the ‘gang’. She was a happy person. But not anymore. Maybe her advancement in age has something to do with it? Or maybe it is the way her life turned out. The choices she made perhaps?

See, she was married young and had her first child when she was barely eighteen. In her time, education of the girl child was considered a waste of time and resources. Having gone up to standard seven, she was considered more educated than was necessary. She was expected to get married and bear her husband many children – what did she therefore need an education for?

She was excited about getting married. Which girl in her right mind wouldn’t be? There was a certain young man who had shown particular interest in her for quite a while. He was very charming and she had fallen in love with him. Head over heels. She therefore welcomed the idea of marriage with open arms.

She had her first child almost immediately. And many more children followed, one after the other. She was on the kind of birthing plan that  people like to call Do-Re-Mi. You know that one, don’t you?

She fit into her role as a wife and mother quite perfectly. Only problem was that she got more out of the marriage than she bargained for. Her husband went to work in the city. She remained in the village to raise the children – the football team – on her own. Her marriage life took a nosedive when she had to contend with her husband’s insecurities. The few times he visited, he ensured that his presence was felt. Boy, wasn’t it felt! He abused her physically and emotionally. She was always at pains to explain why she did this and that, this way instead of that way.

With steely determination, she endured the punches and chose to turn a blind eye to her husband’s blatant infidelity. She swallowed hard to repress her turmoil when she got wind of other women who were brought in to live with her children when they went to visit their father in the city. She resigned to the loneliness brought about by her husband’s absence. He was busy ‘putting bread on the table’.

She believed that this miserable life was the card dealt to her by fate. She had no way out. She could never be able to provide for her football team if she did not stick it out with their father. She needed him. In case it slipped your mind, she had nothing; no education, no job, no money. She had nowhere to go – going back to her parents was not an option. She had to suck it up. For the sake of the children. For a chance at a somewhat ‘normal’ life for them. For a life where they’d have basic provisions and good education. For the sake of THAT bread on the table.

If you remember correctly, there were days long ago, when women were not empowered to believe that they could survive without a man. This was at the time. She didn’t fathom how to comfortably put a morsel, let alone bread, on the table. At the time, life was normal only when there was a man to bring in the food and a woman to cook, clean and bear and raise children.

Naturally, this life took a toll on her. Her self-esteem diminished with every abuse. Her beauty deteriorated with every punch. Her laughter, her positivity towards life was replaced with sad, gloomy days devoid of the fundamental joie de vivre. She became withdrawn. Always unsure of herself. She believed what she had been told over and over again; that she was worth nothing. She was an empty shell.

She cried every night in her sleep and prayed that her daughters would never feel as helpless as she felt. She reasoned that with a good education they would be empowered, that they would never feel stuck with a man who did not value them. She hoped that in putting up with abuse, she was opening doors for her children never to put up with it. That they would always have a choice.

Could she, the woman without a voice, have raised children with a voice then? Children who knew the face of a bad marriage? Did they see first hand what a relationship was not supposed to look like? Could they have taken a  lesson or two from her life? When the society was not looking, did this woman empower her children in a way no other experience could empower them?

Wait a minute…could this have been the genesis of women empowerment? Did it all begin with a woman who stayed in a bad marriage for the sake of her children? Were we made to see the perks that ‘putting bread on the table’ come with? The power it wields?

Think about it.

I know that woman. I want to believe that her sacrifice paid off in the end. That her suffering wasn’t for nought.