BY MINEGA ISIBO
Reading George Kagame’s article ‘Women: are they united to make a new world order?’ (Sunday Times 10th June 2007), I initially assumed the article was tongue-in-cheek in which case it would have been a decent work of satire. However half-way through I realized with a chill that he was completely serious and this made me profoundly worried to say the least.
The legacy of feminism is of course a valid debate but the reckless stereotyping that accompanied the article was quite disturbing.
The author’s main point is that feminism has changed women today and made them so hungry for power and domination that the place for men is under threat. He declares himself as the first ‘men’s rights activist’ conveniently forgetting the fact that modern society has been founded on the right of men to subjugate women for millennia. Indeed, this is something that is only being truly reversed in the 21st century but evidently this bid to right historical wrongs has not been universally welcome in Rwanda.
Deploying a battalion of stereotypes and outright falsehoods, the author writes about women’s ‘crafty ways’ and ‘exceptional pleasure in showing the decreased power of man’. He even wonders why women are not satisfied with the ‘gigantic’ gains they have made. He explicitly states that he is worried about the great influence women are enjoying in today’s modern world. If all this is not explicit sexism, I don’t know what is. How can someone honestly say that women have come far enough and now they just need to relax and bask in their glory?
Even more worrying is the author’s assertion that women of today have ‘no morality.’ There is not even a single study or even an anecdote to back up such an astonishing claim. Later, on he finally seeks to narrow down which women these are referring to ‘most educated women’ and stating that they ‘have lost their power of feeling and thinking at the same time’ and have instead merely adopted masculine roles as an integral part of their feminism. As offensive as such statements are, I wonder if here the author has-for a paragraph at least- become an equal-opportunities name-caller. Here, we now have a reprimand for men because apparently we cannot think and feel at the same time.
However, this is merely a short reprieve and the writer resumes his attack on-and I quote- ‘the masquerade of femininity.’ He accuses women of being sadomasochistic by wearing revealing clothes at work specifically to torture men and take pleasure in this torture. I was completely unaware that you could create a new world order merely through creative use of skimpy outfits. Evidently I need to read more.
Somewhat bizarrely the article ends urging women to develop ‘genuine woman power’ defining it as ‘the self determination of women’ but that is exactly what he has been attacking in his piece! To condemn modern woman for what you believe she has become but in the same breath urge her to take her destiny in her own hands is hypocritical and for that matter logically impossible.
The crude stereotypes in the article I have been discussing have no place in today’s world and the writers’ advice to women to rest on their laurels is misguided to say the least (and he seems to realize this because a mere two paragraphs later he calls on the modern woman to help the rural women to improve their lot). As an analysis of feminism and its effects on out world today, the writer’s piece was not only offensive and shallow but completely false.
The writer is a regular commentator on general issues