Zimbabwe, you made me this way!

| posted in: Soapbox Corner | 2

Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 15.44.15

Yes… I am she. I am that monster that makes men tremble in their boots. I have become the she devil that must be avoided at all costs. I am not sure when this happened. I look in the mirror and I see her staring back at me… proud and strong. I can no longer deny what I have become. I must own my identity.  The moment has come to reveal myself, to walk the path travelled by many, to accept the responsibility of this woman I have become.

Ladies and gentlemen, the great reveal… I am a FEMINIST. I wish this was my only shame but there is more to come, the worst part (for everyone else but me) is that I am a proud feminist.

Now that I have confessed my ‘shame’, it is only fair that I explain how the story began. If you had asked me five years ago what I thought about feminism, I would arrogantly respond “a bunch of crazy, vagina hugging women determined on pulling men to the pits of existence and making it extremely difficult to be a woman. Yes, they had their place in history, a time when we needed them to secure the vote. But now in the 21st century they have become little more than a radical group of terrorists grabbing at rights they already have”. Ha! I laugh at my former naivety because I am finally learning that the world needs more feminists. In fact as Chimamanda  Ngozi Adichie so aptly said, “we should ALL be feminists”.

Before, I spark a riot, it is important for me contextualise this relatively new position I have taken. What do I mean by feminism?

Quite simply, Feminism is ‘the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities’.  More technically it is ‘the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes’.

Taking this simple definition into mind, of course I am a feminist! You should be too. But more and more, I am starting to realise I exist in a world where feminism is far from being achieved. Being a young Zimbabwean woman, I find myself fighting for my rights to be a woman with ideas all of her own. I fight to find my identity on my own without the validation of marriage. I fight to be seen as more than a potential wife and mother. I fight for my right to have a voice that differs from those around me. I fight to be a woman whose opinion matters simply because I am allowed to have one.

What is it I am fighting against you may ask? I fight against the tightly wrapped noose of this patriarchal society, where on the surface it appears as if we have embraced equality, yet just scrape this thinly veiled veneer and what emerges is a society that still sees women as commodities; a society that demands so much more of its women than its men. A society that holds women to a higher social responsibility than it does their male counterparts. A society that still values a woman at a bride price (yes, I have serious problems with roora but that’s a blog for another day).  A society that denies women social equality.

Answer me this… Why is it socially acceptable for a married man to be out and about all night at bars yet when his wife ventures out for a few drinks with the girls in the same bar she is considered to be a bad wife? Why are young women who go out and enjoy themselves considered non-wife material? Why are women still expected to do all the household chores despite the fact they too work a full working day? Why are women still taught that their sole role in life is to please their husbands at all costs (yes… I refer here to the kitchen tea, where a woman is advised on how to be the model wife yet there exists no such forum to guide men to become the model husband before marriage)?

So yes, to cut a long story short, I am a feminist.  I am proud to be one. And I do believe in equality. Do you?

2 Responses

  1. Wazara Wazara

    Interesting piece.. Interesting because over the past few weeks i have been carrying out an unofficial study of that very thing and my findings have been intriguing. Firstly i have seen that Zimbabwe, and in fact, Africa as a whole, is going through a metamorphosis from being an African society to becoming a more westernised society and I have found that Zimbabweans find themselves at different stages of that metamorphosis. If you talk to a woman in the village who has grown up in a typically African, patriarchal society she will tell you that she is very happy cooking, cleaning, looking after her family and all these other things that the westernised woman of today calls ‘degrading’. This is because within her society, by carrying out these duties she gains a certain level of respect because of it and it gives her an identity. However, the modern, westernised woman of today does not have an identity that is linked to her society because she belongs to an emerging society which is still being defined and so for as long as the emerging society is not clearly defined, she will always exist, in some way, as a dissident of the patriarchal society

  2. Nyasha Musandu

    Thanks Wazara Wazara for the comment, I am glad you found the piece interesting. While I holey agree with your observations about Africa being in the midst of change, I think it is even more pertinent to ask ourselves the really hard questions about feminism in Zimbabwe. I wrote this piece entirely from the view of a middle class woman who has grown up around other similarly educated and exposed men and it is within this sector of our society that I have drawn out my observations. There seems to be an inability by my male counterparts to accept the “modern westernised woman” even though they themselves have evolved into “modern westernised males”. In principle there is nothing wrong with being happy to provide for your family and nurture your home (I hope to one day be able to do the same for my family) but there is something wrong when you are told that the freedoms that are available to others in society are unavailable to you because you are a woman. I think that equality is a universal principle and where it does clash with cultural norms it has to be interrogated and the reasons be justifiable to all. It is not enough to say that it is because we live in a patriarchal society, we have to examine if these beliefs are underpinned by something that aims to stifle the progression of females within society and if so we have to change them.

Leave a Reply