There are things I do not know because they do not seem to “matter” in my everyday life, like the molecular bonding of Benzene.
There are others I do not know because they seem incomprehensible like the “black holes” which are said to “swallow” entire galaxies, bigger than our own or the “Bermuda triangle” phenomenon where it is said ships crossing the triangle ‘disappear’ and are never to be found again.
Then there are things I do not know because I think I know, like the concept of Gender. Until recently, if someone asked me the meaning of gender, I might say it is the state of being male or female and the gender activists as cantankerous and well educated women who drink hard dry liquor, refuse to get married and then set out to influence other women, married or not, to assault and divorce from their husbands while asking for lots of money with which they buy second hand Japanese vehicles and say they have gained “freedom” from men.
Well, last week I discovered a different side of gender activism, thanks to my Dearest who demanded that I accompany her to a meeting of women activists who had insisted that women should come along with their spouses.
For sure I did not know what was to be discussed but I thought I knew what to expect.
I know gender as the reason female candidates had one and a half points added to their grades in the university entry examinations.
I sat interviews for admission somewhere, I came on top of the list in terms of scores but the fourth candidate was declared winner because of gender.
My friend had his family’s residence sold, when his wife eloped and then sued for divorce, because of gender. My workmate gets his salary halved to settle his wife and child’s upkeep because of gender.
Some fools are in important positions because of gender. Most annoyingly I am stuck with my dearest because of gender.
When my dearest decreed that I joined her I did it because I was not sure I could bear the repercussions if she reported me as one standing in the way of Gender.
I expected gender activists to be Serena William-sized, with braided brick red hair, with metallic bangles covering the bigger part of their lower arms, multicoloured ear and nose rings, their finger nails painted black and hair sticking out of their noses.
I was sure they would be putting on collarless T-shirts flexing their muscles to show their scarred knuckles from the daily flattening of their husbands’ noses.
I thought they would visually weigh my small stature and order me to get lost or instruct me to gulp glass after glass of liquor for their watching pleasure.
After seeing the other participants I was relieved and I thought perhaps I would have witnesses when the gender activists descended on me. When I saw the activists I could not hide my relief.
The Gentleman and the lady (I have not sought permission to use their names and will refer to them as activists) were both married and I guess happily married.
I could not help but wonder why the gentleman had crossed over to side with women with gender. First they told us about the history of women emancipation and all things about women doing the same jobs but getting paid less than their male counterparts in the USA and other industrialized countries and the struggles they went through for equal treatment as employees.
I looked at them and all I could see were two people who said one thing and meant another.
Initially, I did not listen to most of what was said and then they came home; somewhere I know. They talked about our villages and the things that take place there and then I was interested.
Why does a woman possibly breast feeding have to labour, at times alone, to plant, weed and harvest crop and then the man comes to sell the produce without the participation and decision of the woman who did the manual work?
Why does society curtail the potential of women by assigning them certain social and economic roles that their male counterparts may at times find demeaning? Why does the head of the family (husband) take “unilaterally” decisions that may have negative consequences on the whole family without seeking neither the counsel nor the opinion of his partner? Why does society deny girls the right to be part of decisions that affect them particularly in marriage decisions? I had thought I knew the answers but then it occurred to me they were much deeper than what I thought they were.
Mzee Damiano, our neighbour in the village, had a record no one had dared challenge: by the time he was forty five years old, he made it a point to marry a new wife and by the time he died a couple of years ago he had a long line of them, after all he had land and riches.
The older the wife the less support she got from Damiano and the newer the wife, the fewer chores and labour she did. In the words of the great teacher two millennia ago, “do to others what you would love others do to you” and when I thought about Damiano’s reaction to a wife bringing a new “husband” at home every five years and then relegating him more hard work it occurred to me that there might have been a “husbands’ mutiny” in their home.
Someone said it all when he said that unless women have their rights our country will be hindered like someone who runs with one hand tied behind him.
It finally occurred to me that Gender promotion is good but has been poorly packaged and men are scared stiff.